Palaeolithic Bondi and Kakheti Open Site

Location: 87MG+JM Tabagrebi, Georgia

Season: June 30, 2024 to July 27, 2024

Session Dates: Bondi Period 1: Sunday 30th June to Friday 5th July 2024
Bondi Period 2: Sunday 7th July to Friday 12th July 2024
Bondi Period 3: Sunday 14th July to Friday 19th July 2024
Bondi Period 4: Sunday 21st July to Friday 26th July 2024

Kakheti Period 1: Sunday 30th June to Friday 5th July 2024
Kakheti Period 2: Sunday 7th July to Friday 12th July 2024
Kakheti Period 3: Sunday 14th July to Friday 19th July 2024
Kakheti Period 4: Sunday 21st July to Friday 26th July 2024

Bondi Phase 1: Sunday 30th June to Friday 12th July 2024
Bondi Phase 2: Sunday 14th July to Friday 26th July 2024

Kakheti Phase 1: Sunday 30th June to Friday 12th July 2024
Kakheti Phase 2: Sunday 14th July to Friday 26th July 2024

Bondi All: Sunday 30th June to Friday 26th July 2024
Kakheti All: Sunday 30th June to Friday 26th July 2024

Bondi/Kakheti Split: Sunday 30th June to Friday 26th July 2024

Application Deadline: June 1, 2024

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Past to Present Archaeology, Ilia State University

Project Director:
Dr. Niko Tushabramishvili

Project Description:

Bondi Cave is a Palaeolithic cave located in the basin of the Rioni-Kvirila Rivers, in the Imereti region in north-western Georgia, and is one of few cave sites which documents the transition between the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic, cataloguing the demise of the Neanderthals and their replacement by Homo sapiens between 45 and 35 ka BP. The cave is situated with a karstic landscape littred with Palaeolithic caves and findspots that document hominin dispersal, migration and evolution for the past 1.77 million years. To date, the cave has only received limited attention with the excavation of a single trench recording deposits back to the Later Middle Palaeolithic. The Caucasus possesses numerous examples of similiar sites that contain much older artefacts and deposits such as Tsona and Kudaro in Georgia, and Azykh in Azerbaijan. Therefore, it is hypothesis that Bondi Cave may date further back in time to the Lower Palaeolithic.

Situated 10km south west of Bondi Cave, lies an open plateau that following a programme of test-pitting in 2021 has produced numerous Lower and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts including Levallois cores, flakes, tools and handaxes, known as the site of Kakheti. The area of recovery is quite extensive and possesses multiple outcrops of good quality volcanic raw materials. The site has the potential to be extremely rich, which will be extremely important for helping archaeologists understand how hominins exploited and occupied this fascinating landscape.

This summer, Past to Present Archaeology alongside Dr Niko Tushabramishvili and Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia, launch a new research initiative to undertake excavations at both Bondi Cave and Kakheti open site to expand on previous excavations, to explore and document Neanderthal evolutionary history, discover evidence for the Lower Palaeolithic and study extensive artefact bearing deposits in a beautiful open landscape. We offer an exciting fieldschool opportunity to excavate rich Palaeolithic deposits and contribute to the understanding of human evolution in the Caucasus. Participants have a choice of site and even have an opportunity to experience receive expert archaeological training by industry professionals. This is an exciting opportunity, to be a part of a major research project.

You will receive archaeological training and instruction in:

  • Single-context excavation and recording
  • Maintaining accurate site records
  • Archaeological photography
  • Archaeological interpretation and sequencing
  • Drawing archaeological plans and sections to appropriate scales
  • Archaeological survey
  • Artefact retrieval and finds cataloguing
  • Lithic identification and typological analysis
  • Environmental sampling strategies
  • Site conduct and health and safety considerations

Period(s) of Occupation: The previous excavations at Bondi Cave were useful in identifying a stratigraphic sequence consisting of eight lithological layers divided into an upper complex (layers V to II) which produced a considerable Upper Palaeolithic assemblage, and a lower Middle Palaeolithic complex (layers VIII to VII). The Middle Palaeolithic layers have so far revealed artefacts that are distinctively different to the Upper Palaeolithic artefacts in size and typology. What’s more, the deposits look to extend far deeper. A human tooth attributed to Homo sapiens was recovered from layer V, which is estimated the date between 39,000 to 35,800cal BP. If the tooth is in its original context and position, this find represents the oldest Homo sapien fossil in Caucasus. Accompanying the human tooth is an extensive macrofaunal assemblage, comprising long-bone shaft fragments of medium and large ungulates (hooved mammals) representative of around 12 identifiable species dating to the Middle Palaeolithic. Finally, this site is rich in Palaeolithic implements with a total of 10,950 well preserved lithic artefacts recovered to date, from the excavated trench. With large areas yet to be excavated, Bondi Cave may have many hidden treasures yet to be revealed.

The site at Kakheti is Lower and Middle Palaeolithic in date, and is situated in a very ancient landscape dating back 1.77my. During the Palaeolithic the Caucasus acted as a major migration route for hominins and animals and the area is littered with implements. With extensive good quality raw material sources close to the Kakheti site, it's possible that this site could have been utilised as a workshop site for over a million years. The collaboration between Past to Present Archaeology and Ilia State University need your help to find this out.

One-Week Intensive: Immerse yourself for a week with accommodation at £895 per person. Two-Week Deep Dive: Extend your learning with a two-week stay for £1,595. Four-Week Exploration: Master your skills over four weeks for £2,995. Please note: Travel costs to and from Georgia are not included.

Project Size: 25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week

Minimum Age: 16

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Enjoy comprehensive dining with every package-each meal is included in the price, ensuring a hassle-free and enriching educational experience. And for a touch of Georgian hospitality, some of our dining experiences will be accompanied by select local wines.

Academic Credit:
We will sign Archaeological Skills Passports

Contact Information:

Eleanor Boot

Past to Present Archaeology, 4 Gedling Street, Suite 80, Unit 6 Sneinton Market




United Kingdom

support Us

The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.

Post a Fieldwork Opportunity