A Kuda-Araxes Center in Armenia

(ISBN: 978-1-56859-394-4)
2023 Costa Mesa
281 pages
Size: 9" x 11 1/2"
Language(s): English

The importance of the site of Shengavit, which is located in the neighborhood of the same name within the Armenian capital city of Yerevan, is its relations to the Kura-Araxes cultural tradition and societal form. The Kura-Araxes, which lasted from 3500 to 2500 BCE, is one of the cultural traditions in the very dynamic fourth and early third millennia BCE. During this time to its south in Mesopotamia the first state-level societies arose with evidence of kings with authority and their bureaucracies, writing as an auditing technique, social stratification evidenced in graves and buildings, mass production of goods, and the earliest formal system of trade (the Uruk expansion). That system brought the raw materials and goods like metals, lumber, semi-precious and chipping stone from the surrounding mountains and highlands. North of the Caucasus mountains in Eurasia pastoral nomadic societies were beginning to be replaced by settled populations with domesticated horse and advance metallurgical technologies. Between the northern steppe and the southern alluvial plains lay the mountains of the lesser Caucasus. It was there at about 3500 BCE that a new cultural tradition arose among small societies of settled farmers and herders in the South Caucasus.

Migrants carrying this tradition, marked by a distinctive pottery style and technology, architectural layouts and construction, and rituals of the hearth began to spread from the South Caucasus into the Taurus Mountains by about 3300 BCE, reaching the Levant by 2850 BC, and eastward into the Zagros Mountains starting at 3100 BCE and reaching the central Western Zagros also by about 2850 BCE.

Shengavit is a six-hectare site of the second phase of the Kura-Araxes starting at about 2900 BCE and lasting until the transition to the Early Kurgan Period at 2500 BCE. In a landscape where most settlements were no larger than one hectare, it appears to have been a small center with some satellite settlements where intensive production of grains, organization to build a stone wall around the settlement that was still visible in the early 20th century CE developed. Excavation began there in the 1930’s and continued until the 21st century CE. This volume is the first attempt to provide a complete analysis of the site’s remains in light of our broader understanding of cultural and societal evolution at this critical time in human pre- and early history. In fact, it will be the first such book on any Kura-Araxes site in the homeland zone. Accompanied by a web archive on the tDAR site it will be a critical resource for research on the Kura-Araxes and for those interested in the topic.

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