- Kura-Araxes culture
The Kura-Araxes culture or the Early trans-Caucasian culture, was a civilization that existed from 3400 B.C until about 2000 B.C. [The early Trans-Caucasian culture - I.M. Diakonoff, 1984] The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the
Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 B.C., and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurumplain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1000 km by 500 km. [The Hurro-Urartian people - John A.C. Greppin]
The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern
Armenia, Georgia and the Caucasus. [Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology - Page 246 by Barbara Ann Kipfer ] It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerakware culture found in Syria and Canaanafter the fall of the Akkadian Empire.
In its earliest phase, metal was scant, but it would later display "a precocious metallurgical development which strongly influenced surrounding regions"
JP Mallory, EIEC, pp. 341-42.
They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into a square design. The economy was based on
farmingand livestock-raising. They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses.
potterywas distinctive. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syriaand Israel, and as far north as Dagestanand Chechnya. The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts.
Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the
Volga, Dnieperand Don- Donetssystems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia. The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop cultureof Transcaucasia. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts). Inhumationpractices are mixed. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurganburials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population. Hurrianand Urartianelements are quite probable. One can also argue for at least an outpost of an early Semitic language, and certainly the presence of an early representative of the Kartvelian languagesis not unreasonable. An influence of Indo-European languageswas also likely present.
Armenian hypothesisof Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.Fact|date=April 2008
* [http://www.geocities.com/komblema/observe.htm The Chronology of the Caucasus During the Early Metal Age: Observations from Central Transcaucasus] - Giorgi L. Kavtaradze
* [http://www.geocities.com/komblege/ansch1.htm The Beginnings of Metallurgy] - includes extensive discussion of Kura-Araxes metalworking
*James P. Mallory, "Kuro-Araxes Culture", "
Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture", Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
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