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A Central Asian Village at the Dawn of Civilization

A Central Asian Village at the Dawn of Civilization: Excavations at Anau, Turkmenistan

Fredrik T. Hiebert
With Kakamurad Kurbansakhatov
Foreword by Robert H. Dyson
Hubert Schmidt
Katherine M. Moore
Ogul’sona Lollekova
Langdon Warner
Naomi F. Miller
Alexandra Golyeva
N. M. Ermolova
Ann Forsten
James Adovasio
Jeffery Illingworth
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 489
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  • Book Info
    A Central Asian Village at the Dawn of Civilization
    Book Description:

    This integration of earlier and new scholarship reconceptualizes the origins of civilization, challenging the received view that the ancient Near East spawned the spread of civilization outward from Mesopotamia to all other neighboring cultures. Central Asia is here shown to have been a major player in the development of cities. Skillfully documenting the different phases of both Soviet and earlier Western external analyses along with recent excavation results, this new interpretation reveals Central Asia's role in the socioeconomic and political processes linked to both the Iranian Plateau and the Indus Valley, showing how it contributed substantively to the origins of urbanism in the Old World. Hiebert's research at Anau and his focus on the Chalcolithic levels provide an essential starting point for understanding both the nature of village life and the historical trajectories that resulted in Bronze Age urbanism.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-23-0
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Robert H. Dyson Jr.

    The essential first step in prehistoric archaeological investigation is to establish a reliable sequence of assemblages of material remains. Today this is done by carefully controlled stratigraphic excavation, which emphasizes careful sampling and recording. This first step is followed by the creation of a relative chronology based on comparative studies of remains at other similarly excavated sites. However, such a relative chronology by itself lacks any way of establishing absolute dating for its parts. The question of duration vexed early excavators dealing with pre-literate periods and non-literate areas, since interpretations of cultural development and movement depend upon fixed chronological structures....

  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. 1 Anau North, an Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The excavations at Anau North, Turkmenistan, document one site’s participation in cultural transformations in Central Asia from 4500 to 2900 BC, the Early Village Period. What we know today as Central Asia (Figure 1.1) was an extensive area of settlement in the ancient world. This region, the north-east frontier of the Near East, had its own local precursors to civilization.

    The region of earliest sedentary settlement in Central Asia is along the Kopet Dag foothill region of southern Turkmenistan (Masson 1989, Masson and Sarianidi 1972). Excavations at Neolithic agricultural sites in this region date to the 7th millennium BC provide...

  7. 2 The Settlement History of Central Asia in the Village Period
    (pp. 15-23)

    This chapter outlines the broad developmental stages of Early Village occupation in Central Asia, beginning from the earliest settlement along the Kopet Dag (which pre-dates the occupation at Anau North) and from there following the basic outline of culture history presented by Soviet archaeology (Masson 1982, 1989), best known in English from the detailed translations and syntheses of P. Kohl and others (Coolidge 2001, Harris and Gosden 1996; Kohl 1981, 1984a, 1992). Absolute dates for the Central Asian sites are based on the radiocarbon chronology from Anau North presented in this volume and from the recent collaborative excavations at Djeitun...

  8. 3 The History of Investigations at Anau North
    (pp. 24-31)

    The deeply stratified site of Anau North has a long and distinguished history of excavation (Figure 3.1). The site was first sectioned in 1886, and, partly due to its easily accessible strata, became a magnet for archaeological research. Scientific excavations began in 1904 with the expedition led by Raphael Pumpelly. Further investigations included a deep stratigraphic excavation in 1953 and extensive excavations between 1977 and 1982. Our own excavations in 1997 were intended to provide a key to the previous results and gain access to the full stratigraphic column. Taken together the excavations have investigated a range areas at Anau...

  9. 4 1997 Excavations: Context of Deposition and Stratigraphy
    (pp. 32-54)

    Renewed excavations at the north mound at Anau were conducted in 1997 to create a key to the various earlier excavations. We were able to reestablish the yarus and grid systems from Kurbansakhatov’s main trench. By matching a set of walls noted by Pumpelly in the cross-section of the Komarov Trench with the still-extant walls, we were able to reestablish the original datum from the 1904 excavations, and thus to incorporate the 1904 corpus of finds into our analysis. The 1997 excavations in turn allowed us to make observations about site formation processes and to describe contexts of deposition of...

  10. 5 Radiocarbon Chronology
    (pp. 55-56)

    The 1997 excavation season provided nineteen specific contexts, in layers 3 through 20, from which radiocarbon samples were taken, all from floors or features associated with floors (Table 5.1). The samples were preprocessed at the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA) at the University of Pennsylvania Museum to assure that they had sufficient carbon content to permit conventional radiocarbon analysis. They were then analyzed at Beta Analytic, Miami, Florida.

    The dates for four samples from layers 3–4 cluster around 3100 BC. Those for the five samples from layers 8–10 cluster around 3500 BC; for the six from...

  11. 6 Ceramic Complexes of Anau North and Relative Chronology
    (pp. 57-80)

    This chapter describes the ceramics from Anau North, integrating the 1997 excavation results with those from previous excavations. Each excavation, from 1904 onwards, yielded considerably different information about the ceramics due to differences in methods of recovery and description. The approach taken here is to present a new organization of the ceramics, first in terms of ware and then in individual types in terms of variations in size, form, and decoration through time.

    Such a ware-based analysis allows us to integrate the different descriptive systems employed by Schmidt (1908) and Kurbansakhatov (1987). It also allows us to cluster the ceramics...

