ENG   GEO (Georgian Version is Under Construction)


Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of PaleoDmanisi are based on palaeontological and palaeobotanical data. Palaeobotany aims to find out more about the kinds of plants that would have existed at the same time as hominids in Dmanisi area [fig. below].

The following plant remains were identified in the sediments of Dmanisi:

  • Pollen and spores
  • Fruit remains
  • Phytoliths (silica bodies from plants)
  • Plant imprints

Terrain of Dmanisi area has not changed much since the times when this place was inhabited by early humans and prehistoric animals: only that the river canyons were not as deep as they are today and correspondingly the promontory where site is located was lower.

Paleobotanical data from Dmanisi provide with a picture of vegetation pattern of the area on two different scales. Dmanisi phytolith (silika from plants) assemblage from stratum B (most of the faunal remains and all hominid remains are from this layer) indicate local herbaceous ecosystem dominated by grasses (Poaceae), fruit remains belong to xerophilous taxa as well (hackberries, boragoes, forget-me-nots) and indicate presence of a xeric meadow at the site. On the other hand pollen data of coprolites (also from the stratum B) presumably attributed to hyaena reveal a very rich specter of vegetation cover on the wide area reflecting different altitudinal zones: high alpine probably subnival vegetation belts (with spikemosses, alpine clubmosses, moonworts), high mountain forests (with firs, birches, pine trees, beeches and berries in the undergrowth), middle mountain forests (broad-leaved trees such as beeches, hornbeams and elms), low mountain forest (with the prevelance of chestnuts and limetrees and with admixture of oaks), floodplain forests (alder being the main component)andgrasslands at lower altitudes and on the plain adjacent to the plateau (with dominance of grasses - Poaceae, goosefoots, daisies). Paleobotanical evidence derived from the phytoliths and fruit remains is a good accordance with micromammal paleoenvironmental signal, while pollen data indicate presence of wide diversity of habitats in the Dmanisi area needed for the large mammals. Together the flora and fauna indicate that there were mosaic habitats of mixed woodlands and grasslands.

It is interesting that some of these trees had long disappeared from the Dmanisi area such as chestnuts  and wingnuts.

Paleobotanical data indicate that there were two distinct palaeoenviroments in terms of humidity; the earlier period before 1.77 million years ago was characterised by wet and subtropical conditions while the latter period, after this date, more arid. 

Figures by Erwan Messager