The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in the South Caucasus: Cultural Transmission and Technology Transfer
Contributor(s)Lamberg-Karlovsky, Clifford Charles
Tryon, Christian A.
Flad, Rowan K.
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractThe development of Neolithic in the South Caucasus remains a poorly understood phenomenon. The first agricultural communities have been identified at sites such as Aratashen and Aknashen. They are semi-sedentary group living in mud brick houses, with the earliest layers of these sites already showed fully domesticated species Conflicting hypotheses have suggested both a local independent agricultural development or a full population replacement by neighboring Near Eastern groups. Therefore, my project was dedicated to the identification of possible contacts between groups in this region and external groups, and how to characterize these interactions in order to understand how Neolithic came into being in the South Caucasus. The lithic model that I have developed focuses on the social aspect of technological practices. It assumes that stone tool production sequences are culturally specific, and that they may be shared in full only through complete access to the place of teaching, the enculturating environment. I have studied five lithic assemblages from four different sites were studied and compared. Two sites were “Mesolithic”, i.e., relying on hunter-gatherer modes of subsistence (Kmlo-2 and Bavra-Ablari), and two sites were Neolithic (Aknashen and Aratashen). Therefore, we were able to reconstruct this scenario, putting forth that the first contact between Near Eastern farmers and groups living in the South Caucasus may have taken place during the 9th millennium BCE. These contacts remained outside of the enculturating environment, but led to the diffusion of a very specific tool type known as the Kmlo, or Çayonu, tool. Early in the 6th millennium BCE, groups settled in the southwest Caspian belt moved within the South Caucasus, settling in the river valleys of the Kura and the Araxes. There, they interacted with existing Mesolithic communities following an open-static-parasitic frontier model involving unilateral movement of goods from the Neolithic to the Mesolithic groups. Such contact, taking place outside of the enculturating environment, was probably the result of transhumance of agricultural groups entering Mesolithic ecological niches. However, this did not lead to the adoption of agriculture by local groups, who were most likely pushed out of the areas in which they had previously lived.
TypeThesis or Dissertation
Varoutsikos, Bastien. 2015. The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in the South Caucasus: Cultural Transmission and Technology Transfer. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.