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

    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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Caucasus II

Caucasus II

Funnel-beaker Culture

The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, in short TRB or TBK (German: Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur, Dutch: Trechterbekercultuur; Danish: Tragtbægerkultur; c. 4300 BC–c. 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. It is named for its characteristic ceramics, beakers and amphorae with funnel-shaped tops, which were found in dolmen burials.

The TRB represents a merger between the Neolithic agricultural society derived form the LBK culture and Mesolithic (hunter-gatherer) lifestyle, in southern Scandinavia, the Netherlands, northern Germany and Poland. The culture owes its name to the distictive collared flask ceramic, perhaps a precursor of the Bell-beaker ceramic that would spread across the western half of Europe from 2800 BCE.

The TRB ranges from the Elbe catchment in Germany and Bohemia with a western extension into the Netherlands, to southern Scandinavia (Denmark up to Uppland in Sweden and the Oslofjord in Norway) in the north and to the Vistula catchment in today’s Poland in the east.

Variants of the Funnelbeaker culture in or near the Elbe catchment area include the Tiefstich pottery group in northern Germany as well as the cultures of the Baalberge group (TRB-MES II and III; MES = Mittelelbe-Saale), the Salzmünde and Walternienburg and Bernburg (all TRB-MES IV) whose centres were in Saxony-Anhalt.

It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.

Neolithic agricultural economy dominated by animal husbandry of sheep, cattle, pigs and goats that grazed in a demarcated piece of land around the farmers’ houses. Cow milk was consumed and oxen were used for heavy work.

TRB people also complemented their diet through hunting and fishing. Primitive wheat and barley was grown on small patches that were quickly depleted. Flintstone was mined, notably in southern Sweden, to make flint axes. Copper daggers and axes were imported from Central Europe.

It marks the appearance of Megalithic tombs and passage graves (from 3,400 BCE in Denmark) along the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, apparently as an eastward expansion of the Atlantic Megalithic cultures, with which it was later unified within the Bell-Beaker trading network.

Hundreds of megaliths have been uncovered, with particularly high concentrations in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel, in the Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony, around Haldensleben in Saxony-Anhalt, and on the island of Rügen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Burials included ceramic vessels that contained food, amber jewelery and flint axes.

It was preceded by Lengyel-influenced Stroke-ornamented ware culture (STK) groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleráz (3600–2800 BC), a Chalcolithic culture found in Central and Southeast Europe, in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups (ca 5300 BC – 3950 BC), the name of a hunter-gatherer and fisher, pottery-making culture dating to the end of the Mesolithic period, in the north.

The Stroke-ornamented ware culture (4600-4400 BC), or Stichbandkeramik (abbr. STK or STbK), Stroked Pottery culture, Danubian Ib culture of V. Gordon Childe, or Middle Danubian culture is the successor of the Linear Pottery culture.

The Rössen culture or Roessen culture (German: Rössener Kultur) is a Central European culture of the middle Neolithic (4,600–4,300 BC). It marks the transition from a broad and widely distributed tradition going back to Central Europe’s earliest Neolithic LBK towards the more diversified Middle and Late Neolithic situation characterised by the appearance of complexes like Michelsberg and Funnel Beaker Culture.

The Lengyel culture, is an archaeological culture of the European Neolithic, centered on the Middle Danube in Central Europe. It flourished during 5000-3400 BC. The eponymous type site is at Lengyel in Tolna county, Hungary.

It was preceded by the Linear Pottery culture and succeeded by the Corded Ware culture (2900-2350 BC), which 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.

In its northern extent, overlapped the somewhat later but otherwise approximately contemporaneous Funnelbeaker culture. Also closely related are the Stroke-ornamented ware and Rössen cultures, adjacent to the north and west, respectively.

It is a wide interaction sphere or cultural horizon rather than an archaeological culture in the narrow sense. Its distribution overlaps with the Tisza culture and with Stroke-Ornamented Pottery (STK) as far north as Osłonki, central Poland.

The Lengyel culture was associated with the cover-term Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas, though may have been undergone “kurganization” by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and become integrated into the successor Globular Amphora culture (GAC; 3400–2800 BC), an archaeological culture in Central Europe.

Marija Gimbutas assumed an Indo-European origin for GAC, though this is contradicted by newer genetic studies which clearly show a connection to the earlier wave of Neolithic farmers rather than to invaders from the southern Russian steppes.

The TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group in the Netherlands between the Zuiderzee and lower Elbe that originated in the Swifterbant culture, an eastern group centered on the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged.

In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (German: Einzelgrabkultur; EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.

The Single Grave culture (2,800 BC to 2,200 BC) was a Chalcolithic culture which flourished on the western North European Plain. It was a local variant of the Corded Ware culture, and appears to have emerged as a result of a migration of peoples from the Pontic-Caspian steppe. It was succeeded by the Bell Beaker culture, which appears to have been ultimately derived from the Single Grave culture.

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.

It 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.

With the exception of some inland settlements such as Alvastra pile-dwelling, the settlements are located near those of the previous Ertebølle culture on the coast. It was characterised by single-family daubed houses c. 12 m x 6 m. It was dominated by animal husbandry of sheep, cattle, pigs and goats, but there was also hunting and fishing.

One find assigned to the Funnelbeaker culture is the Bronocice pot from Poland, which shows the oldest known depiction of a wagon, presumably drawn by aurochs whose remains were found with the pot. Primitive wheat and barley was grown on small patches that were fast depleted, due to which the population frequently moved small distances.

There was also mining (in the Malmö region) and collection of flintstone (Świętokrzyskie Mountains), which was traded into regions lacking the stone, such as the Scandinavian hinterland. The culture used copper from Silesia, especially daggers and axes.

The houses were centered on a monumental grave, a symbol of social cohesion. Burial practices were varied, depending on region and changed over time. Inhumation seems to have been the rule. The oldest graves consisted of wooden chambered cairns inside long barrows, but were later made in the form of passage graves and dolmens.

Originally, the structures were probably covered with a mound of earth and the entrance was blocked by a stone. The Funnelbeaker culture marks the appearance of megalithic tombs at the coasts of the Baltic and of the North sea, an example of which are the Sieben Steinhäuser in northern Germany.

The megalithic structures of Ireland, France and Portugal are somewhat older and have been connected to earlier archeological cultures of those areas. At graves, the people sacrificed ceramic vessels that contained food along with amber jewelry and flint-axes.

Flint-axes and vessels were also deposited in streams and lakes near the farmlands, and virtually all Sweden’s 10,000 flint axes that have been found from this culture were probably sacrificed in water.

They also constructed large cult centres surrounded by pales, earthworks and moats. The largest one is found at Sarup on Fyn. It comprises 85,000 m2 and is estimated to have taken 8000 workdays. Another cult centre at Stävie near Lund comprises 30,000 m2.

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis (or steppe hypothesis), the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing a culture of Neolithic origin, as opposed to the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples who later intruded from the east.

Marija Gimbutas postulated that the political relationship between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into the Corded Ware culture. By contrast, a number of other archaeologists in the past have proposed that the Corded Ware culture was a purely local development of the Funnelbeaker culture, which has been debunked by genetics.

The Bronocice pot, discovered in a village in Gmina Działoszyce, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, near Nidzica River, Poland, is a ceramic vase incised with the earliest known image of a wheeled vehicle. It was dated by the radiocarbon method to 3635–3370 BC, and is attributed to the Funnelbeaker culture. Today it is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Cracow (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie), Poland.

The picture on the pot symbolically depicts key elements of the prehistoric human environment. The most important component of the decoration are five rudimentary representations of what seems to be a wagon.

They represent a vehicle with a shaft for a draught animal, and four wheels. The lines connecting them probably represent axles. The circle in the middle possibly symbolizes a container for harvest. Other images on the pot include a tree, a river and what may be fields intersected by roads/ditches or the layout of a village.

The Bronocice Pot suggests the existence of wagons in Central Europe as early as in the 4th millennium BC. They were presumably drawn by aurochs whose remains were found with the pot. Their horns were worn out as if tied with a rope, possibly a result of using a kind of yoke.

Based on Bronocice discovery, several researchers (Asko Parpola and Christian Carpelan), pointed out that “Indo-European languages possess inherited vocabulary related to wheeled transport”, thus providing new research information about the origin of the Indo-European; “the wheeled vehicles were first invented around the middle of the fourth millennium BC.”

In his review Theoretical Structural Archeology, Geoff Carter, writes: “The site was occupied during the Funnel Beaker or TBR culture phase, one of a complex group of cultures that succeeded the LBK in northern Europe, in the Fifth and Fourth Millennia BC. Bones from the pit in which the pot was found gave radiocarbon dates of around 3635–3370 BC, which, as the excavators pointed out, is earlier than dates for pictograms of wheels from the Sumerian Uruk Period.”

In nearby Olszanica 5000 BCE a longhouse was constructed with 2.2 m wide doors, presumably for wagon entry. This building was 40 m long with 3 doors. People lived in wooden longhouses with clay walls and thatched roofs. They were centered around a monumental grave, which acted as a symbol of social cohesion. Villages were located close to those of the preceding Mesolithic Ertebølle culture, near the coastline.


It has been suggested that the Funnelbeaker culture was the origin of the gene allowing adults of Northern European descent to digest lactose. It was claimed that in the area formerly inhabited by this culture, prevalence of the gene is virtually universal.

A paper published in 2007 by Burger et al. indicated that the genetic variant that causes lactase persistence in most Europeans (–13,910*T) was rare or absent in early farmers from central Europe. A study published by Yuval Itan and colleagues in 2010 clearly shows this.

A study published in 2009, also by Itan et al., suggests that the Linear Pottery culture (also known as Linearbandkeramik or LBK), which preceded the TRB culture by some 1,500 years, was the culture in which this trait started to co-evolve with the culture of dairying.


Ancient DNA extracted from three individuals ascribed to a TRB horizon in Gökhem, Sweden, were found to possess mtDNA haplogroups H, J, and T. A November 2015 genetic study published in Nature included an analysis of three individuals of the Baalberge group of the Funnelbeaker culture. The two males surveyed were found to be carriers of the paternal haplogroups I and R1b1a.

In a 2017 genetic study published in Nature, the remains of three individuals ascribed to the Salzmünde group of the Funnelbeaker culture was analyzed. Of the two samples of Y-DNA extracted, one belonged to G2a2a1, and one belonged to I2a1b1a. mtDNA extracted were two samples of H2, and one sample of U3a1.

The following samples are from the related Baalberge and Salzmünde cultures in central-east Germany, but may not necessarily reflect the paternal lineages found in Scandinavia and northern Germany at the time. Indeed the mtDNA of these various groups displays considerable differences. 

The analysis of two Funnelbeaker genomes from circa 3000 BCE using the Dodecad K12b calculator shows that they possessed over 60% of Atlantic_Med admxiture, more than any modern population except the Basques and the Sardinians, two populations with high Neolithic ancestry. This admixture is strongly reminiscent of the extent of the Atlantic Megalithic cultures.

The Dodecad K12 calculator revealed a considerable amount of African admixture, which came as a big surprise since no African admixture is found in Scandinavia today. The two Funnelbeaker samples from Sweden tested below, display about 6% and 11% of African admixture respectively.

How it got there is still a matter for debate, but the most likely explanation is that it came with Megalithic people from Iberia, who in turn inherited North African admixture from South Levantine Neolithic farmers who reached Iberia via North Africa. Remnants of this African DNA were found in every prehistoric sample in Scandinavia from the Chalcolithic until the Late Iron Age, as well as among the Anglo-Saxons.

The Funnelbeaker culture indeed marks the arrival of Megalithic structures in Scandinavia from western Europe. Megaliths seem to have originated in the Near East.  The Atlantic Megalithic culture really started with the advent of farming and would have spread from Iberia to France, the British Isles and the Low Countries before reaching Scandinavia. The oldest ones in Europe were found in Sicily and southern Portugal and date from c. 7000 BCE.

Considering the high Northwest African admixture in Funnelbeaker, there is a good chance that Iberian Megalithic people inherited genes from Northwest Africans, probably from the North African Neolithic route that brought R1b-V88, E-M78, J1 and T1a to Iberia.

R1b-V88 and E-M78 (V13) have both been found in Early Neolithic Iberia, and are both found throughout western Europe today. The two samples below also caried about 3% of Southwest Asian admxiture, which is perfectly consistent with a Neolithic dispersal from the southern Levant across North Africa until Iberia.

Globular Amphora culture

The Globular Amphora culture emerged in the northern European Plain between central Germany and East Romania. This culture is known from hundreds of graves and from a few seasonal camps on sand dunes, small villages, and hilltop sites. The Globular Amphora culture was preceded by the Funnel-necked Beaker culture (TRB) and by the Cucuteni in western Ukraine and Romania.

In spite of a different substratum, the Globular Amphora culture was remarkably uniform. There is similarity between the burial rites of the Globular Amphora people and those of the Kurgans of the Maikop culture in the North Pontic region.

Both used mortuary houses built of stone slabs and practiced the ritual burial of horses, cattle, and dogs, as well as human sacrifice in connection with funeral rites honoring high-ranking males.

The typical vessel for which the culture is named is an amphora found in graves with a flat or rounded base. The clay was tempered with crushed shells, as in Kurgan pottery. In shape and construction, this pottery, particularly that from Volynia and Poland, is much the same as that from Mikhailovka I sites, north of the Black Sea. The cord-impressed, incised, or stabbed decoration is restricted to the neck and shoulder.

A classed social structure and the dominant position of men is demonstrated by richly equipped graves which contained astounding numbers of sacrificed human beings and animals. In such graves, the chief adult male occupied the central position in the stone cist and was accompanied into the afterlife by family members, servants, oxen, horses, dogs, as well as boars and other game animals.

It is apparent that the emergence of the Globular Amphora culture in the north European plain is crucial to an understanding of the IndoEuropeanization of this part of Europe. We must bear in mind that the fundamental social, religious, and economic components of the Globular Amphora culture link it to the north Pontic area.

The fact that the Globular Amphora culture is more homogenous than the Baden suggests that if these people were indeed IE speakers, they completely succeeded in subverting the indigenous population or in converting them to their own creeds, customs, and language.

Mikhaylovka culture

The Mikhaylovka culture, Lower Mykhaylivka culture (3600—3000 BCE) is a Copper Age culture which flourished on the Pontic steppe from 3600 BC to 3000 BC. Lower Mikhaylovka culture is named after an early Yamna site of the late copper age near Mykhaylivka village of Kherson Oblast of the lower Dnieper River.

Mikhaylovka I (3600-3400 BCE) had connections to the west, and is related to the Kemi Oba culture (3700-2200 BCE) at the Bug-Dniepr area and the Crimea, and seems to have had connections to the Maykop culture (3700-3000 BCE).

Mikhaylovka II (3400-3000 BCE) had connections to the east, as reflected by its Repin-style pottery. Mikhaylovka II is divided into a lower (3400-3300 BCE) and an upper level (3300-3000 BCE). Mikhaylovka II shows a shift from farming to cattle herding, typical for the Yamna horizon.

Kemi Oba culture

Kemi Oba culture, ca. 3700—2200 BC, an archaeological culture at the northwest face of the Sea of Azov, the lower Bug and Dnieper Rivers and the Crimea. The Kemi Oba culture is contemporaneous and partly overlapping with the Catacomb culture.

According to Mallory, this was a component of the larger Yamnaya horizon, while Anthony regards it to be a separate culture, which was replaced by a late Yamnaya variant after 2800 BCE.

The economy was based on both stockbreeding and agriculture. It had its own distinctive pottery, which is suggested to be more refined than that of its neighbors. Metal objects were imported from the Maykop culture. Strong links have been suggested with the adjacent/overlapping Lower Mikhaylovka group.

The inhumation practice was to lay the remains on its side, with the knees flexed, in pits, stone lined cists or timber-framed graves topped with a kurgan. Of particular interest are carved stone stelae or menhirs that also show up in secondary use in Yamnaya culture burials.

Michelsberg culture

The Michelsberg culture (4400–3500 BC) is an important Neolithic culture in Central Europe. Its conventional name is derived from that of an important excavated site on Michelsberg (short for Michaelsberg) hill near Untergrombach, between Karlsruhe and Heidelberg (Baden-Württemberg).

The Michelsberg culture is dated in the late 5th and the first half of the 4th millennium BC. Thus, it belongs to the Central European Late Neolithic. Its distribution covered much of West Central Europe, along both sides of the Rhine.

Michelsberg pottery is characterised by undecorated pointy-based tulip beakers. A detailed chronology, based on pottery, was produced in the 1960s by the German archaeologist Jens Lüning.

Large-scale excavations of MK settlements have not taken place so far. Some settlements have earthwork enclosures. Research so far tends to characterise MK as a culture that avoided or rejected the use of copper, but occasional finds, e.g. at Heilbronn-Klingenberg, do indicate use of that metal.

Michelsberg hill is about 4 km southeast of modern Bruchsal, near the suburb of Untergrombach. The hill rises steeply 160m above the Kraichgau plain, its overall height above sea level is 272m. As the hill is defined by steep slopes on three sides, it is a naturally protected or defensible site.

The summit plateau, measuring ca 400 x 250m, contained a Neolithic settlement, enclosed by a curvilinear earthwork. Such earthworks have since been recognised as one of the most widespread and typical types of MK monument.

The Michelsberg site itself was unusually well-preserved, its interior yielded numerous settlement-related pits. The architecture consisted of daub-covered wooden structures. Remains of a pathway were found in the East of the site.

Finds of barley and emmer indicate an agricultural economy. Animal husbandry is indicated by bones of domesticated cattle, pig, sheep and goat. Domestic dogs have also been identified. Bones of deer and fox suggest that the MK diet was supplemented by hunting.

There was no indication of a destruction of the site; nor were there any finds suggesting humans meeting a violent end. Some pits contained the remains of food stores. Thus, the abandonment of the site may have had environmental reasons.

A common suggestion is the drying up of the Rhine’s arms which used to flow by the bottom of the hill, due to an extensive dry period. As the result of such a change in climate, the area would not have easily supported agriculture any more, forcing human communities (and their livestock) to relocate.

Prehistoric settlement patterns in Central Europe are generally quite volatile. The abandonment of a settlement may be part of a broader economic and social system. Thus, the Bruchsal area appears to contain several earthworks from different phases within MK.

Formal Michelsberg burials have only been recognised rarely. There is no indication of organised burial grounds, as known from the earlier Linear pottery (LBK) and Rössen cultures. Human skeletal remains, frequently disarticulated, have been found inside pits and ditches in many MK earthworks and have had considerable influence on the interpretation of such structures. Their discussion is closely connected with that of similar remains in the ditches of British Causewayed enclosures.

The MK settlement of Aue yielded eight pit graves, six containing a single individual and two containing several. The age profile of those buried is very striking, as it is limited to children under the age of seven and adults over 50 (a considerable age in Neolithic Europe).

In other words, humans of the ages that must have dominated the active social and economic life of the settlement are absent. It has been suggested that their bodies may not have received formal burial, but were disposed of by excarnation, in which case the skeletal remains from rubbish pits may be the result of such activity.

The same may apply to human bones found in the fills of enclosure ditches around MK settlements. It has also been suggested (hypothetically) that partially articulated remains found in such ditches may indicate that graves were placed on the surfaces adjacent to them and later washed into the ditches due to erosion.

Occasionally, earthwork ditches contain more structured deposits of human bone, e.g. adult skeletons surrounded by those of children. Such burials are probably connected to the realms of cult or ritual, as are specific depositions of offerings in some of the ditches, especially at the settlements of Aue and Scheelkopf.

Here, ditches contained carefully placed complete vessels, well-preserved quern-stones and the horns of aurochs. The latter had been neatly separated from the skulls, perhaps reflecting a special symbolic significance ascribed to that animal.

