Cultural History: Georgia: Paleolithic, Epipaleolithic, Eneolithic Ages
Paleolithic, Epipaleolithic, Eneolithic Ages
The native name for the country of Georgia is Sakartvelo, named after the ancient Georgian tribe Kartli, which played the central role in the long process of ethnogenesis of the Georgian nation. The territory of modern-day Georgia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age. The earliest remains of human ancestors outside of Africa were unearthed at the Dmanisi archaeological site, which dates from approximately 1.8 million years ago. The site has yielded the remains of at least five pre-human hominids, and examples of some of the earliest tools associated with human ancestors. Later prehistoric remains (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic) have been discovered in numerous caves and open-air sites in Georgia. No sites from these periods were, however, found along the pipeline route in Georgia, even though surface findings indicated that there should be Stone Age or other pre-Chalcolithic sites in the area.
The early agricultural culture of the Caucasus developed during the 6th millennium BC, and by the second half of the 4th millennium BC, it had evolved into the Kura-Araxes culture that extended across the Caucasus, northern Iran, and eastern Anatolia.
The AGT Pipelines Archaeological Program involved excavations at several archaeological sites from the Chalcolithic/Eneolithic and the Early Bronze Age periods along the pipeline route in Georgia. One of these, Nachivchavebi, located in the Tetritskaro District and believed to date from approximately 3,700 to 3,200 BC, contained artifacts from both the early agricultural and Kura-Araxes cultures. The excavations revealed storage pits and several burial sites. The artifacts, including ceramics and obsidian and bone tools, suggest that the population was mainly occupied with agriculture, stock-breeding, and small-scale handicrafts. The burial sites have contributed to understanding the evolution of burial practices in the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages.
Ethnobotanical remains suggest that crop cultivation, horticulture, and wine production were well-developed by that time and that barley, hazelnut, chestnut, millet, mushrooms, grapes, buckwheat, and common wheat were likely foodstuffs. Faunal materials from wild species (horses, boars, noble deer, and elk) and domestic animals (goats, cows, oxen, and sheep) point to a combination of animal husbandry and hunting.
The Tiselis Seri settlement and cemetery in the Borjomi District provide valuable data about the next stage of development of the Kura-Araxes culture. The site contains a village and a cemetery from the second quarter of the 3rd millennium BC. The most important artifacts from the excavations here are pottery. The vessels are handmade, not wheel-thrown, and the larger ones are decorated with relief spirals or other curvilinear motifs. The site also yielded fibers of wool and flax, and the presence of multi-colored threads indicates that weaving was practiced. There is evidence of connections to northeastern Anatolia during the time the site was active.
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