Chapter VI: Neolithic in Eurasia

[Lecture 6 Delivered on 10 July 1991]

Overview by Geraldine Reinhardt

This the sixth lecture in the series concentrates on the Neolithic period in Eurasia. In the (then) Soviet Union, the first Neolithic sites date to 4,000 BC which is later than dates from the Near East. Professor Alexeev begins the Neolithic with a discussion of Chokh Cave in the Caucasus, a site producing stone tools with the presence of domesticated goat and wheat. In discussing animal domestication, Alexeev describes the Dromedary (Arabian) and Bactrian camel as two different species which could mate; he dates the Dromedary to the second millennium BC and the Bactrian to the first millennium BC. with the proviso that the Bactrian bones were from cemeteries so possibly their domestication could have been earlier. The Przewalskii horse, now nearly extinct, is described and the origin of the domestic horse is placed not in Mongolia but in the Steppe area of Russia, specifically referencing bone remains from Vasilievka. Wild donkey, called Kulan, are still found in Turkmenistan where domesticated donkey remains have been discovered; they date to the second millennium BC.

Domestication of plants in the Tigris Euphrates region is thought to have dated to the tenth millennium BC for grasses and ninth millennium BC for sheep; however, Alexeev dates both to no earlier than the ninth millennium BC, but states that the first usage of domesticated plants and animals took place in the Neolithic. In concluding this lecture Alexeev mentions how one can separate domestic species found in the archaeological record from non domesticated. Class ends with an American rejoinder to Alexeev's "famous dog story".

A Neolithic Site in Eurasia

As per Alexeev, ???Chokh Cave 1 is located in the Dagestan Mountain area in the northern Caucasus and was excavated by ??? H. Amirhanov 2. The altitude for the site is 7-800 meters above sea level with the cave located 30 meters above the road. The climate is dry and arid. Houses in this area are similar to those that have been found at high altitudes in the Caucasus in the Middle Ages i.e. they are made of stone and abut each other without an intermediate area between. There is both a Neolithic and Mesolithic area of houses. As well, a surrounding wall has been found; possibly to pen domesticated animals.

Chokh Cave has been occupied for 3,500-4,000 years with only short interruptions of vacancy. Stratification of the cave shows no break in the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic. The layers are one inch thick for the Mesolithic and one inch thick for the Neolithic. The layers do not differ, only the implements found in the layers differ. Tools found are made of stone in an oval shape. Professor Alexeev interprets these tools as grinders for seeds and therefore indicators of agriculture . In the Caucasus there is an absence of good flint, therefore many different kinds of stones are used as tools. At Chokh Cave a tradition of microliths is preserved in the Neolithic layer but microliths are also found in the Mesolithic layer. Bone is seldom used for tools in the Caucasus, but here in the Mesolithic layer one has been found with two holes; possibly the handle of a spear. Also, small bone arrowheads have been discovered. Several clay vessels have been found in the Neolithic layer as well as pieces of pottery.

In the cave, remains of goat have been discovered, the breed of which differs from that now bred in the northern Caucasus. This means that goat has evolved into a different species . Evidence of wheat has also been found and the strain is typical of what presently grows in the area i.e. a hearty strain that grows in mountainous areas and requires little water. Small wheat fields can still be seen.

Domestication of Camel, Horse, and Donkey

Camel typical for central Eurasia are of two types: Dromedary (Arabian) and Bactrian. The Dromedary camel has one hump, is small, very fast (some can run as fast as a horse) and can carry 120-140 kilos for many days. Dromedary camels are found in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India, and the mountains of Iran but they are known only as a domesticated animal i.e. have not been found in the wild state.

