Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • 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
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/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.

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The Origin of the Celts

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on January 14, 2020

Scientists find that tin found in Israel from 3,000 years ago comes from Cornwall. Tin ingots from more than 3,000 years ago found in Israel are actually from Cornwall, a ceremonial county in South West England. It proves that complex trade routes existed as far back as the Bronze Age.

According to John T. Koch and others, Cornwall in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age (1300–700 BC), in modern-day Ireland, England, Wales, France, Spain and Portugal. Commercial contacts extended from Sweden and Denmark to the Mediterranean.

The period was defined by a number of distinct regional centres of metal production, unified by a regular maritime exchange of some of their products. The major centres were southern England and Ireland, north-western France, and western Iberia.

It is marked by economic and cultural exchange that led to the high degree of cultural similarity exhibited by the coastal communities, including the frequent use of stones as chevaux-de-frise, the establishment of cliff castles, or the domestic architecture sometimes characterized by the round houses.

The origins of the Celts were attributed to this period in 2008 by John T. Koch and supported by Barry Cunliffe, who argued for the past development of Celtic as an Atlantic lingua franca, later spreading into mainland Europe. However, this stands in contrast to what remains the more generally accepted view that Celtic origins lie with the Central European Hallstatt C culture.

They argue that communities adopted early Late Bronze Age Urnfield (Bronze D and Hallstatt A) elite status markers such as grip-tongue swords and sheet-bronze metalwork, along with new specialist know-how needed for their production and ritual knowledge about their ‘proper’ treatment upon deposition, which they see as indicating possible processes linked to language shift.

The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Western and Central European culture of Late Bronze Age (Hallstatt A, Hallstatt B ) from the 12th to 8th centuries BC and Early Iron Age Europe (Hallstatt C, Hallstatt D) from the 8th to 6th centuries BC. Linguistic evidence and continuity with the following Hallstatt culture suggests that the people of this area spoke an early form of Celtic, perhaps originally proto-Celtic.

The Hallstatt culture developed out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC (Late Bronze Age). Hallstatt A–B are part of the Bronze Age Urnfield culture (c. 1300 BC – 750 BC), a late Bronze Age culture of central Europe, often divided into several local cultures within a broader Urnfield tradition, while horizons Hallstatt C–D are the type site for the Iron Age Hallstatt culture.

The Hallstatt culture followed in much of its area by the La Tène culture, a European Iron Age culture. It developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from about 450 BCE to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE). It succeeded the Hallstatt culture without any definite cultural break, under the impetus of considerable Mediterranean influence from the Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul, the Etruscans, and Golasecca culture.

The name of the Urnfield culture comes from the custom of cremating the dead and placing their ashes in urns which were then buried in fields. Over much of Europe, the Urnfield culture followed the Tumulus culture and was succeeded by the Hallstatt culture.

The Tumulus culture (German: Hügelgräberkultur) dominated Central Europe during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600 to 1200 BC). As the name implies, the Tumulus culture is distinguished by the practice of burying the dead beneath burial mounds (tumuli or kurgans).

The Tumulus culture was eminently a warrior society, which expanded with new chiefdoms eastward into the Carpathian Basin (up to the river Tisza), and northward into Polish and Central European Únětice territories. The culture’s dispersed settlements centred in fortified structures.

Some scholars see Tumulus groups from southern Germany in this context as corresponding to a community that shared an extinct Indo-European linguistic entity, such as the hypothetical Italo-Celtic group that was ancestral to Italic and Celtic.

This particular hypothesis, however, conflicts with suggestions by other Indo-Europeanists. For instance, David W. Anthony suggests that Proto-Italic (and perhaps also Proto-Celtic) speakers could have entered Northern Italy at an earlier stage, from the east (e.g., the Balkan/Adriatic region).

It was the descendant of the Unetice culture. Its heartland was the area previously occupied by the Unetice culture besides Bavaria and Württemberg. It was succeeded by the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture. The Únětice culture is an archaeological culture at the start of the Central European Bronze Age, dated roughly to about 2300–1600 BC. The eponymous site for this culture, the village of Únětice, is located in the central Czech Republic, northwest of Prague.

The Únětice culture originated in the territories of contemporary Bohemia. The famous Sky Disk of Nebra is associated with the Central Germany groups of the Únětice culture. The disk is attributed to a site in present-day Germany near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, and dated by Archaeological association to c. 1600 BC. Researchers suggest the disk is an artifact of the Bronze Age Unetice culture.

The Nebra sky disk features the oldest concrete depiction of the cosmos yet known from anywhere in the world. In June 2013 it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and termed “one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century.”

