Ancient traces of human life in the highlands of the Eastern Pamirs turned out to be much older than previously thought. Scientists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, together with colleagues from eight countries, conducted excavations in the rock shelter Kurteke and found the remains of a settlement that is about 14 thousand years old. This is much earlier than previously thought.
Previously, it was thought that the first people settled in the highlands of the Eastern Pamirs about eight thousand years ago. But new data obtained through the use of modern research methods refute this hypothesis. The study was published in the journal Archaeological Research in Asia.
Scientists from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Tajikistan and the USA took part in the excavations. This is the first major archaeological research in the Eastern Pamirs in decades. Earlier such researches were conducted only in the 60-70s of the last century.
Researchers applied various methods of analysis, such as paleoecological approach, absolute dating, zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical analyses, carpological analysis (study of ancient seeds) and DNA-analysis of found animal teeth. These methods allowed scientists to determine the exact age of the settlement.
One of the key finds was a fragment of an animal bone that was found next to the stone artifacts. Scientists note that this fragment was clearly broken off by humans, as in the natural environment, the bone does not fragment in this way. Radiocarbon analysis allowed scientists to determine the age of this fragment and determine that the settlement occurred about 14 thousand years ago.
However, the question of what caused ancient man to settle in such extreme conditions remains open. The height of the settlement is almost 4 thousand meters and the vegetation here is extremely sparse. In addition, winter temperatures can drop to -40 degrees and rise to +20 degrees in summer. Scientists hope that further research this year will help solve this mystery.
Research in the Eastern Pamirs is important for understanding the origins and migrations of ancient people. This area is one of the key points on the map of the primitive population of Eurasia. The discovery of an ancient human settlement, which is much older than the estimated age of the first settlements in this area, provides new data for the study of human history.