The Bactrian camel has two humps, is larger, stronger, and slower than the Dromedary and can carry 200-250 kilos for many days. The Bactrian camel is shorter-legged and more ponderous than the Dromedary and grows an enormously long and thick winter coat which is shed in blanket-like masses in spring. The Bactrian camel continues to be used throughout Central Asia and is also found in the Altai Mountain area of Mongolia and in Uzbekistan. In these areas Bactrian camel is found in its domesticated conditions but also exists in a wild state in some Central Asian deserts. In the wild, Bactrian camel has a smaller hump than the domesticate and the long hair doesn't occupy nearly so much of the body mass. The color of the wild species is more rufous and the ears and muzzle are shorter.

Camels have been of great importance in ancient times and they are referred to in written sources. The Dromedary (Arabian) species is mentioned in Scripture where 1,000 camels are said to have formed part of the wealth of Patriarch Job. Camels also formed part of the gift Pharaoh gave to Abraham.

Dromedary and Bactrian camel are considered two different species; however they can mate. The offspring of the Dromedary/Bactrian camel are called Nar and are used in Central Asia where the Dromedary and Bactrian lines come geographically closest. The domestication of each species was a separate process.

In the Arabian Peninsula, the domestication of Bactrian camel occurs in the second millennium BC. This is the Bronze epoch but in these desert areas Neolithic traditions still are preserved. There is speculation that the Dromedary camel developed at an earlier date i.e. in the fourth millennium BC, but this cannot be confirmed by the bone remains which date to the second millennium BC.

In Central Asia and the East, the Bactrian camel is domesticated at a later date. Bones from Outer Mongolia date to 1,000 BC but they are from cemeteries so possibly their domestication is earlier; perhaps second millennium or earlier. The domestication of the camel changed the life processes of the early people. It allowed for trade and exchange and provided relationships between different tribes.

The wild horse is found in eastern Mongolia and is known to have lived in the Gobi Desert. Legends about wild horses have been known from Chinese sources, but it wasn't until 1868 when Przewalskii killed one and brought the skin and skull to Europe that a true specimen was able to be observed. Thus a new species was fixed and named the Przewalskii horse. This species lived in Mongolia until the 1960's; now the species is extinct in the wild and only found in zoos. It was believed that all modern forms of horse are derived from the Przewalskii horse but it is more likely that another form of the wild horse survived in northern Eurasian areas until the beginning of the 19th century. The Tarpan horse of the Russian Steppes, now extinct, is somewhat similar to the Przewalskii horse, however, chromosome numbers differ. The Tarpan also could have been a form of the modern horse.

In Europe, wild horses are abundant in the Neolithic. From archaeological bone remains and from graphic representations, the wild horse is small in size and heavy in build with a large head and a rough shaggy mane and tail like the recently extinct Tarpans or the Mongolian wild pony (Przewalskii's horse).

There is an absence of the horse from Egyptian monuments prior to the beginning of the 18th century BC and nothing older in Old Semitic (Mesopotamian) literature . In literary sources there is no reference to the horse as being indigenous to Arabia prior to the beginning of the fifth century AD; however, there are many references in pre-Islamic poetry.

Many scholars agree that the original source of the finest equine blood is Africa, still the home of the largest variety of wild Equidae. Then the horse passed into Europe and at an early time began to be blended with the indigenous Celtic species. After Europe the horse passed into Western Asia i.e. the indigenous Mongolian species or Przewalskii's horse. Not until a later period did the horse reach Arabia.

According to Alexeev, the origin of the domestic horse could be in Africa or Mongolia, but from research conducted 10-15 years ago, the domestication of the horse appears to have been in the Steppe areas of Russia.

Vasilievka, a Neolithic site in the mid Dnieper Valley, was excavated 10-15 years ago and reveals several skulls of horses. The report was first published in Russian journals and then in European journals. Specialists agree that the finds from Vasilievka are examples of the domesticated horse. The site dates to the fourth millennium BC. The domesticated horse (and camel) were not used for meat, milk, or wool but rather for loading and riding. The first horse was used as a loader animal for transport. An early relief in Iraq which dates to the third millennium BC, depicts the horse as a loading animal.

Remains of the domesticated horse only have been found at Vasilievka. That the horse might have been domesticated at the end of the Paleolithic is an "old idea". The horse was not used for riding because the wild horse is dangerous; the only use was as a loading animal.

