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Chapter I - ....and then they came

por Olympus Mons, em 12.03.16

Chapter I

And then they came…

October 2018 Draft

Maybe, just maybe. And for those kind souls that don’t really follow these topics or are new at it.

8,000 years ago, there were a people.  When I started looking into this issue I thought that this people lived on the margin of the Volga river that flows form the Urals to the Caucasus basins. On the left bank there was another population that looked just like them (R1a). But living on different margin of the river these guys developed a different mutation (M-73) of the R1b haplogroup. So, in the beginning, in 2015, I fell for the trap of the R1b from the steppe while sticking to my strong belief of the Shulaveri-Shomu as the source of the Indo-European languages and of relevant R1b subclades (M269) and to the story at hand.

Geography is sometimes misleading, and truth is at that point it was difficult to pinpoint a very specific spot for the origin of either. Especially, especially because it was at the height of the Steppe buzz and David W. Anthony from Chicago Univ.  views were akin to a bible. From the knowledge I had, or just the storyline and bias interpretation published (scientific and amateurs) it all seemed to have an origin in the Ukraine and Russian steppes something a keen of Dnieper River (a bit west) and the others in the Volga basin. To them pre-history came across as was a long boring process until finally it led to Yamnaya (3500bc) and from there to conquer Europe. 

 

But going back to the 6th millennium BC, 8 thousand years ago…

 

Those Neolithic people, either already later mutations such as M269 or just with L388 or P297 (so very early SNP mutation), began a journey. For reasons stated above I had this wrong notion and I wrote: probably due to the 8.3Kiloyear event, or maybe just because the Holocene had already melted too much and uncover too much of the rivers and the plains that those R1b felt compelled to move south. Some just follow the river Volga while other turn all the way east moving around the east side of the Caspian sea and making a blob of R1b north of Iran and the other following the river or maybe a mix of the two just settle in the southern Caucasus to what is today South Georgia, Armenia and west Azerbaijan. Or maybe some actually came from much closer from the Dnieper basin and just crossed the mountains…

 

And I think I was Wrong.

In 2018, from as early as end 2016, I am adamant in defending a different history and set of events. Once more, I am an outlier in this particular view which just increases my chance of being wrong. However, I have a strong believe that the forefathers of the Shulaveri was a population originating in south Balkans! Let me explain how:

In the 8th millennium and first half of 7th, a population which we can say spoke a Pre-Pie (proto-Indo European language – lets us say 30% of its composites) , a population which could be already  M269 (or very close to become it by mutation) , lived in south Balkans. Romania, Bulgaria even parts of Serbia, around the dates of 7500-6300BC.

I hypothesize that there is a good chance the ones that became later the Shulaverian were in Romania, in archeological places such as Ostrovul Corbului, Schela Cladovei, Ovcarovo Gorata, eventually even Lepenski_Vir in Serbia. Subsequently they were related to the Iron gates  Neolithic..  I have an uncertainty only regarding Bulgaria and Thrace, since not out of question in the future we find that those two regions could in fact steal centrality from Romania. As we know core Initial farmers did avoid Thrace for some reason. Agriculturalists initial sprint into Western Europe did avoid Thrace and south Balkans by leaping into Greece and rest of Europe irrespective of later reflux.

 

 

 

We can safely say that by 6500BC onwards, the contacts between Iron Gates people, Romania/Bulgaria and Anatolian farmers was thriving. Bulgaria at this point was becoming full of Anatolian farmers that were moving up into north Bulgaria and Romania. So much that by 6300BC-6000BC, this former highly pastoral/no agriculture populations disappeared (except in Lepenski Vir) at that time, being replaced by farmers from I would imagine inbound from south, as well in a opposite path from northern Starcevo-Cris related populations.  What I have been defending, for a while now, is that this late 7th Millennium BC Romania/Bulgaria population (M269) will resemble early Shulaveri Shomu populations prior to admix with CHG (Caucasus Hunter Gatherer) or whatever local Caucasus people. What I don’t know is how much Anatolian farmers admix did they pick up on their journey east through Anatolia.

 

If by 6400bc we see the rise of NW Anatolian Neolithic sites with caprine, its only later that we find the arrival of atypical high number big cattle pastoral kind of population in Fikirtepe North of Anatolia, unlike the rest of Anatolia. The fact that Anatolia did not have Pig husbandry and suddenly Fikirtepe changes to also have Pig husbandry is usually interpreted as the arrival of a different population. Don’t really know if it was proto-Shulaveri that we find In Fikirtepe but they related obviously to West Anatolia agriculturalists known as Barcin agriculturalists in that area.

One would imagine that at this places, pit stops of south margins of Black Sea, this initial population flow from south Caucasus and they were learning lots of names from agriculture (let’s say PIE is 60% formed). One would expect that some, if not many, pick up heavy Farmer genetic Admix before moving to south Caucasus and become Shulaveri.

 

The rise of Shulaveri is, by 6000BC, the rise of a population that are master of domestication, people usually notice it because the types of cereal they cultivate is very diverse, so much that is bizarre and atypical for that epoch. They show all types of cereals and even having Spelt, coming from the Balkans. It is as if collecting species on route and testing it further ahead.

On the other hand, they kept nevertheless a sounding and distinct high Pastoral live style leading to the believe of many that they were a transhumance like people. I posit that It should be around this time L23 was born (6000bc?).  I would say that when he was born, he learned PIE (let us say 70% of it).

 

We need to fight our tendency to view events as a video game with levels that we move to. Things will be revealed as multifaceted. It worthwhile to refer that this channeling time of 6000-5500bc Is where we see the same archeological signs mixing between Shulaveri proper and the western Georgia, land of the Kotias the one we call the original CHG (Caucasus Hunter Gatherer). These archeological sites are known as Odishi, Anaseuli and Chkhortoli. It will be of utmost interest when we have the genome for these specific population in western Georgia, oppose to Shulaveri proper in eastern Georgia, and its role in early north Caucasus and steppe population.  There is a baseline that is not usually taken into account, which is that prior to the arrival of the Shulaveri, there was an underlying substratum of people, totally unsampled and in my view “unseen” in terms of genetics which will show the true colors of CHG. The Mesolithic people that lived from eastern Anatolia to western Georgia, to north mesoptamia, best represented as the Kmlo-2 tools, and the “Çayönü tools”, from Georgia Dzudzuana and the Lake Sevan itself. This is all prior to arrival of the Shulaveri.

 

These folks arriving, while admixing with any local remains of pure CHG, would diverge from the others that at the same time or even a bit earlier arrived in Aratashen/Arknashen whose admixing would later have been more with Iran Neolithic Dna. The same holds true with the ones moving from the core region of Kvemo-Kartli and Shulaveris Gora  to the Azerbaijan into the Karabakh steppes  admixing as well with Iran Neolithic.  So, those others, from western Georgia, for sure started to move up the eastern cost of black sea. Who knows if not reaching north Caucasus by say 5500BC? The route was open.

Crucial to our story and at a point in time and space, the Shulaveri just were. Just themselves. Although I admit my fascination and passion for the Shulaveri, to me always they always strike me as singular (in the sense of different). In fact we know from 2017 papers, from Margaryan and Derenko et al. , that the Shulaveri at least carry the Mtdna H2 + 152, H15a1 and I1 which is totally not Anatolian or Iran farmer Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.

 

 No other sociological context has brought Archeology to the epicenter of detail discussion as the discoveries in aDna (ancient Dna) in the last 5 years.  Both from renown professors of the most important academia, to the most important laboratories for DNA Sequencing such as Harvard and the Max Planck, to very knowledgeable amateurs feverously and furiously arguing against each other in the reference blogs for the topic.  Yet, if people want to be fair, my voice was always the sole voice shinning a lighthouse on the Shulaveri-Shomu and their centrality in the construction of Europe’s language, Identity patrilineages and genetics. This fixation in the Shulaveri might tell the reader that I am just plain and simply wrong (a possibility). After countless papers, articles, zillion opinions in blogsphere none other than me set the Shulaveri as the source of PIE dispersal and the relevant subclades of R1b-M269. I can safely say, that before my efforts on bringing them to the equation of providing answers to this fascinating mysteries, they simple were not a variable anyone else compute into the formula. Not at all.

 

However If I am proven right I am sure there will be no lack of people stating that they also believed in the Armenian hypothesis for PIE therefore they also knew all along.  However, the proponents of the Armenian Hypothesis (AH) focus on Halaf/Hassuna or something maybe Ubaid at best. And this as a remote origin since the criticality of their hypothesis was a later time if anything more centered in the 4th millennium. They never contemplate that it might be the much earlier Shulaveri-Shomu even though the sites were known since the sixties. In fact, and on their own words they did not have a clue of whom:

 

“We concede that in the broad territory in which we have placed he homeland of the Indo-Europeans there is no archaeological evidence of a culture that can be positively linked to them. Archaeologists have identified, however, a number of sites that bear evidence of a material and spiritual culture similar to the one implied by the Indo-European lexicon. The Halafian culture of northern Mesopotamia decorated its vessels with religious symbols—bulls' horns and sometimes rams' heads, which are masculine symbols, and ritual images of leopard skins—that are shared by the somewhat later Catal Huyuk culture of the seventh millennium B.C. in western Anatolia. Both cultures have affinities with the later Transcaucasian culture in the region embraced by the Kura and the Araks rivers, which includes southern Transcaucasia, eastern Anatolia end northern Iran.”

  

or

 

“According to Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, the Indo-European languages derive from a language originally spoken in the wide area of eastern Anatolia, the southern Caucasus, and northern Mesopotamia. The Anatolian languages, including Hittite, split-off before 4000 BCE, and migrated into Anatolia at around 2000 BCE. Around 4000 BCE, the proto-Indo-European community split into Greek-Armenian-Indo-Iranians, Celto-Italo-Tocharians, and Balto-Slavo-Germanics. At around 3000–2500 BCE, Greek moved to the west, while the Indo-Aryans, the Celto-Italo-Tocharians and the Balto-Slavo-Germanics moved east, and then northwards along the eastern slope of the Caspian Sea. The Tocharians split from the Italo-Celtics before 2000 BCE and moved further east, while the Italo-Celtics and the Balto-Slavo-Germanics turned west again towards the northern slopes of the Black Sea. From there, they expanded further into Europe between around 2000 and 1000 BCE.[10][8] “

 

If we were to make an AH- Armenian Hypothesis Vs  SH - Shulaverian Hypothesis:

 

“According to Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, the Indo-European languages derive from a language originally spoken in the wide area of eastern Anatolia, the southern Caucasus, and northern Mesopotamia” 

 

As per shulaverian Hypothesis PIE was spoken precisely in Georgia.  Slightly in Azerbaijan and the renowned offshoot of Georgian sites  in a few small places in Aratashen, Arkanshen and Masis Blur but the bulk was much north, in contrast to AH that states east Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. So, either they believe Halaf, Ubaid, Hassuna-Samarra or a later akin of an evolution of a Neolithic local farmer language, spoken by Kura-Araxes. Which as per Shulaverian hypothesis is wrong since both the sooner (Ubaid) or the later (Kura-Araxes) did not spoke PIE and one actually could have been involved in the disappearance of the PIE speaker and the other the result of whatever was responsible, at least in part, to that exact dismay of the Shulaveri-Shomu.

Another of the descriptions regarding Armenian Hypothesis  is:

 

 “The Anatolian languages, including Hittite, split-off before 4000 BCE, and migrated into Anatolia at around 2000 BCE. Around 4000 BCE, the proto-Indo-European community split into Greek-Armenian-Indo-Iranians, Celto-Italo-Tocharians, and Balto-Slavo-Germanics.

At around 3000–2500 BCE, Greek moved to the west, while the Indo-Aryans, the Celto-Italo-Tocharians and the Balto-Slavo-Germanics moved east, and then northwards along the eastern slope of the Caspian Sea. The Tocharians split from the Italo-Celtics before 2000 BCE and moved further east, while the Italo-Celtics and the Balto-Slavo-Germanics turned west again towards the northern slopes of the Black Sea. From there, they expanded further into Europe between around 2000 and 1000 BCE.”

 

Armenian Hypothesis is a lasting brewing of original PIE in the broad region, that the Shulaverian hypothesis is in contrast at the moment it entangles PIE with a specific culture that had absolutely nothing to do with events Gamkrelidze and Ivanov were focus on and that they set the stage for the language developments. So, to be even more clear, to me it had to be well before 4000BC the renown split of PIE. In fact, I say that most of 6th millennium locals, the Shulaveri-Shomu ones, already were PIE speakers and that means the date of PIE origin moves from the end of 4000BC to something like 5500BC. In fact I read somewhere that the first analytical and statistics analysis a many decades ago pointed already back then to a much older date for PIE than 4000BC referred by Gamkrelidze and Ivanov.

As per SH, it split happened between 5000 BC and 4700 BC. And by split it meant that only a small group, or at best several groups of small sizes remained as IE in the south Caucasus, North western Iran or east Anatolia, and the vast archeological legacy that Gamkrelidze and Ivanov had as a reference was dominated by precisely non IE speakers. Uruk, Kura-Araxes culture dominated the millenniums of the Armenian hypothesis, and those were not IE speakers. There might have been pockets of remaining Shulaveri or related to those, that spoke PIE and for sure some Shulaverian remain because there were Anatolian speakers. but   all other Shulaveri went off some other place. When some states the following paragraph is actually In stark contrast with anything related to the shulaverian Hypothesis:

 

“Celto-Italo-Tocharians, and Balto-Slavo-Germanics. At around 3000–2500 BCE, Greek moved to the west, while the Indo-Aryans, the Celto-Italo-Tocharians and the Balto-Slavo-Germanics moved east…”

 

Shulaverian postulates the following:  Those that remained made the above paragraph milieu that led to Hittite. Just that. The rest of the story as already off of that region long ago.

 The rest of the PIE history is made purely by two vectors.  The Shulaverian descendants that moved to North Caucasus and the steppe (lets set 4900bc as date) by the west passage, meaning the east cost of Black sea, and the ones that crossed north Anatolia and landed in South Balkans (4600bC). To the latter one can use the Kumtepe girl (KUM6) as a reference of the first signal of that Caucasus dispersal genomics to the West . Therefore, south Balkans spoke PIE as of after 4500BC as could later Greeks. It’s the lack of current knowledge of the period in south Balkans that span from 4500BC to 3500BC that is creating a misperception in the PIE issue, as a single source of PIE dispersal.

 It’s the same population that one sees in steppe as the ones that one sees moving up the Balkans into, among other places the steppe as well. I keep on stating that it’s not impossible (not assigning probabilities) that even Otzi the Iceman spoke some sort of derived IE. And in fact by 4000BC both PIE populations (Steppe and Balkans) were meeting in places such as North black sea and it was these two that made the dispersal of IE languages as whatever story one wants to reference. CWC or BB or any other related to that time and broad region one wants to use. And yet let us not forget that most likely dozens of IE speaking people might have existed spread out Europe. If we all speak a centralized derivation of root PIE might have happen in the Bronze age or even early Iron age, but mostly happen because it might have made sense (lets called it late and late- late PIE) because it made sense and sounded familiar to a lot of people throughout Europe that knew some of those words already and phonetically sounded familiar.

I will not advance further this topic.  I think it’s enough to allow future clarifications if the question of south Caucasus as source of PIE and R1b-L23 becomes a fact and we must create a distinction between two hypothesis that naturally share many geographical similitudes but not that many archeological ones. Not archeological ones.

In the future this will become an important distinction since this pivot moment will be known by one name or the other.

Going back to the first years of the 6th millennium.

 

Who were the Shulaveri-Shomu? - the people I am talking about …were very particular. Its noteworthy that in January 2016 I was writing the following:  It would be deceptive to go the avenue of sociologic interpretations, but their demeanors were unique and probable the reason behind so much grievance in the future. I imagine all those people from the Haplogroup G2a, the men that represent the Neolithic farmers, replete with that basal Eurasian DNA didn’t really find those people particular singular or noticeable when they met them in south Balkans or later in Northwestern Anatolia. If anything, it felt like they were people that stubbornly kept to themselves.  And later when J1/J2 (whichever) came with Ubaid period they were not the more aggressive or organized to be able to fight for the territory.  To the ones more pastoral from Armenia southeast lands, If I had to pick a parallelism would choose gypsies.  I’ve known quite a few, saw how they camp, dwell and kept introspectively and interoceptively (which is different) to themselves.