  12. 7 Small Finds from Anau North
    (pp. 81-97)
    Ogul’sona Lollekova and Katherine M. Moore

    This presentation of small finds—tools and ornaments made of terracotta, bone, metal, chipped stone, and ground stone—from Anau North has two parts. The first section reviews a sample of the finds from a chronological point of view; the second provides a functional analysis of artifact categories. The discussion of chronology is based upon a reconstruction of the stratigraphic provenience of the small finds from the 1904 season in relationship to the more extensive excavations of 1977–1982. The chronological reconstruction was made using the Pumpelly expedition inventory records, field records, museum documentation at the Kunstkamera in St. Petersburg,...

  13. 8 Architecture at Anau North
    (pp. 98-115)

    The 20 layers of architecture exposed during Kurbansakhatov’s excavations from 1977 to 1982 allows us to place into context the architecture revealed in 1904, 1953, and 1997 (Figure 8.1). A number key features can be tracked in summarizing the architectural shifts through time: (1) the technology building—the way that floors, walls, hearths, and storage areas were constructed; (2) the layout of the village including the location of ritual areas, courtyards, and boundaries; (3) the history of individual structures, including length of occupation, mode of construction, alteration or reuse, and abandonment; and (4) household organization.

    Anau IA layers were reached...

  14. 9 Burials
    (pp. 116-126)
    L. Warner and K. Kurbansakhatov

    During the excavations of 1904 and 1978–1982, the remains of 23 individuals were discovered within the settlement at Anau North. This chapter reports on the architectural context of the intramural burials and the treatment and position of those bodies (Figure 9.1).

    The Anau North intramural burials provide comparanda for other Early Village sites along the Kopet Dag foothills: Two earliest burials (Anau IA) can be compared to the burials at Mondjukli depe (Alekshin 1976). The eight burials from the IB1 and IB2 layers shed light on interment practices during this period for which till now had only two exemplars,...

  15. 10 The Use of Plants at Anau North
    (pp. 127-138)
    Naomi F. Miller

    A major goal of the 1997 excavation at Anau was to retrieve a chronological sequence of plant remains from archaeological strata that could be correlated with the earlier excavation of Kurbansakhatov on the north mound of Anau. The remains provide evidence for the state of the vegetation, fuel gathering, and agricultural practices.

    Irrigated grain fields (wheat and barley) and orchards (apricot, plum, apple, almond, quince) surrounded the site in 1997 (Figure 10.1). By 2000, the Anau collective farm had stopped caring for the trees; without irrigation most died. Recent and present-day agriculture provide no model for vegetation and land use...

  16. 11 Microscopic Analysis of Soils from Anau North
    (pp. 139-153)
    Alexandra A. Golyeva

    In Russian soil science “biomorphic analysis” refers to the combined study of phytoliths, spores, pollen, diatoms, sponge spicules, cuticle casts, detritus, and other microscopic plant parts (Golyeva 1997). Most soils—including natural strata, plowed fields, pastures, and cultural layers—contain different and distinctive arrays of these microscopic plant remains. The primary purpose of biomorphic analysis in Russian soil science is the determination of evolutionary trends of soils and anthropogenic sediments and the determination of modern and past environmental conditions. For archaeological purposes, a combined biomorphic analysis increases the reliability of individual data and truthfulness of the reconstruction of a behavioral...

  17. 12 Animal Herding, Hunting, and the History of Animal Domestication at Anau depe
    (pp. 154-159)
    K. M. Moore, N. M. Ermolova and Ann Forsten

    The work by J. U. Duerst (1908) on the animal remains from Anau North was a foundation for the study of the origins of animal use in a developing food producing economy. Working without precedent, Duerst drew attention to the significance of archaeological remains for studying geographic variation and evolution in domestic mammals. His analysis of taxonomic abundance showed differences across the stratigraphic sequence, allowing him to speculate on the process of economic change. He made careful observations of traces which he interpreted as cultural modification, but he had only distant analogies to the remains from Neolithic Switzerland for most...

  18. 13 Prehistoric Behavior at Anau North
    (pp. 160-168)

    Having provided a detailed description of the Anau North stratigraphy based upon the 1997 study season, we have been able to integrate the descriptions of architecture, ceramics, small finds, and specialty reports from the earlier excavations. However, in order to describe the evolution of the settlement through time, we need to return to the description of the stratigraphy and examine how the deposits were formed and assess the evidence revealed for past behavior.

    In this chapter we analyze the site formation processes that are at the heart of understanding the cultural development at Anau North. First, we outline the variables...

  19. 14 The Evolution of the Settlement at Anau North
    (pp. 169-173)

    The settlement of Anau North is later by one thousand years than occupation at the site of Djeitun and the constellation of early-Djeitun sites in the Akhal region. Over the course of the Djeitun period, settlement shifted east, to the region between the Meana and Chaacha Rivers. The traditional singleroom Djeitun building, constructed with proto-bricks which were molded in place, was replaced with multiroom dwellings in the late Djeitun period. Excavations at the late-Djeitun sites of Mondjukli and Chagylly show the use of preformed mud bricks with more or less standard sizes, also the pattern seen in the earliestknown Anau...

  20. Appendix A 1904 Excavations at Anau North
    (pp. 174-193)
    Hubert Schmidt
  21. Appendix B Catalogue of Small Finds from the 1904 Excavations
    (pp. 194-200)
    Katherine M. Moore
  22. Appendix C Botanical Data from the 1997 Excavations
    (pp. 201-215)
    Naomi F. Miller
  23. Appendix D A Basketry/Textile Impression from Anau North
    (pp. 216-219)
    J. M. Adovasio and J. S. Illingworth
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 220-235)
  25. Index
    (pp. 236-238)