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Late Chalcolithic kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan)

  • Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (Institute of Archaeology and Etnography)
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq
Bulaq (Azerbaijan)
By B. Lyonnet, T. Akhundov, K. Almamedov, L. Bouquet, A. Courcier, B. Jellilov, F. Huseynov, S. Loute,
Z. Makharadze and S. Reynard
Keywords: Transcaucasia, kurgans, Late Chalcolithic, pre-Uruk expansion, Sioni culture, metal, lapis-lazuli,
exposure of the body, human sacrifice
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In 2005, a kurgan cemetery dating to the Late Chal-
colithic period was discovered and excavated at
Soyuq Bulaq in Azerbaijan, on the Baku-Tbilisi-Cey-
han pipeline. About twenty kurgans were exca-
vated. Seven Kilometres further west, lay the con-
temporary small settlement of Boyuk Kesik where
excavations also took place (Fig. 1).
A further nine kurgans were excavated in
2006 by an Azerbaijan-French expedition
ted by T. Akhundov and B. Lyonnet. This article
mainly aims at a presentation of the excavation re-
sults. A separate part
presents some preliminary
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Fig. 1
Azerbaijan and the
location of Soyuq Bulaq
and Boyuk Kesik
1The excavations were made by M. Huseynov, F. Guliyev, V. Kva-
chidze, N. Museibli and T. Akhundov. The results have been
partly recently given in Akhundov 2007, while the settlement of
Boyuk Kesik has been published in Museibli 2007.
2The expedition was financed by the French Ministe
`re des Affai-
res Etrange
3See also Lyonnet 2009.
The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Agstafa district) is lo-
cated on an old alluvial terrace on the left bank of
the Kura River, close to the border with Georgia.
Due to modern irrigation, part of the area is today
under cultivation, but would otherwise be extremely
dry, covered only with a steppe vegetation and
mainly used as pastureland for herds of sheep. The
edges of the Kura itself are covered by a gallery-for-
est. In contrast to the right bank of the Kura where
many Neolithic
large mounds are still visible along
the dry courses of small streams flowing down from
the Little Caucasus, no perennial water courses and
no visible tepe are attested in this area. This prob-
ably explains both why no earlier surveys were con-
and why this discovery was made so late.
The cemetery is almost invisible from a dis-
tance because the mounds of the kurgans are very
low. Only the presence of regularly disposed river
pebbles, making rectangles surrounded by circular
lines, points to the existence of artificial construc-
tions. Recent ploughing and construction of three
adjacent pipelines have disturbed most of them.
Nevertheless, a tentative plan has been done of the
whole cemetery (Fig. 2).
All the kurgans present the same layout, that is a
rectangular enclosure made of large river pebbles
in the centre, on a slightly higher level than a sur-
rounding circular wall (or ring) made of the same
pebbles. The corners of the rectangular structure
are oriented to the cardinal directions. According to
the size of the kurgan, variations are visible in the
diameter of the ring (from 4to 15 m) and the size
of the rectangular enclosure (from 1to 3.5m), as
well as the width of their walls (from 0.35 to 1m).
From the number of pebbles found, the central rec-
tangular enclosure may originally have been formed
of walls around 30 50 cm high that would have
been more prominent in the landscape; the ring
does not seem to have had any marked elevation.
The pebbles were cemented together by a clay mor-
tar. On some kurgans a coating of small gravels
had been added in the space between the enclo-
sure and the ring.
Although similar in their general layout, the
kurgans differ by the presence or not of a funerary
pit, or chamber, dug into the terrace.
Kurgans with a funerary pit (or chamber)
dug into the terrace
Only kurgans 1,3C and 4present a central subter-
ranean structure from 1to 1.5m meter deep. To
this must be added a small pit found under the cir-
cular wall of kurgan 1, and another found on the
exterior of the enclosure in kurgan 6probably
also originally covered by the circular wall already
destroyed at the time of our excavations.
Since these subterranean structures differ one
from the other, as well as the discoveries made
within them, they will be described separately.
Kurgan 1
This kurgan was chosen for excavation because of
its large size (diam. c. 15 m) and its position be-
tween two recently ploughed fields that put it in
danger of rapid destruction. Its construction is
rather complex (Fig. 3) and contents are very rich.
Central tomb
The rectangular enclosure was built above a pit simi-
larly oriented (1.5m deep, 2.5m wide and 3.5m
long) previously dug first within the silt deposits on
the top of the terrace and further down within the
small alluvial pebbles. A six row mud-brick wall about
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Fig. 2
Soyuq Bulaq. Plan of
the cemetery and posi-
tion of the kurgans
excavated by the
French-Azerbaijan team
(realisation S. Reynard)
4Related to the S
˘ulaveri Culture.
5I. Narimanov, who mainly concentrated his work on the Neolithic
and Chalcolithic periods, made several surveys on the right
bank, see for instance ˝Ł 1987.
B. Lyonnet et al.28
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Fig. 3
Soyuq Bulaq. Plan and section of kurgan 1(realisation F. Huseynov, L. Bouquet and P. Raymond)
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 29
60 cm high was built around the bottom of the pit,
perhaps in order to retain the pebbles or to make a
cist-like vault (Fig. 4). A yellow mortar of clay (1cm
thick) was used to bind the bricks (40/50 cm
25 cm 9cm) together. In the upper part of the pit,
above the bricks, a coating of small gravels mixed
with clay was applied around the silt deposit.
From the presence of two distinct pebble falls
visible in the stratigraphy (Fig. 5), it is possible to
propose a horizontal division of the pit into two
distinct levels probably separated by an intermedi-
ate wooden floor disposed on the top of the brick
wall. Two reconstructions are possible: (1) there
were two pebble coverings, the upper one, resting
on an upper wooden floor (roof of the chamber),
was situated more likely at the bottom level of the
enclosure meaning that this outside structure
was either left open or covered only with a light
roof while the lower one was disposed on the
intermediate wooden floor; (2) there was only one
pebble covering at the bottom level of the enclo-
but the destruction took place at two times,
first from the upper level onto the intermediate
wooden floor still resisting, the other after the de-
cay of this last floor.
Neither traces of a wooden floor nor of a
wooden roof have been detected at the expected
places, but fragments of unfired wood have been
discovered not far from the bottom of the pit. They
could represent either elements of the covering dis-
posed over the mud-brick wall, or of the floor that
probably also existed at the bottom of the pit, but
we cannot exclude elements for the hanging of pa-
nels in mat or in other organic materials (felt, wool
or carpet) around the pit that have since disap-
The lower level of the pit (within the mud-brick
wall) did not contain a skeleton or human bones in
situ but, along the south-eastern wall, were discov-
ered a ‘‘copper’’ dagger 19 cm long with a short hilt
(Fig. 6; Tab. 2) together with a stone sceptre (25 cm
long) with an equid head (Fig. 7). Both appear to
have been in their original position (Fig. 8) and,
therefore, do not come from the above level.