What made Shulaveri singular?  -  They seemed to own the terrain for as much usage and extraction of it that they could, and they showed a remarkable tendency for individualism (shown by architecture) in a time when collectivism seemed to be about to be the builder of civilizations. If one had to give them a brand it would be masters of domestication.  Of plants and animals. Apart from how to build houses and bury loved ones, one can easily see the numerous bone spoons that is typical of their settlements, the slings, long prismatic Cores and Blades and pressure flaking even lever pressure flaking, Obsidian and flint, bone hooks, dark burnished pottery, heavy flat lugs, S curve profiles, hole mouth jars and Carnelian beads. And… above all: Copper beads and spelt seeds as an exclusive thing.

Spelt is highly resistance and climatic adaptive and being something similar to club wheat but is a hybridization of it and Emmer.  Papers analyzing spelta found that the club wheat (Hexaploid) is the same In the few hybridization even occurred and that only the emmer (tetraploid) makes the difference between the Asian and the European strands. Spelt is an event that occurred twice, one earlier (where that Hexa come from) in the Shulaveri heartland (Arukhlo) and the second is what was found later in Bell Beaker.

It is a fact that as old or even slightly older Spelt has been found in Balkans. All in all, how does it only appear in too distinct cultures so far apart, one being the Shulaveri in South Caucasus.

 

In 2018 we do know a couple of new things about the Shulaveri. Two things in particular are outstanding. First that they were the inventors of wine, and not northwestern Iran in Hajji Firuz, bringing the date of initial wine production earlier by more than 500 years to 5800BC. Second that they had developed the first Hydraulic structures to diverge a river and to create the first irrigation system. -  It moved that date of such structures earlier over 1000 years. Apparently, this water Management system went wrong a couple centuries later and there was an accident that flood the settlements. The first engineering accident in history.

The latest finding to come is apparently that they also were apicultures and had Honey. As years go by, all this facts are bringing Shulaveri from total obscurity to references in Wikipedia and data footprints in internet. However, back in 2016 they were almost in complete obscurity.

With the arrival of Shulaveri people to South Caucasus, back in 6000BC, the first settlements were raised actually in Armenia (if dates for Shulaveri come out as carbon dating wrong for 6200bc but instead 5900bc) in Arkanshen and Masis Blur, around the same time the short duration Haci Elamxanli tepe in Azerbaijan . Not much later we have Aratashen as proper settlements at the same time we have the earliest and big Shulaveris Gora and Gadachrilli in Georgia.

whilst other kept moving to southern places to what is today Syria and Iraq, and we see the intrusion of the circular architecture and mudbrick types into Halafian culture but only in the second phase of It (II after the IA phase) , since we do know that Halaf was a prior culture (at least 200/300 years) to the Shulaveri.  To be clear I do not assume Halaf had nothing to do with Shulaveri. Not genetics nor culturally for that matter. The reason being that I believe that the movement of south Balkans to Anatolia and farther east had occurred not only for the ethnogenesis of the Shulaveri but at other movements, and I also find merit in Conoly 2012 that finds correlations regarding uncommon amounts of big cattle between sites such as Ovcarovo Gorata (Romania) to Fikirtepe and even as far way as Hogoshim in north Israel at earlier dates. The other name is Halula tell (Halaf). I just added Shulaveri to the list that Conoly and kate Manning did not. It would not surprise me, at future times when we have mapped thoroughly the aDna of all those cultures, that Halaf culture turns out to be R1b of some sorts (even V88).  Same goes for Hassuna or Samarra cultures much closer to the Zagros mountains zone towards Iran.

 

Up north, more to the big Caucasus mountains, prior to the appearance of the Shulaveri the land was of the chokh cultures and those were divergent. People who lived mostly of the best utilization they could of the fauna and flora resources available to them. Basically, smallish settlements of primitive ensemble were people lived mostly in one or two impressively over 60 meters big adobe houses, with a single fireplace in the center where extended clan lived together under de same roof. They were the “people of one house”. Not at all like the Shulaveri-Shomu.  It will be interesting to see how pure CHG this population will turn out to be at times of the onset of the Shulaveri.

 

By contrast with Caucasus mountains region, settlements not that far way, further south, on the Mil plain next to the Araxes River that extends into Iran people were more developed but still very divergent from this incoming folk, including the fact they were flint workers in contrast to Obsidian working Shulaveri. It lacked most if not all the hallmarks of the Shulaveri. As Lyonnet puts it:

 

“…contrast with the rectangular architecture constructed  at the Mil Plain sites. Even the concept of the building material differs, as in Aruchlo hand-shaped and  straw-tempered mudbricks were the standard, while  the bricks used in Kamiltepe were dug fresh from the ground and were used untampered and without previous kneading” in  Ancient Kura 2010–2011: The first two seasons  of joint field work in the Southern Caucasus.

