Balkan Valley Project (BVP): Excavation at Magura Cave

This proposal requests funds to support archaeological excavation of Pleistocene deposits at Magura Cave in northwest Bulgaria. Pleistocene sediments bearing artifacts and faunal remains have already been identified in Magura during two prior pilot excavations, and human remains have been recovered that lack context but that may represent the first Neanderthal discovered in Bulgaria. This project has both short-term and long-term objectives. The short-term objectives are to establish the geoarchaeology, stratigraphy, and chronological framework of hominin occupations, to provide an initial assessment of faunal and lithic assemblages, and to test hypotheses and answer research questions developed during the 2011 field season. Two longterm objectives pertain to hominin biogeography and behavioral ecology. First, this project seeks to augment the evidence that can be used to test hypotheses about hominin and faunal dispersals into and out of Europe during the Pleistocene, and to assess whether or not those dispersals were associated with glacial cycles. Second, this project seeks to gather data that can
be used to test hypotheses regarding the degree to which climate change induced ecological
stress within hominin populations, thereby altering activity patterns and behavior. The long term goals can only be met by identifying and excavating a broad spectrum of archaeological and paleontological sites that span the Pleistocene, so this proposal also requests modest funds to survey for paleontological sites.

Project proposal Pi: 
David Strait, State University of New York, Albany, and Stefanka Ivanova, National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences