Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives

Our background

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 6, 2016

Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and dating to the Middle Paleolithic, the middle part of the European Old Stone Age. Mousterian tools that have been found in Europe were made by Neanderthals and date from around 160,000 BP and 40,000 BP.

The culture was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France. Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe and also the Near East and North Africa. Handaxes, racloirs and points constitute the industry; sometimes a Levallois technique or another prepared-core technique was employed in making the flint flakes.

Some assemblages, namely those from Pech de l’Aze, include exceptionally small points prepared using the Levallois technique among other prepared core types, causing some researchers to suggest that these flakes take advantage of greater grip strength possessed by Neanderthal physiology.

In North Africa and the Near East, Mouseterian tools were also produced by anatomically modern humans. In the Levant, for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those made by Qafzeh type modern humans. It may be an example of acculturation of modern humans by Neanderthals because the culture after 130,000 years reached the Levant from Europe (the first Mousterian industry appears there 200,000 BP) and the modern Qafzeh type humans appear in the Levant another 100,000 years later.

Possible variants are Denticulate, Charentian (Ferrassie & Quina) named after the Charente region, Typical and the Acheulean Tradition (MTA) – Type-A and Type-B. The industry continued alongside the new Châtelperronian industry during the 45,000-40,000 BP period.

Châtelperronian was the earliest industry of the Upper Palaeolithic in central and south western France, extending also into Northern Spain. It derives its name from the site of la Grotte des Fées, in Châtelperron, Allier, France.

It arose from the earlier Mousterian industry. It lasted from between c. 45,000 and c. 40,000 BP. The industry produced denticulate stone tools and also a distinctive flint knife with a single cutting edge and a blunt, curved back. The use of ivory at Châtelperronian sites tends to be more frequent than that of the later Aurignacian, while antler tools appear to be absent.

Controversy exists as to how far archaeologically it is associated with Neanderthal people. The Châtelperronian industry may relate to the origins of the very similar Gravettian culture. French archaeologists have traditionally classified both cultures together under the name Périgordian, Early Perigordian being equivalent to Châtelperronian and all the other phases corresponding to Gravettian, though this scheme is not often used by Anglophone authors.

It was followed by the Aurignacian industry, an archaeological culture of the Upper Palaeolithic. The name originates from the type site (a site considered to be the model of a particular archaeological culture) of Aurignac, Haute-Garonne, which is a town in the south-west of France near Toulouse or Andorra.

The Aurignacian culture is the earliest modern human culture in Europe, and is associated with the immigration of anatomically modern humans from the Near East. It first appeared in Eastern Europe around 43,000 BP, and in Western Europe between 40,000 and 36,000 years BP. It was replaced by the Gravettian culture around 28,000 to 26,000 years ago.

The oldest undisputed example of human figurative art, the Venus of Hohle Fels, comes from this culture. It was discovered in September 2008 in a cave at Schelklingen in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The Bacho Kiro site is one of the earliest known Aurignacian burials.

The Gravettian tool-making culture was a specific archaeological industry of the European Upper Paleolithic era prevalent before the last glacial maximum. It is named after the site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied.

The earliest signs of the culture were found at Kozarnika, Bulgaria. Authorities give slightly different dates for this culture. Brian M. Fagan suggests it lasted from around 27,000 to 16,000 BCE while Richard Klein suggests between 26,000 and 20,000 BCE. Where found, it succeeded the artifacts datable to the Aurignacian culture.

In August 2013, Romanian archaeologists found a 20,000-year-old Gravettian pendant at the Paleolithic site of Poiana Ciresului (English: ‘Cherry Glade’), near Piatra Neamț, in eastern Romania. The newly discovered objects will be included in the Paleolithic artifacts collection of the Târgoviște History Museum, in the new section of human evolution. The department will open at “Stelea” Galleries with the support of the Dâmboviţa County Council.

The diagnostic characteristic artifacts of the industry are small pointed restruck blade with a blunt but straight back, a carving tool known as a burin. Artistic achievements of the Gravettian cultural stage include hundreds of Venus figurines, which are widely distributed in Europe. The predecessor culture was linked to similar figurines and carvings.

Gravettian culture is a phase of the European Upper Paleolithic that is characterized by a stone-tool industry with small pointed blades used for big-game hunting (bison, horse, reindeer and mammoth). People in the Gravettian period used nets to hunt small game. For more information on hunting, see Animal Usage in the Gravettian.