 

That is how singular those houses and settlements represent in the area. Actually, the disappearance of the shulaveri in Mentesh Tepe, the longest occupied settlement for almost 2,000 years sees the replacement of the circular SSC huts with the rectangular houses coming from people of the south. the Shulaveri-Shomu, upon emerging  suddenly in the area, choose the foothill (never that high) near a river (essentially the Kura river) to settle from anew (no previous inhabitants) and make those small 5 meters (actually more around 4.6m) mudbrick singular (or family) half sunken huts or houses, so demarked by a not too deep negative structure (made a diameter hole in the ground), about 30 cm mudbrick base foundations and the generally adobe , wattle and daub, tholoi like house did the rest with mud to which was added straw or other organic material to give consistency (usually called pisé). Next to those they built smaller similar houses of around 1,5m to 2m tops in diameter silos for storage. And they built lots of silos.  It lasts, as architecture traits, to the very similar cultura de silos and round houses castros of Iberia thousands of years later. I think endures until the round keltoi and villages of the Celts.

 

The Shulaveri built bent walls connecting the round houses and silos.  Noticeable with several Pits and ditches in the living surroundings, and some with inhumations in it or just next to it. Those settlements had a central area, most time with a “courtyard” (formed by those bent walls), sometimes with a heath or fireplace to artisan work. Contrary to others they tend to bury their love ones in “house” or nearby the house of the settlement in round pits and the children were already buried in individually in a crouch.  Some others were buried in ditches.  Those were permanent settlements (structured like that from the beginning) and they lasted for mostly millennia.

Their trade mark was agriculture. But were also intense herdsmen as a life style found in Shulaveri, most likely not transhumance (changing sites with the cattle) but really pastoral at its core in Georgia. Having said that they also had parts clearly transhumance, I believe that, in particularly the Armenia ones, over time had long transhumance episodes into the lowlands into Lake Urmia way south, not only the north shore but as far as Hajji Firuz.

Yes, the R1b-M269-L23-Z2103 that was (if confirmed) found by 5500BC in Hajji Firuz where wine was also produced, was in my opinion nothing else than a Shulaveri teaching its neighbors down south in northern Iran, where they often went with cattle, how to produce wine.

It’s important to remember that this miscegenation most likely was not unidirectional and I have three things I don’t know and that we will only have a proper interpretation once aDna comes through for Shulaveri. One being how many of them were y-Dna Haplogroup J2a and others were already J2b by 5000 BC irrespective of the original Y-Dna of arriving populations that became Shulaveri, one thousand years earlier. Secondly what was the genetic admix of those in Darkveti rockshelters situated in the Kvirila valley in western Georgia and what would be the results of the admixture of those two? I would evaluate them with the least Iran Neolithic and should be closer to CHG (Caucasus Hunter Gatherer). The third would be what the Chokh (Dagestan) previous population was like genetically.

 

Horses were important to the PIE question. Therefore, finding Horse remains in Shulaveri assemblage made me jump to assumptions that they had already domesticated horses, those famous original wild horses the Tarpans. This is important, having the knowledge of how to successfully capture, tame and breed horses is one of the tell tales of this all chapters that will follow and never to forget the first horse to show “bit wear” was a 5 year old stallion from Armenia 4000 BC (at Mokhrablur, Armenia 100km from Shulaveri site itself) . And to get to horse bit wear… probably riding a horse was something they would be doing for a while until figuring out that a rope or stick trough the mouth was a better way to control a horse.  

In 2018 I do not postulate that they had domesticated horse, can’t really tell, but I do maintain that dealing around horses is part of their skills. Either just to hunt and eat, or to other functions. As the knowledge of wine making prevail in the region long after they were gone, so could have the knowledge of taming horse… which is not the same as domesticate. What we do have is deformed vertebra for cattle in a Shulaveri settlement, Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe, which is usually interpreted as a Draft animal (working animal carrying heavy loads). It raises the question undoubtedly and is pushing back thousands of years the skill.  We know today about the Hydraulic structure (5800bc) the wine making (5800bc) and as per latest news from the Toronto University team of being apicultures (5600BC) to add to so many other things related to PIE language.

 Last, but not least there is what is probably the first plough.

“Among tools used for cultivation particular attention should be paid to a red-deer antler 67 cm long from the Arukhlo I settlement and which functioned as a primitive plough (Chubinishvili 1978, 13-16)”

 

Then, Shulaveri also seemed to be extensively farmers as shown by the staggering amount of cereals cultivated and some other places virtuous hunters as well. Fauna, domestic and wild, was abundant ranging from Bos Taurus, pigs, to sheep and deer (antlers), and naturally dogs where already part of their daily live. Of course, they are now famous for grape farming and the first wine production culture as well as for long prismatic blades and awls. On a lateral note I think a beads and ornamentation obsession of Shulaveri will have a story of its own to tell.

At time of ending of their era is common to find copper residues.

 

There is a statement by K. Kh. Kushnareva in his book that sums it up real good:

“Like in so many places around the Neolithic prior to the appearance of the Shulaveri Shomu, people seemed to live in small communal of agriculturalist and when one looks at the architecture for houses it really comprised of a largish tholoi like house where everybody lived, with a centered fired in the middle where everybody gather around and it really was the family or the fire people as we can learn from the Chokh sites. Not more than 30 people living together.

Not the Shulaveri, they were different. Contrary to what one would finds earlier, the overall structure formed an interconnected complex, with housing for livestock, storage pits, clay fireplaces inside the house and outdoor ovens. Those small single houses interconnect to form a larges structure and living complex, sometimes joined by a curved wall.  At a point those settlements formed a Hierarchy of settlements, most with around 400 people and it seemed to have some sort of Hierarchy.”