A 2015 study published in Nature found the people of the Unetice culture to be closely genetically related to the Corded Ware culture, the Beaker culture and the Nordic Bronze Age. In a 2015 study published in Nature, the Y-DNA of three males of the Unetice culture from Esperstedt, Germany and Eulau, Czech Republic, was analyzed. The two individuals of Esperstedt were found to be carrying the haplgroups I2c2 and I2a2, while the individual from Eulau carried haplogroup I2.

The study found that Unetice people, similarly to the contemporary Beaker people, had less ancestry from the Yamnaya culture than the earlier Corded Ware culture. The authors of the study took this to be a sign of a resurgence of the indigenous inhabitants of Western Europe in the aftermath of the Yamnaya expansion.

The Bell Beaker culture or short Beaker culture, is an archaeological culture named after the inverted-bell beaker drinking vessel used at the very beginning of the European Bronze Age. Arising from around 2800 BC, and lasting in continental Europe until 2300 BC, succeeded by the Unetice culture, in Britain until as late as 1800 BC.

The Bell Beaker culture follows the Corded Ware culture and for north-central Europe the Funnelbeaker culture. The culture was widely scattered throughout Western Europe, from various regions in Iberia and spots facing northern Africa to the Danubian plains, the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and also the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

As the Beaker culture left no written records, all theories regarding the language or languages they spoke is highly conjectural. It has been suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture; more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic.

Mallory has more recently suggested that the Beaker culture was possibly associated with a European branch of Indo-European dialects, termed “North-west Indo-European”, ancestral to not only Celtic but equally Italic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic.

In its early phase, the Bell Beaker culture can be seen as the western contemporary of the Corded Ware culture of Central Europe. From about 2400 BC, however, the “Beaker folk” expanded eastwards, into the Corded Ware horizon. In parts of Central and Eastern Europe – as far east as Poland – a sequence occurs from Corded Ware to Bell Beaker.

In a 2015 study published in Nature, the remains of a later Bell Beaker male skeleton from Quedlinburg, Germany dated to 2296–2206 BC were analyzed. The individual was found to be carrying haplogroup R1b1a2a1a2. The study found that the Bell Beakers and people of the Unetice culture had less ancestry from the Yamnaya culture than the earlier Corded Ware culture.

The authors of the study took this to be a sign of a resurgence of the indigenous inhabitants of Western Europe in the aftermath of the Yamnaya expansion. Another 2015 study published in Nature found the people of the Beaker culture to be closely genetically related to the Corded Ware culture, the Unetice culture and the Nordic Bronze Age.

In yet another 2015 study published in Nature, the remains of eight individuals ascribed to the Beaker culture were analyzed. Two individuals were determined to belong to Haplogroup R1, while the remaining six were determined to belong to haplogroup R1b1a2 and various subclades of it. A study published in Nature in February 2018 confirmed that Bell Beaker males carried almost exclusively R1b.

The Corded Ware culture comprises a broad 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.

According to Haak et al. (2017), the Corded Ware people carried mostly Western Steppe Herder (WSH) ancestry and were closely related to the people of the Yamna culture (or Yamnaya), “documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery,” the Eurasiatic steppes.

The Corded Ware culture may have disseminated the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Balto-Slavic Indo-European languages. The Corded Ware Culture also shows genetic affinity with the later Sintashta culture, where the Proto-Indo-Iranian language may have originated.

The Yamnaya culture, also known as the Yamnaya Horizon, Yamna culture, Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BC.

Its name derives from its characteristic burial tradition: Ямна (romanization: yamna) is a Ukrainian adjective that means ‘related to pits (yama)’, and these people used to bury their dead in tumuli (kurgans) containing simple pit chambers.

The people of the Yamnaya culture were likely the result of a genetic admixture between the descendants of Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers[a] and people related to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus. People with this ancestral component are known as Western Steppe Herders.

Their material culture was very similar to the Afanasevo culture. They are also closely connected to Final Neolithic cultures, which later spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people and the Bell Beaker culture, as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubnaya cultures. Back migration from Corded Ware also contributed to Sintashta and Andronovo.

The Yamnaya culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the urheimat (original homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language. They lived primarily as nomads, with a chiefdom system and wheeled carts that allowed them to manage large herds.

According to Haak et al. (2015), “Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers” who inhabited today’s Russia were a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high genetic affinity to a c. 24,000-year-old Siberian from Mal’ta–Buret’ culture, which in turn resembles other remains of Siberia, such as the Afontova Gora.

Remains of the “Eastern European hunter-gatherers” have been found in Mesolithic or early Neolithic sites in Karelia and Samara Oblast, Russia, and put under analysis. Three such hunter-gathering individuals of the male sex have had their DNA results published. Each was found to belong to a different Y-DNA haplogroup: R1a, R1b, and J.

