Azykh Cave

The Azykh Cave (Azerbaijani: Azıx mağarası) is an impressive six-cave complex known as a living site of stone-age man. It lies about 3 km northeast of the village of Tugh in the Fuzuli Rayon of Azerbaijan. The territory of the cave has been under the control of Armenian forces since the 1991-94 Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Extensively examined by archaeologists in the 1960s, the cave is considered to be the site of one of the most ancient proto-human habitations in Eurasia. A Neanderthal-style jaw bone found here by Mammadali Huseynov in 1968 and now kept at the Academy of Sciences in Baku is thought to be over 300,000 years old and thus one of the oldest proto-human remains found in this part of the world. Its discovery gave rise to the term Azykh Man.

Archaeologists have suggesed that the finds in the lowest layers of the cave are of a pre-Acheulean culture, one of the world's oldest (730,00-1,500,000 years) and in many ways similar to the Olduwan culture in Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge and the culture which produced the famous Lascaux cave in southeastern France.

The poor quality of the 1960s excavations led to uncertainty over the chronological position of the layers. Excavations resumed in the mid 1990s. In 2002 an international research team headed by Tanya King discovered undisturbed entrances to the cave as well as fauna and stone tools. The cave is now considered to have housed some of the earliest habitats of proto-humans in Eurasia. While little in the way of human remains have been discovered, evidence shows that the area was occupied by hominids over a period of nearly two million years.

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