 

It’s this last sentence of that quote, regarding Hierarchization, that most intrigued me in this passage. While researching this was at the time very important to start defining my Shulaveri. Especially in papers published in the last 5 years, it’s becoming visible some social structured that encompass the Shulaveri culture in the later stages. And although not recognized by many, the Hierarchization of the chalcolithic and the propagation over Eurasian can have a foot in much earlier cultures like the Shulaveri. In 2018, some are having it as a possibility to explain some larger houses than the rest in compounds in later stages of Shulaveri. At time of disappearance of Shulaveri horizon things were becoming complex with complex relations and specialization between niches of settlements that always were raised at seeing distances from one another.  Remember that one characteristic of Shulaveri were a set of 3 to 5 villages at a distance below 2 km from each other, and then related to other set of villages between 10-15km way.

 

Allow me to make a jump. In time and inference. And this was important at time of writing the first draft of my Shulaverian Hypothesis.

Irrespective of the route taken and irrespective of the specific circumstances of how it happened (if one believes it like I do),  one thing can be said  -  when we jump in time and space to Portugal, to the lowlands of Xerez valley in Alentejo, prior to the occurrence of the Bell beakers, and concerning the interconnectivity of settlements that we also see in the arrival chalcolithic , it all makes more sense if we talk a bit about 3 settlements here in the Kura valley to create a parallelism.

The departure from communal frame of mind to hierarchy societies seems to have be a mark to future Europe chalcolithic and is often reference as a thing from the steppe.

If one looks at the Shulaveri-Shomu region map in the Caucasus and you will notice clustered together the settlements Shulaveri gora, khrimis gora e irimis gora.  As Carolina Hamon describes it in her conclusions, or K. Kh. Kushnareva in the book  “The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory (…)” will tell you, those 3 settlements formed an interdependent and sort of artisan specialized system by settlement and already hierarchical dependent to larger sites.  Just as the bigger Aruchklo Settlement  forms the “big city” for those 3 settlements and other cluster further east (Shomutepe, Gargalartepesi, Toiretepe) is hierarchical dependent on the much bigger Goytepe. In fact, the latest’s layers of Shulaveri start to denote larger houses, which is also being interpreted as elite and Hierarchy rising inside those settlements.

Since I was reading about both periods and geographies at the same time it truly looked very similar.  One finds reported the same specialization and site Hierarchy, with generically the same descriptions all the way to later chalcolithic in Iberia, in the Portuguese Alentejo settlements next to the Guadiana River. All seem to have some visual contact between them and lithic tools are not proportionally abundant in the different places. Some have abundant grinders, other adzes others are more specialized in hunting, others more pastoral, and so forth.

 

It’s important to note, that in 2018 it was discovered that the Shulaveri were in fact the first culture to try water management, river engineering, with hydraulic structures.  Those structures seem to have collapse a few centuries later, wiping Gadachrilli Gora settlement, which constitutes the first engineering accident recorded. The reason I reference it again is due to the fact that nobody knows until today what is the purpose of the ditched enclosures and it might as well just be irrigation in its purpose.

 

There is also the “off place”, let’s called it that way, in both valleys.  At Kamiltepe, further southeast from these clusters, towards Iran, we have a site with a system of several concentric ditches witch Lyonnet describes a  …

The MPS, 4 concentric ditch system is a type of monument so far not known anywhere in the Southern Caucasus, and its function remains entirely enigmatic at the moment

 

 

… well, when we move to the Xerez lowlands and Alamo valley in Alentejo, Portugal, the exact same description will occur with a 12-concentric ditch system which is the now famous Portuguese late Neolithic/chalcolithic Perdigoes Site. Exactly the same description.

 

I think that there is a connection between these traits. And this leads to another, of many “coincidences” we will see next.  Just an example. It has been several times described as a note the profusion of Ochre grinding in some SSC sites that do not have a correspondence in wall or floor paintings or even in pottery decoration. So… what was that Ochre used for? To me it’s was obvious as soon as I read it - Body painting. It became obvious when at Alentejo sites (actually inhumations) it’s reported in a Nature paper that “Chronic mercury exposure in Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic populations in Portugal from the cultural use of cinnabar” … to body paint.  Yes, the Shulaveri-Shomu used Ochre to paint the body (hence so much Ochre grinding at khrimis gora)  as some pastoralists in Africa do today, and for what here is concerned the Iberian chalcolithic (or the descends of the Shulaveri-Shomu) did with Cinnabar in Iberia.

 

Meanwhile and back to VI millennium BC in the Caucasus theme.

As they came so the Shulaveri-Shomu disappeared.  Sort of Abruptly. At least as a culture highly sedentary. Some defend, and actually might even still be considered the official version being that for some reason those population became naturally increasingly nomad and abandoned their millenary sites. As a natural phenomenon. So the sites were abandoned. Some to never have again have any resettlement by anyone in the upcoming centuries and millennia. Others taken by the SIoni culture, viewed as a transaction between the SSC and the Kura Araxes cultures… but not that much. One must recognize different everything: Different pottery, different houses (rectangular) so the Shulaveri-Shomu were gone.

 

At this point is important to define something. When I say  Shulaveri-Shomu naturally we’re just talking about the SS sites whose final definition is in its infancy. In the end of 6th millennium BC the region shared some characteristics. Notwithstanding the purity of culture of the Shulaveri we must include as places where they interconnect and mix, to a degree I can not know, the people of the Mil steppe(at least part), Mughan Plain (Alikemek-Tepesi) and Ararat Plain - Especially here, farther south at the Nakhichevan region that shared the same traits.  So, by the end of that 1000 years the Shulaveri not only were part of Halaf as to other cultural Neolithic sites.

