The aim of this article is to highlight the social and cultural developments that took place in the Southern Caucasus during the Early Bronze Age. Between 3500 and 2500 BC ca., new pottery, architectural and metallurgical traditions, known collectively as Kura-Araxes, new settlement forms in the mountain regions and new funerary customs emerged. Examining these changes, the article draws a picture of the organization of the Early Bronze Age communities in the Southern Caucasus societies centering primarily on the household and horizontal kinship relationships. We argue that this model was radically different from those of the vertically organized societies of Southern Mesopotamia and Northern Caucasus. Finally, the paper focuses on the changing role of metals towards the mid-third millennium BC and that, by causing radical social transformations, also brought to an end the Kura-Araxes traditions.
This chapter reviews evidence for the exploitation of animals in Medieval northwest Russia, highlighting the evidence from the town of Novgorod and its hinterland. The zooarchaeological evidence from this region has been complemented by other sources of archaeological and documentary evidence. Most faunal assemblages are dominated by cattle, which were of small stature and exploited mainly for their meat and milk. There is evidence that pigs became less important in later periods. Sheep and goat were poorly represented on most sites, but with goats forming a higher proportion of the sheep/goat remains than on many other European sites. Evidence for fur trade in the region comes mainly from sites deep in the forest zone. Horsemeat was consumed, although horses were mainly valued as transport animals. The high-status site of Ryurik Gorodishche produced evidence for organized carcass-processing, ritual deposition of horse skulls, and the import of exotic species.
Mietje Germonpré and Mikhail Sablin
This chapter focuses on the mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and large canid (wolf (Canis lupus) and/or dog (Canis familiaris)) assemblages recorded at Upper Palaeolithic sites from the Russian Plain and Siberia. It accordingly pursues the following questions: (1) Is the mammoth ubiquitously found in the Upper Palaeolithic sites of Russia?, (2) Are large canids as often present at Siberian sites as they are at sites from the Russian Plain? and (3) Could the high frequency of the mammoth remains in several Upper Palaeolithic assemblages be due to hunting by prehistoric humans? Finally, this essay underlines the need for further studies in this area.
Amy Bogaard and Amy Styring
The establishment of farming is a defining feature of the Neolithic period in western Asia and Europe. Decades of archaeobotanical research have clarified the spectrum of crops that emerged, geographical and diachronic variation in the cultivation of particular species, and, more recently, aspects of arable land management. Most of the available evidence, however, is indirect as regards the actual role of crops in the human (and animal) diet. Taking western Eurasia as a particularly well-researched frame of reference, this chapter uses case studies to illustrate complementary inferences from plant processing, storage, and food preparation evidence, on the one hand, and direct dietary inferences incorporating preserved human remains, on the other. This integrated approach supports the rarely tested assumption that crops were dietary staples in Neolithic communities, and that the ‘politics’ of their production and storage shaped social life.
Andrew M. T. Moore
The Mediterranean basin has experienced significant environmental change throughout the Holocene. This has conditioned human settlement and economy. Much of the coastline is backed by mountains so communication has usually been by sea, and seasonal vertical patterns of movement have been commonplace from the Mesolithic on. During the early Holocene the Mediterranean basin and its hinterlands were thinly inhabited by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. In the interior of western Asia, agriculture and settled life began during the late glacial. This new way of life spread throughout the Mediterranean in a series of rapid advances followed by episodes of stasis. Farming reached Cyprus before 10000 cal BP, and then the Aegean, Thrace, and Greece. Around 8000 cal BP this new way of life was carried along the shores of the central and western Mediterranean and to north Africa. Migrant farmers took this way of life with them, replacing the local Mesolithic inhabitants.
A mosaic of habitats ecologically characterizes western Asia. These were formed and changed due to topographic variability as well as seasonal fluctuations of temperatures and precipitation. Thus, resources of various kinds were diverse across different landscapes, whether coastal plains, intermountain valleys, mountain areas and semi-arid subregions. The proliferation of animal bone assemblages and the paucity of plant remains due to poor preservation conditions in most excavated and reported sites, except for the case of Ohalo II, a waterlogged site, distorts the reconstruction of daily diets of hunter-gatherers during the Upper Palaeolithic in western Asia. The presence of mortars and pestles in contexts since c.30,000 years ago indicates the emergence of food preparation techniques that become dominant during the Terminal Pleistocene. During these millennia the archaeological data sets reflect the appearance of sedentary communities as well as cultural markers that indicate the more clearly established tribal territories.