A hitherto unknown aspect to MK burial practice is suggested by the recent discovery of MK burials in the Blätterhof cave near Hagen, Westphalia. Here, a full age profile appears to be represented.

An unusual burial was found at Rosheim (Bas-Rhin, France). Here, the fill of a pit contained the crouched remains of an adult woman, her legs leaning against a quernstone. She appeared to have been laid onto a carefully placed packing of clay lumps, mixed with pottery and bones. Her death had been caused by some blunt impact on her skull.

Baalberge Group

The Baalberge Group (German: Baalberger Kultur, also Baalberge-Kultur) was a late neolithic culture whose remains are found in central Germany. It is named after its first findspot: on the Schneiderberg at Baalberge, Salzlandkreis, Saxony-Anhalt. It appears to be the oldest grouping of the Funnelbeaker culture.

In Germany it is the most common of the Funnelbeaker cultures. Because of issues with the archaeological use of the term culture it is now often referred to as the Baalberge Ceramic style (Baalberger Keramikstil). It is part of Funnelbeaker phase TRB-MES II and III in the Middle Elbe/Saale region.

An early example of the Funnelbeaker culture, the Baalberge ceramic style dates between 3800 – 3400 BC and belongs to the central German funnelbeaker phases TRB-MES II (3800-3500 BC) and TRB-MES III (3500-3350 BC). It developed out of phase TRB-MES I (4100-3800 BC), innovating under the influence of southeaster and western influences (Michelsberg culture and the late Lengyel culture).

A more complex society developed after 3350 BC in the TRB-MES IV phase, with distinct decorative styles (Salzmünd group and Walternienburg-Bernburg Culture).

The Baalberge culture was first identified as a distinct group on the grounds of pottery types by Nils Niklasson and Paul Kupka. Before this it had been included in the Bernburg type. Kupka grouped the finds belonging to the Baalberge culture together under the name “Central German Stilthouse Pottery” (mitteldeutsche Pfahlbaukeramik).

Paul Grimm followed this with the first division of the material into Early, High, Late and Pre-Unetice periods in 1937. Paul Kupka and C. J. Becker put the Baalberg group in parallel with the northern Funnelbeaker culture.

Joachim Preuß divided the Baalberg culture into an older and later phase using burial practices and pottery typologies. Scientific data indicates however that the divisions do not indicate chronological differences. According to Johannes Müller they instead show different social groups.

Marija Gimbutas and her followers argue that the Baalberg culture was an intrusive hybrid culture deriving ultimately from the Eurasian steppe, part of the Kurgan hypothesis. In that case it would have been an Indo-European-speaking culture.

Some aspects of Baalberge burials might support this theory, such as the presence of pottery allegedly influenced by the Baden culture (an Indo-Europeanised culture according to Gimbutas) and the Bodrogkersztúr culture and the posture of the corpses, laid on their right hand side with their legs pulled up – a posture typical of the “Yamna culture.” But other aspects of the burials are very different from burials in the east, such as the placement of the hands over the mouth in an eating gesture (which is unknown in authentic kurgan sites) and the much less marked use of red ochre.

In particular, there are no signs of the steppe kurgans that characterise the Kurgan culture. Finally, comparative anatomy suggests the deceased came from a locally derived population, not from the east. Mallory therefore considers the Baalberge group a local development.

The main distribution area is the central Elbe-Saale region. Further finds occur in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern und Brandenburg. A distinctive variant is also known from Bohemia, of which numerous individual finds occur from Bohemia into Lower Austria. The distribution area extends further to the north than that of the Rössen culture. The whole settlement area is self-contained.

Settlements are only barely known. Usually they contain waste pits with characteristic material (clay, stone, bone material), hearths, and the postholes of a few individual houses in rather extended settlements (Braunsdorf, Merseburg).

Houses are rectangular or square and of medium size. Pit-houses are rectangular or oval. Other pits were used for storage, waste disposal and sacrifices. A large settlement in Pirkau, Hohenmölsen was found in emergency excavations but provides no evidence of houses. There were also finds at the settlement built at Dölauer Heide in Halle which is surrounded by an embankment.

The Baalberge group is largely made up of undecorated wares with clearly defined neck, shoulder and lower parts. They have a very round profile, varying between egg-shaped, biconical, and bulbous, with clearly differentiated bases. Incised and stamped patterns occur around the neck and shoulder.

The pottery types, generally used as funerary items, were very well represented at Dölauer Heide in Halle. A grey-brown leatherlike finish is typical of the Baalberge culture. When broken, the sherds reveal a dark grey to black fabric. The complete ceramic inventory forms a self-contained type region in the usage area of the Baalberg culture.

The economy was unspecialised agriculture and pastoralism. Crops included emmer, einkorn, dwarf wheat, and barley. Animals included cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.

The graves are mostly individual. A large graveyard was found at Zauschwitz, Borna. Double graves and pit graves are also known (e.g. Schalkenburg, Quenstedt). Unusual forms include settlement burials and partial burials.

In addition to simple earth graves, innovative forms with architectural elements also appear. The first tumulus graves in central Germany also come from this culture. Baalberge is the first culture in which megalithic influences in the form of grave complexes, tumulus enclosures, and cists can be detected.

At the same time, heavy cits sunk in the ground or raised above it and slab graves are rare. Other grave elements can be detected, such as stone packing, wooden fittings and the combination of stone and wooden components.

Tumulus graves contain earth and stone cist graves as primary burials. In the gravemound at Latdorf in Bernburg, a narrow stone cist was found which was surrounded by a 25 metre long trapezoidal barrow.

The earthen graves of the Baalberge culture usually contain inhumations, with the bodies nearly always laid out on a west-east orientation flexed on their right side. Some inhumations were enclosed in square or trapezoidal ditches. In 1966, J. Preuß recorded 116 grave-complexes in the central German habitation area. The grave-complex at Stemmem excavated by W. Matthias in 1952 is 16.4 m long and squared at both ends and was the first enclosure grave recognised as a Baalberge burial.

In 1983, G. Möbes published a number of new finds from Thuringia. In Großbrembach in Sömmerda a nearly square complex with rounded corners measuring 10.8 x 10.4 metres contains two crouching inhumations lying on their right sides and oriented south-north.

The grave ditch was described as partially flat, partially trough shaped. Bright bands in the soil filling seem to indicate the inflow of water. Unetice stone packed graves around it indicate that the flat barrow must have remained well known.

A similar complex was investigated in 1974 at Sommerberg near Großfahner in the proximity of Erfurt. It was a 19/17 x 15.5/14.5 metre trapezoid containing a 2.3 metre wide grave. The west side was overlapped by a small burial hut of the Corded Ware culture with several skeletons.

This Corded Ware grave in the centre also shows that the main tomb must have remained well known even 1000 years after its construction. This reuse by later cultures, including the Globular Amphora culture and the Unetice culture, is common. Pottery was found as grave goods, including combinations of pitchers and cups.

A belief in an afterlife (perhaps in the grave) is suggested by the grave goods. Cultic finds include charred remains of human and animal skeletons in a pit at Melchendorf in Erfurt. At Wansleben in Eilsleben an upright human skull between two sandstone plates and below a plate covered in cattle horns attests to the practice of skull deposition.

A November 2015 genetic study published in Nature included an analysis of three individuals of the Baalberge group. The two males surveyed were found to be carriers of the paternal haplogroups I and R1b1a.

Wartberg culture

The Wartberg culture (German: Wartbergkultur), sometimes: Wartberg group (Wartberggruppe) or Collared bottle culture (Kragenflaschenkultur) is a prehistoric culture from 3,600 -2,800 BC of the later Central European Neolithic. It is named after its type site, the Wartberg, a hill (306m asl) near Niedenstein-Kirchberg in northern Hesse, Germany.

The Wartberg culture is currently known to have a distribution in northern Hesse, southern Lower Saxony and western Thuringia; a southern extent as far as the Rhein-Main Region is possible, but not definitely proven at this point.

The term Wartberg culture describes a group of sites with similar characteristic finds from circa 3600-2800 BC. The Wartberg culture appears to be a regional development derived from Michelsberg and Baalberge culture antecedents. It is contemporary, and in contact, with Bernburg culture and Funnel Beaker (TRB). The Corded Ware and Single Grave cultures succeed it.

Its best known sites are Wartberg, near Kirchberg, Hasenberg, a hill near Lohne, as well as Güntersberg and Bürgel, hills near Gudensberg (all of the above are located on basalt outcrops in the fertile Fritzlar basin), and from the Calden earthwork enclosure.

Nearly all settlements identified so far are in hilltop locations: an enclosed site at Wittelsberg near Amöneburg is an exception. Virtually all the known settlements appear to have come into existence several hundred years after the development of Wartberg pottery (see below); early Wartberg settlement activity remains mostly unknown as yet.

Finds from the Wartberg and its sister sites included fragmented bones, mainly of cattle, pig, sheep/goat and deer, but also of other wild animals, like bear or beaver; human bone fragments also occur in some of the settlements.

Originally, the Wartberg (first excavated in the later 19th century) was interpreted as a cult place, but the remains of coarse handmade pottery and of mud wall cladding do suggest settlement activity.

Wartberg material is also found in a number of gallery graves (a type of megalithic tomb). Their connection with the Wartberg settlements was only recognised in the 1960s and 1970s, thus the tombs are sometimes treated separately as the Hessian-Westphalian stone cist group (Hessisch-Westfälische Steinkistengruppe).

These include the tombs at Züschen near Fritzlar, at Lohra, at Naumburg-Altendorf, at Hadamar-Niederzeuzheim (now rebuilt in a park at Hachenburg), at Beselich-Niedertiefenbach, at Warburg, Rimbeck and at Grossenrode, as well as two tombs near the Calden enclosure. A tomb at Muschenheim near Münzenberg may also belong to the same type, as may a further one at Bad Vilbel near Frankfurt am Main which was destroyed after 1945.

The best known of these tombs are those of Züschen, Lohra, Niederzeuzzheim and Altendorf. They normally contained the inhumed remains of multiple individuals (the Altendorf tomb contained at least 250 people) of all ages and both sexes. Lohra is an exception insofar as there the dead were cremated.

Gravegoods are scarce but include pottery (collared bottles), stone tools and animal bones, especially the jawbones of foxes, which may have played a totemic role. The Züschen tomb is also remarkable for the presence of rock art. Some of the tombs can be directly associated with nearby hilltop sites or settlements, that is, the Züschen tomb with the Hasenberg and the Calden tombs with the earthwork.

According to the German archaeologist Waltraud Schrickel, the association with gallery graves suggests a west European influence, perhaps from the Paris Basin in France, where very similar tombs occur. The Wartberg tombs appear to start developing around 3400 BC, earlier than most of the known settlements.

A loose distribution of standing stones occurs in northern Hesse and west Thuringia. Although their dates are unknown, their geographic spread appears to coincide with that of Wartberg material, perhaps suggesting a connection.

The Calden earthwork, a large enclosure northwest of modern Kassel, was built around 3700 BC. It is an irregular enclosure of two ditches and a palisade, encompassing an area of 14 hectares. The enclosure has five openings, perhaps comparable to British Causewayed enclosures.

Although it can with some certainty be seen as derived from the Michelsberg tradition, material associated with its early phases suggests a close connection with early Wartberg. It appears to have been a tradition for several centuries to bury animal bones (food refuse?) and broken pots in pits dug into the partially filled-in earthwork ditches.

The ditches also contain the remains of many human inhumations. This activity continued until circa 2000 BC and was particularly intensive during the Wartberg period. Two nearby graves postdate the earthwork by several centuries, but coincide with that activity.

While the original function of the earthwork is not necessarily explained by these finds, it appears likely that at least during later phases of its use it had a ritual significance, perhaps connected with a cult of the dead. In contrast, the enclosure around the settlement at Wittelsberg appears to be simply protective/defensive in nature.

Wartberg pottery is handmade and mostly very coarse. Typical shapes in the mid-4th millennium include saucepans with inturned rim and deep incisions, cups with strap handles, collared bottles (Kragenflaschen). The presence of pottery with deeply incised patterns as well as of clay drums suggest connections with the Funnel Beaker culture (TRB) of Central Germany.

In the later Wartberg, strap-handled cups, funnel beakers, varied bowls, large pots with holes below the rim and collared bottles occur. The frequent presence of collared bottles, not least in the tombs, is of special interest. The bottles are made with somewhat more care than other vessels; their very specific shape suggests a special function, often suggested to be connected with the storage of special material, like vegetable oil or sulphur, perhaps for healing purposes.

Slate axes are very common, slate blades also occur. The Wartberg culture produced fine stone arrowheads with well defined tangs and “wings”. A variety of bone tools, mainly points, has been found both in tombs and settlements.

Little can be said about the economy of the Wartberg group. The location of sites and certain finds suggest a broadly sedentary society subsisting from agriculture and animal husbandry, but hunting may play a considerable economic role. The Wartberg area appears to be in general trade contact with its neighbouring regions.

The presence of earthworks and of collective tombs indicates different levels of collective effort, thus implying a considerable degree of social organisation.

Vučedol culture

The Vučedol culture (Croatian: Vučedolska kultura) flourished between 3000 and 2200 BC (the Eneolithic period of earliest copper-smithing), centered in Syrmia and eastern Slavonia on the right bank of the Danube river, but possibly spreading throughout the Pannonian plain and western Balkans and southward.

Following the Baden culture, another wave of possible Indo-European speakers came to the banks of the Danube. It was thus contemporary with the Sumer period in Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and the earliest settlements of Troy (Troy I and II). Some authors regard it as an Indo-European culture. According to Bogdan Brukner, proto-Illyrians descended from this wave of Indo-European settlers.

One of the major places they occupied is present-day Vučedol (“Wolf’s Valley”), located six kilometers downstream from the town of Vukovar, Croatia. It is estimated that the site had once been home to about 3,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest and most important European centers of its time.

The early stages of the culture occupied locations not far from mountain ranges, where copper deposits were located, because of their main invention: making tools from arsenical copper in series reusing double, two-part moulds.

The Vučedol culture developed from two older eneolithic cultures: the Baden culture, mainly in the Pannonian plain, and the Kostolac culture in northern Serbia and western Romania, so the primary region of Vučedol development is eastern Croatia and the Syrmia region.

The rise of a dominant hunter-warrior class is a preview of the changes that will be characteristic for the east and middle European early Bronze Age. The archaeological stratigraphy of the Vučedol culture can be divided into four phases: Preclassic period A, Early classic period B1, Classic period B2, and a period of expansion with regional types.

The Vučedol culture is the final eneolithic culture of the region, displaying characteristically common use of the war axe in its “Banniabik” form. Cult objects suggest the practice of new cults very different from the Neolithic Magna Mater conception: cult of the Deer, womb-shaped solar motives, figures of women in clothes without sexual or fertility decoration, symbols of double axe.

In pottery, new forms and a new rich decoration, are characterized by the spectacular find, the Vučedol dove. The Vučedol culture exploited native copper ores on a massive scale. The settlement sites destroyed earlier eneolithic settlements, and new Vučedol settlements also developed in regions where none previously existed.

Compared to earlier and contemporary cultures the Vučedol culture exploited a diversity in food sources: the Vučedol people were hunters, fishermen and agrarians, with some strong indications that they cultivated certain domesticated animals. Thus the culture was more resilient to times of want.

It was a society of deep social changes and stratification that led to the birth of tribal and military aristocracy. Also, Vučedol people had enough time to express their spiritual view of the world. The community chief was the shaman-smith, possessing the arcane knowledge of avoiding poisonous arsenic gas which is connected to the technology of coppersmithing as well as understanding the year cycle.

Still, the whole life of shaman-smith could not pass without biological consequences of chronic arsenic exposure: slow loss of body movement coordination, and at the same time, stronger sexual potency. “That is why”, according to Aleksandar Durman, “all eneolithic, or later gods of metallurgy are identified with fertility, and also why all gods in almost all early cultures – limp”.

In modern times, Vučedol ceramics have become famous worldwide. A very characteristic bi-conical shape and typical ornaments evolved, in many cases with typical “handles” which were almost non-functional, but were key to understanding ornaments that had symbolic meanings, representing ideas such as “horizon”, “mountains”, “sky”, “underworld”, “sun”, “constellation of Orion”, “Venus”, et cetera.

One of the most famous pieces of Vučedol is the ritual vessel made between 2800 and 2500 BC, called by the speculative attribution of M. Seper, who found it in 1938, the “Vučedol Dove” (vučedolska golubica). The figure is a remarkable example of artistic creation and religious symbolism associated with a cult of the Great Mother.

The latest interpretation, however, is that the vessel is in the shape of the male partridge, a symbol of fertility, whose limping defensive behavior against attack by predators on a partridge nest on the ground linked it to the limping shaman-smith, according to the recent interpretation by Aleksandar Durman of Zagreb.

The “Vučedol Dove” is a 19,5 cm high ritual vessel made from baked clay. Three symbols of double axes and a necklace were incised on its neck with lines covering its wings and chest, and an unusual crest on the back of the head.

If the shape of the crest and carefully delineated wings and chest, prove the figure to be the domesticated dove, then it was being raised in Europe 4,500 years ago, much earlier than we commonly think. The “Vučedol Dove” is the oldest dove figure found in Europe so far.

Among the most famous pieces is a vessel bearing inscribed images corresponding to what has been alleged to be the oldest Indo-European calendar, based on an Orion cycle, shown by precise sequence of constellations on a vessel found in an Eneolithic mound in the very center of the modern town of Vinkovci. The climatic conditions in that latitude bring about four yearly seasons.

The simple explanation of the Vučedol Calendar is that each of the four lateral bands on the vessel represent the four seasons, starting with spring on the top. Each band is divided into twelve boxes, making up 12 “weeks” for each season. Each of the little boxes contains an ideogram of celestial objects that lie at a certain point on the horizon right after twilight.

The place of reference on the horizon is the point at which (in those days) the Orion’s Belt disappeared from view at the end of winter, which meant the beginning of a new year. The pictographs in the boxes represent: Orion, the Sun, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Gemini, Pegasus, and the Pleiades. If the box is empty, it means there was nothing visible at the reference point during the corresponding time.

People of the Vučedol culture lived in thatched wattle-and-daub houses. Vučedol people lived on hilltop sites surrounded with palisades. Houses were half buried, mostly square or circular in plan with floors of burned clay; the shapes were also combined in mushroom shapes; there were circular fireplaces.

The houses at the Vučedol site were also places of birth and burial. A number of human skeletons were found in the pits that once served as food storage pits. Their bodies were placed in a ritual way, with some possible indications of human sacrifice. Also, marks on the foreheads of skulls were found that could be attributed to some kind of initiation in early childhood by a drop of molten copper.

Some researchers of the Vučedol culture have claimed that there was regular trade between the territory of the Vučedol culture and the Helladic culture to the south. Cultural elements found of the B2 phase of the Vučedol culture appear to have originated in the first phase of the middle Bronze Age of the Helladic culture of mainland Greece.

The archaeological site of Vučedol is situated 5 km (3 mi) downstream from the Croatian bordering town of Vukovar, on the right bank of the Danube. It is one of the most important eneolithic sites of southern Europe. Because of the importance of findings in Vučedol, the whole local phase of Eneolithic period was named after it – the Vučedol Culture. It was the center of the great and widespread Vučedol culture.

Artifacts from the site are in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, and the city museum of Vukovar. Due to extremely favourable strategic position, Vučedol has always been open to colonization. During the Copper Age, the settlement extended across most of the present-day archaeological site, covering an area of approximately 3 hectares (7.4 acres).

The site is considerably larger than contemporary sites which indicates that it must have been a regional economic and social center. Some of the most important archaeological discoveries belonging to the Vučedol culture have been made at this site.

The highest part of the site at Vučedol was separated from the rest of the settlement by two parallel ditches. These ditches enclosed a large rectangular structure that was considerably larger than the houses located in surrounding residential areas, and this area also produced the only evidence of copper smelting on the site.