It is divided into two regional groups: the western Gravettian, mostly known from cave sites in France, and the eastern Gravettian, with open sites of specialized mammoth hunters on the plains of central Europe and Russia such as the derivative Pavlovian culture.

Artifacts and technologies of this and the preceding Aurignacian culture figure centrally in the romanticized adaptation of the culture in the popular fictive prehistory depicted in the Earth’s Children novel series which leans heavily on archeological finds and theories from this era. In the series, the Venus figurines are central to a fertility rite and worship of “The Great Earth Mother,” a spirit from which all life flows.

The Baradostian culture was an Upper Paleolithic flint industry culture found in the Zagros region in the border-country between Iraq and Iran. It was preceded by the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian culture. According to M. Otte, the Baradostian of the Zagros clearly belongs to Aurignacian traditions.

Radiocarbon dates suggest that this was one of the earliest Upper Paleolithic complexes, beginning perhaps as early as 36,000 BC. Its relationship, however, to neighbouring cultures remains unclear. Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan, Warwasi rock-shelter and Yafteh Cave in the western Zagros, and Eshkaft-e Gavi Cave in the southern Zagros are among the major sites to have been excavated.

Perhaps precipitated by the most recent cold phase (the Würm glaciation) of the current ice age, the Baradostian was replaced by a local Epipaleolithic industry called the Zarzian culture. The Baradostian tool tradition marks the end of the Zagros Paleolithic sequence.

Zarzian culture is an archaeological culture of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in Southwest Asia. The period of the culture is estimated about 18,000-8,000 years BC. It was preceded by the Baradostian culture in the same region and was related to the Imereti culture of the Caucasus.

The culture was named and recognised of the cave of Zarzi in Iraqi Kurdistan. Here was found plenty of microliths (up to 20% finds). Their forms are short and asymmetric trapezoids, and triangles with hollows.

Andy Burns states “The Zarzian of the Zagros region of Iran is contemporary with the Natufian but different from it. The only dates for the entire Zarzian come from Palegawra Cave, and date to 17,300-17,000 BP, but it is clear that it is broadly contemporary with the Levantine Kebaran, with which it shares features. It seems to have evolved from the Upper Palaeolithic Baradostian.”

There are only a few Zarzian sites and the area appears to have been quite sparsely populated during the Epipalaeolithic. Faunal remains from the Zarzian indicate that the temporary form of structures indicate a hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy, focused on onager, red deer and caprines. Better known sites include Palegawra Cave, Shanidar B2 and Zarzi.” The Zarzian culture seems to have participated in the early stages of what Kent Flannery has called the broad spectrum revolution.

The Zarzian culture is found associated with remains of the domesticated dog and with the introduction of the bow and arrow. It seems to have extended north into the Gobustan (Kobystan, Qobustan) region and into Eastern Iran as a forerunner of the Hissar and related cultures.

Emireh culture was a culture that existed in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine) between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic periods. It apparently developed from the local Mousterian without rupture, keeping numerous elements of the Levalloise-Mousterian, together with the locally typical Emireh point. The Emireh point is the type tool of stage one of the Upper Paleolithic, first identified in the Emirian or Emireh culture.

Numerous stone blade tools were used, including curved knives similar to those found in the Chatelperronian culture of Western Europe. Like the Chattelperronian, Elmireh is associated with late Neanderthal people rather than with Homo sapiens. According to Dorothy Garrod, the Emireh point, known from several sites in Israel, is the hallmark of this culture.

The Emirian eventually evolved into the Antelian culture, an Upper Paleolithic phase of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel), still of Levalloise tradition but with some Aurignacian influences. The most important innovation in this period is the incorporation of some typical elements of Aurignacian, like some types of burins and narrow blade points that resemble the European type of Font-Yves.

The appearance of the Kebarian culture (c. 18,000 to 12,500 BC) was the last Upper Paleolithic phase in the eastern Mediterranean area of the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. It was named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa. The Kebaran were a highly mobile nomadic population, composed of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who utilized microlithic tools.

The appearance of the Kebarian culture, of microlithic type implies a significant rupture in the cultural continuity of Levantine Upper Paleolithic. The Kebarans were characterized by small, geometric microliths, and were thought to lack the specialized grinders and pounders found in later Near Eastern cultures.

