Below are a few abstracts from a recent conference on Southwest Asian archaeozoology. The full selection is available here.
Early domestic ungulates in Central Asia: archaeozoological results from Ajakagytma (Uzbekistan, Kel’teminar, 9th-7th millennia cal BP)
Jean-Denis Vigne(1), Florian Brunet(2), Karine Debue(1), M. Khudzhanazarov(3)
1. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle; France;
2. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne; France
3. Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan; Uzbekistan
Ajakagytma is a Neolithic lake shore site located in the central desert of Uzbekistan (Kyzyl-Kum), a region for which the archaeozoological data are rare and sometimes questionable. New excavations conducted since 2005 by the French-Uzbek mission MAFANAC evidenced several successive Kel’teminar occupations dating from the end of the 7th to the 5th millennium. They provided more than 50 000 microlithic artefacts, and smaller series of degraded pottery, stone pendants, bone industry, animal and plant remains. They also provided more than 2000 faunal remains. Most of them are badly preserved, due to the extreme fluctuations in climate (heating and cooling and wetting and drying). However, 580 specimens could be attributed to a taxon, and more than 200 of them could be identified at the level of genus or species. They provide a clear image of the wild large mammals which lived in this area and which were hunted by the Kel’teminar people: the goitered gazelle (34%), aurochs (16%), onager (11%) and the wild camel (11%). We also find 15% of Caprini but, due to the poor preservation of the material, it was impossible to tell if they were hunted wild bezoar goats or early domesticated sheep or goat. Conversely, 13% of the specimens clearly refer to very small size bovids. This is the earliest evidence of domestic cattle in Central Asia. This presentation will discuss the consequences of this observation in the scope of the origin of cattle husbandry between the Iranian Plateau and North China.
Subsistence economy at Kul Tepe (North-Western Iran) from Early Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age
S. Davoudi(1), Marjan Mashkour(2) and Akbara Abedi(3)
1. Department of Archaeology; Tarbiat Modares University; Tehran; Iran;
2. UMR 7209 Archaeozoology; Sorbonne Universités; Natural History Museum of Paris; Centre national de la recherché scientifique;
France; 3. Department of Archaeology; University of Tehran; Iran;
The site of Kul Tepe is located near the city of Hadishahr 10 km to the south of the Araxes River in western Azerbaijan (Iran). Excavations were carried out by A. Abedi and H. Khatib Shahidi in 2010, the cultural material including the animal bones belongs to the Early Chalcolithic, to Late Bronze Age, Iron III, and Achaemenid periods. The faunal remains are very well preserved and cover a period from Early Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age (5000 to 2200 BC) providing a continuous record for animal exploitation at the site. The faunal study was conducted in the archaeozoology laboratory of the University of Tehran. A wide range of domestic and wild animals are present in the faunal remains. Domestic sheep, goat, and cattle are dominant as the main animal resource in all periods, with an increase of cattle proportions during the Kura-Araxes 1 period. Also a rather important number of hunted species, cervids, gazelle, wild goat, sheep and bovids are present in this collection, especially during the Late Chalcolithic and Kura-Araxes 1 (4400-3200 BC). Also equid remains were found among the bones. Horse remains are present in the Kura-Araxes 1 levels and Early Bronze Age (3600-2200 BC). The quasi absence of suid remains is outstanding here. The study of Kul Tepe faunal remains brings a set of novel data for this region and this period and provides a continuous picture of the subsistence economy from the fifth to the third millennium BC, including three important prehistoric cultural transitions. The strategic location of site at the cross roads of major routes linking the Iranian Plateau to Anatolia and the Caucasus to Northern Mesopotamia suggests relations and interactions between human communities of these areas, and makes it possible to compare the results with other contemporaneous sites.
Early animal husbandry in Azerbaijan: Implications for the origin and development of the Neolithic in the Southern Caucasus
Saiji Arai(1), Seiji Kadowaki(2), K. Ohnishi(2), Farhad Guliyev(3) and Yoshihiro Nishiaki(1)
1. The University of Tokyo; Japan
2. Nagoya University; Japan
3. Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences; Azerbaijan
Recent archaeological research in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan has significantly extended our knowledge about Neolithic cultures in the Southern Caucasus region. Archaeozoological studies to reconstruct general trends of animal economy during the period have also made substantial progress.
In this paper we present new archaeozoological data on the faunal assemblages from two Pottery Neolithic sites in Azerbaijan: Göytepe and Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe. Both sites are located in the Tovuz region, west Azerbaijan. While Göytepe is one of the largest mounds in the region dated to early and mid-6th millennium BC and belongs to Shomutepe-Shulaveri culture, Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe represents a small mound settled during the beginning of 6th millennium BC. Since no earlier Neolithic site has been found, comparative study of these sites is of great importance to trace the establishments of early agricultural villages in the region. Faunal assemblages from these two sites mainly consist of domestic animals. However, significant differences are also present. Firstly, cattle is almost absent at Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe. Secondly, red deer antler objects are more common at Göytepe, reflecting the practice of a more enhanced broad-spectrum economy. This trend, together with the higher frequency of forestial mammals and the increase of stone axes at Göytepe, indicates more intensive exploitation of forest environment. Thirdly, while the culling profile for caprine is little different between these two sites, the measurement data of sheep shows an increase of female individuals at Göytepe, indicating a development of herding technique.
Finally, on the basis of these archaeozoological results as well as analysis of other archaeological data, we will discuss the possible origin and development of Neolithic economy in the Southern Caucasus. Results of a DNA analysis of domestic goats, which suggest a link with eastern Turkey during early 6th millennium BC, will also be reported.