 

In this point is important to go back to Hajji  Firuz, in south Urmia Lake in northwestern Iran.  If we assume that, after being properly tested for carbon dating that the man buried in there was in fact a R1b-Z2103 then I believe he is a shulaverian. I immediately noticed when it came out that the two places where WINE production have been attested has been precisely in Shulaveri and Haji.  Re reading a couple papers got some other references and quotes that

connect the two places. Here is an example:

About a unique bone carving from Shulaveri.

 “In addition,although comparable specimens have not been excavated from Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe, we should mention the puzzling bone objects with a series of incised striations often recovered at Shomutepe-Shulaveri settlements including Göytepe (Guliyev and Nishiaki 2012: 76). Similar objects have been repeatedly recovered at early Pottery Neolithic sites in northern Mesopotamia (e.g., Sabi Abyad, Syria [Spoor and Collet 1996: 473] and Haji Firuz, Iran [Voigt  1983: 210–12]), where they have been described as “counters” or “grooved bones.””

 

And also the fact that Shulaveri didn’t got Obsidian from Eastern Anatolia, but from these Northern Iran places.

“However, it is also important to recognize that sources southeast of Sevan Lake, Armenia, were continuously exploited by communities in the Lake Urmia region of northwest Iran, from the Pottery Neolithic period on (Chataigner et al 2010: 386; Niknami, Amirkhiz, and Glascock 2010; Chataigner and Gratuze 2013: 17) Significantly, these communities procured obsidian from sources in the Lake Van region as well (Voigt 1983; Chataigner et al 2010: 386–87), thus bridging the two separate obsidian distribution provinces We do not claim that elements of the Shomutepe- Shulaveri culture were introduced by communities of the Lake Urmia region It is likely that future research would reveal more possible links With the present state of our knowledge, we suggest that Shomutepe-Shulaveri culture emerged in the context of cultural contacts with other regions, which, although sparse, cannot be ignored”

 

That lair in central Caucasus, like a column in the middle of the Caucasus is who I think were the source, or the bulk of, the migrating nomads that we are addressing in this hypothesis and will attempt to describe where they move to. So the central Shulaveri (the last to be overtaken), but also the guys in the Ararat Plain (Kmlo, Aratashen and Aknashen-Khatunarkh). Regionalists and nationalism apart, these are whom we should be calling Shulaveri-Shomu.  True, most of the populations at the fringe were more permeable to “convert” but this guys in the Shulaveri proper,  didn’t seem to have had that luck. The people of the Family nucleus round Dwellings, the Silos Culture (1.5 meters round silos), the domestication experts of plants and animals, beads lovers, they were just gone.

 

Whatever happened that led to the end the Shulaveri-Shomu culture in Southern Caucasus it must have been big and decisive (or not, see Suppl I ). I know. Some can point to climate events or the story of the floods so common in ancient tells that for instance made it into the bible as the Noah arc event. Or alternatively that they evolved, morphed, into something divergent but local.  Or even that there was a brewing the Ubaid period for a long time, so much more complex and multifarious, and century upon century they were moving north as a blob of civilization that just grows, new and socially complex, making the Shulaveri old stuff (see Suppl I).  Perhaps it was just the Red Ochre painting (body?) or the stubbornly different stance and outlook (houses, obsidian and ochre) that put a target on their back for whatever arrived at south Caucasus at that time.  But People don’t just disappear. Not at those ages and time and with that kind of technology. 

 

It’s sometimes suggested that the Shulaveri-Shomu became locally moving transhumance or roaming tribes. And those tribes, by then mostly pastoralist, moved a lot and couldn’t find a place to grow new roots as new cultures and folks wandered towards them. Anything is possible, I guess, but I strongly believe their story was different.

Yet, if they didn’t just get clouded by the wheels of time, and I am right, they represent in my view the emergence of a certain individualism and sort of stubbornness which made them unique. Is this characteristic a requisite for the hierarchical evidences we see in the latest phases of Shulaveri?

If something other than just a bunch of unorderly, unmalleable and sort of introceptive awareness people who kept for themselves or to their daily business of live hood and food production, but not impervious to engage and contact others. It’s clear from their earlier stages that incorporating surrounding tools such as Kmlo-2 tools or local variants of Mesolithic locals and later many pottery imports from the south such as Halaf and Hassuna, since we do know that they were long distance pastoral drifters.   Can all this mean they didn’t break, change their ways, and a lot of them had no option but move when the others came?

