Monday, October 10, 2011
History of Civilizations of Central Asia I: The Dawn of Civilization: Earliest Times to 700 BC.
History of Civilizations of Central Asia I: The Dawn of Civilization: Earliest Times to 700 BC. The History of civilizations of Central Asia is the second of anambitious long-term projected series of multi-volume regional historiespublished by UNESCO UNESCO:see United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. UNESCOin full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization . A broad definition of Central Asia is adopted,embracing the Former Soviet Central Asian Republics Central Asian Republics,the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Constituent republics of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, they all achieved independence in late 1991. of Turkmenistan,Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrghyzstan and Kazakhstan, plus northeast Iran,Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Mongolia and western China.Volume I spans the Palaeolithic to Early Iron Age. Five further volumesare planned to cover subsequent periods until the present day. Volume Icontains definitions of 'Central Asia' and its geographicalsetting (Masson, Miroshnikov), three chapters on the Lower, Middle andUpper Palaeolithic periods (Allchin, Derevyanko, Dorj, Lu, Ranov), fourchapters on the Neolithic period (An, Derevyanko, Dorj, Sarianidi,Sharif, Thapar), eight chapters on the Bronze Age (An, Dani, Joyenda,Litvinsky, Masson, P'yankova, Shaffer, Shahmirzadi, Thapar, Tosi),a chapter on Indo-Iranian languages (Harmatta) and three chapters on theEarly Iron Age in northern India, the Former Soviet Union (FSU FSU Florida State UniversityFSU Former Soviet UnionFSU Ferris State UniversityFSU Fayetteville State University (North Carolina)FSU Frostburg State UniversityFSU Finance Sector Union ) and thenorthern steppe steppe(stĕp), temperate grassland of Eurasia, consisting of level, generally treeless plains. It extends over the lower regions of the Danube and in a broad belt over S and SE European and Central Asian Russia, stretching E to the Altai and S to (Askarov, Lal, Ser-Odjav, Volkov). Relatively moreattention is therefore paid to the Bronze Age, particularly of the FSU,Afghanistan and Indus, than to contemporaneous or later developments inChina. The text is moderately well illustrated (good-qualityblack-and-white photographs, 108 figures and 14 maps); a 38-pagebibliography is added, divided according to chapter citations with allreferences transliterated into English. There are no notes and theamount of referencing varies according to the contributors. A summaryindex is provided.The contributors' general emphasis on architecture, burials,pottery and other finds reflects traditional archaeological approaches.Chronologies rest on a handful of 14C dates, not always calibrated orMASCA MASCA Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (University of Pennsylvania Museum)MASCA Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America (Winter Park, FL)MASCA Middle Atlantic States Correctional Association corrected. Shaffer and Tosi et al. are possibly the most cautiousin attempting to use the at times somewhat limited archaeological data.Parallels are made occasionally with Mesopotamian or 'WestAsian' evidence but here most authors have relied upon out-datedliterature. Indeed, over 90% of cited works pre-date 1981. Some authorshave presumably pre��sum��a��ble?adj.That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. experienced problems in obtaining literature publishedoutside their own country: for instance, no acknowledgement is made tofundamental volumes by Allchin & Hammond (1978), Kohl (1984) orSmith (1986). The omission of articles by Central Asian archaeologistspublished in Western journals such as Iran and Mesopotamia, let alonethe 1988 translation of Masson's monograph on Altyn-depe, is evenmore surprising.Reconstructions of the socio-political and religious infrastructureof Central Asia during the Bronze Age are largely hypothetical given thelack of written sources. Although early writing systems were used insoutheast Iran and the Indus by the 3rd millennium, equivalent evidenceis lacking from regions deeper into Central Asia: the comparison ofisolated marks on figurines excavated at Altyn-depe (in Turkmenistan)with 'proto-Sumerian' and 'proto-Elamite' areunconvincing. Monumental structures, often with recessed facades, raisedon artificial platforms or stabilized tells, and, in the case of theIndus, including possible granaries, were found associated with largersettlements. A stepped platform at Altyn-depe was likened to aMesopotamian ziggurat ziggurat(zĭg`răt), form of temple common to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. The earliest examples date from the end of the 3d millenium B.C. although it should be added that multi-storey'tower-temples' are a later development within Mesopotamiaitself. The provision of public drains at major Harappan settlementssuggests