The human bones discovered, mixed with the
pebbles of the lower fall, seem all to belong to one
adult individual
probably originally laying on the
intermediate floor because of their sloping position.
The skeleton is almost complete, but it has not yet
been possible to identify the sex because of its ex-
tremely bad state of preservation. Some long bones
have been discovered at a rather low level but
seem to belong to the same individual and their
position can be explained by the decay of the inter-
mediate floor.
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Fig. 4
Soyuq Bulaq. The brick
wall around the bottom
of kurgan 1
Fig. 5
Soyuq Bulaq. The two
pebble falls visible in
the stratigraphy of
kurgan 1
6As above, the enclosure is considered here as either open or
covered with a light roof.
7The possibility that these wood fragments come from the roof
of the chamber (that is, the floor at the bottom level of the en-
closure) is ruled out here, since this upper floor, because of its
situation, should have completely decayed.
8The analysis of part of the bones from our excavations has been
done by J. Bendezu-Sarmiento to whom the authors address
their warmest thanks.
B. Lyonnet et al.30
Within the sieved soil of the intermediate level,
a large number of beads (164) different both in ma-
terials (gold, silver alloy, lapis-lazuli, carnelian, white
‘‘paste’’ probably fired steatite, and other unknown
stones) and in shapes (biconical, flat rings, rings, bar-
rel-shape and tubular) were found (Fig. 9,a,b,c;
Tab. 1). A few others were discovered on the bottom
of the pit or in the sieved soil from the inferior level,
but their very tiny size makes it possible that they
were not in situ and that they rather come from the
intermediate level after infiltration.
Few pottery sherds were associated with the
tomb. One pot was probably originally complete but
only parts were discovered at the base of the pebble
wall, inside the upper enclosure. It is a hand-made
angle-necked pot with a funnel-shaped collar (no rim
left), vegetal tempered, with a slightly grey core, buff
without slip (Fig. 10,6). It had probably been depos-
ited there for rituals after the pit was closed. Two
very tiny reddish sherds were also found inside the
chamber, at the level of the brick wall: one of them is
combed on both sides and is tempered with obsidian
(Fig. 11,a,b). Finally, a few fragments of obsidian
were found along the walls of the pit.
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Composition (weight %)
O Na Mg Al Si S Cl Ca Cu As Ag Br Au Ni Fe Ti F
K. 1dagger 10.40.77 0.23 15.80.371.21.29
K. 1dagger 15.80.53 0.13 22.70.22 62.7
K. 1dagger 10.90.42 0.05 18.30.14 68.71.51
K. 1dagger 11.70.61 17.50.19 68.61.42
K. 1dagger 13.20.65 18 0.34 65.82.1
Tab. 1
Soyuq Bulaq. Proven-
ance, shape and
material of the beads
from the kurgans
Fig. 6
Soyuq Bulaq. The
copper dagger from
kurgan 1
kurgan bead shape material
gold silver
carnelian white
shell bone
1, main
biconical 16 8 11
ring 12 6 20 25
flat ring 6
barrel 10 1
tubular 345 1
complex 1
1, lateral
flat ring 89
tube 1
4large ring 3
ring 11
tube with
1Tab. 2
Soyuq Bulaq. Dagger
from kurgan 1and
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 31
Lateral tomb
To the main tomb must be added another one, dis-
covered under the northern part of the external ring
(Fig. 3).
The ring was notably wider there. Under the peb-
bles, a small pit (1.20 1m) was exposed totally
packed with very large pebbles extremely well and
tightly ordered together (Fig. 12).
The tomb did not contain any skeleton but ninety
beads among which eighty-nine (flat rings) are
made of shell and one (tubular) is in an unknown
black stone (Fig. 13).
Kurgan 3C
Kurgan 3had been chosen because of its apparent
large size. It was already partly disturbed on the
After cleaning, it appeared that it consisted of four
different kurgan-like structures adjacent to each
other and of different sizes (Fig. 14). Structure 3C
(outer circular wall c. 7m in diameter) is the only
one which contained a small pit (0.80 0.65 m)
under a small central enclosure (c. 11m), dug
within the pebbles of the alluvial terrace (depth
0.60 m). No brick wall was found around the bot-
tom of the pit.
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Fig. 7a, b
Soyuq Bulaq. The stone
sceptre with an equid
head from kurgan 1
Fig. 8
Soyuq Bulaq. The
dagger and the sceptre
at the time of their
discovery at the bottom
of kurgan 1
B. Lyonnet et al.32
It contained the upper part of a probably young
adult’s skeleton: cranium, upper part of the spine
bone, right arm and hand, all still articulated. No
funerary offerings were found except one obsidian
fragment near the mandible and five hand-made
potsherds, two of which are buff, vegetal tempered
with a grey core and three are orange, fine-mineral
tempered with a grey core.
Kurgan 4
This kurgan was already badly damaged by modern
field work.
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Fig. 9a
Soyuq Bulaq. Typology
of the beads from
kurgan 1
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 33
The outer ring wall had been destroyed and only part
of the central enclosure still existed. A pit
(2.03 1.10/1.27 m) had been dug (depth 1.20 m)
under the enclosure. Though the pit there did not
reach the pebbles of the alluvial terrace and was only
dug within the fine silt upper deposit, it was sur-
rounded by a five rows mud-brick (50 25 9cm)
wall. Only one pebble fall was recorded, coming from
the upper part of the tomb and ending approximately
at the upper level of the brick wall. The bottom floor
was not detected with certainty but only deduced be-
cause of the position of the finds and of the lower
row of bricks.
No skeleton was found in the pit. A few human
teeth (adult) and a distal fragment of the first meta-
tarsus were discovered within the brick level, to-
gether with charcoal and traces of wooden posts.
Very tiny fragments of burnt bones were also found
but cannot be identified with certainty to human or
animal origin.
The funerary material includes one small com-
plete hand-made pot with flat bottom, high vertical
collar at angle with the body. The clay is mainly
mineral-tempered, but also contains some vegetal in-
clusions, and is buff except for a red spot due to
uneven firing (Fig. 10,4;15); it was found along the
basis of the north-eastern brick wall. Ten other hand-
made sherds of different containers were also dis-
covered at different points within the brick level:
they are either with mineral or vegetal or both tem-
per but without any specific features except for one,
reddish, vegetal temper, with an engraved line and a
potter’s mark in the shape of two ‘‘coffee grains’’
(Fig. 16). Three silver alloy rings were found further
from the NE wall (Fig. 17; Tab. 4) as well as a ‘‘cop-
per’’ awl (Fig. 18; Tab. 3).
