Publications by authors named "Victoria L Cullen"

3 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

A revised AMS and tephra chronology for the Late Middle to Early Upper Paleolithic occupations of Ortvale Klde, Republic of Georgia.

J Hum Evol 2021 Feb 25;151:102908. Epub 2020 Dec 25.

Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, CT, USA. Electronic address:

The nature and timing of the shift from the Late Middle Paleolithic (LMP) to the Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) varied geographically, temporally, and substantively across the Near East and Eurasia; however, the result of this process was the archaeological disappearance of Middle Paleolithic technologies across the length and breadth of their geographic distribution. Ortvale Klde rockshelter (Republic of Georgia) contains the most detailed LMP-EUP archaeological sequence in the Caucasus, an environmentally and topographically diverse region situated between southwest Asia and Europe. Tephrochronological investigations at the site reveal volcanic ash (tephra) from various volcanic sources and provide a tephrostratigraphy for the site that will facilitate future correlations in the region. We correlate one of the cryptotephra layers to the large, caldera-forming Nemrut Formation eruption (30,000 years ago) from Nemrut volcano in Turkey. We integrate this tephrochronological constraint with new radiocarbon dates and published ages in an OxCal Bayesian age model to produce a revised chronology for the site. This model increases the ages for the end of the LMP (∼47.5-44.2 ka cal BP) and appearance of the EUP (∼46.7-43.6 ka cal BP) at Ortvale Klde, which are earlier than those currently reported for other sites in the Caucasus but similar to estimates for specific sites in southwest Asia and eastern Europe. These data, coupled with archaeological, stratigraphic, and taphonomic observations, suggest that at Ortvale Klde, (1) the appearance of EUP technologies of bone and stone has no technological roots in the preceding LMP, (2) a LMP population vacuum likely preceded the appearance of these EUP technologies, and (3) the systematic combination of tephra correlations and absolute dating chronologies promises to substantially improve our inter-regional understanding of this critical time interval of human evolution and the potential interconnectedness of hominins at different sites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2020.102908DOI Listing
February 2021

The earliest evidence for Upper Paleolithic occupation in the Armenian Highlands at Aghitu-3 Cave.

J Hum Evol 2017 09 7;110:37-68. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, 31905, Israel.

With its well-preserved archaeological and environmental records, Aghitu-3 Cave permits us to examine the settlement patterns of the Upper Paleolithic (UP) people who inhabited the Armenian Highlands. We also test whether settlement of the region between ∼39-24,000 cal BP relates to environmental variability. The earliest evidence occurs in archaeological horizon (AH) VII from ∼39-36,000 cal BP during a mild, moist climatic phase. AH VI shows periodic occupation as warm, humid conditions prevailed from ∼36-32,000 cal BP. As the climate becomes cooler and drier at ∼32-29,000 cal BP (AH V-IV), evidence for occupation is minimal. However, as cooling continues, the deposits of AH III demonstrate that people used the site more intensively from ∼29-24,000 cal BP, leaving behind numerous stone artifacts, faunal remains, and complex combustion features. Despite the climatic fluctuations seen across this 15,000-year sequence, lithic technology remains attuned to one pattern: unidirectional reduction of small cores geared towards the production of bladelets for tool manufacture. Subsistence patterns also remain stable, focused on medium-sized prey such as ovids and caprids, as well as equids. AH III demonstrates an expansion of social networks to the northwest and southwest, as the transport distance of obsidian used to make stone artifacts increases. We also observe the addition of bone tools, including an eyed needle, and shell beads brought from the east, suggesting that these people manufactured complex clothing and wore ornaments. Remains of micromammals, birds, charcoal, pollen, and tephra relate the story of environmental variability. We hypothesize that UP behavior was linked to shifts in demographic pressures and climatic changes. Thus, by combining archaeological and environmental data, we gain a clearer picture about the first UP inhabitants of the Armenian Highlands.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.05.010DOI Listing
September 2017

Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 Aug 23;109(34):13532-7. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Marked changes in human dispersal and development during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition have been attributed to massive volcanic eruption and/or severe climatic deterioration. We test this concept using records of volcanic ash layers of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption dated to ca. 40,000 y ago (40 ka B.P.). The distribution of the Campanian Ignimbrite has been enhanced by the discovery of cryptotephra deposits (volcanic ash layers that are not visible to the naked eye) in archaeological cave sequences. They enable us to synchronize archaeological and paleoclimatic records through the period of transition from Neanderthal to the earliest anatomically modern human populations in Europe. Our results confirm that the combined effects of a major volcanic eruption and severe climatic cooling failed to have lasting impacts on Neanderthals or early modern humans in Europe. We infer that modern humans proved a greater competitive threat to indigenous populations than natural disasters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1204579109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427068PMC
August 2012