municipal concern and possibly even awareness about contagiouswaterborne disease. Early reconstructions of the urban layout of thesecities suggested that they were laid out on a gridiron pattern. This hasbeen abandoned -- somewhat reluctantly -- by contributors to this bookwho posit the layout of main streets according to prevailing winddirection. However, given the primarily longitudinal axis and walledconstraints on housing, the development of rather less rigid'spinal' roads through the heart of these settlements is notparticularly surprising, and finds parallels in 4th- and 3rd-millenniumcities at Habuba Kabira and Abu Salabikh in Syria and Iraq. Discretecraftsmen's quarters were a feature of a number of settlementsthroughout Central Asia by the 3rd millennium (Tepe Hissar, Altyn-depe,Shahdad, Shahr-i Sokhta, Tepe Yahya, Mehrgarh, Indus cities). Activitiesincluded metallurgy, bead-drilling, bracelet manufacture, stone vesselcarving and ceramic production. Painted ceramics from Kara-depe(Turkmenistan) are suggested to betray the influence of woven textiles;Harappan cotton textiles are claimed to have had printed designs. Thegradual adoption of the potter's wheel was accompanied by areduction in the amount of labour-intensive handmade forms of decoration(including painting) and production was increasingly conducted withinsegregated craftsmen's quarters rather than at a household level. Atotal of 50 pottery kilns were identified at Altyn-depe, each with analleged annual output of up to 20,000 vessels -- i.e. up to 133.3vessels per person judging by the excavator's maximum populationestimate of 7500 (cf. p. 239). (N.B. It should be noted that not all ofthese kilns were in use at any one time and production was presumablylimited to the dry season.) Finally, matching recent evidence from theNegev, early exploitation of ostrich is demonstrated by the discovery ofeggshell beads at Neolithic sites in western China and Mongolia (pp.166, 178, 180; cf. Field 1952).Bronze Age irrigation irrigation,in agriculture, artificial watering of the land. Although used chiefly in regions with annual rainfall of less than 20 in. (51 cm), it is also used in wetter areas to grow certain crops, e.g., rice. systems have been mapped in the Geoksiur oasisand the remains of plough-marks identified at Kalibangan (pp. 272, 277;cf. Tusa 1990). However, the overall density and distribution of ruralsettlements remains unclear and references to 'alluviation'(more probably a combination of alluvial, colluvial and aeolian Ae��o��li��an?adj.1. Of or relating to Aeolis or its people or culture.2. Greek Mythology Of or relating to Aeolus.3. aeolian Variant of eolian.n.1. deposition processes) across the narrow fertile belt north of the KopetDagh in southern Turkmenistan suggests that many small agricultural (letalone earlier or transient) sites remain undetected. Trans-humant groupsfamiliar with the domesticated do��mes��ti��cate?tr.v. do��mes��ti��cat��ed, do��mes��ti��cat��ing, do��mes��ti��cates1. To cause to feel comfortable at home; make domestic.2. To adopt or make fit for domestic use or life.3. a. camel, horse and spoked-wheel vehiclesemerged during the second half of the 2nd millennium, linking hithertorelatively isolated 'oasis' regions across the interveningsteppe. The regular occurrence of burnt patches inside later graves areinterpreted as evidence for local fire-cults that later becomeformalized for��mal��ize?tr.v. for��mal��ized, for��mal��iz��ing, for��mal��iz��es1. To give a definite form or shape to.2. a. To make formal.b. into fire-worship. The importance of trade in the developmentof Central Asian civilizations is repeatedly stated by differentcontributors. Arabian/Persian Gulf trade is particularly emphasized inconnection with the apparent success and failure of the Harappan economybut the identification of Dilmun with the Oman peninsula as well asBahrain is not supported by the past four decades of archaeologicalresearch within the Gulf (cf. Potts 1990). Several recent discoveriesprovide further hints of Central Asian connections with the Gulf andMesopotamia, including pedestal-footed vessels and an ivory comb fromsoutheast Arabia (During-Caspers 1992; Potts 1993) and a seal excavatedat Mari on the middle Euphrates (Beyer 1989). Lapis lazuli, nowdemonstrated to come from two different sources in Afghanistan (Delmas& Casanova 1990), appears in the region from the late 4thmillennium. Turquoise, marine shells, metals and possibly cloth werealso in wide demand, and the distribution of certain Harappansettlements suggests attempts at gaining direct control of strategicpasses reminiscent of earlier 'Uruk' expansion into NorthSyria. The appearance of gold and silver in Central Asia during the mid4th millennium curiously parallels their earliest occurrence within theNear East.Relatively little attention has been paid to the systematic recoveryof environmental evidence on Central Asian excavations. Given thepredominant reliance on hand recovery, rather than forms of sieving orflotation, the