Southern Caspian Corridor: a biogeographical hominin expansion route

The Upper Pleistocene hominin diversity and adaptation to the new environments of southwestern Asia are basic issues in Paleoanthropology. Due to its location, the Iranian Plateau in southwestern Asia functioned as crossroads for hominin migrations between Africa, Europe, Central Asia and the far East, thus playing an influential role in the history of human evolution. In addition, proximity and the intertwining of two different biogeographical realms of Palearctic and Saharo-Arabian zones in the Iranian Plateau, potentially, played an important role in biocultural exchanges and evolution of our lineage. The proposed project focuses on Sorheh Rockshelter of southern piedmonts of the Alborz Mountains located at the intersection of these two realms. This special condition hypothesizes that this region was repeatedly populated by different hominins arriving from the north and west: Neanderthals from Southern Caspian Corridor and Zagros Mountains, and from the south: Homo sapiens from inner parts of the Iranian Central Plateau, during long period of MIS 4-3 towards MIS 2.
The preliminary investigations at Sorheh indicates novel hominin behavioral and settlement systems, known as Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) in the Levant, eastern Europe and Siberia. The analysis of its material culture will be carried out by applying the most updated and novel scientific proxies. In addition to lithic techno-typological, micromorphological and faunal analyses, sedaDNA, ZooMS and stable isotope are employed for the first time. Collecting samples for absolute dating including OSL and 14C dates is an important foundation for this research, for Sorheh provided the first chronological history on the IUP in the Iranian Plateau. The project plans to reassess stratified lithic collections suspended to contain IUP materials including Warwasi and Bawa Yawan rockshelters in the Zagros Mountains of Palearctic and Mirak open air site in the Iranian Central Plateau of the Saharo-Arabian realm.
A combination of these methods will unravel for the first time, a physiogeographic, chronostratigraphic and anthropogenic picture of the IUP in the Iranian Plateau. Given that, this research can aid in deciphering the IUP hominins both physically and behaviorally.

contact person:

Dr. Elham Ghasidian