And it had to be a lot of them and moving fast.  if the Ubaid dominated the 6th millennium BC during those dates after 5500 BC we saw the broadly denoted as Shulaveri in the southern part of the south Caucasus now moving south to the Jordan valley and west to Anatolia by 4900- 4800 BC, and it means there was no adaptation for them in the later emergence of things like Leila-tepe and even later Kura-Araxes. Bear in mind that Uruk, already fully evolved Mesopotamian are reported as farther north as the northern part of the Caucasus, which must not have been a fast and short task to cross the perpetual frigid and snow-covered Caucasus mountains, hence plenty of time to bulldozer the remaining Shulaveri People at the south of those mountains in what is today Georgia.  Although I think , if it ever occurred that way, the bodily harassment was done much earlier by the hassuna-Samarra people which then could have blended to  whatever  Sioni people with rectangular and T-shape houses whose source is still unknow but might have relations to that western Umia lake/ northern Iraq region -  Why not state that they were snake (or lizard) people as their iconography shows . I confess that it’s self-serving to me, because It would play well to the fact that Shulaveri was PIE and the oldest tale is of the fight between the hero and the snake/dragon. As far as I know there is no IE speaker that does not have that tale in their culture.  So, the Dragon people overrun the Arbins at Aratashen then the rest of the people at Shulaveri. From Hassuna Samarra to the heart of Shulaveri is less than 240 miles.
In 2018, I think that I can be blaming the wrong guys. We know that the arrival of people into the region has a far more eastern admix component than just south (Mesopotamia) spreading north (South Caucasus). Put in a different way, it was not only, or maybe even, the local J2a Haplogroup males but perhaps the phenomenon of arriving L1a males from the far eastern parts of east Caspian sea that did it. It’s the story of arriving ones that became Maykop millennia later that did it. And maybe there was an arched that represent the J2b that were not at all the same culture of J2a and we shouldn’t mix both. Maybe the Ubaid were J2a and The ones in Western Georgia down until south Caspian and northwestern Iran were J2b.  But on the other hand, there is a distinct possibility of some natural event, such as a climatic one, that brought troubles and they moved.  Not that I think was the most likely since Shulaveri shows a sudden abandonment and the replacement in the region by Sioni culture means that the region was still attractive to populations.

One thing is for sure. Pressured by some sort of revolution, evolution or invasion that led to Kura-Araxes Culture, Mesopotamia, Uruk, Maykop… they were no more. The once vast land of the R1b Shulaveri, north of the Halaf culture and Hussuna-Samarra people, were no more.

 

A story is a story. In real life lets us never forget that there are 3 survival strategies. Fight, Flee and stand still  playing dead.  So let’s not forget that some, if not a lot, just stayed or remained in refuge either on the Caucasus mountains  where are still recognized, as per paper Journal of Human Genetics paper from Caciagli et al (2009) in the Y-Dna, of today’s Bagvalins (70% R1b haplogroup) or the South Ossetians of the mountains of Dagestan  So, no mystery if some R1b clades keep being found in later cultures (like Kura-Araxes time in the Areni cave). As normal people they stayed, made due with the situation and survived.

 

In 2018, what do I think happened?

 

Well, we can’t escape Ubaid altogether. I Have them as the culprits for the vanishing of the Shulaveri Shomu. However, have my doubts and a feeling of having bought into a simplified version of events.

Ubaid had undoubtedly a wide impact in the region. Was enormous.  They always came across to me as a concept more than anything else. The first “religious” people?   By 5500bc the Halaf-to-Ubaid was registered all over, as seen by what happened to Halaf and Halafian story is still untold by all matrics. At the same time Hassuna -Samarra just east of Halaf and into north Mesopotamia  was already a convert and part of Ubaid proper so clearly part of the Snake people.  Dalma ware, in northwestern Iran was part of this influence and somehow it was something like a process of turning into “mean and lean Uruk”. The end of Shulaveri-Shomu is NOT the birth of Uruk as I previously thought. There is a time gap of 1000 years and that is important.  Leyla-tepe was 4300 BC, Uruk 4000 BC and Maykop 3700 BC.  Ubaid must have been it. However we do not know what or who Ubaid was and  how unrelated was Ubaid to the future Kura-araxes and to Uruk. To the history of the Shulaveri disappearance the Ubaid process and the Sioni culture will be crucial.

Something else besides Ubaid was happening. And the shift Kura -Araxes dna, let us say strange shift, with their weird L1a  Ydna haplogroup, and autosomal shift towards population coming from behind the Kopet Dag mountains eastern Caspian sea. So during that almost 1000 years something amid the likes of Jeitun Culture at the Keltiminar Culture was part of the movement, of a push through north Iran , around south Caspian and into Azerbaijan, to South Caucasus as is seen in later Kura-Araxes genetics.

The Shulaveri vanished at the moment Northern Iran and Iraq Neolithic region (Hassuna) was moving north as Ubaid complex, but concurrently one needs to admit an eastern Caspian Sea people could be moving to Azerbaijan that brought the Eastern genetics admix that is seen in Kura-Araxes  seen by the male L1a haplogroup, better represented as later Sarazm culture people mixed with something visibly more westerner.  And a sign of it, is that there are challenges to the prevailing view that Chaff faced ware pottery was actually from North Mesopotamia but a local development in between  Mesopotamia and the south Caucasus, hence in my view there was some other element that was as intrusive to the overall region in the beginning of the 5th millennium as the Shulaveri had been over 1000 years before.

 

Must remember that some of Kura-Araxes ancestry can come from the Sioni culture that is usually seen as the transition from Shulaveri to Kura-Araxes but somewhat also linked to Leila-tepe in Azerbaijan and these linked to later Maykop in North Caucasus.  What this would mean was that when Shulaveri vanished, their less developed neighbors, the Sioni, kind of moved in making the Obsidian blades vanish, replaced by flint blades.  Yet it does not fully foot the bill.  Sioni was clearly not Shulaveri, not in geography and not in Culture, but still some, not many, marks of Shulaveri remanded pockets as an indicative of some leftovers still existed.

 

In this case, why not postulate that the Shulaveri were already moving spreading PIE as The Kura-Araxes remain spreading the Hattic language and the sons of Uruk the Sumerian and Akkadian.

 

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