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Appl Radiat Isot. 2005 Feb;62(2):237-45.

ESR at Treugol'naya Cave, Northern Caucasus Mt., Russia: dating Russia's oldest archaeological site and paleoclimatic change in Oxygen Isotope Stage 11.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA.


At 1510 m asl, Treugol'naya Cave, Russia, is the highest cave showing evidence for human occupation in eastern Europe. Layers 4-7 in the 4.5-m-thick sequence yielded many artifacts representing Lower Paleolithic pebble and flake tool industries. Abundant faunal remains include extinct Middle Pleistocene species. Palynological, paleomagnetic, and microsedimentological analyses indicate that several climatic changes of different magnitudes occurred in the sequence. To determine absolute ages for Treugol'naya, 32 independent subsamples from nine ungulate teeth collected from the Lower Paleolithic layers were dated by standard and isochron electron spin resonance (ESR) analyses. Isochron analyses indicate that the teeth experienced no significant U leaching or secondary uptake, and that linear uptake (LU) provides accurate ages. Layers 4b through 5b dated to 365+/-12-406+/-15 ka. Therefore, hominids visited the site periodically throughout Oxygen Isotope Stage (OIS) 11, indicating that they utilized resources at elevations >1000 m at least seasonally by 400 ka. ESR, paleomagnetic, palynological and paleontological analyses all indicate that the Lower Paleolithic Layers 4-5 correlate with OIS 11. The thickness of Layers 4-5 (more than 1.5 m) makes this one of the thickest OIS 11 terrestrial deposits known.

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