The Near East population were most likely hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus (CHG), though one study suggested that farmers dated to the Chalcolithic era from what is now Iran may be a better fit for the Yamnaya’s Near Eastern descent.

Jones et al. (2015) analyzed genomes from males from western Georgia, in the Caucasus, from the Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,300 years old) and the Mesolithic (9,700 years old). These two males carried Y-DNA haplogroup: J* and J2a. The researchers found that these Caucasus hunters were probably the source of the Near Eastern DNA in the Yamnaya.

Recent DNA-research has led to renewed suggestions of a Caucasian homeland for a ‘proto-proto-Indo-European’. It also lends support to the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, according to which both proto-Anatolian and proto-Indo-European split-off from a common mother language “no later than the 4th millennium BCE.”

Haak et al. (2015) states that “the Armenian plateau hypothesis gains in plausibility” since the Yamnaya partly descended from a Near Eastern population, which resembles present-day Armenians. Yet, they also state that “the question of what languages were spoken by the ‘Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers’ and the southern, Armenian-like, ancestral population remains open.”

Haplogroup R1b is the most common Y-DNA haplogroup found among both the Yamnaya and modern-day Western Europeans. 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.

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 Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the partially reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages. Its lexis, or vocabulary, can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of the comparative method of historical linguistics, in the same manner as Proto-Indo-European or PIE, the ancient language which has been most thoroughly re-constructed.

The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Caucasian Albania belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district of modern day Azerbaijan. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, closely associated with subsequent civilizations found on the Armenian Highlands. This is evident with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets, which closely resemble Armenian tonirs.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. The earliest known kurgans are dated to the 4th millennium BC in the Caucasus. Kurgan barrows were characteristic of Bronze Age peoples, and have been found from Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Altay Mountains, Caucasus, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. Kurgans were used in Ukrainian and Russian steppes, their use spreading with migration into eastern, central, and northern Europe in the 3rd millennium BC.

In 2006, a French–Azerbaijani team discovered nine kurgans at the cemetery of Soyuqbulaq, a village in the Agstafa Rayon of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the fourth millennium BC, which makes it the oldest kurgan cemetery in Transcaucasia. Similar kurgans have been found at Kavtiskhevi, Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia.

Several other archaeological sites seem to belong to the same ancient cultural tradition as Soyuq Bulaq. They include Berikldeebi, Kavtiskhevi, Leilatepe, Boyuk Kesik, and Poylu, Agstafa, and are characterized by pottery assemblages “mainly or totally in the North Mesopotamian tradition”.

Leyla-Tepe metalwork tradition was very sophisticated right from the beginning, and featured many bronze items. Later, the quality of metallurgy increased in both sophistication and quality with the advent of the Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC.

The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC. Altogether, the early trans-Caucasian culture enveloped a vast area and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz (Erzurum), Pulur, and Yanik Tepe (Iranian Azerbaijan, near Lake Urmia) cultures. It gave rise to the later Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture preceded the Kura–Araxes culture in the area. There were many differences between these two cultures, so the connection was not clear. Later, it was suggested that the Sioni culture of eastern Georgia possibly represented a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

At many sites, the Sioni culture layers can be seen as intermediary between Shulaver-Shomu-Tepe layers and the Kura-Araxes layers. This kind of stratigraphy warrants a chronological place of the Sioni culture at around 4000 BCE.

Nowadays scholars consider the Kartli area, as well as the Kakheti area (in the river Sioni region) as key to forming the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture. To a large extent, this appears as an indigenous culture of Caucasus that was formed over a long period, and at the same time incorporating foreign influences.

There are some indications (such as at Arslantepe) of the overlapping in time of the Kura-Araxes and Uruk cultures; such contacts may go back even to the Middle Uruk period. Some scholars have suggested that the earliest manifestation of the Kura-Araxes phenomenon should be dated at least to the last quarter of the 5th millennium BC. This is based on the recent data from Ovçular Tepesi, a Late Chalcolithic settlement located in Nakhchivan by the Arpaçay river.

Proto-Celtic is a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European language and is itself the ancestor of the Celtic languages which are members of the modern Indo-European language family, the most commonly spoken language family.

Modern Celtic languages share common features with Italic languages that are unseen in other branches and according to one theory they may have formed an ancient Italo-Celtic branch. In historical linguistics, Italo-Celtic is a grouping of the Italic and Celtic branches of the Indo-European language family on the basis of features shared by these two branches and no others.

The duration of the cultures speaking Proto-Celtic was relatively brief compared to PIE’s 2,000 years. The earliest archaeological culture that may justifiably be considered as Proto-Celtic is the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of Central Europe c.1300 BCE. By the Iron Age Hallstatt culture of around 800 BC these people had become fully Celtic.

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