Some scholars had argued that this part of the settlement may have been occupied by a local elite that exercised control not only over Vučedol but also over the production and exchange of precious goods and that dominated the smaller settlements in the area.

During the Battle of Vukovar in 1991, the Vučedol site was destroyed by being used as a firing base for the Serbian Yugoslav People’s Army artillery and tanks in the three-month bombardment of Vukovar.

The excavated settlement of Vučedol provides a base for the stratigraphic structure of the whole culture. No final conclusions about the linguistic character of Vučedol can be made, such as the inference that its people were linguistically Indo-European, or to what extent they mixed with native European populations, in regions of the eastern Adriatic coast, Dalmatia and Herzegovina with some parts of Bosnia as well.

Marija Gimbutas characterized the Bell Beaker culture complex as an amalgam of the Vučedol and Yamna culture, formed after the incursion of the Yamna people into the Vučedol milieu and the interaction of these peoples for three or four centuries, from circa 3000 BC.

A February 2018 study published in Nature included an analysis of three individuals ascribed to the Vučedol culture. One male carried haplogroup R1b1a1a2a2 and T2e, while the other carried G2a2a1a2a and T2c2. The female carried U4a.

Thanks to the preprint discussed in the previous post, we now have a good amount of aDNA from around the Caucasus that can help us understand what was going on in this key region. The answers are still not clear, but we can take a look at what we have and see what we have learned and what is yet needed to fill in the gaps.

From the Neolithic to the Chalcolithic

The Neolithic in the South Caucasus has been dated to start around 6000 BCE, though recent finds might push that date back at least 1000 years to a much more reasonable 7000 BCE (probably earlier). Unfortunately we don’t have any Neolithic DNA from the area, though we do have UP and Mesolithic samples and other Neolithic samples from surroundings. Overall, we can expect that the Early Neolithic Shulaveri-Shumu Culture should be somewhere intermediate between CHG and ANF. I really don’t have a clear idea of what the Late Neolithic Sioni Culture (from c. 5000 BCE) represents. Maybe some migration related to the Halaf Culture, or just a different phase in the Neolithic development. Genetically we shouldn’t expect a big change, probably just a more complex mixing of different people, including some Levant and West Iran.

The first Neolithic samples we have are actually from the Northern Caucasus. A Meshoko-related site called Unakozovskaya, a bit to the south of Maikop. The three individuals are from around 4500 BCE, and are family related as shown by their common mtDNA R1a. The Y-DNA of the two males are J and J2a respectively.

We can assume that they basically represent a migration from the Shulaveri-Shomu Culture to the north of the Great Caucasus mountains. They are autosomally modelled as some 50/50 CHG/Anatolia_ChL, while Anatolia_ChL itself might be around 70/30 ANF/CHG. So till here everything looks as expected.

The significant change in the South Caucasus comes at around 4200 BCE. Traditionally linked to the Uruk expansion, this has been debunked by more careful analysis of the archaeological data suggesting an origin from the East¹. This is confirmed by the Armenia_ChL samples, which point to anywhere but the south, and which are some of the most intriguing ones we have so far.

These Chalcolithic samples from Armenia are dated to around 4300-4000 BCE and come from the Areni-1 Cave (see map below).


The genetic structure of these samples is quite difficult to assess. On one hand, they do show an Iran/SC Asian signal, together with their Y-DNA L1a. On the other hand, they also show steppe admixture (rather than EHG, since now we know that, at least at this time, at this time there were no EHG in the North Caucasus steppe, but rather a population that was intermediate between CHG and EHG, and basically directly ancestral to Yamnaya. This admixture in the samples is a bit surprising, if we assume that these Armenian samples represent newcomers from the east or south east, and they’re still quite south of the steppe. By contrary, the slightly older samples from near Maykop don’t show this admixture. It probably occurred through the Caspian rather than the Black Sea coast.

But even more surprising is the shift towards the North West that these samples show. Something like Balkans LN admixture. Given that neither of the samples from North of the Caucasus mountains show this admixture, it seems unlikely that it arrived through the northern Black Sea route. But we have no evidence either of this admixture coming through Anatolia. So at this point is difficult to say if this is really admixture from Europe or something else. We’ll have to wait for further samples to clarify this.

And then the Maykop Culture appeared in the North Caucasus. One of the most important Early Bronze Age cultures, its origin has been rather obscure debated for a long time. It’s only in the last few years when archaeology started to reveal some more clear connections to it from other cultures and the works of Mariya Ivanova were able to propose a well substantiated hypothesis about its origin¹, linking it to the Iranian plateau and South Central Asia.

Genetically the Maykop samples look to descend from the Armenia_ChL population that arrived to the South Caucasus around 4200 BCE and then moved to the North Caucasus around 3900-3800 BCE. Unfortunately we hardly have any Y-DNA from Maykop’s early period (a single possible J, but marked as contaminated), but the 3 Late Maykop samples with Y-DNA belong to L, like the Armenia_ChL ones.

Archaeologically, I’ll just add a few quotes from Ivanova 2013² to complement the previous reference. Speaking about the appearance in the North Caucasus of luxury items (gold, silver, carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli), she mentions the possible route:


The distribution of highly prized luxury goods, especially ornamental stones, hints at the westward extension of this central Asian network of the Namazga II-III period into north and west Iran.

And making a case for the associated distribution of early tumuli:

The plain of Lake Urmia may indeed have been the frontier region where the societies of Iran and the Caucasus came into contact. Near the southeast corner of Lake Urmia, excavations took place in a cemetery of eleven tumuli at the site of Sé Girdan (Muscarella 2003, 126 f.). The mounds were encircled with revetments of rubble stone and contained one grave each, often covered by a rock pile. The well-built stone chamber tombs with pebble floors and timber roofs contained ochre-coloured skeletons lying on their right side with legs drawn up and hands in front of the face. Grave goods included numerous tiny beads of faience, gold, and carnelian; a stone scepter with a feline-head shaped end; a silver cup; flat axes and pick axes of arsenical copper (Muscarella 1969, 1971) (Fig. 4.22). Muscarella (2003, 125) concurred that the tumuli represent “a north-western Iranian manifestation of the North Caucasian, Maikop, Early Bronze Age culture”. However, animal-headed stone scepters and long axes of the type represented at Se Girdan are unknown from the north Caucasus, while pickaxes are extremely rare among the Maikop period finds.

Series of burial mounds in the southeast Caucasus provide better parallels for the tumuli in the plain of Lake Urmia.

And here she describes de Tumulus 1 at Telmankend, the tumuli from Soyuq Bulaq and a partly damaged tumulus near Kavtiskhevi in central Georgia.

The similarities of these tumuli with the burial monuments of the north Caucasus are unmistakable: earth mounds with encircling rubble stone revetments, stone heaps over the tomb, tomb chambers (among them also very large square chambers with stone-laid walls and pebble floors), red pigment, and the postures of the body are common features in both regions.

The geographic distribution of these characteristic tumuli seems to mark a route from northwest Iran along the valley of the Kura to the passes of the central Caucasus. Researchers regard sites like Sé Girdan as unusual monuments, which emerged under influence of or even through the direct migration of north Caucasian communities (Muscarella 2003, 125; Korenevskij 2004, 76, note 2; Kohl 2007, 85). This view appears feasible if such sites are viewed in isolation. Considered in the historical context outlined previously, however, the available evidence begins to reveal a new and meaningful pattern. Like several other innovations presented previously, the complex of peculiar funerary practices most probably spread from northwest Iran and the lowland areas of the southwest Caspian northwards along the valley of Kura, and reached the northern slopes of the Caucasus around the second quarter-middle of the fourth millennium BC. Thus, the funerary evidence adds further credibility to the hypothesis that the foreign elements in the north Caucasus originated from the Iranian plateau and its borderlands, and not from Greater Mesopotamia or the Anatolian highland, two regions which lie far outside the area of distribution of early tumuli.

Indeed David Anthony³ mentions the Sé Girdan tumuli and their remarkable similarity to the Novosvobodnaya-Klady types, and concludes:

The Sé Girdan kurgans could represent the migration southward of a Klady-type chief, perhaps to eliminate troublesome local middlemen.

However, it seems that Ivanova’s suggestion is better backed up by recent archaeology and (pending further details) the genetic evidence.

Regarding the relationship between Maikop and Novosvovodnaya, there is a relatively small but significant genetic difference between the two. The latter seems to represent a second wave of migration, this one more specifically linked to NW Iran, rather than East Iran/SC Asia. For example, in Supp. Table 9, when modelled as 3-way mixture of CHG, Anatolia_ChL and EHG:

Maykop: CHG 27.5%, Anatolia_ChL 69.7%, EHG 2.8%
Novosvobodnaya: CHG 43.8%, Anatolia_ChL 61.5%, EHG -5.3%

Yes, that’s a negative value for EHG in Novosvobodnaya. Conversely, in Supp. Table 10:

Maykop: CHG 31.3%, Anatolia_ChL 77.5%, Iran_ChL -8.8%
Novosvobodnaya: CHG 11.3% Anatolia_ChL 51.2%, Iran_ChL 37.4%

This time Maykop having a negative value for Iran_ChL while Novosvobodnaya takes a good amount of it.

The genetic pattern is more or less mirrored by the contemporary cultures south of the Caucasus, where there is a shift between Armenia_ChL and Armenia_EBA (Kura-Araxes) towards Iran_ChL. In fact the new Kura-Araxes samples from this paper also behave like Novosvobodnaya in these models.

The other difference is in the Y-Chromosome, with Novosvobodnaya having two J2a1 samples and one G2a2a.

Archaeologically, I think the main difference is in the increase in metal weapons found in Novosvobodnaya burials, but the details are not to clear to me, so I’ll leave it there for now.

In the Caucasus, at least four regional Mesolithic traditions can be distinguished, linking the late Upper Palaeolithic traditions of foragers with the arrival of a farming economy: the north-east Pontic area, extending to the steppes of the northern foreland; the south-western Imeretian variant; the Trialeti highlands, where communities had access to nearby obsidian sources; and the Dagestan Mesolithic. The Trialetian Mesolithic is probably the best known, representing a wide-spread industry that reached into the Trans-Caspian region, eastern Anatolia and the Iranian Plateau, although there is a lack of absolute dating (Sagona 2017).

The Imeretian culture developed on the slopes of the south-western Caucasus, with an origin in the Gravettian cultures of the region, which maintained contacts with the areas of Syria–Palestine and the Zagros Mountains. The introduction of micro-burin technique and a Natufian retouch, together with the geometric microliths, which appear most frequently in North Africa and the Near East, show an intensification of contacts with the population of Natufian culture of the Levant during the Holocene. At the same time, these new elements reach communities of the north-western Caucasus (Sagona 2017).

Kotias Klde, a karstik cave above the Kvirila River in western Georgia, and the Darkvety rock shelter, forms part of the Trialetian tradition. The lithic industry in Kotias Klde is relatively homogeneous in both types and technology, and comparable industries are found in distant territories, in particular at Ali Tepe in the Elbruz region of Iran, and Hallan Çemi. While a chronology is difficult to establish, it seems that the Trialetian elements appear first at Ali Tepe (ca. 10500–8870 BC), slightly later at Hallan Çemi (ca. 8600–7600 BC) (Sagona 2017).

There is a 1,000–year gap between the Epigravettian tradition of the Dzuzuana Cave and the Mesolithic findings of Kotias Klde, a seasonal camp by then, which suggests the arrival of new peoples, hunters of wild boar and brown bear during the late spring and early summer. In the southern Caucasus, the Chokh variant apparently continues the earliest ceramic tradition, but in Georgia there is a clear distinct period with Neolithic geometrics and the trapeze microlithic. Their diet was mostly composed of mammals, mainly deer (ca. 50%), but also brown bear (ca. 34%) probably mainly for fur and symbolic reasons. Unlike their Upper Palaeolithic predecessors, they did not hunt other ungulates, such as aurochs, steppe bisons, Caucasian tur, and wild horses (Sagona 2017).

The Chygai rock shelter, in the northern foothills of the western Caucasus, represents the lithic industry of the north-western Caucasus region. Their technological change is gradual, until the abrupt appearance of geometric microliths, especially trapezes, which mirrors the technological change of Crimea (see §II.3.1. North Pontic steppes). Remains of small mammals like ovicaprids and deer species are predominant in the early period, while larger animals such as bison and wild pig are hunted later on (Sagona 2017).

ii.5. Caucasus hunter-gatherers

Different groups of Caucasus hunter-gatherers with strong differences in admixture emerging in the ancient DNA record support the existence of multiple small populations living in partial isolation, probably helped by the region’s orography. This is evidenced e.g. by the signs of recent consanguinity of the Mesolithic individual from Satsurblia; by the existence of a prehistoric genetic and cultural barrier around the Caucasus Mountains (Wang et al. 2019); and by the partial continuity of ancestral Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroups into the modern population of the southern Caucasus (Jones et al. 2015).

Close cultural contacts of the Imeretian culture linking the southern Caucasus and the Zagros Mountains probably reflect an ancient, Upper Palaeolithic network that allowed for the spread of ANE ancestry in the mainly AME-like population of the region, possibly through expanding Q1a2-M25 lineages from West Siberia. This is supported by its modern distribution in eastern Europe and central Asia, with a higher frequency in the Iranian Plateau under Q1a2a-L712 subclade (formed ca. 14300 BC, TMRCA ca. 11300 BC), apart from ancient samples in Aleutian Islanders, ancient northern Athabaskans, and in a sample from Cukotkan Ust’Belaya culture (Flegontov et al. 2016), as well as its estimated expansion ca. 10000 BC (Grugni et al. 2019). The resurgence of a fully ANE-like individual of Q1a2-M25 lineage in the Lola culture during the Bronze Age proves the persistence of small, isolated ANE-like populations in the Caucasus since the arrival of these migrants.

The Neolithic arrived in the Caucasus during the 7th millennium BC. Farmers began to settle in the Kura–Araxes interfluve, bringing with them traditions different to those found in Anatolia and the Zagros Mountains, developing regional cultures which shared affinities with traditions in northern Mesopotamia and north-western Iran. Three Neolithic traditions can be distinguished: the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, in the central and southern regions; the western Caucasus and east Pontic region, concentrated on the area of Colchis in the foothills and along the coast; and the central and northern Caucasus, from the Surami massif to the piedmont of the northern Caucasus (Sagona 2017).

Certain Georgian sites ca. 6th–5th millennium BC show a transitional material culture (“Pre-Pottery Neolithic”), different from both the Trialetian Mesolithic and Pottery Neolithic traditions. The Pottery Neolithic of central and southern Caucasus is represented by the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, which refers to three groups: the main one, centred in the middle reaches of the Kura River; another one between the Nakhichevan region, Mil Plain, and the Mugan steppes; and the third in the Ararat Plain. This culture is thought to have been started by immigrants from northern Mesopotamia or Iran, interacting with Late Mesolithic communities (Sagona 2017).

In the Kura corridor, the typical Caucasian Neolithic village (small hamlets averaging about 1–1.5 ha) consists of high-density, cell-like compounds of round or oval houses, measuring ca. 2.5–5 m in diameter, and linked by low walls. The building on top of old structures represents a conservative building code, a tradition strongly related to the own ancestors, and thus kinship organisation, with a mentality reminiscent of Çatalhöyük. Some settlements may have been left seasonally, and courtyards were important communal areas, enclosed by small storage cells and houses (Sagona 2017).

In the Ararat plain, similar settlement plans and round structures can be seen. In the southern Caucasus a shift to fully rectangular constructions can be seen in the second half of the 6th millennium BC, reflecting a change in the social organisation, from a more communal-based village to one orientated towards the nuclear family. The plain Neolithic ceramic wares represent a local production displaying affinities with the northern Iranian Plateau (Halaf) or Anatolia (Sagona 2017).

All Shulaveri-Shomu groups are characterised by the abundance and diversity of flake tools, large quantity of scrapers, the adoption of advanced blade techniques, and ground stone artefacts, with the lithic assemblage predominantly formed by obsidian. Their economy is based on animal husbandry, raising sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle, and complementing them with hunting and fishing. Farming included a diversity of crops greater than neighbouring regions (like Northern Iran or the eastern Caspian regions). The beginnings of the wine culture is associated with this culture (Sagona 2017).

The fully-fledged Neolithic farming communities from the Mil Plain, ca 5600–5400 BC, had strong ties to northern Iran and the south Caspian region, but interaction with Shulaveri-Shomu appears to be minimal. Communal co-operation is evident, with a sub-circular planning of mud-brick constructions, with ditched enclosures pointing to potential cattle corrals, enclosed marketplaces, fortifications, or even astronomical observatories with ritual values (Sagona 2017).

Burials do not show unity among the different cultures: most findings involve inhumations, many in a crouched position, positioned either on their back or on the left or right sides (no gender differentiation). Common is the use of figurines depicting humans. Metalworking begins in the Caucasus in the late 6th – early 5th millennium, with emerging jewellery industry, including bead production and far-flung connections with central Asia and its borderlands (Sagona 2017).

In central and northern Caucasus, the evolution of the 7th to the 6th millennium is marked by a change in lithic typology and stone resources, the appearance of Pottery Neolithic, and the addition of agriculture to the subsistence economy (Sagona 2017).

In the late 6th millennium BC, eastern Anatolia, the Upper Euphrates Valley, Syria, and northern Mesopotamia were involved in a system of interactions. It seems that this network of expanding influence in a south–north axis is repeated in the final phases of the Ubaid period, during the Chalcolithic, from ca. 4500 BC onward, in a process of transformation of the role, function, and meaning of the ceramics, with extreme simplification of decoration and formal standardisation (Sagona 2017).

The diffusion of chaff tempered ceramics in eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus has been thus linked by researchers to the presence (ca. 4250–3500 BC) of northern Mesopotamian groups involved in such economic activities as pastoralism and commerce (trade in metal ores or raw materials). The presence of “indigenous” sites distinguished by their continuation of local pottery suggests a complex system of complementary interactions between groups of differing origins and different cultures (Mesopotamian and Transcaucasian) that occupied different areas depending on their different economic activities (Sagona 2017).

The adoption of funerary customs such as elite tombs built with mudbricks but under funerary tumuli (from the north Caucasian tradition), and the presence of fortifications in the area, strengthen the increased Syro-Mesopotamian influence overlapping the cultural substratum of Late Chalcolithic communities of the Caucasus. The emergence of a regional centres and a stratified society with elite groups in northern Mesopotamian communities probably triggered the structural and organisational changes in the South Caucasian—and eventually eastern Anatolian—communities, to adapt themselves to the growing demand from the south. They show an increasing territorial mobility, pastoral specialisation, and the capacity to exploit ecologically different resources. Some findings point to the formation of small local elites imitating the Mesopotamian structure (Sagona 2017).

Before ca. 3500 BC, scarce Pre-Kura–Araxes settlements are found in northern areas. The culture shows little continuity with previous Chalcolithic cultures, and the Red-Black Burnished Ware displayed by the culture shows technological and cultural links to certain settlements of eastern Anatolia and the Upper Euphrates. The synchronous appearance of these sites suggests a common network of information, trade, and culture. On the other hand, the strong typological, functional, and ornamental similarities with the southern Caucasus suggests a connection with the southern Caucasian domestic model (Sagona 2017).

V.2.2. Maikop

The turn of the 4th millennium BC saw the development of various cultural traditions in south-east Anatolia, north-east Syria and north-west Iran; on the northern fringe, these traditions manifested themselves in the Maikop culture. In fact, the first high-status burials containing gold and gemstone jewellery (including carnelian, turquoise and lapis lazuli) appeared in the northern, rather than southern, centres ca. 4000–3750 BC. With regard to funeral rites and stylistic characteristics of jewellery pieces, these graves have many parallels with early Maikop burials (Sagona 2017).