The Kebaran culture, with its use of microliths, is associated with the use of the bow and arrow and the domestication of the dog. It is also characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools. It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution. The Kebaran people are believed to have practiced dispersal to upland environments in the summer, and aggregation in caves and rockshelters near lowland lakes in the winter. This diversity of environments may be the reason for the variety of tools found in their toolkits.

The Kebaran is preceded by the Athlitian phase of the Antelian, a specialization of Antelian with a comeback of the Chatelperronian knives of the Emiran, and followed by the proto-agrarian Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic. Situated in the Terminal Pleistocene, the Kebaran is classified as an Epipalaeolithic society. They are generally thought to have been ancestral to the later Natufian culture that occupied much of the same range.

The Natufian culture was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. According to Christy G. Turner II, there is an archaeological and physical anthropological reason for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant and the Natufians.

It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

The term “Natufian” was coined by Dorothy Garrod who studied the Shuqba cave in Wadi an-Natuf, in the western Judean Mountains, about halfway between Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

The Natufian developed in the same region as the earlier Kebaran complex, and is generally seen as a successor which developed from at least elements within that earlier culture. There were also other cultures in the region, such as the Mushabian culture of the Negev and Sinai, which are sometimes distinguished from the Kebaran, and sometimes also seen as having played a role in the development of the Natufian.

More generally there has been discussion of the similarities of these cultures with those found in coastal North Africa. Graeme Barker notes there are: “similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary”.

Ofer Bar-Yosef has argued that there are signs of influences coming from North Africa to the Levant, citing the microburin technique and “microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points.” But recent research has shown that the presence of arched backed bladelets, La Mouillah points, and the use of the microburin technique was already apparent in the Nebekian industry of the Eastern Levant. And Maher et al. state that, “Many technological nuances that have often been always highlighted as significant during the Natufian were already present during the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic and do not, in most cases, represent a radical departure in knowledge, tradition, or behavior.”

Authors such as Christopher Ehret have built upon the little evidence available to develop scenarios of intensive usage of plants having built up first in North Africa, as a precursor to the development of true farming in the Fertile Crescent, but such suggestions are considered highly speculative until more North African archaeological evidence can be gathered. In fact, Weiss et al. have shown that the earliest known intensive usage of plants was in the Levant 23,000 years ago at the Ohalo II site.

Anthropologist C. Loring Brace in a recent study on cranial metric traits however, was also able to identify a “clear link” to Sub-Saharan African populations for early Natufians based on his observation of gross anatomical similarity with extant populations found mostly in the Sahara. Brace believes that these populations later became assimilated into the broader continuum of Southwest Asian populations.

According to Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, “It seems that certain preadaptive traits, developed already by the Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran populations within the Mediterranean park forest, played an important role in the emergence of the new socioeconomic system known as the Natufian culture.”

Haplogroup R

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the 24,000 year-old remains of the so-called “Mal’ta boy” from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia. This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic.

The Mal’ta-Buret’ culture is an archaeological culture of the Upper Paleolithic (c. 24,000 to 15,000 BP) on the upper Angara River in the area west of Lake Baikal in the Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia, Russian Federation.

According to research published in 2013 and 2016 the Mal’ta people belonged to an extinct population closely related to a population who contributed substantially to the genetic ancestry of Siberians, Native Americans and Bronze Age Yamnaya people.

Research published in 2014 suggests that a Mal’ta like people were important genetic contributors to the American Indians, Europeans, Central and South Asians but did not contribute to and was not related to East Eurasians. Mal’ta had a type of R* y-dna that diverged before the hg R1 and R2 split and an unresolved clade of haplogroup U mtdna.

Between 14 and 38 percent of American Indian ancestry may originate from gene flow from the Mal’ta Buret people, while the other geneflow in the Native Americans appears to have an Eastern Eurasian origin.

Sequencing of another south-central Siberian (Afontova Gora-2) dating to approximately 17,000 years ago, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as Mal’ta boy-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum.

The term “Ancient North Eurasian” (ANE) is the name given in genetic literature to an ancestral component that represents descent from the people of the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or a population closely related to them.

