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Kura–Araxes culture

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Title: Kura–Araxes culture  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Armenia, History of Chechnya, History of Georgia (country), Trialeti culture, Greater Iran
Collection: Archaeological Cultures of the Caucasus, Archaeological Sites in Armenia, Archaeological Sites in Azerbaijan, Archaeological Sites in Chechnya, Archaeological Sites in Dagestan, Archaeological Sites in Georgia (Country), Archaeological Sites in Iran, Archaeological Sites in Ossetia, Archaeological Sites in Turkey, Archaeology of the Caucasus, Bronze Age, Bronze Age Asia, Bronze Age Europe, Chalcolithic, Chalcolithic Cultures, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Indo-European, Nakh Peoples, Prehistoric Anatolia, Prehistoric Azerbaijan, Prehistoric Iran, Stone Age Asia, Stone Age Europe, Urartu
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kura–Araxes culture

Kura–Araxes culture
Geographical range South Caucasus, Armenian Highlands, North Caucasus
Period Bronze Age
Dates circa 3,400 B.C.E. — circa 2,000 B.C.E.
Major sites Shengavit
Preceded by Shulaveri-Shomu culture
Followed by Trialeti culture

The Kura–Araxes culture (Iran, the Northeastern Caucasus, and Eastern Turkey.[5][6]

The name of the culture is derived from the Ingushetia, Iran, North Ossetia, and Turkey.[5][6][7] It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.


  • Settlements 1
  • Economy 2
    • Metallurgy 2.1
    • Goods 2.2
    • Viticulture 2.3
  • Culture 3
  • Ethno-linguistic makeup 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
  • Sources 8


Archaeological evidence of inhabitants of the Kura–Araxes culture had shown that ancient settlements were found along the Hrazdan river, as shown by drawings at a mountainous area in a cave nearby.[8] Structures within settlements have not revealed much differentiation, nor was there much difference in size or character between settlements,[3] facts that suggest they probably had a poorly developed social hierarchy for at least a significant stretch of their history. Some, but not all, settlements were surrounded by stone walls.[3] They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into subrectangular designs with structures of just one or two rooms, multiple rooms centered around an open space, or rectilinear designs.[3]

At some point the culture's settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas.[9] Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism, and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest merely that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass both crop and livestock agriculture.[9]


The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep).[10] They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses.[10]

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor.[10] It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.[10]


The extent of the Kuro-Araxes culture (light shading) shown in relation to subsequent cultures in the area, such as Urartu (dark shading).

In the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture, metal was scarce, but the culture would later display "a precocious metallurgical development, which strongly influenced surrounding regions".[11] They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold,[3] tin, and bronze.[9]

Their metal goods were widely distributed, from the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets river systems in the north to Syria and Palestine in the south and Anatolia in the west.


Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically.[3] It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.[12] The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.[10]

They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans.[9]


Viticulture and wine-making were widely practised in the area from the earliest times. Viticulture even goes back to the earlier Shulaveri-Shomu culture.

The earliest evidence of domesticated grapes in the world has been found at


  • Kura-Arax Pottery - Karnut I (2900-2500 BC) The Kura-Arax Pottery Technology Database (KAPTech)
  • The Chronology of the Caucasus During the Early Metal Age: Observations from Central Transcaucasus - Giorgi L. Kavtaradze
  • The Beginnings of Metallurgy - includes extensive discussion of Kura-Araxes metalworking

External links

  1. ^ The early Trans-Caucasian culture - I.M. Diakonoff, 1984
  2. ^ a b c d Edens, Christoper (Aug–Nov 1995). "Transcaucasia at the End of the Early Bronze Age". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (The American Schools of Oriental Research). 299/300 (The Archaeology of Empire in Ancient Anatolia): p. 53, pp. 53–64 [56]. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Edens, Christoper (Aug–Nov 1995). "Transcaucasia at the End of the Early Bronze Age". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (The American Schools of Oriental Research). 299/300 (The Archaeology of Empire in Ancient Anatolia): p.54. 
  4. ^ The Hurro-Urartian people - John A.C. Greppin
  5. ^ a b K. Kh. Kushnareva. [The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory: Stages of Cultural and Socioeconomic Development from the Eighth to the Second Millennium B.C" UPenn Museum of Archaeology, 1 jan. 1997. ISBN 0924171502 p 44
  6. ^ a b Antonio Sagona,Paul Zimansky. "Ancient Turkey" Routledge 2015. ISBN 1134440278 p 163
  7. ^ Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology - Page 246 by Barbara Ann Kipfer
  8. ^ Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East: L to Z - Page 52 by Jamie Stokes
  9. ^ a b c d Edens, Christoper (Aug–Nov 1995). "Transcaucasia at the End of the Early Bronze Age". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (The American Schools of Oriental Research). 299/300 (The Archaeology of Empire in Ancient Anatolia): 55. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens. Pages 25-6
  11. ^  
  12. ^ The Pre-history of the Armenian People. I. M. Diakonoff
  13. ^ Nana Rusishvili, The grapevine Culture in Georgia on Basis of Palaeobotanical Data. “Mteny” Association, 2010
  14. ^ Peter Boisseau, How wine-making spread through the ancient world: U of T archaeologist. June 17, 2015 -
  15. ^ Malkhaz Kharbedia, THE HISTORY OF GEORGIAN WINE 01/20/2015
  16. ^ doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2013.08.002
  17. ^ Jaimoukha. Chechens. Page 26
  18. ^ Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens. Pages 29-30
  19. ^ Renfrew, A. C., 1987, Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-6612-5;  
  20. ^ Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson, Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin, Nature 426 (27 November 2003) 435-439
  21. ^ Mallory. 


See also

In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages.[19][20][21]

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory.[18] The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Ethno-linguistic makeup

Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population (see section below). Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing greatly varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth.[2] This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy.[2] Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.[2]

The Kura-Araxes culture was contiguous, and had mutual influences, with the Maikop culture in the Northwest Caucasus. According to E.I. Krupnov (1969:77), there were elements of the Maikop culture in the early memorials of Chechnya and Ingushetia in the Meken and Bamut kurgans and in Lugovoe in Serzhen-Yurt. Similarities between some features and objects of the Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures, such as large square graves, the bold-relief curvilinear ornamentation of pottery, ochre-coloured ceramics, earthen hearth props with horn projections, flint arrowheads, stone axes and copper pitchforks are indicative of a cultural unity that pervaded the Caucasus in the Neolithic Age.[17]

The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Ciscaucasia. As Amjad Jaimoukha puts it,


A theory has been suggested by Stephen Batiuk that the Kura-Araxes folk may have spread Vitis vinifera vine, and wine technology to the “Fertile Crescent”—to Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean.[16] The spread of wine-goblet form, such as represented by the Khirbet Kerak ware, is clearly associated with these peoples. The same applies to the large ceramic vessels used for grape fermentation.

Grape pips dating back to the V-IVth millennia B.C. were also found in Shulaveri; others dating back to the IVth millennium B.C. were found in Khizanaant Gora—all in this same Shulaveri area of the Republic of Georgia.[15]


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