Few settlements are known from the classical Maikop stage (ca. 3800–3000 BC), with few fortified central places and a majority of open areas composed by groups of small and ephemeral villages of ca. 1–2 ha, with house plans of varied shapes, not articulated through foundations or postholes. Hearths played an important role. Subsistence economy was most likely based on cattle breeding, probably including transhumance, as well as on other animal husbandry (mainly pigs) and probably agricultural means (Sagona 2017).

In the classic phase, Maikop circular pit–grave burials became larger, and showed symbolic features like a flat top (probably a cultic platform), had a stone gridle delineating its circumference, and a trend to seal smaller barrows under a ‘roof’, so as to create a cemetery-like structure (Figure 17). Red ochre was ceremonially sprinkeled on the deceased, placed in a flexed position on their right side, head pointing south (Sagona 2017).

Most Maikop burial assemblages and constructions do not share the magnificence of the wealthy barrows, and are simple, rectangular earthen pits beneath a shallow tumulus, although they share the same principles. Despite the abundant metalwork, there is little evidence of extractive mining or metallurgical craftsmanship. The society appears divided thus sharply in two levels, with few individuals being regarded as the ‘chieftains’ and buried with luxurious assemblages. They were probably a sign of the emergent elite ideology in the Caucasus, absent in the southern territories, as well as monuments affirming territoriality (due to their visibility) and veneration of ancestors (Sagona 2017).

Figure 17. Kurgans of the Maikop type. 1 – kurgan II of the Sunzhenski cemetery; 2 – kurgan III of Brut, 3; 3 – Zamankul (plan and reconstruction of the mound). Modified from Korenevskiy (2012).

Four types of tomb chamber are distinguished (Sagona 2017):

·         A rectangular, earthen pit with rounded corners, edged around the base with stones, and with a roof of timber logs.

·         Rectangular or circular burial on the ground surface made of wooden planks or field-stones.

·         Rectangular, one- or two-chambered tombs, built above ground with slabs of stone, with access through a porthole entrance. Ornamentation is rare. This type is typical of the megalithic tradition.

·         Stone cist tombs built with slabs set into a pit (identical to the previous), with access through the roof.

In its late phase, Maikop metalwork diversified, with metalsmiths working gold, silver, and copper. The source of copper-nickel-based objects seem to lie in metal ores to the south of the Caucasus, while arsenical-copper objects—concentrated in the Kuban region—probably had a local origin. Typical Maikop pottery shows a limited range that emphasises rounded and simple profiles, like globular pots and jars, and hemispherical bowls and cups (Sagona 2017).

The Uruk expansion in Mesopotamia after about 3700 BC intensified during the late Uruk period (ca. 3350–3100 BC), and its expansion reached toward the gold, silver, and copper sources in the Caucasus Mountains. The Maikop culture of rich chieftains’ graves with Mesopotamian ornaments probably developed from this trade network in the North Caucasus Piedmont. A western and probably also a later eastern southern trade routes have been proposed, through the shores of the Black and Caspian seas respectively (Anthony 2007).

Connections with the Near East are evident in the occasional cylindrical seals (Rollsiegel) in Maikop assemblages. It seems that a distinctive technique of making thin-walled jointless beads from gold was a regional technological development of Maikop culture goldsmiths. This was deeply rooted in the Near Eastern tradition of ritualisation of the production and use of jewellery pieces made of gold, silver and gemstones. The jewellery traditions of the Maikop culture had no successors in the Caucasus or the adjacent steppes. In the third millennium BC, the goldsmiths of Europe and Asia had to reinvent the technique of making thin-walled jointless gold beads from scratch (Trifonov et al. 2018).

To the north, the existence of steppe–Caucasian trade is supported by Maikop imports found in the north Pontic steppe from the Dniester to the Lower Volga in the east, but no Caucasian imports have been found in the Volga–Ural region. Late Maikop peoples, most likely speaking languages ancestral to modern Caucasian languages, probably interacted with individuals from Repin and late Khvalynsk cultures, and the contact was most direct on the lower Don. Late Maikop graves incorporated carved stone stelae like those of western Yamna. The trading of drugs, wool, and horses has been proposed as main steppe imports into Maikop (Anthony 2007).

v.2. Early Caucasians

The two Maikop samples from this period in the Northern Caucasus Piedmont show largely continuity with Caucasus Eneolithic samples, but with a clear additional contribution of Anatolian Neolithic-related (possibly AME) ancestry (ca. 15%) compared to them. Five Maikop outlier samples from the steppe (ca. 3600–3100 BC) represent a likely expansion of Maikop peoples to the area and their admixture with the previous Khvalynsk and local settlers, suggesting their acculturation in the region, evidenced by their admixture closest to ANE.

In terms of haplogroups, one sample from Baksanenok (ca. 3350 BC) is reported as within the K-M9 trunk, possibly L-M20. The acculturation of the North Caucasus region may also be inferred from haplogroups of outliers, which show one Q1b2b1b2-L933+ (formed ca. 13600 BC, TMRCA ca. 6600 BC) and another R1a1b-YP1272+, in contrast to previous Eneolithic (J-M304) and later (L-M20) haplogroups (Wang et al. 2019). Both individuals were buried in the same kurgan in Sharakhalsun and with similar radiocarbon dates (ca. 3350-3105 BC), and a later individual attributed to the Yamna culture in the same site (ca. 2780 BC) also shows a typical Indo-Anatolian lineage R1b1a2-V1636. Another outlier shows hg. T1-L206.

Horse trade, including wheels, carts, and the possibility of a quicker transport of metals into Uruk, is proof of an indirect contact between steppe herders and Mesopotamia. The need of exported domesticated horses to be accompanied by experienced breeders and riders from the lower Don offers a solid framework to support the hypothesis of the presence of Late-Indo-European-speaking peoples in Mesopotamia, and thus allow for Indo-European borrowings in Sumerian (Sahala 2009-2013).

Nevertheless, the scarcity of proofs for wooden vehicles in the region before the first attested one in Sharakhalsun, as well as bioarchaeological investigations of common representations which point to an emphasis on cattle as driving force—instead of  highlighting the means of transportation, as in the Yamna culture—seriously challenge the hypothesis of large-scale mobility in the piedmont and the Caucasus (Reinhold et al. 2017). The condition of Pre-North-West Indo-European (likely spoken by the late Repin culture expanding westward) as an Euphratic superstratum of Sumerian (Whittaker 2008, 2012) would require a more detailed explanation of internal and external cultural influence, and reasons for potential language replacement and expansion in Mesopotamia.

There is no perceptible break in cultural continuity between the beginning and the end of the Anatolian Chalcolithic. However, certain gaps and discontinuities observed in many regions and periods, usually attributed to lack of adequate research, coupled with relevant changes in local cultures, point to a shift of the previous east–west influence to (at least partially) a west–east direction of innovations in certain Anatolian sites (Schoop 2011).

In general, this period of the 6th millennium shows thus the existence of wide communication systems, with continuity of previous traditions but with the introduction of foreign decoration techniques. Shortly before 5500 BC, a number of changes can already be seen in the Fikirtepe groups around the Bosporus (mainly settled on its eastern part), which point to a connection with the Vinča culture in the Southern Balkan region. In the Lake District, ‘vinčoid’ pottery is observed postdating the Fikirtepe tradition: it belongs to the dark-faced monochrome group, but there is some decoration with motifs in the stab-and-drag technique. Similar material is found in neighbouring regions (Schoop 2011).

During the 5th millennium, in the Middle Chalcolithic, a period of significant cultural development emerges. Near the western coast, Ubaid influence is noticed in urban plans and in pottery typical of the Halaf/Ubaid transitional period. In the Cappadocian margin of the Anatolian Plateau, which showed monochrome pottery decorated with different techniques in the Early Chalcolithic, the site of Gelvery-Güzelyurt shows pottery with swirling designs, executed in a stab-and-drag technique, which represents Balkan influences in the 4th millennium BC (Schoop 2011).

To the north, Late Chalcolithic İkiztepe (ca. 4500–4000) shows striking parallels with early to middle 4th millennium BC assemblages from the southern Balkans. This culture shows increasingly strong typological connections with materials further inland. While pottery traits point to continuity of traditions, notable innovations in shapes and decoration point to a koiné that encompasses most of Anatolia, the northern Aegean, and the southern Balkans. This period, since the early 5th millennium BC, coincides with the evidence of the production and consumption of metals, either simple metal artefacts (flat axes, pins, awls) or as crucibles or slag (Schoop 2011).

In south-east Anatolia, the Halafian ‘heartland’ developed since the 6th millennium BC, from its previous small or very small communities to large settlements which represented regional centres in a two- or three-tiered settlement hierarchies, with sedentary farming as the main subsistence economy, although cattle maintained its relevance for this originally semi-nomadic culture based on pastoral herding (Özbal 2011).

Close contacts and interaction between Halaf and Ubaid from Southern Mesopotamia had already been ongoing for a millennium, and possibly a crisis caused by its demographic and geographical expansion led the culture to a different organisation system. From about 4700 BC, though, Ubaid influence is increased in northern Mesopotamia, across a broad east–west arc (Özbal 2011). Southern Mesopotamian communities seem to have moved northwards, given the sudden social and cultural change in certain sites, first in the northern border, then in the Upper Euphrates.

A transformation began which eventually led to the disappearance of the way of life of the Halaf communities: new material culture, with new types of domestic architecture, village arrangements, public buildings, pottery, and other daily life objects; new economy, with less varied and more agriculturally-orientated production system; and a new social structure with sedentary population, a society that ceased to be egalitarian, family and not clan as the basic social unit, and emerging elites. The hybridisation of the two cultures produced innovations that spread in a southern direction, too (Frangipane 2015).

Farther south, the Levant Late Chalcolithic shows burial customs, artefacts and motifs with an origin in earlier Neolithic traditions in Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia. Characteristic of this culture are the secondary burials in ossuaries with iconographic and geometric designs. Artistic expressions have been related to northern regions related to finds, ideas, and later religious concepts, such as the gods Inanna and Dumuzu. The knowledge and resources required to produce metallurgical artefacts in the Levant have also been hypothesised to come from the north (Harney et al. 2018).

IV.4.2. Caucasus and Mesopotamia

The Chalcolithic in the Caucasus begins with foreign contacts from eastern Anatolia and Mesopotamia through the Taurus Mountains, giving rise to a new social and economic network ranging from the south-eastern Caucasus to the Kuban region in the steppe. The Maikop culture is thus the dominant northern Caucasian tradition, known from its extremely wealthy tomb assemblages, and probably born out of an indigenous group with distant economic connections to the south. The pre-Maikop phase appears in sites like Nal’chik and Meshoko in the late 5th and early 4th millennium BC (Sagona 2017).

Characteristic features of the Maikop culture include the adoption of barrow burials, shifting settlements on elevated positions—on foothills overlooking a river valley, but avoiding rugged highlands—with short occupations, abundance of metalwork, and widespread connections with the Near East and Europe. The greatest concentration of settlements occurs in the north-west, around the Kuban River system. The eastern half of the northern Caucasus, judging by the hundreds of Pit-Grave burials, belonged to the steppe cultures. The spread of the Pit-Grave building tradition in pre-Maikop is likely related to the expansion of Khvalynsk settlers into the neighbouring region (see §IV.2.3. Kurgans), but the southern burials—including small, mud-brick burial chambers, possibly reflecting an idealised house—have also been linked to central Asian and northern Iranian influence, which would have been added to the exotic imports of turquoise, silver, gold, carnelian, lapis lazuli, and cotton (Sagona 2017).

The southern Caucasus Chalcolithic groups are distinguished from Neolithic cultures by a more flexible lifestyle, reflected in varying modes of occupation (from permanent villages to seasonal camps, from open plains to caves); a capacity to benefit from resources across a wide range of environmental zones, including at higher altitudes; diverse subsistence strategies, incorporating wine-making; external networks, based on a flow of commodities; and advancement of metallurgy (Sagona 2017).

The Chaff-Faced Ware horizon forms part of a tradition that reached from the north Syrian and Mesopotamian plains through the middle part of the Araxes Valley and Azerbaijan to north-western Iran, known in the Fertile Crescent as Amuq F. It is found in the first half of the 4th millennium, with Azerbaijan showing slightly earlier dates. This is a homogeneous culture that reflects standardisation and technological simplification. In the later periods of the culture (as well as in north-west Iran), the influence of the Ubaid tradition of Upper Mesopotamia can be seen in ornamentation (Sagona 2017).

Connections with the Neolithic, evident in the earlier period with circular dwellings furnished with a central hearth, disappear later on (after ca. 4300 BC) as small, multi-roomed rectangular structures appear, with an evolving social structure, heavy exploitation of tree fruits, and more complex wine production industry. Single or multiple pit–graves with barrow burials are the standard, with the deceased in a flexed position with no preference as to side, showing the start of the ‘sacrificial’ metals in assemblages, possibly to strengthen the kinship-related social status (Sagona 2017).

The Sioni horizon is a local, imprecisely defined culture based on ceramics found in south-eastern Caucasus and on the Iranian side of the middle Araxes Valley, as well as in easternmost Anatolia. Its early phase is dated ca. 4800–4000 BC, and its late stage ca. 4000–3200 BC. Sites are characterised by flat settlements with variable building tradition. It probably emerged as local communities moved away from the alluvial plain into the foothills, as they were able to exploit a wider range of resources and pastures. Pottery has relatively few forms and a limited range of ornamentation, and their lithic technology is difficult to reconstruct (Sagona 2017).

iv.4. Late Middle Easterners

Chalcolithic peoples from Hajji Firuz in north-western Iran (ca. 6000–5700 BC) and from Seh Gabi in eastern Iran (ca. 4800–3800 BC) can be modelled as a mixture of western Iran Neolithic with significant contributions from a CHG-like population (ca. 63%) and the Levant (ca. 20%), becoming thus more ‘western’, consistent with their shift in the PCA. In Anatolia, the low genetic diversity of early Middle Eastern farmers during the early Neolithic was broken by a wave of ‘eastern’ ancestry from Iran Chalcolithic (ca. 33%), which eventually reached south-eastern Europe before at least ca. 3800 BC. These migrants brought also J-M304 lineages—typical of Caucasus and eastern Iranian populations—to the late Neolithic central and western Anatolia (Lazaridis et al. 2016; Kilinc et al. 2016).

This ‘eastern’ ancestry may have been caused by interactions between central Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent in the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (Özdoğan 2008), a migration related to other interregional exchanges, or admixture among local populations. The Tepecik-Çiftlik site’s presumed role as an obsidian hub, and its cultural links with the Levant, might have started already before the Pottery Neolithic (Kilinc et al. 2016).

Although traditionally associated with an east–west movement of peoples, it could well represent the opposite direction, thus including expanding Anatolian-speaking peoples through northern Anatolia, from the west to the central part. Later samples from Bronze Age south-western Anatolia (ca. 2800–1800 BC) show this ‘eastern’ contribution of CHG-related ancestry, but lacking steppe-related EHG and WHG ancestry (Lazaridis et al. 2016).

The Chalcolithic population from Areni in modern Armenia (ca. 4350–3500 BC) also shows similar components to neighbouring Anatolian and Iranian Chalcolithic samples, but with a different distribution: Anatolia Neolithic (ca. 52%), Iran Neolithic (ca. 30%) and EHG (c. 18%). This, coupled with the different haplogroup found, L1a1-M27 (formed ca. 15000 BC, TMRCA ca. 6100 BC), points to a different population in the southern Caucasus Piedmont (Lazaridis et al. 2016). The appearance of mtDNA hg. H2a1 and U4a (more typical of the Pontic–Caspian steppes) among these samples, as well as their position closer to steppe populations, speaks in favour of female exogamy.

Before the emergence of the classical Maikop culture, the three sampled Caucasus Eneolithic individuals of Darkveti-Meshoko from Unakozovskaya, in the north-west Caucasus Piedmont (ca. 4600–4300 BC), present a genetic profile similar to Iranian Chalcolithic samples, with predominant haplogroup J2a-M410, possibly both J2a1a1a2b2a3b1a-Y11200 (formed ca. 5900 BC, TMRCA ca. 5800 BC). This increased assimilation of Chalcolithic individuals from Iran, Anatolia, and Armenia is in accordance with the Neolithisation of the Caucasus, which started in the floodplains of the great rivers of the southern Caucasus in the 6th millennium BC, from where it spread to the western and north-western Caucasus during the 5th millennium BC (Wang et al. 2019).

Haplogroup J2a2-L581+(formed ca. 14100 BC, TMRCA 13100) also appears in one sample from Seh Gabi (ca. 4700 BC), and hg. J2b-M12 in two samples from Hajji Firuz (ca. 6050–5850 BC), with hg. G2a1a-Z6553 (ca. 5750) and G1a1b-GG313+ (ca. 3900 BC) in Seh Gabi pointing to a mixture of these haplogroups since the sampled Iran Neolithic individuals, compatible with a migration wave of J2a2-L581 lineages connecting the northern and southern Caucasus regions ca. 5500–4500 BC (Wang et al. 2019). This haplogroup is also found later in Anatolian Bronze Age samples and in Old Hittites.

Samples of the Late Chalcolithic in the southern Levant, from the Peqi’in Cave (ca. 4500–3900 BC), attributed to the Ghassulian period (Figure 16), can be modelled as deriving ancestry from local Levant Neolithic peoples (ca. 57%), Iran Chalcolithic (ca. 26%), and Anatolian Neolithic (ca. 26%), suggesting the spread of Iranian agriculturalists into the Levant. They overlap in the PCA with a cluster containing Neolithic Levantine samples, shifted slightly toward Levant Bronze Age samples. Their prevalent Y-DNA haplogroup, probably in twelve of thirteen samples reported, is T1a1a1b2-CTS2214 (formed ca. 6700 BC, TMRCA ca. 6700 BC), with only one sample of E1b1b1b2-Z830 subclade, also suggesting an important population replacement in the region.


In Kobystan, huge blocks of stone broken off from the edges of a limestone layer, form natural shelters that were often covered with engravings. The rockshelters of Kyaniza and Firuz have produced two layers of homogenous lithic material, the lower level being aceramic (Mesolithic or Early Neolithic) and the upper level containing vessels with pointed bases evoking the Neolithic of the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.

Pit burials attributed to the Neolithic were found at Kyaniza. However, without radiocarbon dating and precise descriptions of the cultural material, a chronological attribution for these assemblages is impossible.

Our current knowledge of the early Holocene is quite poor because it is based on information published in the 1960s to 1990s that lacks radiocarbon dates or sufficient data on subsistence strategies. However, investigations over the past decade have produced new information on the early Holocene cultures in the southern Caucasus.

Kotias Klde

Kotias Klde is a cave site situated in the Kvirila River basin of western Georgia. The deposits are divided into four layers, ranging from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age. A series of radiocarbon dates indicates a time range of the eleventh to 9th millennia BC (10850–8240 cal bc) for Layer B (Mesolithic) and 8th millennium BC (7690–7300 cal bc) for Layer A2 (Early Neolithic).

Excavations at this site produced rich lithic and faunal assemblages. In both layers, the faunal remains belong exclusively to wild species, mainly wild boar and bear (>75% of the assemblage). The lithic artefacts are mainly made from flint/radiolarite, a local raw material. A few obsidian pieces were also present, indicating long-distance expeditions or trade for acquisition of this material; the nearest source is Chikiani, some 80 km from the site.

The Mesolithic industry of Kotias Klde is characterized by microliths. Backed bladelets, including broken pieces, are quite numerous, which may show a continuous tradition from the late Upper Palaeolithic. A significant Mesolithic tool type is the scalene triangle (backed bladelet with obliquely truncated ends). End scrapers made on flakes and blades are dominant among retouched tools, while burins are less common.

In the Neolithic layer, we see tools with hooked projections similar to those found in the Paluri-Nagutni sites. According to the excavators, the Mesolithic and Neolithic materials have close parallels with the assemblages of Layers V and IV at the nearby site of Darkveti.