Genomic study also indicates that the Yamnaya invasion from steppes introduced “Ancient North Eurasian” admixture into Europe. “Ancient North Eurasian” genetic component is visible in tests of the Yamnaya people, which makes up 50% of their ancestry. as well as modern-day Europeans (5%-18% ANE admixture), but not of Europeans predating the Bronze Age.

According to 2016 genomic study, it was found that global maximum of ANE ancestry occurs in modern-day Native Americans, Kets, Nganasans and Yukaghirs. The Mal’ta-Buret’ population were also found to be genetically close to modern-day Native Americans, Kets, Nganasans and Yukaghirs.

Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

Discussing this easternmost outpost of paleolithic culture, Joseph Campbell finishes by commenting on the symbolic forms of the artifacts found there: We are clearly in a paleolithic province where the serpent, labyrinth, and rebirth themes already constitute a symbolic constellation, joined with the imagery of the sunbird and shaman flight, with the goddess in her classic role of protectress of the hearth, mother of man’s second birth, and lady of wild things and of the food supply.

Perhaps the best example of Paleolithic portable art is something referred to as “Venus figurines”. Until they were discovered in Mal’ta, “Venus figurines” were previously found only in Europe. The only widely known Upper Paleolithic art from Asia are these figurines from Mal’ta.

A Venus figurine is any Upper Paleolithic statuette portraying a woman, although the fewer images depicting men or figures of uncertain gender, and those in relief or engraved on rock or stones are often discussed together. Most have been unearthed in Europe, but others have been found as far away as Siberia, extending their distribution across much of Eurasia, although with many gaps, such as the Mediterranean outside Italy.

Most of them date from the Gravettian period (26,000–21,000 years ago), but examples exist as early as the Venus of Hohle Fels, which dates back at least 35,000 years to the Aurignacian, and as late as the Venus of Monruz, from about 11,000 years ago in the Magdalenian.

There are many interpretations of the figurines, often based on little argument or fact. Like many prehistoric artifacts, the cultural meaning of these figures may never be known. Archaeologists speculate, however, that they may be emblems of security and success, fertility icons, or direct representations of a mother goddess.

The female figures, as part of Upper Palaeolithic portable art, appear to have no practical use in the context of subsistence. They are mostly discovered in settlement contexts, both in open-air sites and caves; burial contexts are much rarer.

At Gagarino in Russia, seven Venus figurines were found in a hut of 5 m diameter; they have been interpreted as apotropaic amulets, connected with the occupants of the dwelling. At Mal’ta, near Lake Baikal in Siberia, figurines are only known from the left sides of huts. The figurines were probably not hidden or secret amulets, but rather were displayed to be seen by all (a factor that may explain their wide geographic spread). An image of excess weight may have symbolized a yearning for plenty and security.

Helen Benigni argues in The Emergence of the Goddess that the consistency in design of these featureless, large-breasted, often pregnant figures throughout a wide region and over a long period of time suggests they represent an archetype of a female Supreme Creator. Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age people likely connected the female as a creator innately tied to the cycles of nature: women gave birth and their menstrual cycles aligned with lunar cycles and tides.

At Mal’ta, near Lake Baikal in Siberia, figurines are only known from the left sides of huts. The figurines were probably not hidden or secret amulets, but rather were displayed to be seen by all (a factor that may explain their wide geographic spread). An image of excess weight may have symbolized a yearning for plenty and security.

In addition to the female statuettes there are bird sculptures depicting swans, geese, and ducks. Through ethnographic analogy comparing the ivory objects and burials at Mal’ta with objects used by 19th and 20th century Siberian shamans, it has been suggested that they are evidence of a fully developed shamanism.

The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was the last period in the Earth’s climate history during the last glacial period when ice sheets were at their greatest extension. Growth of the ice sheets reached their maximum positions 24,500 BCE. Deglaciation commenced in the Northern Hemisphere gradually between approximately 18,000 to 17,000 BCE, and in Antarctica approximately 12,500 BCE which is consistent with evidence that this was the primary source for an abrupt rise in the sea level 12,500 BCE.

During the LGM, vast ice sheets covered much of North America, northern Europe and Asia. These ice sheets profoundly affected Earth’s climate, causing drought, desertification and a dramatic drop in sea levels. It was followed by the Late Glacial Maximum.

The Late Glacial Maximum (c. 13,000–10,000 years ago), or Tardiglacial (“Late Glacial”), is defined primarily by the beginning of the modern warm period, in which climates in the Northern Hemisphere warmed substantially, causing a process of accelerated deglaciation following the Last Glacial Maximum (c. 25,000–13,000 years ago).