Kurgan 6
This kurgan was also partially destroyed.
From the exterior ring wall only a few misplaced
pebbles were left, while the central enclosure (ex-
ternal dimensions 4.25 3.10 m) was still pre-
served. There was no central pit but, 2.5m north of
the enclosure, a small pit (1.30 0.75 m) was dis-
covered. It was filled with pebbles arranged in a
specific manner recalling a human body (Fig. 19)
but did not contain any material. Its shape and po-
sition are similar to that of the lateral tomb under
the circular wall of kurgan 1.
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Fig. 9b
Soyuq Bulaq. Selection of beads from kurgan 1(from left to right and up to bottom: heated
steatite, brown stone, brown stone, silver alloy þheated steatite at the time of discovery,
silver alloy þcarnelian at the time of discovery, lapis-lazuli, silver alloy, silver alloy þheated
steatite, carnelian)
Fig. 9c
Soyuq Bulaq. Different types of gold beads from kurgan 1
B. Lyonnet et al.34
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Fig. 10
Soyuq Bulaq. ‘‘Com-
plete’’ vessels from the
kurgans: 1,3,5and 7
from Kurgan 6;4from
Kurgan 4;2from Kur-
gan 2;6from kurgan 1
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 35
Kurgans without funeral chamber or pit dug
into the terrace
The majority of the kurgans excavated were of this
type: 2,3A, 3B, 3D, 5and 6.
On the surface, as said earlier, nothing distin-
guishes them from the others and they also vary in
dimensions (diameter of the external circular wall
as well as the size of the enclosure). Neither a pit
nor a funeral chamber was found under the central
enclosure during the excavations.
They contained little material, mostly pottery that
probably was used for the offerings. All the con-
tainers found are hand-made and of small or med-
ium dimensions. They consist of: a small hand-
made bowl, mineral tempered, probably originally
covered with a black-polished slip (Fig. 10,2;20)
was found under the pebbles of the small en-
closure of kurgan 2; a mineral tempered bowl with
rounded bottom and straight conical walls
(Fig. 10,1); the body of a grey-black slightly po-
lished, mineral and vegetal tempered small pot
(Fig. 10,5); a small angle-necked pot with vertical
collar and slightly everted rim, mineral and vegetal
tempered, in orange clay with a grey core but ex-
tremely eroded on the surface so that the outside
colour is unknown (Fig. 10,3;21); and part of an-
other similar pot (Fig. 10,7). All were found within
the enclosure of kurgan 6. Close to these pots in
the same enclosure, a fragment of bone (diaphy-
sus) was discovered but the poor state of preser-
vation does not allow to determination of human
or animal origin.
Within the sieved soil from the enclosure of
kurgan 5, thirteen beads were found among which
eleven are of undetermined stone, one of bone,
and one probably of black steatite (see Tab. 1).
The pottery found in the kurgans was immediately
established as Late Chalcolithic, specifically at the
time when close connections between the Cauca-
sus and Northern Mesopotamia were established
(Late Chalcolithic 23).
Similar material has been
found in Azerbaijan at Leilatepe and Boyuk Ke-
in Georgia at Berikldeebi and recently in a
kurgan at Kavtiskhevi,
and in the northern Cau-
casus on sites of the Majkop phase of the Majkop
Two calibrated C14 analysis confirm these dates:
Kurgan 1: (UB-7609)3951-3759 (2ó)
Kurgan 4: (UB-7613)3768-3644 (2ó)et3710-3652
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Fig. 11
Soyuq Bulaq. Sherd
with combed pattern
and obsidian temper
found at the level
of the bricks in kur-
gan 1.a. interior;
b. exterior
Fig. 12
Soyuq Bulaq. Lateral
tomb under the ring of
kurgan 1, packed with
large river pebbles
Fig. 13
Soyuq Bulaq. Shell
beads and one black
steatite bead from the
lateral tomb in
kurgan 1
9Lyonnet (ed.) 2007.
10 See recently Akhundov 2007.
11 Makharadze 2007.
12 Lyonnet 2007a; Lyonnet 2007b.
B. Lyonnet et al.36
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Fig. 14
Soyuq Bulaq. The four adjacent kurgans 3Ato3D
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 37
Metal Analysis
of the awl from kurgan 4, and of the dag-
ger and the beads from kurgan 1, were conducted
at the archaeometallurgy laboratories of Bochum
and Baku.
They revealed that the awl and the
dagger were made of arsenical copper. Nickel is
also present in a very low percentage in the awl.
The beads are either in an auriferous silver alloy
(AgAu (þCu))
or in a silver alloy (AgCu)
(Tab. 2). Metallographic studies on the silver beads
show a complex fabrication of thin metal sheets
wrapped and cold hammered around a core.
It is not yet clear whether the alloys (arsenical
copper, auriferous silver and silver alloys) are natur-
al or artificial. Several ore deposits in Azerbaijan it-
self (within 50 km of Soyuq Bulaq) present such
possible mixed compositions so that they could be
locally made from natural ores. It is also known
that recycling may introduce some unusual element
or increase the percentage of some of them in the
composition, so that nothing proves that the alloy
is artificially made.
External relations
The majority of the finds from the kurgans testifies
relations with more or less distant areas.
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Fig. 15
Soyuq Bulaq. Ceramic
pot from kurgan 4
Fig. 16
Soyuq Bulaq. Ceramic
sherd with a potter’s
mark from kurgan 4
Fig. 17
Soyuq Bulaq. The three
rings in a silver alloy
from kurgan 4
Fig. 18
Soyuq Bulaq. The awl
in arsenical copper
from kurgan 4
Fig. 19
Soyuq Bulaq. The lateral tomb in kurgan 6
13 For more details on these analysis and their results, see Cour-
cier/Gasanova/Hauptmann, in press.
14 Analysis by A. Courcier under the direction of A. Hauptmann.
15 Analysis by A. Gasanova, head of the Laboratory.
16 This kind of specific ‘alloy’ is also attested at T. Gawra in Tomb
109 (Tobler 1950,88 footnote 30).
17 The section ‘‘Interpretation’’ mainly reflects B. Lyonnet’s per-
sonal interpretations and may not receive the agreement of so-
me of the other co-authors.
B. Lyonnet et al.38
This is the case for ceramics, as said above,
most of which present features known in northern
Mesopotamia during the first half of the 4th millen-
nium BC, though it should be stressed here that it
was almost certainly not imported from Mesopota-
mia and only copies the shapes, temper, fabric or
bears the same potter’s marks.