Kmlo-2 is a small cave located on the western slope of a deep valley formed by the Kasakh River, east of the Aragats massif. The excavations revealed dark brown sandy deposits that were divided into five layers based on sediment texture and features.

According to the 14C dates, occupations at Kmlo-2 can be divided into five phases: Phase I: Middle Ages; Phase II: Chalcolithic (end of 6th to 5th millennia BC); Phase III: early Holocene (mid-9th to mid-8th millennia BC); Phase IV: beginning of the Holocene (10th to mid-9th millennia BC); and Phase V: late Pleistocene (12th to 11th millennia BC).

Hearths containing charcoal and ash were found in several layers, along with abundant obsidian artifacts and animal bones. In Phases V to III, the faunal remains belong to large bovids (aurochs or bison) and mountain caprids (wild goat and wild sheep). Based on the thin deposits and size of the cave, Kmlo-2 was a temporary camp site (e.g., a hunting camp).

Four seasons of excavation have produced numerous lithics made from local obsidian. Other raw materials, such as dacite and flint, were used sparingly. Cortical flakes of obsidian indicate that river pebbles approximately 10 cm in length were brought to the cave and knapped there. Such obsidian pebbles are available on the banks of the Kasakh River, which transports blocks from extensive obsidian sources in the Tsaghkunyats Mountains.

The lithic industry of Kmlo-2 appears to be blade-oriented, since there are numerous blades and bladelets corresponding to blade or bladelet cores. These blades/bladelets are removed from pebbles or flakes without specific core preparation.

Butt preparation is generally carried out by abrasion. Most blanks were apparently detached by direct percussion. Several thin bladelets of regular form were probably detached by a pressure-flaking technique, but such pressure-flaked specimens (attested in Phases IV–II) are uncommon. One small bullet core is evidence for such bladelet production at the site.

One important characteristic of the Kmlo-2 tool assemblage is an abundance of microliths. Various forms such as lunates and trapezoid-rectangles exist, but backed bladelets and scalene triangles are predominant. The presence of microburins and remnants of microburin scars on backed bladelets indicate that the microburin technique was used for their production.

The most remarkable finds at Kmlo-2 are obsidian “Kmlo tools,” which are named after the site. This tool type could be a marker for an early Holocene cultural entity in Armenia, since Kmlo tools have been found at other sites nearby. Kmlo tools are characterized by continuous and parallel retouch by pressure flaking on one or both lateral edges.

They are usually made on blades but are also made on flakes. In many cases, linear or heavy abrasion can be seen on the retouched edge. Additionally, the lateral (retouched) edge is often removed by a burin blow. The ends of the tool are also frequently truncated or snapped off. Kmlo tools are absent in Phase V (twelfth to eleventh millennia bc), appear at the very end of Phase IV, and gradually increase in Phases III and II.

The late Pleistocene/early Holocene occupations at Kmlo-2 could include two different cultural stages. The earlier phases (V–IV), dominated by scalene triangles and backed bladelets, are comparable with Mesolithic sites in Georgia (Kotias Klde Layer B). The later Phase III, characterized by the presence of Kmlo tools, could be compared with aceramic Neolithic sites such as Paluri-Nagutni (Kotias Klde Layer A2) in Georgia.

A comparison with prehistoric sites in western Asia provides a broader perspective. The lithic industry at Kmlo-2 appears comparable to those from Epipalaeolithic and aceramic Neolithic sites in the Taurus and Zagros Mountains. In particular, specimens similar to Kmlo tools are present in western Asia (Çayönü tools), as noted previously.

Although direct relationships between the Çayönü tools, Kmlo tools, and Paluri-Nagutni tools are not obvious, we suggest that an atmosphere existed in which populations from both the northern part of western Asia (southeastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia) and the southern Caucasus shared common ideas for making certain tools.


New excavations conducted at Anaseuli-1 revealed a single, well-preserved cultural horizon on the surface that was approximately 5 to 10 cm thick. Cultural material consisted mostly of lithics of which a high percentage was obsidian (50%). An exceptional find was a cache of five long (11–13 cm), complete obsidian blades.

Charcoal dates place this site at 5746 to 5595 cal bc, indicating that it was contemporaneous with the Late Neolithic culture of Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe. However, there appears to be a missing link between the cultural complexes of the early Holocene and the Late Neolithic (“Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe” culture).

The early phase, Mesolithic, covers the end of the Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene, roughly the eleventh to ninth millennia bc. Kmlo-2 Phases V–IV, Kotias Klde Mesolithic Layer B, and some Mesolithic sites (Kvachara, Darkveti Layer V) are included in this phase.

Although information on subsistence strategy is generally scarce, the mammals hunted by humans were mostly bears. A microlithic tradition using flint and/or obsidian is clearly observed in this phase. Backed bladelets or simply retouched bladelets are dominant among the retouched tools, showing continuity from the Upper Palaeolithic.

However, a distinctive geometric form, the scalene triangle, becomes dominant in this phase. Other geometric forms such as trapezoids or lunates are relatively rare. The presence of a microburin technique could represent a new component for this period; this technique is thought to have been effective for making an obliquely truncated end, which is especially useful for a scalene. The first Kmlo tools probably appeared at the very end of this phase (end of Phase IV at Kmlo-2, ninth millennium bc).

In summary, this phase could show cultural continuity from the Upper Palaeolithic with human groups dependent on hunting and gathering but with the appearance of some new lithic components such as scalene triangles.

Cultural eras such as the Late Mesolithic or Early Neolithic (aceramic Neolithic) are included in this phase and involve sites on the Black Sea coast, in the Kvirila River basin (Darkveti Layer IV), in the Paluri-Nagutni group (Paluri, Kotias Klde Layer A2), and in Kmlo-2 Cave (Phase III). Tentatively, this phase is attributed to the end of the ninth to 7th millennia bc.

In this phase, blank production for tools appears to have shifted from microblades to larger blades or in some cases to flakes. Geometric microliths were still used and were dominated by long trapezoids with related forms (triangles, lunates), while scalene triangles and backed bladelets were less common.

Toward the end of this phase, short trapezoids (transverse arrowheads) appear to have been predominant. Distinct tools of this phase have fine, parallel retouch on their sides (obsidian, and in some cases, flint), such as Kmlo tools in Armenia and tools with hooked projections in Georgia. Such tools show a close morphological resemblance to Çayönü tools from Neolithic sites in western Asia.

As previously noted, the appearance of domesticated plants and animals in the early Holocene in the southern Caucasus remains unclear. The presence of domesticated animals in the Darkveti Layer IV, proposed in the 1970s, has not been confirmed by the recent excavations at Kotias Klde, located near Darkveti. Therefore, future research should evaluate whether this phase can be identified as an early stage of the Neolithic in regard to the subsistence economy.

Late Neolithic

Understanding the culture that is currently defined as the Late Neolithic began during excavations of the lower level of Kültepe-1 near Nakhichevan (1951–1964). After the discovery of the Shomutepe settlement in the Kura River basin of northwestern Azerbaijan in the first half of the 1960s, the newly revealed culture was then named the Shomutepe.

Later in the mid-1960s, analogous sites were discovered in Georgia (e.g., Shulaveri, Arukhlo), resulting in the names Shomutepe-Shulaveri or Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture.

In Armenia, several Late Neolithic sites were recorded in the Ararat valley between the 1960s and 1980s. However, only the excavations over the past fifteen years (e.g., Aratashen, Aknashen-Khatunarkh) have provided a relatively complete picture of the Late Neolithic period in this region.

The 6th millennium BC sites of the Arax and Kura River basins can be considered to be a homogenous Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe complex due to the similarity of their material culture. This is the earliest currently known culture of the southern Caucasus based on a production economy, having yielded the first recorded examples of house construction, pottery production, and metalworking.

Beyond the basins of the Kura and Arax Rivers, the most recent research on the Mil steppe in Azerbaijan has revealed a cultural complex from the middle of the 6th millennium BC (Kamiltepe), which had been known before only from surface collections and which is clearly distinct from the “Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe” culture.

Two other cultures, previously attributed to the Early Neolithic, have been dated to the 6th millennium BC in recent studies: Chokh Level C in Dagestan and Anaseuli-1 in western Georgia.

The Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe Culture

Currently known sites of this culture are connected by the main watercourses of the region—the Arax and Kura Rivers—and form two strictly localized groups or “oases,” which represent two cultural variants.

The first oasis is located in the middle sector of the Kura River. In Georgia, the sites Shulaveris-gora, Imiris-gora, Gadachrili-gora, Dangreuli-gora, Arukhlo, and Khramis Didi-gora are located on the Marneuli plain (270–500 m a.s.l.). Further to the southeast in Azerbaijan lie the sites of Shomutepe, Tоirеtepe, Gargalartepesi, Göy Tepe, and Mentesh Tepe.

The second oasis, along the middle stream of the Arax River, includes the Ararat valley (800–1000 m a.s.l.) in Armenia with the sites of Aratashen, Aknashen (former Khatunarkh), Masis-blur (former Yengidzha), Tsaghkunk, and the Nakhichevan valley with Kültepe.

Beyond the boundaries of these oases in the surrounding intermountain basins of the southern Caucasus, no possible analogous settlements are known. However, an analogous artifact complex beyond the Kura-Arax interfluve is represented by lower horizon (III) materials of Tilki-tepe on the eastern shore of Lake Van (1660 m a.s.l.).

At the same time, this site indicates the northern boundary of the widely distributed Halaf ware. Sporadic finds of imported pottery, often defined as Halaf ware, were criteria for relative dating of the Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture in the 6th millennium BC.

Regardless of the evolving concepts concerning absolute dating of the complex, the sites of the southern oasis (Aknashen, Masisi-blur, Nakhichevan Kültepe) were attributed to later, final stages of the culture in the framework of relative chronology. This theory raised objections and has subsequently been completely contradicted by data from new investigations.

During the past decade, new series of dates have been obtained for the sites in the Kura and Arax River basins. The majority of these dates fall in the first half of the 6th millennium BC at Aknashen (Horizons V, IV, and part of III); Aratashen (Layer II); Masis-blur; Arukhlo; and Mentesh Tepe. Göy Tepe dates to the middle of the 6th millennium BC, and several dates from Arukhlo and the upper horizons of Aknashen (II, part of III) point to the third quarter of the 6th millennium BC.

Thus, according to 14C data, the “Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe” complex dates to c.6000–5250 cal BC. These dates indicate that settlements of this complex appeared and developed simultaneously in both the Kura and the Arax River basins. An attempt at periodization of this culture was unsuccessful since the new data did not confirm its patterns of development.

In the 6th millennium BC on the Ararat plain, geomorphological and sedimentological research indicates that the Kasakh River water level was full and formed a broad basin with small lagoons and lakes, where carp (Cyprinus carpio) and catfish (Silurus glanis) could be fished.

Around Aratashen and Aknashen, the vegetation consisted of wetlands (Cyperus sp., Carex sp.), gallery forests along the rivers (Salix, Populus, Tamarix), and mixed oak forests (Quercus, Acer, Amygdalus, Celtis) in the surrounding foothills.

Forested areas were inhabited by aurochs (Bos primigenius), red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), gazelle (Gazella sp.), and moufflon or ibex (Ovis orientalis, Capra aegagrus). Landscapes consisting of a mosaic of gallery/riparian forests, and mixed deciduous forests were also reconstructed for the Kura basin and Khrami valley. The region where Mentesh Tepe is located had more pronounced aridity, resulting in the presence of open shrublands (elm, buckthorn).

Human settlements that developed in this landscape formed mounds, called blur (in Armenian), gora (in Georgian), or tepe (in Turkish). Most cover an area of approximately 1 ha (sometimes larger: Khramis Didi-gora was ~3 ha) and are 2.5 to 3.5 m in relative height. The Neolithic layers can measure 4.5 to 6.0 m or more in thickness (e.g., 8–10 m at Nakhichevan Kültepe-1 and Gargalartepesi).

These layers were partially buried under alluvial sediments in the Ararat valley and in the Marneuli valley, where the ancient surface is 2 m below the modern one. Judging from the available data, these settlements were established in previously uninhabited places. On the Marneuli plain, the settlements formed clusters of four to six at a distance of 0.5 to 2 km apart (Dzhvakhishvili, 1973). In the Ararat valley, the settlements appear to be more isolated, with 3 to 6 km separating them.

With deep cultural horizons and permanent dwellings, the “Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe” sites certainly provide an impression of sedentism. However, the sites’ function and status could have differed or changed over time, and some settlements could have been seasonal.

For example, all age classes of sheep and goat are represented in Aratashen, but in Aknashen the very young adults and juveniles are absent. In other words, lambing did not occur in Aknashen. Preliminary geoarchaeological data gleaned from Horizon IV of Aknashen indicate the rarity or near absence of charcoal and ash in contrast with the high content of domestic animal dung.

This evidence might not support an argument for a year-round community presence. However, only part of the population might have engaged in seasonal mobility. The presence of domestic pig in all horizons (V–II) of Aknashen demonstrates that at least some inhabitants settled here all year.

In the Kura and Arax River valleys, the architecture follows the same principles. A dense, chaotic group of structures is observed nearly everywhere, mainly consisting of one-room dwellings 3.5 to 5.0 m in diameter and cylindrical household structures with diameters between 0.4 and 1.0 m.

The Kura dwellings are built of plano-convex mud bricks. On the Ararat plain, the use of bricks and/or clay blocks was found only rarely at Aratashen (Layers IIb–IId) and Aknashen (Horizon IV). Here and in Kültepe-1, the predominant building material was cob, plastic earth containing a high content of organic remains such as threshed cultivated cereals and wild desert madwort (Alyssum desertorum).

Cylindrical structures (perhaps silos) made from clay slabs were randomly placed inside dwellings or in the open air. Also common were rounded and oval hearths made of pebbles surrounded by a clay border and working platforms that were amorphous accumulations of natural pebbles with fragments of stone tools, obsidian cores and blades, bones and bone tools, stone axes, and grooved stones resting on them in situ.

Traces of specialized activities are recorded in some locations, for example concentrations of microflakes, microfragments, and cores (e.g., Aratashen, Layer IIc; Aknashen, Horizons IV and V). Moreover, a few semisubterranean structures occur in the settlements of the Kura valley, particularly in Arukhlo and Shomutepe.

Two parallel ditches were found in Arukhlo. In addition to one recorded in Imiris-gora, these ditches were dug out and filled during the occupation of the settlement and probably functioned as an enclosure, as a water reservoir, or for irrigation.

The settlements were also a place for burials. In the lower layer of Nakhichevan Kültepe (below 19 m), burials of children and adults were revealed among dwellings and under the floors. The skeletons were found lying on one side in flexed position. Sometimes a red colorant had been used on the corpse.

The burials are generally found without cultural objects, though some of them contained items such as obsidian blades, beads, or rare stone tools and clay vessels. Remains of burials were found at Aknashen in Horizons IV and V, at Imiris–gora and at Arukhlo.

The only example of cremation in the southern Caucasus was discovered at Arukhlo. For the same period (mid-6th millennium BC), cremation was attested at Sialk I in Iran, where 5 examples have been found.

The lithic industry of all Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe sites is based on obsidian. Flint, dacite, quartz, and other raw materials make up only a very small percentage of the assemblage (0.4% at Aknashen in Armenia, 3.5% at Mentesh Tepe in Azerbaijan).

A total of 36,700 units were found at Aknashen during eight excavation seasons, made on obsidian originating from various sources. Five to six (up to ten at Aknashen) sources were generally exploited, of which one or two played a dominant role.

In the Ararat valley, these are Arteni (southwest of Mt. Aragats), Gutansar, and Hatis (western foothills of the Geghama range), and to a lesser extent Geghasar (southern part of Geghama range) at a distance of 40 to 65 km.

Chikiani (Javakheti range) was the predominant obsidian source for the Kura valley in Georgia (Khramis Didi-gora), whereas in Azerbaijan (Mentesh Tepe), the sources of Gegham and Tsaghkunyats were predominant.

Along with this Caucasian obsidian, which represented 80% or more of the supply, some more distant sources were found. Evidence for sources in the Lake Van basin (3a/Meydan Dağ) and from Sarikamish was found at Aratashen, whereas the obsidian at Mentesh Tepe came from Bayazet (Tendurek?) and at Khramis Didi-gora from Sarikamish.

Obtaining this material most likely occurred through contacts indirectly connected with the obsidian trade. At Aratashen, some Meydan Dağ samples were found in association with Halaf ware; in this case, the sporadic dissemination of Lake Van obsidian probably occurred with the import of pottery into the Ararat valley.

The obsidian industry is morphologically and technologically characterized by a predominance of long blades (up to 20 cm). Of the items at Aratashen, blade tools make up 97.7% and flake tools 2.3% of the assemblage. Various techniques were applied for producing the blades: indirect percussion, pressure with crutch, and pressure with lever. The pressure technique using a lever emerged in the upper valley of the Tigris (Çayönü Tepesi) between 7340 and7080 cal BC.

The usewear analysis of blades from Aratashen and Aknashen demonstrates their connection with agricultural activities such as harvesting, stripping, and threshing. Sickle and tribulum elements were defined among the tools. Composite sickles with a wooden or bone frame (e.g., mandibula with blades fixed with bitumen) were found in Shomutepe and Toiretepe.

The question concerning geometric microliths in the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe industry is of special importance. It has been suggested that microliths are uncharacteristic of this culture. Single finds at Imiris-gora and Khramis Didi-gora seemed to appear only in relation to the later cultural stages.

It is currently assumed that the presence or absence of microliths in the complex is related to economic activity. Although no microliths were found at Aratashen among more than 20,000 artefacts, 120 samples were collected in the neighboring contemporaneous settlement of Aknashen.

These involve transverse arrowheads, including trapezoids and (less frequently) triangles with thinned backs, the number of which regularly increases from the upper to lower horizons. Microliths were also found in Arukhlo and Göy Tepe. Numerous bone and horn artifacts make up one of the most specific cultural-typological and functionally important categories of the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture.

This industry is represented by a wide variety of objects in the early phases of the culture. Data from Aknashen show that the number of such objects decreased gradually in the upper layers of the settlement until the technical degradation of these objects during the Chalcolithic.

Most of the tools (50%80%) are awls/punches, with their percentage increasing in the upper horizons. The other objects, whose diversity is related to all types of activity, include handles of composite sickles, hoes, picks, hammers, hafts, arrowheads, spoons, palettes, toothed tools, burnishers, and pins.

The assemblage includes basalt and sandstone grinders, querns, hammers, pestles, mortars, pumice tools, plummets, and maceheads, which were related to the processing of cereals, mineral and pigment pounding, and stone grinding.

Polished axes (celts) and grooved stones (“shaft-straighteners”) were also found. Grooved stones appear to be rare and have simple forms at the Kura River basin sites (e.g., have only one groove at Imiris–gora and Khramis Didigora), whereas in the south (Aratashen, Aknashen, Tilkitepe Layer III), they are represented by a wider range of variants.

These tools, whose grooves are generally transverse like those from the Zagros in the eleventh millennium bc onward, appear to have disappeared in the southern Caucasus at the end of the sixth millennium bc. This was concurrent with the time when the bone-working techniques degraded.

Pottery of the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture represents the earliest examples of production in the southern Caucasus. In the Ararat valley, the lower (II) layer of Aratashen does not contain pottery, except for a few imported painted fragments of Halaf ware. The upper part of the lowest horizon (V) at Aknashen yielded a small number of relatively high-quality sherds with grit temper (Grit II)

Made with well-levigated clay containing also grog, these had burnished surfaces. In Horizon IV, Grit II predominates over a production of coarse ware (Grit I), but the quantity of sherds remains low. In Horizon III, Grit II decreases proportionally to an increase of coarse pottery (Grit I) and pottery with organic temper. The latter is predominant in Horizon II.

Grit-tempered pottery is morphologically represented by handmade coiled vessels that were cylindrical and barrel-shaped, with wide, flat bases and heel-shaped profiles. These vessels are not decorated; there are only a few examples with large attached lug handles.

Although a small amount of pottery in the lower horizons and its gradual increase in the upper horizons is also evident in the Kura basin settlements, the technological and stylistic traditions vary.

Having great morphological similarity with the Aknashen pottery, the ware from Nakhichevan Kültepe-1 also contains organic rather than mineral temper. Chaff-tempered pottery makes up a large proportion of sherds from Mentesh Tepe, while pottery with nonorganic temper prevails (80%–85%) at Shomutepe.

Local characteristics are evident when the vessels’ decoration is compared. The grit-tempered pottery from Aknashen and the chaff-tempered pottery from Kültepe are both undecorated, whereas plastique decoration (e.g., rounded and oval knobs, horseshoe-shaped, circular and zigzag decorations on the rim’s outer edge) is very common for the grit-tempered ware of the Kura basin, including anthropomorphic motifs at Arukhlo, Imiris-gora, and Khramis Didi-gora.

One-third of the fragments at Arukhlo are decorated. The rounded and vertical knob decoration under the vessel rims from Shomutepe is characteristic of grit-tempered pottery. Similar decoration is characteristic of Aknashen and Aratashen pottery containing organic temper from the upper horizons.

However, these technological and stylistic differences in the morphologically homogenous pottery assemblages of the Arax and Kura basins raise important questions concerning the origin and development of Neolithic pottery in the southern Caucasus.

Copper artifacts found in Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe sites are the earliest known metal objects in the southern Caucasus. These consist of small ornaments, particularly beads (Aratashen, Aknashen, Nakhichevan Kültepe I, Khramis Didi-gora, Arukhlo, and Gargalar tepesi).

Fabricated from copper leaf rolled around a rod on one or two lathes, the beads are of a standard type found across western Asia in the eighth to sixth millennia bc. Fifty-seven of these beads formed a bracelet about 6 cm in diameter found in situ at Aratashen (Layer IIb). The beads are made of pure native copper containing only minor natural impurities.

Fragments of malachite and azurite are regularly found starting in the lower horizons of Aratashen, Aknashen, and Arukhlo. These minerals were common in Neolithic sites of western Asia and could have been raw materials for making artifacts and ornaments or a source for pigments.

The same uses are possible for galena, which is also present at Aknashen. Both galena and lead artifacts are known in the Neolithic of western Asia. Traces of malachite and hematite are preserved on the working surfaces of several grindstones and pestles from Aknashen.

Mil steppe

Surveys carried out in the 1950s on the Mil steppe revealed this region’s rich archaeological potential. Researchers found several tells (e.g., Kamiltepe, Shahtepe) that yielded painted pottery called Mil Steppe Painted Ware, attributed to the Chalcolithic.

In 2009, excavations were resumed at the tell of Kamiltepe in the Qarasu valley. The occupation of the site extends over two phases: a massive mud brick construction, built in the center of the village, was then surrounded by domestic architecture with evidence for storage and food preparation.

Some 700 m to the southwest of Kamiltepe lies another tell (MPS 4) that produced a semisubterranean round building with evidence of a shell bead workshop. The cultural material consists of handmade, chaff-tempered pottery (often with geometric painted decoration in black or dark red on a light surface), obsidian and flint tools, and occasional ornamental objects, such as beads made from shell, carnelian, or turquoise.

Radiocarbon dating places the occupation of Kamiltepe-1 during the mid-sixth millennium bc. The recovered animal bones largely consist of domesticated animals; caprids are most numerous, followed by cattle and pigs.

Among the wild species are gazelles and red deer. The large number of birds, especially duck, as well as some fish bones and molluscs, indicate the availability of aquatic resources probably near the site.

This culture presents few analogies with the neighboring Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture. However, its architecture (monumental platform) and pottery (painted decoration) are clearly related to northern Iran and the region around the southern edge of the Caspian Sea.

In the Neolithic layer (C) at Chokh, a large stone building with a corridor-like entrance yielded abundant material. Continuity is obvious in the lithic material from the Mesolithic layers: scalene triangles still predominate and small blades become frequent. Grinding stones and pottery (mineral-tempered ware with flat bases) also appear, and a sherd decorated with two knobs evokes the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture. Bone sickle handles decorated with incised diamond shapes closely parallel the culture of Sialk I (sixth millennium bc) on the Iranian plateau.

Based on the presence of domesticated animals (sheep) and a large assortment of cereals, the excavator considers this site evidence of local domestication.

The Early Neolithic of western Georgia was followed by a Late Neolithic, represented by sites distributed on the coastal strip (e.g., Anaseuli-2, Odishi, Makhvilauri) and characterized by the appearance of pottery.

The undifferentiated red-baked jars with a button base could be decorated with incised geometric ornaments and grooves on the rim. The lithic industry was characterized by the blade technique and an abundance of geometric microliths (trapezes and lunates); ground stone tools (querns, grooved stones) were also found.

However, conclusive evidence for the use of domesticated plant and animal resources is still absent, and radiocarbon dates are again lacking. Based on typological parallels of the pottery assemblages with the Early Chalcolithic of eastern Georgia (Sioni culture) it appears plausible that the Late Neolithic of western Georgia was partly contemporaneous with the Late Neolithic of eastern Georgia (Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture) and partly with the Early Chalcolithic (Sioni culture).

The Shulaveri-Shomu culture occupied the middle course of the Kura (Mtkvari) from the 6th to the beginning of the 5th millennium cal. BC. Today it corresponds to south-east Georgia and west Azerbaijan but it also extends southward into the Armenian regions of the Ararat valley.20 This territory  broadly prefi gures the geographical distribution of the later  Sioni (Chalcolithic) and Kuro-Araxe (Early Bronze Age) complexes.

Georgian sites of the Shulaveri-Shomu complexe were first considered Chalcolithic, but this culture is now included in the Neolithic, except for the latest layers where metal artefacts have been found, as for example in the upper levels of Khramis Didi gora and Aruchlo I. In fact, the Shulaveri-Shomu culture has a similar economic basis to contemporary Neolithic cultures of eastern Anatolia

At many sites, the Sioni culture layers can be seen as intermediary between Shulaver-Shomu-Tepe layers and the Kura-Araxes layers.[8] This kind of stratigraphy warrants a chronological place of the Sioni culture at around 4000 BCE.[9] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

A subsequent culture displays a certain similarity with the preceding and subsequent cultures, that is between the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe period and the earliest materials of the Kura-Araxes culture. A period that is tentatively referred to here as the Middle Chalcolithic Age. It is represented at Sioni, Tsopi, Delisi, the lowest level of Berikldeebi, sites of the Aragvi ravine, the Alazani valley, etc.

The south Trans-Caucasian early farming sites (e.g. Kül Tepe, Teghut, etc.), which mainly belong to a time rather later than the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture, are more or less contemporary with the central Trans-Caucasian Middle Chalcolithic or the so-called ‘Sioni’ culture. This period corresponds to the Didube-Kiketi and the Sioni (Iori River valley)-Gremi (Alazani River valley) groups and is referred to as the Late Chalcolithic period of central Trans-Caucasia.

It is suggested that there is a temporal hiatus and a geographic discontinuity between the Shulaveri-Shomutepe and the subsequent Chalcolithic Sioni culture. There are no 14C dates for Sioni sites in the southern Caucasus, but a level below Sioni strata at the site of Kyul Tepe I (Nakhichevan) has been dated to 4830–4370 CAL BC.

The only other published date from post-Shulaveri-Shomutepe and pre-Kura Araxes layers is from Machara IV in Abkhazia (4830–4370 CAL BC.), although the dated stratum does not contain Sioni artifacts.

Sites of the Sioni culture are concentrated in the Ararat plain (Armenia and Turkey), central Georgia, Nakhichevan, and the southern bank of the Kura River in Azerbaijan, precisely those areas where the Kura Araxes culture is traditionally thought to have emerged.

Nevertheless, there is disagreement among researchers on whether the Kura Araxes  culture developed out of the Sioni culture, thereby indicating continuity, or whether there is a disjunction between the Sioni and the Kuras Araxes represented by a break in depositional sequences or settlement shifts.

Kura Araxes-type artifact assemblages to 4100–3800 CAL B.C., several hundred years before the previously accepted earliest date. Areni-1 can therefore be placed in the putative hiatus between the Late Chalcolithic Sioni and the fully developed Kura Araxes culture.

Taking this view, however, ignores the implications of the material culture recovered from the Areni-1 site. The ceramic data, albeit at an early stage of analysis, suggest that
cultural boundaries are more blurred than indicated in previous literature.

On a theoretical level, the transition from Mesolithic hunter-gatherers to Neolithic farmers can be understood through two factors: (a) migration, or the spread of agricultural societies; and (b) diffusion, when indigenous hunter-gatherers adopt items, ideas, and practices associated with agricultural society (e.g., domestic plants and animals, pottery).

Migration and diffusion represent the ends of a variegated spectrum of mechanisms, including folk migration, demic diffusion, elite dominance, community infiltration, leapfrog colonization, exchange in frontier zones, and regional exchange.

In regard to the Caucasus, the scattered nature of the data and rarity of radiocarbon dates make it difficult to examine the Neolithisation process. However, a review of hypotheses formulated in the past and information from recent excavations enable us to propose a new direction of research on the regional domestication of plants and animals.

Domestication of Plants

In the Soviet literature concerning the Caucasus, there is a broad consensus that the emergence of agriculture was clearly a local phenomenon, due to its manifestation within the area of natural distribution of cereals.

The emergence of agriculture was a local Caucasian invention, completely independent from the development of agricultural communities in western Asia. She bases her conclusion on evidence of the gradual progress of cultural and economic development in western Georgia.

The process of diffusion out of the west Georgian center took place much later and led to the emergence of the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture of eastern Georgia. Based on the cultural sequence observed at Chokh in Dagestan, in which a Neolithic layer succeeded Mesolithic occupations, proposed a model suggesting an independent development of agriculture in the northern Caucasus and its later spread to the south.

The hypothesis states that the primary center of the Caucasian agricultural revolution was eastern Georgia, where the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture had developed. Kiguradze does accept the idea that the process of domestication resulted from cultural contact with western Asia but considers domestication itself to be a process accomplished by the local population.

Present research shows that the first two hypotheses cannot be supported. Indeed, in western Georgia, the early Neolithic represented by Anaseuli-1 presents no clear evidence for plant domestication.

As for Chokh in Dagestan, two hearths in the lowest part of the Neolithic level have produced evolved varieties of wheat (einkorn, emmer, naked wheat) and barley (six-row barley) but no wild cereals. It is likely that cereals were already domesticated elsewhere before arriving at Chokh. Thus the early process of plant domestication cannot be observed in the Caucasus.

The assortment of domesticated species found on the sites of the Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture during the 1960s to 1980s is evidence for a large variety that includes hulled and naked barley (Hordeum vulgare), einkorn (Triticum monococcum), emmer (T. dicoccum), hexaploid wheats (T. spelta, T. aestivum), and millets (Panicum miliaceum, Setaria italica).

However, some of these identifications have been questioned. All of these species were cultivated in the northern part of western Asia in the eighth to seventh millennia bc, and the introduction of most of them to the Caucasus seems probable.

However, recent excavations have confirmed some originality of plant use in the Neolithic Caucasus: hexaploid wheat (T. aestivum) largely predominates over emmer, with einkorn being very rare. Even in the Mil steppe culture (Kamiltepe), where naked barley (Hordeum vulgare) is the main cultivated crop and the percentage of wheat is very low, the only wheat identified is Triticum aestivum.

This free-threshing wheat is of particular significance because it is quite rare in Neolithic sites in western Asia during the same period (seventh–sixth millennia bc). This evidence suggests that not all domesticated plants were introduced from western Asia, but some species could have been locally domesticated.

In fact, the naked hexaploid wheat (T. aestivum) is a derivative of the hulled variety, spelt (T. spelta), which was also reported from sixth-millennium bc contexts on the Kura River plain (Arukhlo). Molecular studies of hexaploid wheats show that this Asian spelt originated from the hybridization of a tetraploid wheat with the diploid wild grass Aegilops tauschii (squarrosa).

Other studies have shown that populations of Aegilops tauschii native to Armenia and the southwest part of the Caspian Sea belt are closest to the genome D found in hexaploid wheat, confirming this as an area where hexaploids originated.

This origin of hexaploids appears to be independent from a possible earlier domestication event in southeastern Anatolia and northern Syria during the eighth millennium bc. Genetic studies have shown that at least two Aegilops tauschii sources contributed germplasm to the genome D of Triticum aestivum.

One gave rise to the lineage possessing the TAE1 allele and its derivatives, which came from the southern Caucasus and the southwest corner of the Caspian belt; the other resulted in the lineage with the TAE2 allele coming from southeast Turkey/northern Syria, where local Aegilops tauschii has a high frequency of the TAE2 allele.

In addition, recent finds from Aratashen-Shulaveri-Shomutepe sites suggest that a naked hexaploid wheat was in the process of replacing emmer wheat during occupation of the settlements. These finds support the genetic evidence suggesting that hexaploid wheat evolved independently in this region.

Domestication of Animals

Similar to the theory about domestication of cereals, the Caucasus has long been considered a possible source for the domestication of animals. This theory was based on the abundance of remains from their wild ancestors (e.g., aurochs, moufflon, ibex, wild boar).

The collections studied recently by Benecke consist of about 50,000 faunal remains from Neolithic layers at Arukhlo and Mentesh Tepe in the Kura basin and Kamiltepe on the Mil steppe. Morphologically, the sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs from all three sites represent animals that were in an advanced stage of domestication, obviously having been under human control for a long period of time.

The first successful DNA studies show a high variability in mitochondrial haplotypes in sheep and cattle from Aruchlo. This is in clear contrast to western Anatolia or southeast Europe, where a strongly reduced haplotype variability was observed in these species, indicating a rapid spread of animals from a small founder population in the areas of domestication (the bottleneck effect). The high genetic variability seen in Neolithic domestic animals from the southern Caucasus may indicate their close proximity to the primary areas of domestication.

Phenomena such as admixture (hybridization between a domestic population and wild population of identical and/or sister species) may have occurred in the Southern Caucasus. In fact, during the early stage of migration of an agricultural society away from the domestication center, domestic populations are small relative to the surrounding wild populations, and repeated hybridizations between the two may lead to the domestic population becoming more genetically divergent from its original domestic source population.