At this time, human populations, previously forced into refuge areas as a result of Last Glacial Maximum climatic conditions, gradually begin to repopulate the Northern Hemisphere’s Eurasian landmass and eventually populate North America via Beringia for the first time.

The European distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a has been suggested to have occurred as a result of receding glacial activity, allowing males bearing the lineage from the present day territory of Ukraine to migrate and gradually populate central, northern, and western Europe.

Alternatively, it has been proposed that males from haplogroup Hg P*(xR1a1) or R1b (Y-DNA) repopulated most of Europe shortly after the Last Glacial Maximum, related to population expansions out of the Franco-Cantabrian region. The European distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup I and various associated subclades has also been explained as resulting from male postglacial recolonization of Europe from refuge in the Balkans, Iberia, and the Ukraine/Central Russian Plain.

Males possessing haplogroup Q are postulated as representing a significant portion of the population who crossed Beringia and populated North America for the first time.

The distribution of mtDNA haplogroup H has been postulated as representing the major female repopulating of Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum from the Franco-Cantabrian region. mtDNA haplogroups A, B, C, D, and X are interpreted according to some as supporting a single pre-Clovis populating of the Americas via a coastal route.

Periglacial loess-steppe environments prevailed across the East European Plain, but climates improved slightly during several brief interstadials and began to warm significantly after the beginning of the Late Glacial Maximum. Epigravettian archaeological sites, similar to Eastern Gravettian sites, are common in the southwest, central, and southern regions of the East European Plain about 17,000 to 10,000 years BP and are also present in the Crimea and Northern Caucasus.

The Gravettian tool-making culture was a specific archaeological industry of the European Upper Paleolithic era prevalent before the last glacial maximum. It is named after the site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied. The earliest signs of the culture were found at Kozarnika, Bulgaria. Authorities give slightly different dates for this culture. Brian M. Fagan suggests it lasted from around 27,000 to 16,000 BCE while Richard Klein suggests between 26,000 and 20,000 BCE.

Where found, it succeeded the artifacts datable to the Aurignacian culture. Artistic achievements of the Gravettian cultural stage include hundreds of Venus figurines, which are widely distributed in Europe. The predecessor culture was linked to similar figurines and carvings.

Artifacts and technologies of this and the preceding Aurignacian culture figure centrally in the romanticized adaptation of the culture in the popular fictive prehistory depicted in the Earth’s Children novel series which leans heavily on archeological finds and theories from this era. In the series, the Venus figurines are central to a fertility rite and worship of “The Great Earth Mother,” a spirit from which all life flows.

The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India. The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East.

The southern branch, R1b1c (V88), is found mostly in the Levant and Africa. The northern branch, R1b1a (P297), seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia. R1b1b (M335) has only been found in Anatolia.

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs. With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals.

The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming. Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.

The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others. Haplogroup R1a probably branched off from R1* during or soon after the Last Glacial Maxium. Little is know for certain about its place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions. The diversity can be explained by other factors though.

The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a. South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia.


Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them.

Aratta is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, proposed by Georgian (T. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguist V. V. Ivanov in 1985, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands.

The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Georgian (T. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguists V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work. J. Grepin, reviewing Gamkrelidze and Ivanov’s book, wrote that their model of linguistic relationships is “the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century”.

It is argueed that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded, as per the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland. It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario, which are identified with the Kura-Araxes culture.

The phonological peculiarities proposed in the glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ and implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC and closely associate Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (the Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (without Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. It figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten, diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.

In 1981, Paul Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.

Some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and Warren Cowgill, have argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Proto-Indo-European, rather than a daughter language, formulating the Indo-Hittite hypothesis. The parent, Indo-Hittite, lacked the features not present in Hittite, which Proto-Indo-European innovated.

Other linguists, however, have taken the opposite point of view, the Schwund (“loss”) Hypothesis, that Hittite (or Anatolian) came from a Proto-Indo-European possessing the full range of features, but simplified. A third hypothesis, supported by Calvert Watkins and others, viewed the major families as all coming from Proto-Indo-European directly. They were all sister languages or language groups. Differences might be explained as dialectical.

The Catacomb culture (ca. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine. It was preceded by the Yamna culture.

The culture was the first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from ca. the 17th century BC.

Because of its numerous traits attributed to the early Indo-Europeans, like metal-use, horses and wheeled vehicles, and cultural relations with Kurgan steppe cultures, the Afanasevans are believed to have been Indo-European-speaking. The Afanasevo people were genetically indistinguishable from Yamnaya people.

Because of its eastern geographical location and early existence, the Afanasevans have been connected to the Tocharian languages. Yet, Tarim mummies are genetically closer to Andronovo culture than to Yamnaya culture or Afanasevo culture. Numerous scholars have suggested that the Afanasevo were responsible for the introduction of metallurgy to China.

The Globular Amphora Culture (GAC), German Kugelamphoren-Kultur (KAK), ca. 3400–2800 BC, is an archaeological culture, thought to be of Indo-European origin, preceding the central area occupied by the Corded Ware culture. Somewhat to the south and west, it was bordered by the Baden culture. To the northeast was the Narva culture. It occupied much of the same area as the earlier Funnelbeaker culture. The name was coined by Gustaf Kossinna because of the characteristic pottery, globular-shaped pots with two to four handles.

The inclusion of animals in the grave is seen as an intrusive cultural element by Marija Gimbutas. The practice of suttee, hypothesized by Gimbutas is also seen as a highly intrusive cultural element. The supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis point to these distinctive burial practices and state this may represent one of the earliest migrations of Indo-Europeans into Central Europe. In this context and given its area of occupation, this culture has been claimed as the underlying culture of a Germanic-Baltic-Slavic continuum.

The Corded Ware culture (German: Schnurkeramik; French: ceramique cordée; Dutch: touwbekercultuur) comprises a broad Indo-European archaeological horizon of Europe between c. 2900 BCE — circa 2350 BCE, thus from the late Neolithic, through the Copper Age, and ending in the early Bronze Age.

Corded Ware culture encompassed a vast area, from the Rhine on the west to the Volga in the east, occupying parts of Northern Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

The origins and dispersal of Corded Ware culture was for a long time one of the pivotal unresolved issues of the Indo-European Urheimat problem, but a genetic study conducted by Haak et al. (2015) found that a large proportion (about 75%) of the Corded Ware culture’s ancestry came from the Yamnaya culture, tracing the Corded Ware culture’s origins to migrations from the Yamnaya population of the steppes.

Their study confirms with paleogenomics the pivotal role Corded Ware culture played in disseminating many forms of the Indo-European language ancestral to at least Northern European Indo-European languages (Germanic and Balto-Slavic), and suggests a role in the spread of other Indo-European languages of Southern Europe (Italo-Celtic and probably Greek languages).

Furthermore, Allentoft et al. (2015) presents surprising genetic evidence of genetic affinity of the Corded Ware Culture with the later Sintashta culture, suggesting that the “Western” or European Neolithic component of Sintashta and its daughter cultures may have come from the Corded Ware culture.

The Yamna or Yamnaya culture, also called Pit Grave Culture and Ochre Grave Culture, was a late Copper Age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3,500 – 2,300 BCE. The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

The people of the Yamnaya culture were the likely result of admixture between eastern European hunter-gatherers (via whom they also descend from the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or other, closely related people) and Near eastern people, namely hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus c.q. Iran Chalcolithic related people which were related to Caucasian hunter-gatherers.

According to Jones et al. (2015) and Haak et al. (2015), autosomic tests indicate that the Yamnaya-people were the result of admixture between two different hunter-gatherer populations: distinctive “Eastern European hunter-gatherers” with high affinity to the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or other, closely related people from Siberia and a population of “Caucasus hunter-gatherers” who probably arrived from somewhere in the Near East, probably the Caucasus. Each of those two populations contributed about half the Yamnaya DNA.

Their culture is materially very similar to that of the people of the Afanasevo culture, their contemporaries in the Altai Mountains; furthermore, genetic tests have confirmed that the two groups are genetically indistinguishable.

They are also closely connected to later, Bronze Age cultures which spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people, but also the Bell Beakers as well as the peoples of the Andronovo, Sintashta, and Srubna cultures. In these groups, there are present several aspects of the Yamna culture (e.g., horse-riding, burial styles, and to some extent the pastoralist economy). Studies have also established that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.

Armenia, Homeland of the Germans?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: