Cultural History: Azerbaijan: Neolithic, Chalcolithic/Eneolithic, Early Bronze Ages
Neolithic - Chalcolithic/Eneolithic - Early Bronze Age
The transition from the hunting-and-gathering societies of the Paleolithic Era to farming-based communities—a shift commonly known as the Neolithic Revolution—culminated in the Neolithic Age. One hallmark of the Neolithic Revolution was the development of farming and cattlebreeding strategies based on sedentary societies. A new cultural pattern developed in the Kura basin of western Azerbaijan and southeastern Georgia known as the Shumatapa culture. Examples of this culture were found during excavations in the AGT pipelines corridor.
The emergence of early copper metallurgy alongside traditional stone tools marked the subsequent period, known as the Eneolithic or Chalcolithic Age. During this age, much of western Asia saw the expansion of isolated villages into regional trade systems, a hallmark of incipient civilizations.
Archaeological excavations in the early 1980s at the old Leylatapa residential area in the Garadagh region of Azerbaijan revealed novel traces of the Eneolithic Period. It was later discovered that the architectural findings (ironware, infant graves in clay pots, earthenware prepared using potter’s wheel and other features) significantly differ from the archaeological complexes of the same period in the South Caucasus. From these findings, a new archaeological culture (the Leylatapa) was discovered. Research indicates that this culture was genetically connected with the Ubeid and Uruk cultures, which were archaeological complexes in Northern Mesopotamia that date to the first half of the 4th millennium BC. It has been determined that the Leylatapa residential area was built by ancient tribes migrating from the Northern Mesopotamia to the South Caucasus during the Eneolithic Period.
In western Azerbaijan, a number of Leylatapa-related archaeological sites were uncovered within the BTC and SCP pipelines corridor, which created tremendous opportunities for critical scientific research concerned with archaeology in the Caucasus. Relevant sites include the Boyuk Kasik (438km), Poylu II (408.8km), Agılıdara (358km) settlement sites and the Soyuqbulaq burial mounds (432km). These monuments are critical for the investigation of ethnic, economic and cultural relationships within the Caucasus and Middle East, which has resulted in scientists from Europe, Russia and Georgia all showing immense interest in these sites. For example, a relationship between the North Caucasian Maykop sites and those of Mesopotamia was suspected by the scientific community for many years, however it wasn’t until archaeological excavations were conducted at the above-mentioned sites that a link was confirmed.
The Kura-Araxes civilization of the Early Bronze Age replaced the Eneolithic Period in the middle of the 4th millennium BC in the southern Caucasus. The main features of this society were the production of bronze, black, and dark gray glazed pots with hemispherical handles, the rapid development of a cattle-breeding economy, and the spread of mound-type graves. The Kura-Araxes culture extended from the South Caucasus to what is now the Republic of Dagestan to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It came to an end in the third quarter of the 3rd millennium BC.
Three kurgan (burial mound) monuments referring to the Kura-Araxes culture have been discovered and excavated in the western side of Shamkirchai river along the pipeline route on 332- 333 km in Azerbaijan. Excavation of these kurgans has provided valuable information about the burial traditions, economic and cultural relations of the Early Bronze Age population of the region.
This section on “Azerbaijan” is authored solely by candidate of history science Najaf Museyibli.
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