Aratashen (Armenian: Առատաշեն, also Romanized as Arratashen; also, Artashen; until 1978 Zeyva Hayi – meaning “Armenian Zeyva”, Zeyva, Bol’shaya Zeyva and Nerkin-Zeyva) is a town in the Armavir Province of Armenia. It is located on the Ararat plain.
1 Archaeology
2 Metalwork
3 See also
4 References
5 External links
A neolithic-chalcolithic tell is located south of the town.
The first occupation phase at Aratashen was preceramic, going back to 6500 BCE. Parallels are found in the southeastern Trans-Caucasia, and in the northeastern Mesopotamia, especially based on the construction techniques and the lithic and bone tools.
Also the pottery, after it appears, is somewhat similar. The best parallels are with Kul Tepe of Nakhichevan to the south, and with the northern Near East, such as the lower levels of Hajji Firuz Tepe, at Dalma Tepe, and at Tilki Tepe.
The Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture, that developed in the neighbouring Kura basin and the Karabakh steppe, does not have close parallels with the early Aratashen artifacts.[1]
First pottery appears at the end of the fifth millennium BC. At this time, the plain of Ararat was in contact with the contemporary populations of northern Mesopotamia, and also with those of the ‘Sioni culture’ of the Kura basin.
The later period pottery of Aratashen is becoming close to that of the Sioni culture, which locally succeeded the Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture. Here we already see the features of the later Kura-Araxes culture pottery.[2]
There’s evidence of very early metallurgy at Aratashen, going back to the first half of the sixth millennium BCE. According to A. Courcier,
In the Neolithic level IId of Aratashen, dated to the beginnings of the sixth millennium BCE, several fragments of copper ores (malachite and azurite) and 57 arsenical copper beads were discovered.[3] Close to Aratashen, at Khatunark, one fragment of copper ore (malachite) has been discovered in a level dated to the first half of the sixth millennium BCE.[4] This artefact, together with those found at Aratashen, suggest the nascent emergence of metallurgy in the Ararat region already during the Late Neolithic.[5]
At Aratashen and Khatunakh/Aknashen, there are similarities to the contemporary sites of Kultepe I, and Alikemek-Tepesi.
Xələc (also, Khaladzh, Khaladj and Khalaj) is a village and municipality in the Sharur Rayon of Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan. It is located near the Khalaj Mount, 8 km in the north-west from the district center, on the bank of the Aras River. Its population is mainly busy with farming. There are secondary school, kindergarten, library, club and a medical center in the village. It has a population of 1,268.[1]
1 Etymology
2 Khalaj archaeological site
2.1 Ceramics
3 References
The name of the village is related with xələclər (khalajlar) who were within the tribe union of Seljuq-Oghuz. A part of the xələclər who have participated in the conquest of the Middle East (12th-13th centuries) now living in Iran and Turkmenistan.[2]
Xələclər (Khalajlar) – is the Turkic tribe that lived on the south bank of the Amu Darya River in the early Middle Ages. They were within of the tribe union of the Seljuq-Oghuz. From written sources, it becomes clear that the Xələclər have served in the armies of the Arab Caliphate. In Seljuq period, some of them came to Iran, and from there to Azerbaijan. The Xələclər who consist from several tribes and arms (generation) at the end of the 19th century, have lived in the Javad province. Basically, they were engaged in cattle-breeding. The names of the mountain and the village in the Sharur region are related with Xələclər.[1]
Khalaj archaeological site
Khalaj (Xələc, Khaladj, Халадж) archaeological site is a settlement of the Chalcolithic period. It is located 200 m south of the village of same name in the Sharur region, on the left bank of the Aras River, on the slope of the Khalaj mountain. When the local population used the area as a cemetery, many artifacts were scattered around.
Red clay pottery (jugs and bowl-type containers) are found here. Some examples is decorated with the scratching methods. From the settlement were found the grain stones, obsidian and flint panels. It attracts attention that it was painted in the back part of the flint panels with the comb-like instrument.
The findings are close to the materials of Ovçular təpəsi (Ovcular Tepesi). Painted ceramic samples are the same with ceramics of the Eneolithic monuments in the east of the lake of Urmiya (Iran).
Along the sides of the irrigation canal which built from slopes of the mountain were found the samples of the ceramic of the first Bronze Age (Kura-Araxes culture). A bit away from the settlement were found samples of whole colored plates of the middle Bronze Age. Those plates, for ornaments and forms are the same of Kultepe I. Entirely, the settlement of Xələc belongs to the 4-3 millennium of BC.[1]
Dizə (also, Diza and Dize) is a village and municipality in the Sharur District of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Azerbaijan. It is located on the left bank of the Arpachay (Akhurian) River, on the Sharur plain. On the other side of the river is the village of Oglanqala.
Its population is busy with gardening, vegetable-growing, grain-growing and animal husbandry. There are secondary school, library, club, kindergarten and a medical center in the village. It has a population of 1,791.[1]
1 Etymology
2 Historical and archaeological monuments
2.1 Ovcular Tepesi
2.2 Dize Necropolis
3 References
In the ancient Iranian languages the word of dizə means “wall, fence,” “fortified town”, “fortress wall”, “fortress”, “fortified”. It passed in to several Turkic languages, including Azerbaijani language and is used in meaning as “village”.[2]
Historical and archaeological monuments
Ovcular Tepesi
Ovçular təpəsi (Ovcular Tepesi, Hunters hill, az:Ovçular təpəsi) is located just to the north of Dize village, on the left bank of the Arpachay River. It is a settlement from the 5th-3rd millenniums BC. This is a strategic point at the foot of the highlands; the site is at the crossroads of major trade routes linking the Iranian plateau to Anatolia (east to west), and the Caucasus to North Mesopotamia (north to south).
The monument is located on a natural hill. The area of the monument is about 10 hectares. The characteristic feature of the site is that the Kura-Araxes layer is not covered by any cultural layers of later periods.[3] During the excavations of VH Aliyev and AK Seyidov, the remains of two buildings were found at a depth of 0.6 m.
During the period of 2006-2011, a joint Azerbaijani-French expedition conducted a survey of the site. The residents engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding, fishing, and other farming activities.[4]
In 2010, some Ubaid period materials were found.
Discovered archaeological materials are similar to Kultepe, Azerbaijan, Makhta Kultepe and other Chalcolithic era monuments.
At Ovcular, three large copper axes were found in an infant burial jar, coming from Late Chalcolithic occupation levels (4400–3950 BC). Also, pieces of copper ore, crucible remains, and some small metal artifacts were found. Such large copper tools are not known anywhere else in southwestern Asia. Metallurgy was being practiced here, and at other sites in the area.[5]
Dize Necropolis
This section may have translation issues
Dizə Necropolis – the archaeological monument of the first Bronze Age in the west of the same named village in the Sharur region. It was discovered during the farm work in 1969. The materials of destructed of two graves were collected and as a result of the research one of the graves were studied. The remained a part of the walls of the grave chamber were built from river stone with mud and floor also were plastered with mud. According to the remains of bones, can say that two people were buried here. They were in wrapped position and their heads to the south side. Mug and containers of bank-type were found from the grave. Discovered samples of the material culture are shows that the monument belongs to the Kura-Araxes culture.[1]
Ərəbyengicə (also, Ərəb Yengicə, Arab Yengidzha, Erebyengicesi) is a village and municipality in the Sharur District of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Azerbaijan. It is located 12 km in the south from the district center, on the left bank of the Arpachay River. Its population is busy with farming and animal husbandry. There are secondary school, club and a medical center in the village. It has a population of 894.[1]
1 Etymology
2 Historical and Archaeological monuments
2.1 Ərəbyengicə
3 References
The name of Ərəbyengicə (Arabyengidzha) village made out from the words of ərəb (etno-name) and yengicə (new, fresh) means “new Arab village, or the new founded Arab village”.[2]
Historical and Archaeological monuments
Ərəbyengicə is an ancient settlement in Sharur region. It is located south of the village of Ərəbyengicə (Erebyengicesi), about 200 meters north from the Araz River.
The area of the monument approximately is 0.8 hectares. During the farm works, the monument were badly damaged and only remained a central part in 80–90 cm of height.
The collected materials here show the existence of cultural layers of the Eneolithic and Kura-Araxes culture. Because of the Eneolithic ceramic fragments made from clay are small, it is not possible to determine the exact forms of pots. The edge of the mouth of the pots is cut straight. There are examples of both well and poorly fired vessels. Surfaces were slightly smoothed. In general, the ceramic is close to the materials of Kultepe I. In the settlement, the remains of obsidian have been found. The settlement belongs to the 4th and 3rd millenniums BC.[1]
Chaff-faced and chaff-tempered ware has been found here. Sometimes this pottery also has combed surfaces; it is typical of the Late Chalcolithic of Southern Azerbaijan, and of Nakhichevan region. It is also found in north-western Iran. Similar pottery is found at Kültepe I, Khalaj, Sederek, and Kul Tepe of Marand in Iran.[3]
Kul Tepe Jolfa
Kul Tepe Jolfa(Gargar Tepesi) (Kul Tapeh) is an ancient archaeological site in the Jolfa County of Iran, located in the city of Hadishahr, about 10 km south from the Araxes River. It dates to Chalcolithic period (5000–4500 BC), and was discovered in 1968.
Occupation continues into the late Bronze Age. Pottery sherds have also been recovered from the Bronze Age and Urartian periods.
1 Description
2 Relative chronology
3 See also
4 Notes
5 Bibliography
6 External links
Kul Tepe is a multi-period tell about 6 ha in extent, and 19 m high. It is located 967 m above sea level.
About 50km away is the related site of Kultepe, Azerbaijan.[1]
Material was found from the Dalma period (5000–4500 BC), and then following to the Pisdeli period, Chaff-Faced Ware horizons, and Kura-Araxes I and II periods. This is the Early Trans-Caucasian or Kura-Araxes culture, which spread through the Caucasus and the Urmia Basin around 3500 BC.[2]
Later, the Middle and Late Bronze Age (Urmia Ware), and Iron and Urartian/Achaemenid periods are also attested.
Dava Goz is another related site in the area that was recently excavated. It is located about 5km north of Dizaj Diz, Iran. This is a small and very old site that begins in the Late Neolithic/Transitional Chalcolithic period, similar to Hajji Firuz Tepe; it may have started c. 6000 BC.[3]
Chaff-faced and chaff-tempered pottery with combed surfaces is a typical Late Chalcolithic pottery of Southern Azerbaijan. It is found in Kultepe, Azerbaijan and elsewhere in the Nakhichevan region, and in the Lake Urmia region of north-western Iran. But it is also common in other areas of the Middle East, such as in northern Syria and Mesopotamia. It is very well attested at Amuq.
According to Akbar Abedi,
“To sum up, the emerging picture suggests that the Chaff-Faced Ware system, whose focus was the highlands, was progressively challenged during the 4th millennium in the north as in the south, by the Kura-Araxes and Uruk expansions, respectively. After a period of coexistence with both, the Chaff-Faced Ware culture was superseded in the highlands by the Kura-Araxes phenomenon, whose driving forces probably had some decisive advantage over its regional neighbours: judging by the importance of metallurgy and mining activities in the Kura-Araxes world, this advantage could have been technological.”[4]

Click to access 2012_Wilkinson%20et%20al_Areni-1_JFA_37-1.pdf

The first and second ’radiocarbon revolutions’ have resulted in the separation of ancient world chronology. On the one hand, the northern periphery of the Near East and Europe is reliant on radiocarbon dates; that is, radiocarbon dates form the basis of absolute time-scales of the Neolithic to Early Metal Age after the archaeological sequence has been established. On the other is the Near East, with approximate historical chronologies. The gulf between these two regions can be likened to a ’geological gap’ — a ’fault line.’
In addition to the improvement in the geo-chronological methodology, there needs to be intensive research in the field of comparative chronology either side of the above-mentioned gap, and, as much as is possible, to bridge that gap — an urgent task of modern archaeological research.
This ’fault line’ that tears Europe from the Near East is focused on the Balkan Peninsula and in Caucasia. Chronological problems of these regions have paramount importance in the foundation of a general Near Eastern – east European chronological system. In such a system, Caucasia forms an important link in the Old World’s chronological chain. Yet the dating of Caucasian evidence is, in many cases, made possible through comparative materials from well-dated Near Eastern strata and through imported objects from well-dated Syro-Mesopotamian contexts. The resulting chronological framework reached, underpins the comparative and absolute chronologies of the Caucasian regions in the Early Metal Age. Before Caucasian chronological data can be included in a common Near Eastern – east European chronological system, a ‘pan-Caucasian’ chronological scale needs to be devised. In order to construct this scale, it is necessary to address each {p. 540:} of the cultural-geographical regions of Caucasia. We have seven such regions in Caucasia: 1. Western Trans-Caucasia (actually western Georgia) 2. South-western Trans-Caucasia (north-easternmost part of Turkey) 3. Central Trans-Caucasia (eastern Georgia) 4. Southern Trans-Caucasia (Armenia) 5. Eastern Trans-Caucasia (Azerbaijan) 6. North-western Caucasia 7. North-eastern Caucasia The last two areas are divided by the middle flow of the Terek River. Between all these areas transitional and/or contact zones can be distinguished. Central Trans-Caucasia plays a key role as it is meeting point of all other regions and thus it offers a common ground for the creation of the all-Caucasian chronological system. The spatial dimension of the term Trans-Caucasia (or South Caucasia) needs reconsideration after the fall of the Soviet system that functioned as a ‘iron curtain.’ Natural boundaries are located between the Great Caucasian range in the north and the Black and Caspian Seas towards the west and the east. The southern boundary is confined by the flow of the Araxes River. The upper reaches of it form a boundary between Trans-Caucasia and Anatolia, going west from the same river along the Palandöken and Kop ranges; and further to the north, the border runs along the middle and lower flow of the Çoruh River. We can consider the term Turkish Trans-Caucasia used in the latest archaeological literature as the manifestation of such a widening interpretation of Trans-Caucasia, for example, in connection with Sos Höyük,[2] an archaeological site situated near the uppermost flows of the Araxes and the Euphrates. The excavations at Sos Höyük by the team from the University of Melbourne led by A. and C. Sagona has provided a missing link in the chain of the comparative chronology of the Trans-Caucasian-east Anatolian area.[3] EARLY FARMING CULTURES Central Trans-Caucasia
The mainly sixth millennium chronology of the early farming culture of Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe in central Trans-Caucasia is based on calibrated radiocarbon evidence. These calibrated dates partially solve the discrepancy between the Near Eastern archaeological parallels of this culture, dated to the seventh-sixth millennia, and the uncalibrated radiocarbon dates of the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture, which were largely {p. 541:} placed in the fifth millennium. We bear in mind the assumption about the special closeness of this culture in all stages of its existence with the Hassuna culture on the one hand and with the Umm Dabaghiah-Tell Sotto culture of the pre-Halafian period on the other. It seems that the decorations of the Umm-Dabaghiah pottery are not as analogous to the ornaments of the Arukhlo/Nakhiduri I,[4] when compared to the pottery of an earlier site, Imiris Gora.[5] Some Georgian archaeologists argue that similarities can also be observed between the small figurines of the upper levels of Khramis Didi Gora — a site which belongs to the final stage of the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture — and similar figurines that were discovered in the layers of the Hassuna, Samara and Halaf cultures.[6] All of these Mesopotamian sites are dated mainly to the sixth millennium. The Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture, both from the perspective of typological and chronological data, can be compared with them; that all were at the same stage of development is not doubted. Although metal artifacts of the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture originate from the building layers of its later stage, one can consider this culture as predominantly Early Chalcolithic (Eneolithic) because of other, more characteristic traits. These traits include the degradation of its flint industry and impoverishment of stone tool sets, as well as a lack of certain categories of artifacts, e.g. geometrical microliths as a mass series from its layers known up till now as the lowest.[7] A subsequent culture displays a certain similarity with the preceding and subsequent cultures, that is between the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe period and the earliest materials of the Kura-Araxes culture. A period that is tentatively referred to here as the Middle Chalcolithic Age. It is represented at Sioni, Tsopi, Delisi, the lowest level of Berikldeebi, sites of the Aragvi ravine, the Alazani valley, etc. South Trans-Caucasia The south Trans-Caucasian early farming sites (e.g. Kül Tepe, Teghut, etc.), which mainly belong to a time rather later than the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture, discussed above, are more or less contemporary with the central Trans-Caucasian Middle Chalcolithic or the so-called ‘Sioni’ culture. The stratigraphy of Dalma Tepe in the Solduz valley of north-west Iran is useful for establishing the comparative chronology of Trans-Caucasian sites. We must emphasise the fact that of all the Chalcolithic layers at Kül Tepe I (spanning from 12.18 m to {p. 542:} 21.10 m in depth), it was in the lower levels (16.85–20.84 m) that Halafian imports and the sherds of the Dalma painted ware were found. The Dalma culture was contemporary with Ubaid 3,[8] and the lower levels of Kül Tepe I can also be dated to that period. This corresponded to the end of the Halaf culture dated to the beginning of the fifth millennium, which slightly overlapped with the Early
Northern Ubaid. We can consider this date as a terminus post quem for the later layers of Kül Tepe I as well as for the Middle Chalcolithic period of Trans-Caucasia, and, at the same time, as a terminus ante quem for the Shulaveri-Shomu Tepe culture or the Early Chalcolithic. Just as the painted pottery, typical of the lower levels of Dalma Tepe, provides a chronological link to Mil-Karabagh sites and Kül Tepe I, so too, do the Impressed Wares, characteristic of Late Dalma, found in Ilanly Tepe and the sites of Misharchai and Guru Dere I in the steppe of Mughan, Azerbaijan.[9] Furthermore, Late Dalma Impressed Ware can be keyed into the Early Siahbid phase of the Kermanshah region although it is not represented in the Late Siahbid deposits.[10] Dalma Impressed Ware sherds are found at the Ubaid sites of Abada and Kheit Qasim in the Hamrin and at Yorgan Tepe near Kirkuk. Significantly, sherds characteristic of Tepe Gawra XVI (or of the Ubaid 3 period) are represented at Dalma Tepe.[11] In turn, the layers of Dalma Tepe and contemporary Trans-Caucasian sites containing Early and Late Dalma Ware can be dated to the first half and middle of the fifth millennium B.C. Some archaeologists argue that at that time new ethno-cultural elements — the tribes of the Ubaid culture — spread to Caucasia.[12] But here we recall H. Nissen’s discussion connecting the wide distribution of Ubaid-like pottery with the introduction of the tournette or ’slow-wheel’ used in the manufacture of pottery.[13] We must also consider the possibility of a connection between the high firing of Ubaid pottery and the smelting procedure of copper ore, only attainable at temperatures in excess of 1100°.[14] At the same time, it seems possible that the Tepe Gawra XI A – Amuq F – cultural complex had indirect ties with the Trans-Caucasian Middle Chalcolithic, particularly with the materials of its later stage. For example, some similarities can be observed between the pottery and figurines of Tepe Gawra XI A and Teghut (in the Ararat valley, Armenia). In regards to architecture, if rectangular houses were characteristic of Tepe Gawra XII, in the subsequent level, Gawra XI A, round houses,[15] {p. 543:} appeared, that are typical of the early farming communities of Trans-Caucasia. It is interesting that the people of Tepe Gawra XII and XI A used various types of copper ores, however, copper of the later level differs in the high content of arsenic.[16] THE KURA-ARAXES CULTURE An extremely poor metal inventory has been documented for the early phase of the Kura-Araxes culture. This period corresponds to the Didube-Kiketi and the Sioni (Iori River valley)-Gremi (Alazani River valley) groups and is referred to as the Late Chalcolithic period of central Trans-Caucasia. In central Trans-Caucasia, the Kura-Araxes culture is dated mainly to the fourth to first quarter of the third millennium. In broad terms, the period represents the Late Chalcolithic and first phase of the Early Bronze Age. The best known sites with fixed stratigraphy of the Kura-Araxes culture of central Trans-Caucasia are Khizanaant Gora, Kvatskhelebi (near Kareli) and Tsikhia Gora (near Kaspi) in the central and Amiranis Gora (Akhaltsikhe) in the south-western parts of the region.
It is a widespread view that the metal from the Caucasian ore deposits together with certain types of metal artifacts were distributed to many regions of the Ancient World from the early stages of metallurgical production. Technological impulses coming primarily from northern Caucasian metallurgical centres were distributed from the river Volga to the Dniepr and even as far as the Carpathian mountains.[17] Trans-Caucasian metal products were widely distributed to the south throughout Anatolia and Syria-Palestine. So much so, that any research on Anatolian metallurgy should integrate the evidence of copper ore and arsenic deposits of the Caucasian region.[18] Caucasian metallic ores and metallurgical traditions appear in the Near East corresponding to the arrival of the Trans-Caucasian population bearing the Kura-Araxes cultural traditions.[19] Migration routes from their Trans-Caucasian homeland took them south, west, south-west and south-east, into southern Palestine, central Anatolia and central Iran. It is quite probable that the lure of the economical importance of Arslantepe VI A (Malatya) as well as Late Uruk enclaves and outposts, such as Hassek Höyük 5, Habuba Kabira-Tell Qanas, Jebel Aruda and Tepecik 3, attracted the attention of these northern invaders, the bearers of the Kura-Araxes culture, who ultimately brought about the violent destruction of these sites. The same fate befell the Late Uruk colony in Godin Tepe V, in central Iran. Their presence in the Hamadan valley severed commercial {p. 544:} routes to the east. After a short interval, Godin IV emerged with characteristic Kura-Araxes material culture of the Yanik Tepe I type.[20] Elsewhere in the northern part of the Near East, in the second half of the fourth millennium, the same sequence of events took place. Late Uruk period sites were destroyed by Kura-Araxes people who introduced their own red-black, hand-made and burnished pottery. They brought with them a copper metallurgy with high-arsenic content and metal artifacts peculiar to them. ‘Wattle and daub’ houses and a distinctive type of hearths are hallmarks of their presence. The intrusive Kura-Araxes culture is evident at Arslantepe VI B, where they caused an interruption to the stratigraphic sequence. Subsequently, they were followed by a locally developed, Reserved-Slip pottery horizon.[21] Copper artifacts with a high arsenical content, cast in open and two-piece moulds, appeared in the Elâz region of Turkey when Kura-Araxes (‘Early Transcaucasian’) ığgroups became culturally dominant there at the beginning of Early Bronze Age.[22] Besides the Red-Black Ware of the east Anatolian type, the Kura-Araxes presence can be detected through the architectural remains in the Arslantepe VI B (subsequent to the Arslantepe VI A). Houses had a double line of post-holes, which is typical of Kura-Araxes buildings.[23] It is difficult to refute that the appearance of the Arslantepe VI B1 village, built upon the razed ruins of Arslantepe VI A dwellings, epitomizes the recession of the Late Uruk cultures while coinciding with the expansion of the Trans-Caucasian groups.[24] Based on this evidence, we can date the appearance of Trans-Caucasian population in the Malatya- Elâz area to the Late ığUruk period. What remains unclear is whether the first vestages of the Kura-Araxes culture in the territories south of the Taurus range were also contemporary with the Late Uruk period. Kurban Höyük is located in the Karababa basin, north-west of Urfa and on the left bank of the Euphrates. Here, in the Late Chalcolithic (Period VI), which corresponds
to Tell Judeidah (Amuq) Phases F-F/G, three fragments of the Kura-Araxes pottery (‘Karaz Ware’) were discovered. They are all diagnostic and consist of a dense brownish clay with varying amounts of fine grit and chaff temper. One of them is uniformly black, but two have bichrome surfaces, with orange interior and black exterior.[25] All resemble Kura-Araxes pottery shapes.[26] Karaz Ware would appear to have been long-lived in the Karababa region because, in the subsequent Early Bronze Age levels (Phases V and IV) of Kurban Höyük, a few fragments of the same {p. 545:} ware were also discovered.[27] These finds support the evidence for long-term presence of Trans-Caucasian elements in the regions adjacent to the upper flow of the Euphrates. Single sherds of Karaz Ware were also found in other Late Uruk sites such as at Samsat, ca. 7 km upstream from Kurban Höyük, but on the right bank of the river, and at Jebel Aruda, a mountaintop settlement that appears to have been an administrative and religious centre of Late Uruk settlements of the area.[28] A few sherds of the Karaz Ware were found in Hassek 5 dated to the Late Uruk period; the site is on the left bank of the Euphrates near Urfa. That these finds of Karaz Ware at Hassek were not accidental, as formerly believed, is strongly suggested by the discovery of a red-slipped pot with four handles, typical of Uruk Ware, next to an ovoid pot with a plastic, chevron design common to the Kura-Araxes pottery.[29] Both were found in the Room 2 of Building 2 in level 5.[30] The colour of the latter varies from dark-grey to brown-grey and is characteristic of the East Anatolian-Trans-Caucasian black-burnished pottery. An exact parallel — in shape and decoration — to this pot was discovered in Tepecik 3; the site lies east of Elâz and is thought to be a ığLate Uruk outpost.[31] The relief decoration of a stag with horns on the central part of the vessel also occurs on other ’Kura-Araxes’ vessels at sites such as Geoy Tepe, Pulur (Sakyol) and Kvatskhelebi.[32] The rounded body shape with slightly flaring, high neck has been recorded at Amiranis Gora, Nakhidrebis Chala, Ghrmakhevistavi and Keti, among other sites.[33] A similar pot, but with a wider, spherical body and decorated with cord impression was found in the Ukraine, in the Mikhailovka I settlement (on Pidpilna, a tributary of the lower Dniepr) dated to the late fourth millennium. This settlement has affinities on the one hand, with the Maikop culture of northern Caucasia, and on the other, with the Usatovo barrows near Odessa.[34] It must be emphasized that in Tepecik 3 a similar, Uruk type, red-slipped pot with four handles was also found, together with bevelled rim bowls of the Uruk tradition and early Karaz pottery.[35] Karaz Ware became common at that site during the following Early Bronze period, as well as at Hassek 4, representing a part of the overall spectrum {p. 546:} of pottery. The metal of Hassek Höyük is thought to have came from the area located between Erzurum and the southern coast of the Black Sea. It was also stated by C. Burney that the metal artifacts from the hoard found in Arslantepe VI A (from A 113 Room of Building III), do not belong to the local copper deposits because they have high arsenic admixtures (up to 4%) and no trace of nickel. Instead, they might have originated in the northern provenance of Trans-Caucasia.[36] Arslantepe VI A, Tepecik 3 and Hassek 5 are thought to be contemporary and, like Kurban Höyük, roughly coeval with Habuba Kabira-South (8 km downstream from Jebel Aruda). Hence, they must correlate somewhere within the middle Hama K
levels and the transitional Amuq F/G, revealed at Tell al-Judaidah and Çatal Höyük (Amuq).[37] Despite the substantial similarities between Arslantepe VI A, Tepecik 3 and Hassek 5, the links between Tepecik and Hassek seem to be stronger than those with Arslantepe, essentially due to their greater affinities with Habuba Kabira and with the south.[38] It is possible that Hassek, Tepecik and Habuba Kabira were important members of a foreign enclave and that Arslantepe was a local center of power in its own right. In the opinion of C. Burney, metalwork was a major item of trade that passed through Arslantepe.[39] But in spite of the characteristics of the sites mentioned, it seems that the first appearance of the Trans-Caucasian Kura-Araxes culture to the north, as well as to the south of the Tarsus range, must be dated to the Late Uruk period. Considering the absolute date of the Late Uruk period, in the middle of the second half of fourth millennium, one can to push higher the traditional low date of the central Trans-Caucasian Kura-Araxes culture. It should be possible to draw on the dates obtained for the Near Eastern strata in which Trans-Caucasian elements first appear and hence, to establish the relative chronology of Kura-Araxes culture of Trans-Caucasia. Put simply, the Kura-Araxes culture at its point of origin is logically earlier than its manifestations in the Near East. In the construction of a comparative chronology, the regional variants of the Kura-Araxes culture must be taken into account. The earliest Kura-Araxes material discovered in Level XI at Pulur (Sakyol), as stated above, seems contemporaneous with the middle layers of Amiranis Gora in south-western central Trans-Caucasia.[40] At the same time, Pulur (Sakyol) XI has close parallels with Arslantepe VI B especially in regard to the forms and incised decorations of pot stands.[41] {p. 547:} One could speculate that the infiltration of the Kura-Araxes population into the Near East stimulated Mesopotamian sea commerce in the Arabian Gulf of the Jamdat Nasr period. Their presence may have triggered political disruption in eastern Anatolia, northern Syria and western Iran. The desertion of the Uruk sites in these areas brought about economic changes especially in regard to distribution and trade in metal ores and other artifacts; probably increasing local control over these resources.[42] The determination of the chronology of the Kura-Araxes culture is of paramount importance for the establishment of a common chronological system for the Ancient World, considering the distribution of this culture between regions dated by historical chronologies of the Near East based on the literary sources, on the one hand, and regions dated mainly by the use of radiocarbon dates, on the other. I can not agree with the view-point that, in the absence of a large series of the radiocarbon dates from Georgian and adjacent sites for the Kura-Araxes period, it is premature to consider the reliability of the existing calibrated radiocarbon dates for this culture.[43] First of all, the ‘widely accepted‘ absolute chronology of the Kura-Araxes culture in the third millennium is based mainly on the “old”, uncalibrated radiocarbon dates. The same can be said of the preceding, Eneolithic (Chalcolithic) culture dated to the fifth-fourth millennia and the subsequent, Trialeti culture attributed to the first part of the second millennium B.C.[44] The current chronological framework needs to be re-considered in view of this underlying fact. Nor the re-calculation of the existing radiocarbon dates by the new (5730±40) period of half-life[45] has any sense from the chronological point of view because of the variations in concentration of radiocarbon
with time on the earth.[46] Secondly, the statement of some archaeologists that the calibration curves and tables based on the dendroscales of the Californian pine have not received full acceptance and, moreover, that it is therefore better to refrain from using them,[47] after the publication of the calibration curves based on the joint American and European data (the real indicators of the simultaneous fluctuation of carbon-14 content in the northern hemisphere) must be considered as completely obsolete. The calibration curves that recommend for the correction of the radiocarbon dates are published systematically in the journal Radiocarbon,[48] and follow the calibration curve for the preliminary correction of the radiocarbon dates that became available already in 1981 after the First Radiocarbon and Archaeology Symposium in Groningen.[49] {p. 548:} Thirdly, for some time, there has been scope to challenge the traditional chronological position of the Trans-Caucasian Kura-Araxes through the re-assessment of the accumulating archaeological data, independent of radiocarbon results. In other words, we can now draw on, * the dates obtained for those Near Eastern strata that contained Kura-Araxes remains such as Arslantepe/Malatya, Godin Tepe, etc. * the cultural ties in the Late Uruk period at the time of the initial distribution of the Kura-Araxes material culture or people into the Near East * and the contemporaneity of Georgian Kura-Araxes and early Kurgan metallurgy (and in some cases artifacts) with those of the Near East of the Late Uruk – Early Dynastic periods.[50] Uncertainty caused by the different approaches to the problems of the chronology of the Palaeometallic Age is reflected in some publications concerning the Caucasian archaeology of this period. This is clearly evident in the Archaeology of Georgia, a two volume work published recently in Tbilisi; some authors based their work on calibrated radiocarbon dates, others on the uncalibrated ones. KURGAN CULTURES The second phase of the Early Bronze Age of Central Trans-Caucasia witnesses the final stages of Kura-Araxes culture. This phase is represented in the final layers of Level B at Kvatskhelebi-Khizanaant Gora, in the bulk of the Early Bronze Age material from Sachkhere and in the latest burials of Amiranis Gora. The Early Kurgan culture of central Trans-Caucasia also belongs to this time and two groups are distinguishable. The first comprises the kurgans (barrows) of the Martqopi/Ulevari and Samgori valleys (east of Tbilisi) and the earliest among the so-called ’Early Bronze Age kurgans of Trialeti.’ The second and chronologically subsequent group, is represented by the kurgans of the Bedeni plateau (near Trialeti) and the Alazani valley (in Kakheti, the eastern part of east Georgia), as well as by the later kurgans of the early Trialeti and the later group of Martqopi kurgans with pit graves.[51] This phase appears to be contemporary with the particularly wide diffusion of the Kura-Araxes culture in the Near East. Overall, it should be dated to the first half and the middle of the third millennium. Such a date is substantiated by the typological
parallels between the metalwork finds in this phase.[52] While the pottery found in the first group of kurgans is close to the Kura-Araxes culture, the pottery in the second, and later, group is characterized by the so-called {p. 549:} ‘pearl-like’ ornaments. This decoration is typical of the Novosvobodnaya (Tsarskaya) stage of the north Caucasian Maikop culture and Early Bronze Age north-east Iranian sites (Tureng Tepe III C, Shah Tepe III, Tepe Hissar II B, Yarim Tepe); two such sherds were found in the ‘Late Chalcolithic’ levels of Alishar (central Anatolia).[53] The Trans-Caucasian dates can also be pushed higher on the basis of finds from the kurgan of Karashamb. This unique complex (replete with copious golden, silver and bronze artifacts) of the second group of the kurgans of the Trialeti culture, in the opinion of some specialists, has some traits that are characteristic of the Ur III dynasty (twenty-first–twentieth centuries B.C.), but at the same time, it reveals connections with the earlier central Anatolian culture of the Royal Tombs of Alaca Höyük.[54] For the dating of the general Transcaucasian Middle Bronze Age some importance can be given to the obsidian from south Transcaucasian sources found at Tal-i-Malyan in the Iranian province of Fars. Obsidian was recovered from the deposits of the Kafteri phase (2100–1800 B.C.) and its origin was determined by the analytical laboratory of conservation of the Smithsonian University. One group was similar to the obsidian used in Alikemektepesi (Azerbaijan). The other group came from the Gutansar complex of Armenia (western slope of Gegam) where obsidian was found in great quantity in the sites of the Ararat valley, south of the source in the Gegam mountain. Contact with southern lands is demonstrated by the necklaces that were found in the eight kurgans of the Karmirberd culture; they can be dated to the time of Old Babylonian king, Samsu-iluna, 1806–1778 B.C. Among the necklaces, were some shell beads of the sea molluscs, which were obtained either at the estuary of the Persian Gulf or on the south Iranian coast.[55] The obsidian artefacts and shell ornaments clearly demonstrate trade connections between southern Trans-Caucasia, south-western Iran and southern Mesopotamia. A date in the eigtheenth century B.C. can be assigned to the late Karmirberd and early Sevan-Userlik cultures of southern Trans-Caucasia and to the final part of the Trialeti culture.[56] Overall, the latest of the Trialeti barrows heralding some traits that are peculiar to the Late Bronze Age, together with other settlements that are contemporary with them, can be dated to the latest part of the Middle Bronze Age. This period can be considered to post-date Trialeti times, falling approximately in the middle of the second millennium B.C. {p. 550:} THE CAUCASIAN CHRONOLOGY AS A PART OF THE OLD WORLD’S COMMON CHRONOLOGICAL SYSTEM In order to integrate a Caucasian chronological scheme into the common Near Eastern – east European chronological system, it is necessary to address the five aspects: 1. The methodological study of the different Caucasian cultural-geographical regions, outlined above.
2. The formation of the common Trans-Caucasian (south Caucasian) as well as the common north Caucasian time-scales. 3. The pan or common Caucasian chronological scheme has to be constructed, connecting Trans-Caucasian and north Caucasian time-scales with each other on the basis of coincidences of archaeological materials. 4. On the basis of the north Caucasian evidence, this common Caucasian chronological scheme can be interconnected with the sites of the north Pontic – south Russian steppe and on the basis of the Trans-Caucasian evidence – with the east Anatolian – north Iranian sites. Relative and absolute, as well as historic, data have spanned the chronological ‘fault line’. And absolute dates for the Caucasian time-scale of the Early Metal Age can be argued with some confidence. 5. The Caucasian chronological scheme, thus established, can be integrated with the evidence of the north Pontic region, the Balkan Peninsula and south-eastern Europe. Dates obtained for south-eastern Europe and western Anatolian contexts can, in turn, be evaluated and incorporated. One might also consider fluctuations of the Black Sea levels and the corresponding phenomena observed for the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Such changes could be assessed against the background of the archaeological record and the common chronological system. The dates for the northern fringe cultures of the ancient Near East when correlated with the historical chronologies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, constitute per se the necessity to shift back the dates for the whole of Caucasia, inclusive of its northern part. Therefore, one can now argue that the so-called ‘North Caucasian Culture’ of the post-Maikop period, which at the same time retained many traits of the preceding culture, must be synchronous with the ‘Royal tombs’ of central Anatolia. At the same time, it is possible to relate the Hatti population of central Anatolia — whose language displays definite affinities to the Abkhazo-Adighean languages — to the culture of central Anatolian ‘Royal tombs.’ The latter, for its part, shows some structural and material similarity, namely in the arrangement and contents of these tombs, to the kurgans of the northern stock-breeders. The appearance of the Hattians in central Anatolia seems to have been connected with migrations from northern Caucasia in the ‘Maikop’, or, more probably, in the early ’post-Maikop’ period. {p. 551:} The question arises as to the ethnic affinity of the central and northern Anatolian pre-Hatti population. In this connection the non-Indo-European stratum in Hittite, which has no explanation in Hattic, should be considered. It is probable that this language was substrative for Hittite and possibly for Hattic as well. Considering these linguistic data and also the existing similarities between the Hattic and Kartvelian languages, we can suggest that Proto-Kartvelian tribes settled in Anatolia in the Early Bronze Age. Ultimately, an Anatolian homeland for Proto-Kartvelians receives corroboration through the results of recent studies, which associate Hattic language directly with Northwestern Caucasian, and Hurro-Urartian language with Northeastern Caucasian groups within the north Caucasian linguistic family. In such a scenario, there would be no place for Kartvelian, not only in Caucasia, but also in the regions south-west
and south of it. Instead, these areas were inhabited by the Hattian-Northwestern Caucasian (Abkhazo-Adighean) and Hurro-Urartian-Northeastern Caucasian (Nakho-Dagestanian) entities. Western Trans-Caucasia and eastern Anatolia were the contact zones between three important cultures of the northern periphery of the Near East, in the late fourth-early third millennia B.C. They are the ‘Büyük Güllücek,’ the Maikop and the Kura-Araxes cultures, which can be identified, albeit within indistinct perimeters, with the ancestors of South (Kartvelian), Northwestern and Northeastern Caucasian languages. Not only the territories inhabited by Northeastern Caucasian languages speakers coincided with the Caucasian homeland of the Kura-Araxes culture, but also the Hurrians, living in upper Mesopotamia in the late-third millennium B.C., may have had their earliest homeland in eastern Anatolia, in one of the earliest centres of the same culture. C. Burney was the first to put forward the suggestion that the people of eastern Anatolia in the Early Bronze Age could be identified as Hurrians and that they were the main population component of the Early Trans-Caucasian or Kura-Araxes culture.[57] Over time, the material culture of the Hurrians became, all but indistinguishable, from other Near Eastern cultures where they settled.[58] Their characteristic painted ware was similar to other contemporary, Near Eastern painted pottery types.[59] Under the weight of a revised chronological framework, we are led to a reassessment of a number of cultural-historical, ethno-genetic and social-economical events. In so doing the interrelationships between the ancient Near Eastern and east European societies appears in a rather different light. {p. 552:}

Northern Caucasians

Novosvobodnaya (ca. 3600–3300 BC) and late Maikop samples (ca. 3300–3100 BC) in the northern Caucasus foothills also show continuity of ancestry with Maikop samples, falling among the Armenian and Iranian Chalcolithic individuals. Important phylogenetic differences are seen, though: Novosvobodnaya shows hg. J2a1-L26 in two samples from Klady, one of them J2a1a1a2b2a3b1-Y3020, and the other J2a1a1a2b2a3b1a-Y11200 (xY30811-, Z30682-), the same haplogroup found previously in Eneolithic Caucasus, and found today mainly in Northeast Caucasian populations; and G2a2a-PF3147 (expanded with Anatolia Neolithic farmers) in one sample from Dlinnaya Polyana; whereas Late Maikop shows hg. L-M20 in one sample from Sinyukha and two from Marinskaya, probably all L2-595 (formed ca. 21000 BC, TMRCA ca. 3200 BC). Haplogroup J1-L255, found previously during the Mesolithic, is also reported for Late Maikop in Marinskaya.

Two late Maikop outliers from the north Caucasus steppe  show a higher proportion of Anatolian and Iranian farmer-related ancestry. This may have been driven either by Pontic–Caspian steppe migrations, or by the admixture with local Caucasus populations of AME ancestry. The presence of haplogroup R1a1b-YP1272+, a typical eastern European lineage, in a sample from Sharakhalsun (ca. 3230 BC), suggests the former as the most likely explanation; the sample from Ipatovo (ca. 3260 BC) shows hg. T1-L206+, a typically Middle Eastern lineage.

This Caucasus Eneolithic-like ancestry is also continued in Kura–Araxes (Wang et al. 2019), in early samples (ca. 3500–3100 BC) from the south (Kaps, Armenia), one of hg G2b2a2-FGC2964 (formed ca. 13700 BC, TMRCA ca. 1100 BC), found previously in an Iranian Neolithic individual ca. 7300 BC; and in later Kura–Araxes samples (ca. 3100–2800 BC) in the north-east (Velikent, Dagestan), one of hg J1a2b1-Z1842 (formed ca. 5800 BC, TMRCA ca. 4000 BC), a haplogroup probably found later in a west Anatolia Bronze Age sample (ca. 2500 BC), and widely distributed in modern populations of the Middle East, which supports its expansion with Kura–Araxes peoples, and its association with modern speakers of Northeast Caucasian languages. Increased CHG ancestry (ca. 60%) is also seen in other three Early Bronze Age individuals from the Kura–Araxes culture in Armenia dated ca. 3300–2500 BC (Lazaridis et al. 2016), with a late sample from Kalavan (ca. 2550 BC) showing what seems to be the latest finding of hg. R1b1a2-V1636, already part of a non-Indo-European community.

An outlier from the Zagros Mountains in Hajji Firuz Tepe also shows elevated Steppe-related ancestry, and clusters between Kura–Araxes and Yamna samples (Narasimhan et al. 2018), consistent with the incorporation of North Caucasus-like populations within the expanding Kura–Araxes groups. The radiocarbon date published (ca. 2465–2286 BC) is compatible with that interpretation, although the collapse of different archaeological layers in the same site has yielded unreliable dates for (at least) one other sample, and it may therefore correspond to a much later date, in particular the Late Bronze Age – Early Iron Age.

Based on the territorial expansion of the Kura–Araxes culture, and on the subsequent groups that emerged in its core territories after its demise, the language spread by these southern Caucasian peoples was probably Hurro-Urartian, which may support a connection with North-East Caucasian languages in a hypothetic Alarodian group (Diakonoff and Starostin 1988), at least from a genetic point of view. Territories of the north-western Caucasus, occupied by Maikop, Novosvobodnaya, and Dolmen traditions, would probably then represent evolving North-West Caucasian-speaking peoples.

File:Caucasus-political en.svg


Folk og språk i Kaukasus i tekst og bilde:

The Caucasians

The Alaroidians

Nakh (Noah) folket

The Caucasian Proignitors of the Megalith, Kurgans and Pyramids

The Caucasian Creation Myth and the Establishment of Rome

The Armenians – The proignitors of Troy, Rome and Europe

The Amazons and the Gargareans

Northwest Caucasian People

Haplogroups – From the Craddle



Northern Caucasus

Southern Caucasus

Languages of the Caucasus

Peoples of the Caucasus

History of the Caucasus

Southwest Asia


Prehistoric Georgia

History of Georgia

History of Armenia

Prehistoric Armenia

Culture of Georgia

Culture of Armenia

History of Azerbaijan

Culture of Azerbaijan

History of Abkhazia

History of Chechnya

History of Nagorno-Karabakh

Southern Russia

Stone Age:

Metsamor site

Shulaveri-Shomu culture

Nakh peoples

Bronze Age:

Maykop culture

Leyla-Tepe culture

Kura-Araxes culture

Trialeti culture


Kurgan culture

Nakh peoples

Iron Age:

Khojaly-Gadabay culture (ca. 1300-600 BC)

Colchian culture (ca. 1200-600 BC)

Koban culture (ca. 1100-400 BC)

Urartu (ca. 860-590 BC)

Nakh peoples

Classical Antiquity:

Caucasian Albania




Media (728 BC–549 BC)

Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550 BC–330 BC)

Parthia (247 BC–AD 224)

Sassanid Empire (224–651)

Albania (satrapy)

Kingdom of Armenia

Middle Ages:

Byzantine Empire (330–1453)


Arab Caliphate

Rashidun Caliphate (632–661)

Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)

Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258)


Seljuq dynasty (1037–1194)

Ilkhanate (1256–1335)

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