Paleolithic hominin remains from Eshkaft-e Gavi (southern Zagros Mountains, Iran): description, affinities, and evidence for butchery

Jeremiah E. Scott, Curtis Marean

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41 Scopus citations


Eshkaft-e Gavi is a cave located in the southern Zagros Mountains of Iran and is one of the few archaeological sites in the region to preserve both Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic occupations. Excavation of the site in the 1970s yielded an assemblage of lithic and faunal remains, including ten hominin specimens: a mandibular molar, four cranial fragments, a clavicular diaphysis, the proximal half of a metacarpal, a fragment of os coxa, the proximal diaphysis of a juvenile femur, and a patella. The bones derive from a minimum of four individuals, including two juveniles. Although many of these remains could be Epi-Paleolithic in age, one of the juvenile specimens-the mandibular molar-occurs at the base of the cave's Upper Paleolithic sequence. The remains are very fragmentary, but those that preserve diagnostic morphology indicate that they represent modern humans. The molar is taxonomically diagnostic, thus confirming the association of the Aurignacian-like Baradostian Industry with modern humans. Four of the specimens-a piece of frontal bone, the clavicle, the juvenile femur, and the patella-display clear evidence for intentional butchery in the form of stone-tool cutmarks. These cutmarked specimens, along with a fragment of parietal bone, are also burned. Although this evidence is consistent with cannibalism, the small sample makes it difficult to say whether or not the individuals represented by the hominin remains were butchered and cooked for consumption. Nevertheless, the cutmarked Eshkaft-e Gavi specimens add to a growing sample of hominin remains extending back into the Plio-Pleistocene that display evidence of intentional defleshing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-259
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of human evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Cannibalism
  • Epi-Paleolithic
  • Modern humans
  • Upper Paleolithic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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