Chagyrskaya Cave

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Chagyrskaya Cave is located in the Altay foothills, on the right bank of the middle reaches of the Charysh River. Archaeologists, working with geneticists, have discovered that from 59 to 49 thousand years ago, during the Middle Paleolithic, the cave was inhabited by a small population of Neanderthals who used it as a shelter and a regular camp intended for butchering game and producing stone tools.

The cave offered a wide view of the plain, where herds of bisons and wild horses congregated due to abundant food resources in late summer and early autumn. Neanderthals specialized in hunting these animals.


Chagyrskaya Cave

Location:  Russia, Altay Kray, Krasnoshchekovsky District

The archeological studies began in::  Since 2017 until present

Estimated layers age:  59 to 49 ka

Human species:  Neanderthals

In addition to butchering game, the cave was used for the full cycle of stone tool production, from initial blank processing to final product retouching. The riverbed of the Charysh River provided suitable stone materials for this purpose. The cave finds include so-called stone retouchers, i.e. bone tools used to renovate stone tools and process stones more precisely.

Researchers have identified that the bearers of the tool production traditions found in Chagyrskaya and Okladnikov (Sibiryachikha). Caves came from far away. Their closest relatives lived in East Europe, the Crimea, and the Northern Caucasus. All of these ancient people shared a similar stone tool tradition known as Micoquian.

Chagyrskaya and Okladnikov Caves are invaluable for their evidence of the long-distance migration of Neanderthals and their adaptation to new territories. Moreover, Chagyrskaya Cave is unique because it contains anthropological materials of at least 15 individuals who were, according to paleogenetic studies, close relatives. The international scientific team was able to establish that Neanderthals lived in small family groups and exchanged women.

For the first time ever, we were able to obtain information about the social structure of the Neanderthal community. Novosibirsk archaeologists contributed to this study.

Study history

S.V. Markin recorded Chagyrskaya Cave as an archaeological site in 2007. It is still being studied. The stone tools found during excavations are fundamentally different from those found at the Altay sites belonging to the same period. This has led scholars to question the origin of this lithic industry and to consider the possibility that its bearers came from outside the region and explored Chagyrskaya Cave.

Most well-known finds

Stone and bone tools, anthropological Neanderthal remains, first Neanderthal fire-pit found in the Altay.


Paleoenvironmental Conditions of Neanderthal Habitation in the Altai: Chagyrskaya and Okladnikov Caves. Archeology, Ethnography, and Anthropology of Eurasia, 2022. (In Russ.).

Comparing Experimental Collections of the Nucleus and Bifacial Debitage within the Sibiryachikha Variant of the Middle Paleolithic in the Altay. Problems of Archeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of Siberia and Adjacent Territories, 2022. (In Russ.).

Preliminary Results of Experimental Studies of Hunting Weapons of Neanderthals from Chagyrskaya Cave. Siberian Historical Studies, 2022. (In Russ.).

Percussive-Abrasive Stone Tools from Chagyrskaya Cave: Results of Functional Analysis. Archeology, Ethnography, and Anthropology of Eurasia, 2021. (In Russ.).

Studying Middle Paleolithic Complexes from Chagyrskaya Cave in 2021. Problems of Archeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of Siberia and Adjacent Territories, 2021. (In Russ.).

Experimental Modeling of a Primary Cleavage Technology from the Chagyrskaya Cave Middle Paleolithic Complexes. Proceedings of the 6th (22nd) All-Russian Archaeological Assembly in Samara, 2020. (In Russ.).

Studying Middle Paleolithic Bone Retouchers via 3D Modeling. Proceedings of the 6th (22nd) All-Russian Archaeological Assembly in Samara, 2020. (In Russ.).

Using 3D Scanning in Studying Bifaces from Chagyrskaya Cave. Proceedings of the 6th (22nd) All-Russian Archaeological Assembly in Samara, 2020. (In Russ.).

Studying Middle Paleolithic Complexes from Chagyrskaya Cave in 2020. Problems of Archeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of Siberia and Adjacent Territories, 2020. (In Russ.).

Restoring Technological Chains in the Bifacial Tools Production in the Chagyrskaya Cave Industry. Siberian Historical Studies, 2020. (In Russ.).