Virtual tours to known Stone Age sites in North and Central Asia

Virtual tours

The team from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with Novosibpano has commenced implementation of the “By Way of Millennia” project.

The idea was supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation in the 2023 competition among the projects aimed at communicating the science and technology issues in priority areas of the Strategy for Science and Technology Development of the Russian Federation.The project is aimed at providing an opportunity to virtually visit unique although hard-to-reach Stone Age sites to a broader audience. The first virtual tours will be dedicated to Teshik Tash Grotto in Uzbekistan, Tsagaan Agui Cave in Mongolia, Denisova and Okladnikov Caves in Russian Altay as well as to the site located at the rock shelter Surungur in the Fergana Valley in Kyrgyzstan.

An important step in studying ancient history of the vast region is associated with each site. Thus, in late 1930s, A.P. Okladnikov (at that time, future Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences) found a burial of a Neanderthal child who had lived 38 to 30 ka BP in Teshik Tash Grotto located in Uzbekistan. An opinion that the Neanderthals had not penetrated the inner Asia was refuted then. In 1980s, the expedition led by A.P. Derevianko, Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, first commenced complex studies of Tsagaan Agui Cave, the only site in Mongolia and North China that allows tracing the ancient human culture 200 to 50 ka BP. In 2008, under the scientific leadership of A.P. Derevianko, a previously unknown human species, named the Denisovans, was found in the Denisova Cave in Altay. The Denisovans discovery has become a new link in the existing idea of the modern humans emergence. In that same region, the easternmost site of the Neanderthals who had lived 60 to 50 ka BP was found in the Okladnikov Cave. In 2022, the genetic studies of the obtained evidence were able to reconstruct the social structure of the Neanderthals in Altay for the first time. Finally, in 2017, a Neolithic site Surungur was discovered in Kyrgyzstan. It is the only site in the Fergana Valley where cultural layers 10 to 7 ka BP remained intact until the present.

You can learn about the site history, take a look inside the caves and join the Paleolithic quest in summer 2023. Virtual tours will be available at the website of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and for anyone who feels like it.

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