available results are likely to be biased in favour oflarger animal species and unrepresentative Adj. 1. unrepresentative - not exemplifying a class; "I soon tumbled to the fact that my weekends were atypical"; "behavior quite unrepresentative (or atypical) of the profession" caches of accidentallycarbonised seeds (cf. p. 206: cattle represented 80% of the meat diet inKhurasan during the 5th-early 4th millennia). Statements concerningearly agriculture therefore should be treated with caution. Results fromMehrgarh (Pakistan) and Shahr-i Sokhta (Iran) are exceptional althoughmore recent reports from Nausharo and Rojdi offer new data (Costantini1990; Weber 1990). References are periodically made to the potentialimpact caused by the domestication domesticationProcess of hereditary reorganization of wild animals and plants into forms more accommodating to the interests of people. In its strictest sense, it refers to the initial stage of human mastery of wild animals and plants. of the camel and cultivation ofcotton in different areas of Central and South Asia (pp. 39-40, 195,213, 229, 233, 238, 248, 273, 343, 347 & 40, 131, 287, 301respectively; N.B. not all of these are cited in the index). The type ofcamel is not stated: shaggy two-humped camels are depicted during theBronze Age of Bactria & Margiana yet today these are characteristicof colder or highland regions of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, eastern China andAfghanistan whereas dromedaries are the norm in other areas of CentralAsia. Clarification of this may contradict Bulliet's (1977)influential 'out of Arabia' camel-domestication thesis. Theearly appearance of cultivated grape and date are also noteworthy, as isthe identification of cultivated rice at the 5th-7th-millennium site ofMahagara (near Allahabad in India) which rather affects the'sloping chronology' of rice appearing first in China beforespreading to India via southeast Asia (Potts 1991). Tosi et al. suggestthat summer cultivation of rice, sorghum sorghum,tall, coarse annual (Sorghum vulgare) of the family Gramineae (grass family), somewhat similar in appearance to corn (but having the grain in a panicle rather than an ear) and used for much the same purposes. and millet may haverevolutionized agriculture in southeast Iran by the end of the 3rdmillennium. More surprises are probably in store concerning the originsand development of agriculture in Central Asia Agriculture in Central Asia constitutes at least 20% of the GDP of every Central Asian country with the lone exception of Kazakhstan. Despite this, in all of the Central Asian countries, at least 20% of the labor force is employed in agriculture. judging by thepreliminary results of more recent projects in the Bannu region (Khan etal. 1991), at Jeitun (Harris et al. 1993) and in the Merv oasis (Miller1993; Moore 1993; Herrmann & Kurbansakhatov et al. 1994).These projects also demonstrate an increase of internationalfieldwork within the region, partly related to the currently greateraccessibility of the FSU. This is therefore an opportune moment at whichto review the available data and address new problems. Minor criticismsaside, the contributors, editors and publishers should be commended fortheir efforts and further volumes in this series are awaited withinterest. Equally, the Central Asian evidence increasingly points tonortheast Iran as an important early centre and potential source forpopulation movements east of the Kopet Dagh. The future renewal ofarchaeological fieldwork within Iran may answer some of these researchproblems.ST J. SIMPSON Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities BritishMuseum, LondonReferencesALLCHIN, F.R. & N. HAMMOND (ed.). 1978. The archaeology ofAfghanistan. London & New York New York, state, United StatesNew York,Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of (NY): Academic Press.BEYER, D. 1989. Un nouveau temoin des relations entre Mari et lemonde n. 1. The world; a globe as an ensign of royalty.Le beau mondefashionable society. See Beau monde.Demi mondeSee Demimonde. iranien au IIIeme millenaire, Iranica Antiqua 24: 109-20.BULLIET, R.W. 1977. The camel and the wheel. 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Preliminary archaeobotanical results from Gonur,IASCCA Information Bulletin 19: 149-63.MOORE, K.M. 1993. Animal use at Bronze Age Gonur depe, IASCCAInformation Bulletin 19: 164-76.POTTS, D.T. 1990. The Arabian Gulf in antiquity. Oxford: ClarendonPress.1991. A note on rice cultivation, Nouvelles Assyriologiques Breves etUtilitaires 1: 1-3.1993. A new Bactrian find from southeastern Arabia, Antiquity 67:591-6.SMITH, P.E.L. 1986. Paleolithic archaeology in Iran. Philadelphia(PA): University Museum; American Institute of Iranian Studies.Monograph I.TUSA, S. 1990. Ancient ploughing in northern Pakistan, South AsianArchaeology 1987 (Part 1): 349-76.WEBER, S.A. 1990. Millets in South Asia: Rojdi as a Case Study, SouthAsian Archaeology 1987 (Part 1): 333-48.
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