Housing of the Neanderthals 50 000 years ago in the cave of Tsutskhvati

14 August 2019

Archaeological expedition of Georgian National Museum (GNM) works in Tsutskhvati cave located in Tkibuli municipality.

The study of Tsutskhvati 's thirteen-tiered cave began last century under the initiative of the Institute of Geography of Georgian National Academy of Sciences. Between 1970-1971 and 1974-1975 years, National Museum of Georgian History and the Institute of Paleobiology jointly conducted archaeological excavations here. In the caves from the cavernous area were discovered the stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic period (Middle Stone Age, about 400 - 40 thousand years ago) were discovered, as well as the bones of the petrous animals. Especially noteworthy is a Neanderthal baby's chewing tooth found in the cavernous territory in the so-called "Bronze Mgvimovani" dated back to about 50,000 years.

Short-term fieldworks were also carried out between 1998-1999 and 2003-2004 years, however, despite large-scale work, most of the cavernous area was unknown until 2016.

Since 2017, an archaeological expedition of GNM's Tsutskhvati Cave studying, under the support of Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia, continues the multidisciplinary research in the framework of the project "Neanderthals in the South Caucasus". Paleoanthropologists of Georgian National Museum, paleontologists, palynologists, stone Age archaeologists and geologists were participating in the large-scale works. French and American scientists and up to 50 Georgian students are also involved with Georgian researchers.

The nature of Tsutskhvati Cave, the progress of modern methods, the materials preserved at Georgian National Museum and the intact cultural layers on these monuments, provide a unique opportunity to detailedly examine the Neanderthals, their behavior, and the possibility of communication with modern humans. We will also try to explain the causes of Neanderthal extinction.

The scientific director of the expedition is Nikoloz Tsikaridze, Senior Research Fellow of Georgian National Museum.

Tsutskhvati Cave is a protected area and is under the governance of the Agency of Protected Areas of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture.

Address: Village Tsutskhvati - Tsutskhvati cave (25 km from Kutaisi).