The bowl prob-
ably covered with a black slip from kurgan 2is also
apparently alien to the local culture known at that
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Composition (weight %)
O Na Mg Al Si S Cl Ca Cu As Ag Br Au Ni Fe Ti F
K. 1bead 113.70.16 0.28 3.28 0.67 6.57 13.540.221.6
K. 1bead 17.47 0.25 2.47 0.17 6.81 8.29 49.325.3
K. 1bead 111.10.33 1.32 0.39 5.71 18.339.423.5
K. 1bead 17.39 2.44 7.04 8.30.41 49.125.3
K. 1bead 28.75 1.93 7.59 5.86 46 24 5.86
K. 1bead 25.63 1.99 7.81 1.99 51.425.85.38
K. 1bead 25.52 0.66 7.71.78 46.416.621.4
K. 1bead 22.17 2.55 2.05 0.27 5.519.28.26 60
K. 1bead 20.72 0.34 6.75 0.65630.5
K. 1bead 20.18 0.31 6.54 0.04 57.230.8
K. 1bead 23.08 1.35 8.26 2.77 50.216 18.3
K. 1bead 218.91
.78 1.27 33.85.31 9.56 0.74 28.7
K. 1bead 28.27 1.48 6.88 10.10.87 43.322.46.71
K. 1bead 210.91.89 8.62.74 46.414.814.7
K. 1bead 317.31.02 0.76 4.23 33.22 29.811.7
K. 1bead 315.92.21 0.82 5.33 26.434.215.2
K. 1bead 44.23 1.67.26 4.45 48.220.214
K. 1bead 43.22 0.75 6.17 2.02 48 11.227.9
K. 1bead 44.63 1.33 7.72 4.55 52.717 11.70.44
K. 1bead 48.27 0.32.51 6.56.38 42.915.617.30.21
K. 1bead 44.20.75 6.91 4.08 45.415.59.51 13.7
K. 1bead 519.27.23 32.818.10.54
K. 1bead 520.88.32 16.25.59 1.78 30.916.4
K. 1bead 521.936.32121
K. 1bead 615.51.67 0.89 5.86 24.134.515.12.37
K. 1bead 65.55 1.36 0.510.11.08 57.423.50.47
K. 1bead 620.20.24 0.74 0.98 2.98 31.51.58 22.64.13 15.3
K. 1bead 621.71.04 1.71 2.19 36.33.96 17.715.5
K. 1bead 62.73 1.87 0.35 8.65 0.16 58.128.2
K. 1bead 618.71.85 2.26 31.33.77 21.55.36 15.3
K. 1bead 616.31.41 3.35 30.52.729.58.95 10.9
K. 1bead 62.56 1.50.12 9.42 0.24 59.227
Tab. 3
Soyuq Bulaq. Awl from
kurgan 4and composi-
18 Lyonnet 2007b.
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 39
time (see below), but the origin of this black ware
that only starts to appear at that time
and is
usually considered to be the fore-runner of the
Kura-Araxes ware, is still unknown.
The unique lapis-lazuli bead is the first one
found in situ in the Caucasus for this period
it can only come from Badakhshan in Afghanistan.
The way it came here is unknown and certainly not
direct. Both known routes, either north of the Cas-
pian Sea through the steppes, or south through
northern Iran are possible.
With this last area, and especially around
Lake Orumiye, further evidence of relations is given
by the very close similarity in style between the
stone sceptre with an equid head found in kurgan
1of Soyuq Bulaq and that with a feline head found
in kurgan III in Se
Most of the beads from
both tombs are also similar in shape or material.
This adds credit to a much earlier date of Se
than what had been proposed at first and that its
author has now himself revised.
It also confirms
the reality of relations between the Majkop culture
and Transcaucasia at that time.
Closer to Soyuq Bulaq, the Little Caucasus is
the source of the obsidian found in the tombs.
As for the different other stones or shell used
for the beads, though we are sure that they do not
come from the immediate surroundings of the site,
their precise origin is not yet known.
Whether the metal objects and metal beads
were made locally or not is not established, as said
earlier. We know that many places in the Little Cau-
casus (at a rather short distance from Soyuq Bulaq)
offer ores containing all the elements detected in
their composition.
Local features
Except for the possible locally made metal objects,
evidence for the native local culture within the arte-
facts of the kurgans at Soyuq Bulaq is extremely
tenuous and rests on a very tiny sherd related to
the ‘‘Sioni culture’’.
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Composition (weight %)
O Na Mg Al Si S Cl Ca Cu As Ag Br Au Ni Fe Ti F
K. 4Ring 11.85 1.13 2.61 0.99 2.04 2.66 83.25.54
K. 4Ring 10.93.52 0.57 2.69 87.94.49
K. 4Ring 110.12.84 3.87 13.72.06 0.13 51.910.64.77
K. 4Ring 10.87 3.38 0.70.18 2.53 88 0.23 4.15
K. 4Ring 210.11.12 7.17 8.66 42.826.43.77
K. 4Ring 22.79 0.69.14 1.53 0.58
K. 4Ring 219.12.11 3.32 20.95.15 17.49.36 21.71.02
Tab. 4
Soyuq Bulaq. Rings
from kurgan 4and
composition (The high
percentage of brome
(Br) is explained by a
soil contamination)
19 Some black-grey polished ware is attested at Leilatepe (ºŁ/
˝Ł 2001,4546) and Berikldeebi (material seen in
the funds at the National Museum in Tbilissi thanks to the ge-
nerosity of M. Jalabadze). A probably similar bowl has been
found in the same position (under stones below the surface) at
´Girdan kurgan IV (Muscarella 1971, fig. 27), though the
photography does not illustrate its exact shape.
20 In the northern Caucasus, one lapis-lazuli bead is known in the
Treasure of Staromyshastov that was found by chance at the
end of the 19th century and is supposed to come from a plun-
dered kurgan related to the Majkop culture ( 1975,
225); but the elements making up this Treasure are not all ho-
mogeneous and some doubts have been raised concerning its
origins. At Tappe Gawra in Northern Mesopotamia, tombs con-
taining sometimes many beads in lapis-lazuli, turquoise, white
paste, gold, electrum, etc. have been found within levels IX to
XIII and are dated between levels VIII and XI though any preci-
se date is almost impossible since the original floor in which
they were first excavated is not ascertained (compare Tobler
1950,5197; Forest 1983,19 110; Rothman 2001). One can
also compare the variety of provenance and wealth of kurgan
1at Soyuq Bulaq with that of the kurgan found in Sarazm (Ta-
jikistan) period I, dating to about the same time (around 3500
BC) and attributed to the Afanasevo culture, where a great
number of beads in lapis, gold, silver, carnelian and heated
steatite have been found together with a silver vase, a ‘‘bron-
ze’’ razor, and two bracelets in shell coming from the Indian
Ocean (¨æŒ 1992).
21 Muscarella 1969. Kurgan III also contained a rich inventory of
beads, silver and ‘‘bronze’’material.
22 For the debate and new date of Se
´Girdan, see Rezepkin 2000,
20; Muscarella 2003.
23 It is mainly because of similarities in the construction of the
tombs in the Majkop culture and at Se
´Girdan that O. Musca-
rella accepted a revision in his dating. Other connections bet-
ween Majkop and Transcaucasia at that time have long been
put forward because of similar ceramic material (see recently
Lyonnet 2007b).
24 Gutensar for obsidian found in kurgan 3C and Paravani 2for
that found in kurgan 6, analysis done B. Gratuze, CNRS, IRA-
MAT, Orle
´ans whom we sincerely thank.
25 See Courcier et al. in press. It should be noted that the metal
artefacts found in Se
´Girdan have a different composition (in-
formation given by O. Muscarella to whom we address our war-
mest thanks).
26 See footnote 17.
B. Lyonnet et al.40
This culture, which follows the Neolithic
˘ulaveri was first identified in Eastern Geor-
gia, not far from Soyuq Bulaq.
At the beginning
of the 4th millennium, it constituted the background
on which North Mesopotamian features were
grafted on the ceramic material for unknown rea-
sons yet. Both in Leilatepe and in Boyuk Kesik,
along with the ceramic material of Late Chalcolithic
type, a few pots are still of the ‘‘Sioni’’ type, that
is, with incised rims and/or comb-worked surface
and/or obsidian temper.
Though mainly known in
Transcaucasia and Eastern Anatolia,
this culture
also had an important influence in the northern
Another of its main ceramic characteris-
tics is the mangal, a cooking pan with holes regu-
larly disposed under the rim, the use of which will
continue during the Kura-Araxes period, though the
holes tend to disappear.
Besides its ceramics, not much is known from
this culture, which is not well documented. The
sites are small and of short duration, with little visi-
ble architecture, and the population is considered
to be mostly constituted of semi-mobile herders.
The discovery of Soyuq Bulaq can, for the first time,
relate this culture with kurgans. It also advances
the date of the appearance of this burial practice in
Transcaucasia by more than a thousand years.
The obvious differences in wealth of the dif-
ferent excavated kurgans show that we are dealing
with a hierarchical society. Kurgan 1, with its nu-
merous beads in precious metals and of high-
skilled fabrication, or in semi-precious stones, with
its dagger and its symbol of power as is the scep-
tre, was certainly the tomb of a high status person.
The shape of this sceptre, with an equid
head, considered together with the extremely vast
diffusion of the Sioni culture as mentioned above,
brings in the question of the domestication of the
in this region.
Besides artefacts, the most original feature of these
kurgans is the burial ritual. It differs from that of
the contemporary Majkop culture, and seems closer
to that of Se
´Girdan. Except for the above structure,
the construction of the chamber and its orientation
also recalls that of many of the mud-brick tombs
from Tepe Gawra.
The scarcity of human bones here is puzzling
and has given rise to different possible explana-
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Composition (weight %)
O Na Mg Al Si S Cl Ca Cu As Ag Br Au Ni Fe Ti F
K. 4awl 3.95 0.44 0.24 1.51
K. 4awl 4.07 0.52 0.53 0.14 0.75 91.90.72 1.39
K. 4awl 3.18 0.61 0.34 95.9
K. 4awl 4.20.54 0.44 2 90 2.83
K. 4awl 6.19 0.48 0.49 0.11 0.27 79.36.79 6.38
K. 4awl 4.14 0.35 0.26 2.89 0.26 88.92.36 0.79
Tab. 5
Soyuq Bulaq. Example
of silver alloy beads
from kurgan 1and
composition (The high
percentage of brome
(Br) is explained by a
soil contamination)
Fig. 20
Soyuq Bulaq. Small
bowl with remains of
black slip found under
the surface of kurgan 2
27 ˚Łª 2000; Kiguradze/Sagona 2003.
28 Akhundov 2007.
29 Marro 2007.
30 Lyonnet 2007b.
31 Kurgans were thought to appear with the Bedeni and Martkopi
Cultures, around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC (see
˜Ł 2003; Connor/Sagona 2007; Kohl 2007,113).
32 See, for instance, Levine 1999.
33 See footnotes 17,26.
34 Tobler 1950,7075.
Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 41
tions by the authors of this article. If some of
consider that it is explained by the acidity
and salty composition of the soil, others
that the presence of only some small bones in kur-
gan 4, or that of only the upper right part of a body
in anatomical connection in kurgan 3C, opposed to
the almost entire body in the intermediate level of
kurgan 1do not entirely fit with this explanation.
Further, the presence of a funeral pit in some kur-
gans and its absence in others has also to be con-
sidered. Finally, one should notice the same scar-
city of human bones at Se
The combination of these considerations
brings in another plausible interpretation, that of a
secondary burial ritual where only parts of the
corpse were buried in some kurgans, perhaps after
they had been exposed in the open air.
ingly, in kurgan 1, nothing would have been left
nor buried at the level of the brick-wall from the
individual with a dagger and a sceptre (male?), and
the almost complete corpse found at the intermedi-
ate level with all the beads could have been a sa-
crificed person (female?).
Secondary burial ritual is not unknown at that
time. It has been described in the cemetery of Susa
which dates a little earlier than our kurgans,
but unfortunately information on this cemetery ex-
cavated long ago is not sufficient to be sure of the
ritual practises there. Further, the possibility of a ri-
tual with exposition of the dead covering a large
geographical area could be a clue for understand-
ing why, during the Uruk period, almost no ceme-
tery is known in Mesopotamia.
The very recent
discoveries of strange inhumations of some human
bones close to Tell Brak,
as well as that of a seal
depicting probably a scene of defleshing by a bird
at Hamoukar,
seem to confirm this point of view.
Finally, human sacrifice also seems attested
at least in the Caucasus area: it is most probably
the case in the Majkop Kurgan where two other
persons with little material have been buried in se-
parate chambers from that of the main rich indivi-
and has also been discovered, for a slightly
later period, in Arslantepe VIB1.
The importance of these discoveries has to be
stressed once more. The first appearance of kur-
gans south of the Great Caucasus is now more than
a thousand years older than previously considered.
They also raise many questions concerning the way
of life of the local population in Transcaucasia at
the beginning of the 4th millennium BC, their con-
tacts with other groups, their ability in metallurgy
and perhaps in the domestication of the horse. The
origin of the new burial ritual under kurgans has
also to be searched for. A whole range of deep
change and innovations seem to have appeared in
the course of the 5th millennium BC and can per-
haps be related to important transformations in the
environment that had led to the abandonment of
all the previous Neolithic settlements of the S
˘ulaveri culture. We hope that further research in
this area will answer some of the questions raised
and confirm part of our proposals.