The horse is depicted in Upper Paleolithic cave paintings and in stone and bone sculpting from a number of caves in France and Spain. In pictures of the horse, a bridle is represented; however some scholars claim the bridle is an anatomical trait . Some scholars believe the horse was used for meat. In many different areas, specific breeds of horse like the thoroughbred are found.

Donkey replaced the horse in southern areas of Eurasia which were very mountainous. The donkey is used from China to Spain; in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Scholars agree that the wild species which preceded the domestic donkey was the Kulan which now is found in southeast Turkmenia but lived at an earlier time in Iran and Afghanistan. The time of domestication is unknown but Richard Meadow has discovered domesticated donkey in Turkmenia dating to the second millennium BC.

Domestication of Plants

Tools specific to agriculture have been found in northern Arabia in the same location where sheep and goat were domesticated. Alexeev thinks that perhaps agriculture dates 1,000 years before the domestication of animals. These tools specific to agriculture were used to cut wild plants. Sickles have been found in the Nile Valley dating to the twelfth millennium BC and in Iraq dating to the tenth millennium BC; however, there are no traces of domesticated crops. The sickles, therefore, were used for collecting wild plants. In the Tigris Euphrates Valley there is a date of the tenth millennium BC for grasses and a date of the ninth millennium BC for sheep with a hypothesis that real agriculture did not originate until the ninth millennium BC and preceded the domestication of animals . Now scholars believe that both are contiguous and present in the Near East not later than 9,000 BC.

The first usage of domesticated plants and animals is limited and took place not in the Mesolithic but in the Neolithic. In the Neolithic there is a broad usage of cultivated plants and animals in many regions of the old world, not only in the Near East. In China, wheat and rice appear at a later date than the domesticates of the Near East. In Tibet, rice appears in the eighth millennium BC and pig appears in the fourth millennium BC. The Mesolithic ends in 5,000 BC.

Signs of Domestication

The signs of domestication in plants and animals are rather specific. In plants the size of grain differs; domesticated seeds are large while wild seeds are diminished in size. Also the protein content as measured by the amount of sugar differs; a low sugar content is found in domesticated plants and a high content in cultivated plants. In the mountains of Tibet, in a closed valley, there are plants with a high sugar content which are used to feed cattle. Marco Polo from northern China in the twelfth century wrote of such an extraordinary vegetation. Likely these grasses have a high sugar content.

In animals, domestication produces exterior differences rather than morphological. For goat and sheep its the thickness of horns. In pigs it's the thickness of tusks. Taking a cross section of horn or bone there is an interior channel which contains hemoglobin. More hemoglobin is needed for more activity i.e. the wild horse. Likewise, domesticated forms don't move as fast so they need less hemoglobin. Therefore for the domestic forms of sheep, goat, and horse, the interior channel is narrow and the bone tissue thick. For dog, domestication is indicated by the presence of an enlarged second molar.

Neolithic Conclusions

The Neolithic begins when the Mesolithic ends. General agreement places the end of the Mesolithic at 5,000 BC. In the Soviet Union, the Neolithic begins later than in the Near East. In the Soviet Union, the first sites date to 4,000 BC. The Bronze Age in the Soviet Union dates to 3,000 BC (the second half). During the Neolithic in the Soviet Union, there is a productive economy in the south while in the north there is still a dependency on hunting, fishing, and gathering. During the Neolithic, there are a variety of different cultures in the Soviet Union; however, many tribes continue to preserve their Mesolithic culture.

An American Rejoinder to Alexeev's "Famous Dog Story"

[It is the end of class sometime in July, 1991]
Student: Professor Alexeev, I also have a dog.
Alexeev: (with amusement) Yes. Yes.
Student: My dog is very huge (height gestured with right hand). Whenever I take him for a walk, he walks me. One evening as I was seated in my chair reading, my dog was seated on the floor at my feet.
Alexeev: (with pride) My dog sits on the bed!
Student: My daughter enters the room and I instruct her to have a seat and to speak to the dog in Russian. She speaks to the dog in Russian and guess what he does?
Class: He leaves the room!
Student: No. No. The dog sits up and then walks over to where my daughter is sitting, places his head in her lap, and looks up at her with huge puppy dog eyes.
Alexeev: (very excitedly) See! See! The dog understands the beauty of the Russian language.
[At this time Alexeev begins speaking in Russian while dramatically gesturing with his arms. He then speaks in English, but without the same enthusiasm. As Alexeev walks from the blackboard to his desk, the student raises her hand]
Student: Oh Professor! I'm sorry. I forget to mention. My daughter was eating a piece of chocolate.
Alexeev: Humph. Humph.
[The end of class]

[Lecture 7 delivered 15 July 1991]

Overview by Geraldine Reinhardt

Lecture 7 is a continuation of the Neolithic period in Eurasia. The Natufian Culture in the eastern Mediterranean is presented as a special Neolithic Culture with the presence of agriculture and some domestic animals but without pottery. Instead, stone vessels are used. Jericho, possibly one of the earliest settlements excavated, dates to the eighth millennium BC. Professor Alexeev recognizes the Natufian Culture in the eastern Mediterranean, but states that a Neolithic Period without ceramics is present elsewhere as well. Kathleen Kenyon, leader of the Jericho expedition, claims stone walls at the site indicate the existence of a town. Ofer Bar Yosef sees the wall as the remains of an ancient dam.

The Tripolie Culture, located in the Ukraine in the Black Sea area, is a production economy of husbandry and agriculture which leads to the development of tools. Ceramics, although present, are not painted or decorated. Settlement patterns are in the arrangement of small houses surrounding a large shelter, likely to house animals. The common house form, the tholos, is made of clay brick, and serves both as a house and a grave. The site of Geoksyr in Turkmenistan is a settlement (there are no skeletons buried between tholoses) containing several tholoses.

Burial practices from Siberia are simple, in soil, and seldom marked; no houses have been found. Paleodemography for the Neolithic is the subject with which Professor Alexeev ends this lecture; if numbers from this section are applied to the previous section on paleodemography in Chapter 5, demographics for the Soviet territory during the Neolithic can be extrapolated.

Natufian Culture

Alexeev continues: the Natufian Culture 3 is located in the eastern Mediterranean in Lebanon and Israel. In the Upper Paleolithic/ Mesolithic transition, this special culture begins to grow and continues its Upper Paleolithic traditions of hunting, fishing, and gathering with fishing being the most importance source of food. The presence of goat has been found in the Carmel Mountains. The Natufian Culture is of advanced development and has created stone vessels of multidimensional size; some are greater than one meter while others are very small. In the New World, stone vessels are found in addition to pottery. Here in the eastern Mediterranean, stone vessels are of great importance while ceramics are not present until the mid Neolithic (the use of pottery leads to a different preparation of meat and grain). As to an explanation of why pottery is not present, possibly there is no explanation or perhaps the stone tradition is so strong it overshadows the need for pottery. A Neolithic period without ceramics is present in the eastern Mediterranean but is also present in other areas as well 4.

At the site of Jericho, excavated in the 1950's by an English expedition led by Dr. Kathleen Kenyon 5, a large site, possibly a town, extends for 10-15 hectares. This settlement dates to the eighth millennium BC and indicates the presence of agriculture and some animals. Kenyon considers this settlement to be a town based on the existence of stone walls. However, Ofer Bar Yosef formerly of Jerusalem University and now at Harvard believes these walls are the remains of an ancient dam constructed to create a lake for animals and for irrigation.

Neolithic Ceramics & Tools

Professor Hans-Georg Bandi 6 at Bern University claims all important technological developments begin with ceramics. With ceramics food can be transported in prepared form; ceramic vessels can be used for the preservation of water, meat, fish, cereals, vegetables, and fruits. Alexeev states that ceramics are also used as a "canvas" upon which the artist drew designs. The presence of ceramics changed everyday life.

In the Neolithic period the previous tool making technology of working flints and stones is continued but the flints now exhibit a more sophisticated technique. For bone the same form is preserved and no achievements have been made. The number of bone tools begin to decline because flint is more sophisticated.

Tripolie Culture

The Tripolie Culture (Cucuteni-Trypillia) 7 is located in southern Ukraine in the Black Sea area, in Moldavia, and partly in Romania. The term "Tripolie" is the name of the village where the first culture was discovered by archaeologist P. Hvoiko. This is a culture of a combined production economy of husbandry and agriculture which leads to the development of tools. The Tripolie Culture exists from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age from the Soviet Union to the west coast of the Sea of Azov. Bones of oxen have been discovered with the remains of a plow. The first plows were made of bone; possibly stones were tied to the plow to make it heavy. The presence of a plow in the archaeological record cannot appear before the presence of domesticated animals. Tripolie ceramics are quite good and well ornamented with spirals etc.

[Southwestern Ukraine is mountainous; the southern Ukrainian Steppes are monotonous. For the Neolithic people of northern Russia, new forms of activity lead to new housing types and settlements. Many populations live on the previous modes of development (i.e. housing types) until the end of the Neolithic Period and continue as farmers. They have ceramics but the ceramics are bad ceramics i.e. they are not painted and are decorated with primitive ornaments such as diagonal lines or, as in Siberia, with an array of dots. No evidence of houses have been found. Possibly these Neolithic people of northern Russia lived in the same type of hut as did the Upper Paleolithic people and possibly their huts were not as well constructed as those in Upper Paleolithic times. There is an absence of bone from the great animals, so possibly wood was used in construction; wood preserves badly.

In contrast to the Neolithic people of northern Russia, peoples in the southern areas of the Caucasus and Central Asia create a pottery that is decorated and painted. Painted pottery is also found in Arabia, the Middle East, China, Central Asia, and the Balkan Peninsula. In the 1920's and 1930's the existence of painted and patterned pottery indicated, to scholars, strong genetic relationships of people in a given area i.e. same pottery indicates same ethnography. Now we know people were very different i.e. the same pottery designs do not indicate the same ethnographic populations. Possibly there was a great diffusion from one center or a tradition appearing in different independent centers. Ornamentation of circles as a design on pottery appears in one area (southern Ukraine, Moldavia, and somewhat in Romania i.e. area of Tripolie Culture) and clustered right and left square angles appear in the Caucasus and in Central Asia.

The Tripolie Culture constructed houses of wood but they also used clay brick. This use of clay brick is an invention of the Neolithic Period. There is no use of this house type today. The Tripolie people were agriculturalists but they also had a strong usage of animals. They were not strong herders, but rather used animals in agriculture and herded cows, sheep, and pig. The presence of pig is well known in the Neolithic Period because they are ecologically adaptive. There is no indication of horse; only a small number of horse bones have been found and there is no indication that the horse had been domesticated.

Settlement patterns for the Tripolie Culture are in the form of small houses arranged in a circle around the largest of the houses. This great house likely sheltered the animals. These settlements are located in the mountainous areas where the ancient people had their agricultural fields. This location is convenient and useful; all time needed could be spent in the field. Vegetables and fruits are among the crops that are cultivated; there is no indication of wheat. The Tripolie people continued to gather wild plants; the number of cultivated plants is not great. This tradition of gathering is preserved through the Neolithic and into the Middle Ages.

In the Caucasus 8 in the pre Neolithic, both caves and stone houses are used as primitive dwellings. In the Neolithic, there are houses made of clay bricks. These are approximately eight feet in height and are called "tholos". The tholos is also used as a grave. As graves, each contain 5-20 bodies. The "living tholos" i.e. house is distributed in Iran and in Turkmenistan and other mountain areas of Central Asia. They are never found on the Arabian Peninsula. These are areas of the same cultural tradition.

