Mirak (Iran): Paleolithic findings point to Neanderthal life

Archeological studies in the Paleolithic site of Mirak, in Semnan province, have provided evidence of life of the Neanderthals in Iran.

Source - http://www.irna.ir/en/News/81719313/?

81719313 70094555Mirak Archeological Site is located near Delazian region, eight kilometers south of Semnan, on the northern edge of Iranian central desert known as ‘Dasht-e Kavir’. Archeological findings have mostly attributed this site to Paleolithic period, Tehra-based English newspaper, Iran Daily, reported.
Mirak and Delazian regions, also known as Mirak and Delazian Hills, were first identified and introduced during archeological studies conducted in 1985. The most noteworthy feature of the two regions is the extensive distribution of hundreds of thousands of stones on the surface.
Results obtained from 2009 excavation indicate that Mirak is among the largest open-air Paleolithic sites in Iran or even in the Middle East.
Mirak holds the longest period of settlement during the Middle Paleolithic era (about 250,000-40,000 years ago) as well as new Paleolithic era (about 40,000-18,000 years ago). It is also known for providing evidence about the existence of Neanderthal man of middle Paleolithic - a period dating back to 50,000 years ago.
In a paper, written by Iranian archeologists Hamed Vahdati-Nasab and Shirin Torkamandi, several evidence are listed which indicate that Mirak goes back to the Middle Paleolithic era.
These remnants include flake-based blank production, an abundance of chapeau de gendarme platforms, a significantly high value for the Levallois index, the presence of tools typical of Mousterian era, and the near-total absence of Upper Paleolithic diagnostics.
Middle Paleolithic sites are usually associated with Neanderthals — an extinct species of human widely distributed in ice-age Europe between 120,000 and 35,000 years ago, with a receding forehead and prominent brow ridges.
An Iranian-French archeological team, headed by Vahdati-Nasab, launched a new phase of excavation in the Middle Paleolithic site of Mirak in July 2015.
Vahdati-Nasab told IRNA that the excavation seeks to bring out the unknown aspects of the life of the Neanderthals in Iran.
“We sought to find the earliest clues of human settlement in Mirak. Our excavation was unique in many ways due to the fact that many Paleolithic sites excavated in Iran had been in caves and rock shelters. This is the first time such an operation is conducted on an open-air site,” he added.
He also said there are many open-air sites in Iran are yet to be excavated.
Noting that archeological missions on open-air sites have their own challenges, he added “We investigated a pit on the top of a hill dug by unauthorized diggers, during the excavation. For a couple of days, we climbed down the pit and scraped the walls until we finally managed to find remnants of animal bones and stone tools at depths ranging between three and five meters.”
Vahdati-Nasab added that the team would develop the excavations in the next season of archeological studies to include the exploration of a two-meter long sediment that has been formed over thousands of years.
“We would like to determine there were any fundamental changes in Neanderthal man’s tools and lifestyle in the course of several thousand years or not,” he said.