Wezmeh Cave is a paleontological and archaeological cave site near Islamabad Gharb, western Iran, and some 470 kilometers southwest of the capital, Tehran. The site was discovered by a team of Iranian archaeologists headed by Dr. Kamyar Abdi in 1999. Later the site was excavated in 2001 by the same team.
Large numbers of animal fossil remains and several fragmented human bones and teeth have been discovered so far in the cave. The earliest and the latest dates obtained on animal bones are 70 kya and 11 kya, respectively. The human remains were studied by Erik Trinkaus and Bruno Maureille. It is of Upper Paleolithic period and was analyzed by non-destructive gamma spectrometry and gave a date of ca. 25000 years ago.
The animal remains belong to red fox, spotted hyena, brown bear, wolf, lion, leopard, equids, rhinoceros, etc. The faunal remains were studied by Dr. Marjan Mashkour and her colleagues at the Natural History Museum in Paris and osteological department of National Museum of Iran.
A human metatarsal bone fragment has also been analyzed and dated to the Neolithic period, about 9000 years ago. The DNA from this bone fragment shows that it is from a distinct genetic group, which was not known to scientists before. He had brown eyes, relatively dark skin, and black hair. Isotopic analysis showed the man's diet included cereals, a sign that he had learned how to cultivate crops.
This cave site was sporadically used by later Chalcolithic groups of the region, who used it as pen for their herds.
This cave was listed as an archaeological and paleonthological site on the National Register of Historic Places (17843) in 2006.
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Djamali, M., F. Biglari, K. Abdi, V. Andrieu-Ponel, J-L. de Beaulieu, M. Mashkour and Ph. Ponel, 2011. Pollen analysis of coprolites from a late Pleistocene-Holocene cave deposit (Wezmeh Cave, west Iran): insights into the late Pleistocene and late Holocene vegetation and flora of the central Zagros Mountains, Journal of Archaeological Science, doi:10.1016/j.jas.2011.08.001
Mashkour, M., H. Monchot, E. Trinkaus, J-L. Reyss, F. Biglari, S. Bailon, S. Heydari, K. Abdi 2009, "Carnivores and their prey in the Wezmeh Cave (Kermanshah, Iran): A Late Pleistocene refuge in the Zagros," International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 19: 678-694.
Monchot H. 2008. Des hyenes tachetees au Pleistocene superieur dans le Zagros (grotte Wezmeh, Iran). Archaeozoology of the Near East VIII: Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on the Archaeozoology of Southwestern Asia and Adjacent Areas. Villa, E., Gourichon, L., Chyke, A. M., and Butenhuis, H., (eds), pp. 65–78, Mison de l’Orient.
Trinkaus E, F. Biglari, M. Mashkour, H. Monchot, J-L. Reyss, H. Rougier, S. Heydari, K. Abdi. 2008,Late Pleistocene Human Remains from Wezmeh Cave, western Iran. American Journal of physical Anthropology.135(4):371-80