In the northern areas of Russia, people are buried in soil fifty centimeters deep. In some cases stone markers indicate graves, in other cases there are no visible markers. In the Tripolie Culture cemeteries are located not far from the village i.e. between the village and the fields. Graves are marked by stones. In the Neolithic Period because of a population increase, single graves are an exception. Graves range from 30/40 burials to several hundred. In the Early Neolithic, graves do not exceed 30-40; there are only two cases where graves contained more. The Tripolie settlements are replicated as cemeteries. In distinguishing a living tholos from a cemetery tholos, the living tholos has a larger area and in cemeteries there are no skeletal remains between tholoses.

Geoksyr is located on the border of Iran and Turkmenistan in a desert area. The vegetation is sparse and the only rich time is in spring. At Geoksyr there is a hill with a surface height of 11-12 meters and several tholos with the diameter of 4-5 meters. There are single skeletons buried between the tholos. Thus Geoksyr is a settlement and not a cemetery.

Neolithic in Siberia

In southern Siberia, nothing definite is known regarding housing but much is known pertaining to cemeteries. There are no local differences in cemeteries. The graves are simple, in soil, and very seldom are marked. Southern Siberia differs from the north area and shows a similarity to Mongolia and southern China. There is much jade which is used both for art and for small implements such as arrows. Southern Siberia is similar to the north in economic development; however, the only evidence comes from cemeteries. Little is known about the social forms of life of the Neolithic people. Some scholars claim a matrilineal social form based on the presence of female figurines and from ethnographic data. Others claim a patrilineal social form because husbandry and agriculture require lots of labor; labor by men. As per Alexeev: "the New Archaeologist Lewis Binford 9 should believe not only in fact; he should consider the subtleties about fact.

Neolithic Populations

The average life expectancy during the Neolithic is 30-35 years, more often 32-35. From the Mesolithic to the Neolithic there is a small increase of 3-5 years. The mortality of children continues to be high. This is based on no actual objective facts for calculations, but rather only on previous considerations. Russian Europe in the Mesolithic is 25-50,000 and Siberia in the 16th century is 300,000, the same as North America before the whites appeared. In Siberia the economy in the 16th century was the same as in the Neolithic. Thus there are 500,000 people in the Soviet territory 10 but this number is an example of a preliminary nonobjective conclusion.

[Lecture 8 delivered 17 July 1991]

Overview by Geraldine Reinhardt

This eighth lecture completes the Neolithic period in Eurasia with a discussion of the "dolmen" type burial practice in the Caucasus. Neolithic art is presented as an incorporation of Upper Paleolithic (realistic) with Mesolithic (schematic) and the geographic areas of the Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia are emphasized. Neolithic rock art with a focus on animal drawings and sculptings in bone, stone, and clay depicting people of Mongoloid and Europoid ethnography are highlighted. Professor Alexeev concludes the discussion of the Neolithic Period with a brief discussion of V. Gordon Childe and his theory of the "Neolithic Revolution".

The remaining portion of this lecture introduces the Bronze Age in Eurasia. The Bronze Age begins 1,500 years later than in the Near East while in northern Siberia, the Neolithic tradition continues during the Bronze and Iron Ages and lasts until the 16-17 century. The concept of a new age, the Eneolithic, which exists between the Neolithic and Bronze Age is presented and reflects one of Alexeev's intellectual tools i.e. the examination of borders or the restructuring of time frames. Bronze is examined as an alloy of copper with different additions, each addition reflecting a different migratory group in the European and Asiatic Steppe region.

The Pit Grave Culture is presented as the group which replaces the Tripolie Culture in the Ukrainian Steppe in the mid third millennium BC. and the "kurgan" type burial structure is described. Geographically, kurgans have been found from Romania to the Steppe areas of the Ukraine. Morphologically, the Pit Grave people are tall with a broad face and a strong superstructure in the region of the forehead i.e. Europoid without a Mongoloid mixture.

