New Dmanisi skull

2 minute read

So far only short items in the Georgian media, evidently based on a press release. The longest story is in the English language Messenger, but there are no new details (most of the article is about what has long been out of the ground).

That's never stopped be before, though, so let's have at it:

Yet another skull of a pre-historic man has been found by archaeologists in Dmanisi, researchers announced on Friday, August 5.
"This is a unique discovery, presumably dating back 1.8 million years ago," Minister of Culture, Sport and Monument Protection Giorgi Gabashvili said on Friday.
He noted it has been the fifth scull of the ancient Europeans discovered in Dmanisi over the last five years. "We can finally conclude now that people were living 1 million years ago jointly, in an organized way in Dmanisi," the minister said.

In other words, no new information. The skull in Lordkipanidze's hands in the photo is D3444, reported last year. Neither the date nor the number of individuals is news. Everything else is 1.8 million already, and they already had five individuals (D2280, D2282 (+ D211), D2700 (+ D2735), D3444 (+D3900), and D2600). All of these except the last include a skull; D2600 is only a mandible.

And what a mandible it is! Its corpus height is well over 50 percent greater than the other mandibles (It is illustrated in the supplementary material to Vekua et al. 2002). Its teeth are correspondingly large. No known early Homo skull can yet match it for sheer size -- the closest might be Sangiran 17, although it would appear to lack the huge ramus height.

Could the new skull be the match for D2600? That would be pretty interesting. A tiny hint in the article might suggest it isn't:

As of Friday the skull had not been extracted from the ground and the minister of culture commented that the archaeologists have not decided yet if the skill [sic] belongs to a pre-historic man or woman.

Well, if it were a match for D2600, there would be little doubt on that score. But it's probably just boilerplate -- how would a minister know, anyhow?

I'll be following the story.

Meanwhile, there's this:

Gabashvili also announced that the site will take on modern significance on August 13 when Dmanisi will host the so-called pre-historic games organized by the National Museum of Georgia.
"There will be competitions in, for example, lighting a fire or making primitive hunting tools," the minister explained. The games will be open to international participants and interested people can contact the National Museum.

You know, in principle it should be much easier to train for this stuff than the Olympics, since we have a long history of selection that ought to make us good at them. Unless you're Scottish. Then I suppose selection was for caber-tossing.


Vekua A et al. 2002. A new skull of early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Science 297:85-89. Abstract