Human migrations and climate change in Eurasia

2021-09-30

An international NordForsk-funded expedition to Tajikistan will study the most ancient archaeological sites of Central Asia. 

Loess sections of Tajikistan.
An international team of geographers, geologists, archaeologists, and dating specialists from Denmark, Germany, Iran, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Tajikistan will study the unique archaeological sites preserved in the wind-blown dust (loess) of Central Asia. 

A large project to study the history of the earliest human settlement in Central Asia is starting in Tajikistan. An international team of geographers, geologists, archaeologists, and dating specialists from Denmark, Germany, Iran, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Tajikistan will study the unique archaeological sites preserved in the wind-blown dust (loess) of Central Asia. The area is on one of the main migration routes of hominids to Siberia, China and the Caspian steppes. These Tajik sites record the presence of humans over at least the past 1 million years.

The new project will address several questions: How old are these ancient sites? Were there waves of migration and when did they pass? What were the directions of migration? What was the climate when the first humans populated Central Asia about 1 million years ago? When did modern humans enter the region? To answer these questions, an international project "Timing and ecology of human occupation of Central Asia" has been funded by NordForsk.

A reconnaissance expedition in June 2021 has already identified a new archaeological site with the richest regional concentration of stone tools known; according to preliminary data, this site is at least 500 thousand years old. From 1 to 11 October, an international team of researchers will conduct a detailed study of three sites on the Khovaling loess plateau in Tajikistan; sections with ancient soils will be studied, and samples taken to determine the age of archaeological sites, and to understand the ancient landscapes and climate.

The first results of the fieldwork will be presented on October 12 during a round table discussion at the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan.

The research is carried out with the financial support of NordForsk, Moscow State University and the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan.

For more information contact Dr Thomas Stevens, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University.
Email: thomas.stevens@geo.uu.se
Thomas Steven, institutionen för geovetenskaper Uppsala universitet
Telephone: +4618-471 1788
Mobile: 073-645 2007

Fig. 1. General view of outcrops with ancient soils of the Khovaling loess plateau.
Fig. 1. General view of outcrops with ancient soils of the Khovaling loess plateau.
Fig. 2. Geographic research at the most ancient archaeological site of Central Asia - Kuldara.
Fig. 2. Geographic research at the most ancient archaeological site of Central Asia - Kuldara.
Fig. 3. Location of the new archaeological site Lahuti IV, discovered in June 2021, contains the richest collections of stone artifacts dating back about 500 thousand years.
Fig. 3. Location of the new archaeological site Lahuti IV, discovered in June 2021, contains the richest collections of stone artifacts dating back about 500 thousand years.
Fig. 4. Geographic research at the Obi-Mazar site, which contains evidence of the migration of hominids to Central Asia about 400-600 thousand years ago.
Fig. 4. Geographic research at the Obi-Mazar site, which contains evidence of the migration of hominids to Central Asia about 400-600 thousand years ago.
Fig. 5. Archaeological excavations at the ancient site of Kuldara.
Fig. 5. Archaeological excavations at the ancient site of Kuldara.
Fig. 6. Samples for reconstruction of ancient landscapes and climate, selected from loess sections of Tajikistan.
Fig. 6. Samples for reconstruction of ancient landscapes and climate, selected from loess sections of Tajikistan.
Fig. 7. Geological trench for sampling to determine the age of ancient soils with stone tools, Obi-Mazar site, Tajikistan.
Fig. 7. Geological trench for sampling to determine the age of ancient soils with stone tools, Obi-Mazar site, Tajikistan.
Fig. 8. New collection of stone artifacts from the archaeological site Lakhuti-IV (discovered in June 2021).
Fig. 8. New collection of stone artifacts from the archaeological site Lakhuti-IV (discovered in June 2021).

News from the Department of Earth Sciences

Last modified: 2022-01-19