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Fig. 21
Soyuq Bulaq. Interior of
a pot from kurgan 6
(see Fig. 10,3)
35 Around T. Akhundov.
36 Around B. Lyonnet.
37 See Lyonnet 2008.
38 In kurgan 4, the presence of charcoal and of tiny fragments of
burnt bones could be due to cremation. Unfortunately, it has
not been possible to determine the nature of the bones, hu-
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øæ ˚Œ  ı ººº (Ł
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¨.ˆ.˝Ł,˚º Øłª -
ººæŒ-æŒæŒª æºŁ' ÆØ-
 (ı ºŁ VI-IV ßæ. ..) (`Œ 1987).
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Late Chalcolithic Kurgans in Transcaucasia. The cemetery of Soyuq Bulaq (Azerbaijan) 43
Bertille Lyonnet
CNRS, UMR 7192
52 rue du Cardinal Lemoine
75005 Paris
Tufan Akhundov
Khagani Almamedov
Bakhtiar Jellilov
Fuad Huseynov
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology
H. Javid Prospekt, 31
Baku AZ-1143
Laurence Bouquet
SACI (Societa
`Archeologica del Centro Italia S.r.l)
via Eugenio Montale,12
45035 Castelmassa (Ro)
Antoine Courcier
doctorant University of Paris I
56 rue Emile Zola
59260 Hellemmes
´phanie Loute
Rue Charles Quint 74
1000 Bruxelles
Zurab Makharadze
Center for Archaeological Researches
Sophie Reynard
Institut Ge
´ographique National
73 avenue de Paris
94165 Saint-Mande
This article gives the results and preliminary interpreta-
tions from the excavations of kurgans recently discovered
at Soyuq Bulaq in western Azerbaijan. These discoveries
date the apparition of kurgans in Transcaucasia over a
thousand years earlier than previously accepted, at the
beginning of the 4th millennium BC. The material discov-
ered shows evidence of relations with different areas,
especially the Orumiye region and Northern Mesopotamia.
This can be linked to the ‘‘pre-Uruk expansion’’ towards
the north. The burial ritual is particularly interesting since
only a few kurgans contain a chamber with parts of a hu-
man skeleton, while the others seem to have been used
only for ritual practices. A ritual with secondary burial after
exposure of the body is considered here as most prob-
able. The material discovered in one of the kurgans is
especially rich and includes a sceptre with an equid head,
a copper dagger, several gold and silver-alloy beads and
one in lapis-lazuli; it possibly already shows also a case
of human sacrifice. The metal objects discovered in the
tombs were probably locally made. In contrast, most of
the ceramic material shows affiliations with Late Chalco-
lithic 23pottery from Northern Mesopotamia, while one
bowl also seems foreign because of remains of black slip
on its exterior. A small obsidian-tempered sherd with a
combed pattern is the only testimony of the local ‘‘Sioni’’
' æ'ø ºŁ ßı º
æŒŒ Œª   Œ-`ºŒ (˙ßØ -
ÆØ), Łßı IV ßæ. ..˛Ł º'
Ł 'ºŁ Œª Ł ªÆŁØ  ˙Œ-
Œ Æº    ßæ'ºŁ.˛ÆßØ
 ı æŒŒ Łº æŁºæ  Œ-
Œı æ ºŁßŁ ªŁŁ ˇØ ŁŁ,
Œº ' ªŁ .Ł' Ł Ø æŁŁ.
!  æ' æ «-ŒæŒØ ŒææŁØ»
æ.˛æÆßØ Łæ æº' ªÆºßØ
Łº,.Œ.ºŒ  æŒºŒŁı Œªı ÆߺŁ Æ-
ß ıŁ' æ æ'Ł æŒº,ªŁ 
ºŁæ,-ŁŁ,ºŒ º' Ł-
łŁØ.ˇºªæ',  Ł  Łßı
ıŁ'ı (æº ºŁ  Œß
æ/ı). ˛Ł Ł Œª æŁ æÆ
ÆªßØ Łº:æŒŁ æ ŒŁŒ  
ºłŁØ ªºß,ßØ ŒŁº,ªŁæºß
Æß Ł º Ł æº æÆ, ÆæŁ Ł
ºŁ.´, Œª Œ  æŁ-
ºæ  ºæŒ ŁłŁŁ.
ºŁ, ºŁß ß Ł ºº,
Øß  ªÆŁ'ı,æª Łæ.
`ºł' æ Æª ŒŁæŒª -
Łº æı æ ŒŁŒØ Ø æŁŁ ıŁ
ª ºŁ 23.ˇæº'æ', º-
Œ' ł æ ß ªÆ Œ æŁæ' Œ æ-
 Ł.ºŒ Ł ºŒŁØ Œ æ ÆæŁ-
ŁØ Łæ Œł ªÆß ,
º' æŁ ª Œ æØ Œº ŁŁ.
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B. Lyonnet et al.44
... 3). The similarity between those might underline the contact between the Caucasus and northern Mesopotamia in the Chalcolithic period, which is evident through the ceramics inventory (Lyonnet et al. 2008). ...
Full-text available
The potential of different trace elements for provenance studies of gold artefacts from the Lesser Caucasus is discussed in this paper. We provide a geochemical characterization of Bronze Age artefacts and gold from the prehistoric mine of Sakdrisi as well as nearby placer deposits. The mining activities of the Kura-Araxes period took place in the oxidation zone of the Sakdrisi deposit, where gold occurs in boxwork structures of oxidized and dissolved sulfidic minerals of ore in the ancient galleries. Gold from the mine as well as gold from placer deposits in the Sakdrisi-Bolnisi district are characterized by silver in the percentage level (up to 40 wt%) and small amounts of trace elements, which, in general, is typical for natural gold. The Bronze Age gold artefacts from the Lesser Caucasus also contain silver, with a variation within the range of natural gold, as well as a small percentage of copper. The geochemical characterization of the artefacts shows an extensive use of alluvial gold identified by a combination of the trace element tin, originating from primary deposits in acidic rocks, and platinum group elements (PGE), originating from primary deposits in (ultra-) basic rocks. We propose different sources for the gold artefacts based on a large variation in their trace element composition. Owing to the change of the chemical composition during metallurgical operations, resulting in an enrichment of copper and trace elements by co-melting of heavy mineral concentrates and an alteration by metallurgical processing, it is not possible to link gold artefacts to specific gold occurrences. Moreover, the lead isotope ratios measured from the gold artefacts cannot be used to trace back the primary gold sources. If additional silver was added to create some of the artefacts, lead isotopes would trace back to these silver sources. However, if unalloyed alluvial gold was used, lead isotope ratios would reflect a mixture of lead sources potentially deriving from multiple local ore deposits in protoliths whose erosion products were accumulated in the placer deposits and subsequently incorporated during co-melting into the gold artefacts. Thus, only sources in a regional context can be discussed.
... 2008: табл. 1: 25], в кургане 1 могильника союбулаг (азербайджан) -золото, 5 экземпляров [Lyonnetet et al. 2008: fig. 9a, 9b], в кургане-тумулусе се-Гирдан (иран) -золото, 431 экземпляр [Muscarella 1971: fig. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
(Proceedings, pages 208-212) Монотипный род миоспор Maiaspora Mamontov et al., 2021 из верхневизейских отложений Калужской области рассматривается как ближайший дисперсный аналог [Mamontov et al., 2021] для уникальных спор in situ из органов спороношения Radiitheca dobranyana Brousmiche et al., 1985, описанных в ассоциации с отпечатками вай Pecopteris waltonii Corsin из московского яруса бассейна Пльзень Чехии [Brousmiche et al. 1985] и Саарско-Лотарингского бассейна Франции [Brousmiche-Delcambre et al. 1997]. Помимо явного сходства в треугольном очертании и в размерах, указанные дисперсные и инситные споры покрыты своеобразной метаретикулоидной скульптурой, которая по соотношению средних диаметров ямки (w) и ячейки (W) отличается от более распространенных скульптурных типов миоспор – сетчатого и ямчатого. Подобное соотношение (w\W) названо нами «индексом воронковидности» и составляет 0.19–0.33 у дисперсных Maiaspora, что укладывается в изменчивость 0.28–0.31 у микроспор R. dobranyana [Mamontov et al., 2021]. В тоже время ультраструктура спородермы у микроспор из упомянутых местонахождений в Западной Европе сближает материнское растение с лептоспорангиатными папоротниковидными из порядка Gleicheniales [Brousmiche-Delcambre et al. 1997]. В последний включаются по современным молекулярным и морфологическим данным три семейства: Gleicheniaceae, Matoniaceae и Dipteridaceae [Smith et al., 2006; Schuettpelz et al., 2016]. Однако споры у ныне произрастающих и ископаемых папоротников из этих семейств не обладают метаретикулоидной скульптурой [Болховитина, 1968; Tryon & Lugardon, 1991; Nowak et al., 2022; Van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, 1993; Van Konijnenburg-van Cittert & Kurmann, 1994; Wang et al., 2009], а спорангии несут вертикальное, поперечное, поперечно-косое, либо в разной степени косое кольцо [Мейн, 1989; Kramer, 1990a, b, c; Klavins et al., 2004; Smith et al., 2006; Perrie & Brownsey, 2015; Wang et al., 2009;], а в редких случаях даже горизонтальное [Kvaček, Dašková, 2010], что принципиально отличается от апикального кольца в спорангиях у каменноугольных R. dobranyana. Получается, что кроме ультраструктурных признаков нет других доказательств ботанического родства для упомянутых каменноугольных спор in situ покрытых метаретикулоидной скульптурой. Таким образом, остается непонятным в какой же степени своеобразный метаретикулоидный орнамент Maiaspora определяет ботаническое родство, а не является очередным следствием конвергентной эволюции спор у неродственных групп вымерших растений. Поэтому цель настоящей работы в том, чтобы оценить степень ботанического родства метаретикулоидных миоспор Maiaspora и спор in situ из R. dobranyana с помощью сравнения данных по ультратонкому строению спородермы. Дисперсные споры были отобраны из отложений михайловского горизонта верхнего визе карьера Мстихино (Калужская область) [Mamontov et al., 2021] и из верхнебашкирских отложений с гл. 25.5 м из скв. 102 (Рязанской область). Позднебашкирский возраст отложений обоснован выделенным ранее комплексом миоспор, относящимся к зоне Radiizonates aligerens – Arcuatisporites densoarcuatus (AD) согласно региональной зональной схеме расчленения каменноугольных отложений Русской платформы по миоспорам (Решения..., 1990). Материал из скв. 102 был любезно предоставлен сотрудниками «Аэрогеология» (Московский Филиал ВСЕГЕИ). Шесть экземпляров Maiaspora хорошей сохранности были последовательно изучены в световом (СМ, рис.1, фиг. 2; рис. 2, фиг. 1), сканирующем электронном (СЭМ, рис.1, фиг. 3; рис. 2, фиг. 2) и трансмиссионном электронном (ТЭМ, рис. 1, фиг.1, 4-5; рис. 2, фиг. 3-5) микроскопах. Подготовка миоспор для исследования в ТЭМ осуществлялась по стандартной методике [Завьялова и др., 2018] в Палеонтологическом институте им. А.А. Борисяка РАН и в лаборатории электронной микроскопии биологического факультета МГУ имени М.В. Ломоносова. В результате изучения ультратонких срезов в ТЭМ у всех экземпляров миоспор обнаружен специализированный «глеихениоидный» тип спородермы, который характеризуется развитием срединного экзоспория (Em) только в области развития проксимальных киртомов («flange») вдоль лучей щели разверзания [Tryon & Lugardon, 1991]. Таким образом, оболочка миоспор Maiaspora в апертурной части состоит из трех слоев: тонкого внутреннего экзоспория из плотно сжатых ламелл (Ei), срединного слоя с ундулирующими ламеллами и большим количеством микрополостей внутри них (Em), а также гомогенного наружного экзоспория (Eo), который формирует метаретикулоидную скульптуру (рис. 1, 2). Волнообразные ламеллы срединного экзоспория вытянуты вдоль щели разверзания, поднимаясь на 1/3–2/3 от ее высоты, но никогда не перекрывают саму щель. Во внеапертурных частях экзоспорий состоит из двух слоев: внутреннего и наружного. Граница между слоями подчеркнута частыми вертикальными канальцами (с), образованными на поздних стадиях уплотнения (гомогенизации) экзоспория. Конфигурация срединного слоя не зависит от изменчивости скульптурных морфотипов спор Maiaspora, что хорошо сопоставляется с наблюдениями над спорами современных глеихениевых [Lugardon, 1971, 1974]. Ультратонкое строение не отличается у изученных верхневизейских (рис. 1) и верхнебашкирских (рис. 2) миоспор Maiaspora. Таким образом, глеихениоидный тип экзоспория позволяет уверенно сопоставлять между собой миоспоры Maiaspora из нижнего и среднего карбона Центральной России и споры in situ из спорангиев Raditheca dobranyana из московского яруса Франции и Чехии. Следовательно, миоспоры Maiaspora и метаретикулоидные споры in situ можно объединить в вымершую (стемовую) группу папоротниковидных в порядке Gleicheniales, которые еще в раннем карбоне приобрели общий глехениоидный тип экзоспория в качестве симплезиоморфного признака и широко распространились по северному полушарию вплоть до конца ранней перми, когда ареал произрастания, вероятно, сократился до Северного Китая. Интересно, что единичные находки метаретикулоидных миоспор (Microreticulatisporites concavus (Mamontov et al. in prep.) происходят из одного и того же региона, что и гладкие микроспоры с подтвержденным «глехениоидным» типом экзоспория из спорангиев Oligocarpia kepingensis в нижней перми Китая [Wang et al. 1999]. В тоже время фертильные вайи Chansitheca wudaensis описаны как самый ранний представитель семейства Gleicheniaceae из ассельских вулканогенных отложений Северного Китая (He et al., 2020). Микроспоры из спорангиев Ch. wudaensis аналогичны по морфологии микроспорам из O. kepingensis. В свою очередь из нижнепермских (ассельских) вулканогенных отложений формации Taiyuan во Внутренней Монголии (Китай) недавно описан новый орган спороношения Oligosporangiopteris zhongxiangii Votočková Frojdová et al., 2021 с микроспорами, у которых также наблюдаются признаки метаретикулоидной скульптуры и проксимальные киртомы [Votočková Frojdová et al., 2021]. К сожалению, нет данных по ультратонкому строению таких спор, а сам репродуктивный орган Oligosporangiopteris рассматривается в качестве incertae sedis т.к. схож как с несколькими вымершими семействами, так и с современными глеихениевыми папоротниками. Можно предположить, что каменноугольные папоротники с метаретикулоидными спорами из стемовой (stem) группы Gleicheniales многочисленные в раннем и среднем карбоне северного полушария, сохранились в ранней перми на территории Северного Китая, где уже появились первые представители коронной (crown) группы глеихениевых (Gleicheniaceae) папоротников со спорами с гладким экзоспорием. В результате исследования было показано, что ультраструктура у метаретикулоидных миоспор Maiaspora анонсирует самое раннее подтвержденное появление своеобразной (стемовой) группы растений в порядке Gleicheniales в визейском веку раннего карбона.