The Afanasyevo Culture appears several centuries later than the Pit Grave in a small area in the Upper Yenissei River Valley. Physically the Afanasyevo resemble the Pit Grave i.e. Europoid without a Mongoloid mixture.

Recently "Soviet" archaeological exploration and study has been conducted in Mongolia. Results from Mongolia are similar to the results discovered by Chinese archaeologists excavating in eastern Turkistan and the Xingjiang Province of China 11.

The language for both the Pit Grave and Afanasyevo is Indo-European. Origins of the Indo-European language is a tricky problem; Russian scholars Viacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov and Tamaz Valerianovich Gamkrelidze think the Indo-European language formed in Turkey. Colin Renfrew, a Cambridge University scholar, also argues for Turkey as the homeland of the Indo-European in the eighth millennium BC and links its spread with the diffusion of agriculture. Professor Alexeev disagrees with Renfrew because 1) there is no evidence for such an early language and 2) agriculture was invented in the Near East. Alexeev argues: "likely the origins of language are polycentric".

Neolithic Burials

Dolmen 12, typical burials for England, are large vertical stones supporting a horizontal slab. Dolmen are located in a wide area extending from Spain to Japan including Denmark, Europe, France, Germany, Switzerland, and South Korea. Similarly, in the Caucasus such large stones are used as graves. In the Caucasus a small house (grave) is made of large stones with a hole in the center of one stone. Some of these graves are very large i.e. 2 meters by 1/1.5 meters while others are quite small. The height is usually 2 meters. In this type of structure, many skeletal remains have been found; individuals are not separately buried. Dolmen are erected in the northern Caucasus probably because stone is plentiful in these mountain areas.

Stonehenge, located in England is a "kromlech" with stones arranged in a circle. Most people believe Stonehenge was an astronomic observatory to mark the occurrences of solstices etc.13.

Neolithic Art

In the Upper Paleolithic, art is rich with realistic figures of animals and people, especially female figurines. In the Mesolithic, the art is a schematization of drawings. In the Neolithic there is a return to the old traditions of the Upper Paleolithic i.e. to realistic drawings, as well as preserving some schematization from the Mesolithic. Different areas produce different forms and styles.

Ceramics are also used as works of art. In southern European Russia north of the Black Sea (Ukraine), the Tripolie Culture uses a simple ornamentation, the circle. In the Caucasus and Central Asia the main design consists of clustered right angles, but circles are present in both locales. In some cases, ceramics are used to depict animal designs as well as for depicting human faces. From the Far East comes a human face, possibly a mask, known as the Siberian Nefertite. Clay, not only used for pots, is also is used for sculpture. In the Upper Paleolithic, only one clay figurine of a human has been found, but in the Neolithic Period clay is used widely to depict animals, human faces, and male and female figurines. These male and female figurines are similar to those from the Near East; circles are used to decorate the female figurines and triangles are used to decorate male figurines. Female fertility figurines are also typical for Turkey and are located from Iraq to Central Asia and from the Caucasus to Turkey. In the Tripolie Culture, the female figurines are also decorated; however, this culture is not closely related to the Near East, but rather to the Balkan and central European Cultures. Some scholars think the northern Black Sea area has been influenced by the culture of Turkey. There is still speculation.

Rock Art, a tradition found in mountain areas, begins in the Neolithic and continues to the Middle Ages. Many Neolithic rock art drawings are covered by other drawings. The most typical animal depicted is the elk (moose); however, this animal was not the one most hunted. Bones of elk have been found but they are not numerous. Possibly elk have an importance in Neolithic religion. In Central Asia and the Caucasus, the most common drawings are of wild mountain sheep and wild goat.

Sculptures in the Neolithic period are made of bone, as is true of sculptures in the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic; however, in the Neolithic they are also made from stone and clay. One sculpting depicts a Mongoloid face (see Martinov's Ancient Art of Northern Asia 14) while others depict typical European faces. Flat pieces of bone, commonly used for harpoons, is also used for the sculpting of a horse. Both realistic and schematic motifs are mixed.