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In research on early invention and innovation, technological “firsts” receive enormous attention, but technological “lasts”—instances of abandonment and rejection—are arguably more informative about human technological behavior. Yet, cases of technological discontinuance are largely ignored in studies of early innovation, as the lack of robust datasets makes identification and analysis difficult. A large-scale geospatial analysis of more than 4500 gold objects from the Caucasus, an early center of gold innovation, shows a precipitous decline at 1500 BC in precisely the places with the earliest global evidence of gold mining (c. 3000 BC). Testing various causal models reveals that social factors, rather than resource limitations or demographic disruption, were the primary causes of this rejection. These results indicate that prior models of technological rejection and loss have underestimated the range of conditions in which they can occur, and provide empirical support for theories of innovation that reject notions about the linearity of technological progress.
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Here, we report genome-wide data analyses from 110 ancient Near Eastern individuals spanning the Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age, a period characterized by intense interregional interactions for the Near East. We find that 6 th millennium BCE populations of North/Central Anatolia and the Southern Caucasus shared mixed ancestry on a genetic cline that formed during the Neolithic between Western Anatolia and regions in today’s Southern Caucasus/Zagros. During the Late Chalcolithic and/or the Early Bronze Age, more than half of the Northern Levantine gene pool was replaced, while in the rest of Anatolia and the Southern Caucasus, we document genetic continuity with only transient gene flow. Additionally, we reveal a genetically distinct individual within the Late Bronze Age Northern Levant. Overall, our study uncovers multiple scales of population dynamics through time, from extensive admixture during the Neolithic period to long-distance mobility within the globalized societies of the Late Bronze Age. Video Abstract eyJraWQiOiI4ZjUxYWNhY2IzYjhiNjNlNzFlYmIzYWFmYTU5NmZmYyIsImFsZyI6IlJTMjU2In0.eyJzdWIiOiI1Yzc5NGYzYTFiYTU5NDdmYWI1NGI5OGVhYzEyZTNmZSIsImtpZCI6IjhmNTFhY2FjYjNiOGI2M2U3MWViYjNhYWZhNTk2ZmZjIiwiZXhwIjoxNTkwNzEzNzI4fQ.Jdh02-sQMsYVqM6IrXehfAdXlX0xWXHr2x6pIAACdpmfSo9M5xQFjmWtc4fHnkiyR0J-IattJaRTZ0mIhx3IxFhhiVFhGSvN2WAi-K-rmrm1fIFgKVTTzj1VRv-gnM4ladKJ4MrIdJcdnyfJz1DRcrgQUlV_hnaRDamNGJ8XpxJnans6oNh95AMBSaZ3VxaesnCmepVxJgMqzBTanZDwiLJpA4ZPcADfAf8W0KsVq9Ge-IFevVdW_V1RyytZfDXLov_u2QP64advphHOJ36Lq055R-T3vgDrvSM80eTMAFrBmt3g8CbCGA9X81gZD-vOqSfKeJWRPNH7-5boAMTYaQ (mp4, (28.32 MB) Download video
This paper provides an overview of the results obtained from recent (2016–2017) archaeological investigations the Early Bronze age site of Karnut, located in the Shirak province, of northwestern Armenia. The main focus will be on the newly discovered Kura-Araxes burials and dwellings. A preliminary attempt will be made to address issues regarding the dating of the newly discovered materials, as well as to provide a first comparison with the results yielded by former excavations. New elements concerning burial practices at the site will then be discussed in the context of established frameworks of burial rituals as known from formerly investigated burial sites of the Kura-Araxes culture. Ultimately, the issues discussed in this paper highlight important future directions in the research on funerary practices in the Early Bronze Age South Caucasus.
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This book provides an overview of Bronze Age societies of Western Eurasia through an investigation of the archaeological record. Philip L. Kohl outlines the long-term processes and patterns of interaction that link these groups together in a shared historical trajectory of development. Interactions took the form of the exchange of raw materials and finished goods, the spread and sharing of technologies, and the movements of peoples from one region to another. Kohl reconstructs economic activities from subsistence practices to the production and exchange of metals and other materials. He also examines long-term processes, such as the development of more mobile forms of animal husbandry, which were based on the introduction and large-scale utilization of oxen-drive wheeled wagons and, subsequently, the domestication and riding of horses; the spread of metalworking technologies and exploitation of new centers of metallurgical production; changes in systems of exchange from those dominated by the movement of luxury goods to those in which materials essential for maintaining and securing the reproduction of the societies participating in the exchange network accompanied and/or supplanted the trade in precious materials; and increasing evidence for militarism and political instabilities as reflected in shifts in settlement patterns, including increases in fortified sites, and quantitative and qualitative advances in weaponry. Kohl also argues forcefully that the main task of the archaeologist should be to write culture-history on a spatially and temporally grand scale in an effort to detect large, macrohistorical processes of interaction and shared development.