Pieces of sculptures from southern European Russia are similar to the Tripolie Culture and date to the same period. Reconstruction of skeletal remains from southern European Russia around the Black Sea depict Europoid features.

Neolithic Revolution

V. Gordon Childe in his book The Dawn of Civilization 15 develops a theory he calls "The Neolithic Revolution". Earlier, he published a booklet in the second World War entitled "How Labour Governs; A Study of Workers' Representation in Australia" 16. Childe's career lasted from the 1920's to the 1960's during which he remained a consistent Marxist.

"The Neolithic Revolution" has become an accepted theory and details a transition to a production economy, an increase in population, an increase in labor, an increase in the longevity of life, and a transition to a higher development.

Childe's 10 criteria for the Neolithic Revolution are as follows:

  1. A dense population which is more populated than any previous settlement;

  2. Enough surplus production to support a specialized craft class and other non producers of food;

  3. Taxes which are paid by the primary producers;

  4. Monumental architecture;

  5. Formation of a ruling class;

  6. A system of writing or recording of administrative functions;

  7. Calendrics; arithmetic and geometry;

  8. Artistic craftsmen;

  9. Foreign trade in luxury goods;

  10. Establishment of a political entity which guarantees security.

Adapting Childe's attributes of state formation which were based on the teachings of Marx and Lenin, I have devised the following non Marxist, non Communistic, and non totalitarian factors based on a free market democratic form of republic:

  1. Class stratification based on control of information, education, wealth, and ideology;

  2. Economy based on redistribution or on redistribution in conjunction with personal gain;

  3. An ideology (either economic or religion) with which a state holds people in awe;

  4. Force, either coercive and backed with military might, or ideological and backed by priestly control of the supernatural;

  5. Agriculture and metallurgy as technological uses of basic resources;

  6. Trade for the purpose of acquiring necessary resources and luxury goods, as well as for maintenance of peace and preservation of a market for indigenously produced goods;

  7. A system which records credit and debit for the state as well as for the individual;

  8. Products of efflorescence to include writing, monumental architecture, art, warfare, computers, and other forms of global communication and "high" technology;

  9. Presence of a merchant class either representing the state or operating for personal gain;

  10. A permanent locale usually consisting of a major city or town, lesser villages, and colonies which provide necessary resources; this geographic attribute currently has undergone a remarkably sudden change and now approaches what might be referred to as a global state.

  11. The presence, over time, of a natural movement between a beneficent state where individual freedoms are preserved and a coercive state which is backed by force and centralization; this movement can flow in the opposite direction - form a strong centralization to decentralization.

Back (Chapter V: Mesolithic in Eurasia)

Next (Chapter VII: Mesolithic in Eurasia)

Back to Table of Contents

Notes for Chapter VI

1   More research is needed on Chokh Cave.[back]

2   H. Amirhanov needs to be researched further.

     This is not a scientific conclusion. The presence of grinders without the presence of seeds simply indicates the presence of grinders, not the presence of agriculture.

     Not necessarily! The presence of a different species could indicate transhumance i.e. the new species arrived from elsewhere.

     Arutiunov confirms this statement commenting that in the 18th century BC it was the Hyksos who invaded Egypt and brought along their horses. The Behistun relief is at Persepolis.

     Arutiunov confirms that the horse was domesticated in the 4th millennium BC or possibly even earlier; but not later.

     Arutiunov also thinks the bridle is an anatomic feature.

     According to Arutiunov, the Kulan is a wild species of donkey; however, the Nubian wild ass is a more probable ancestor of the domestic ass.

     A good reference by Richard Meadow regarding the domestication of the donkey is:

1986.   "Equids in the ancient world" by Richard Meadow; published in Wiesbaden: Reichert.

     Arutiunov comments that the completion of domestication took at least 1,000 years.[back]

3    Two recent studies of the Natufian Culture are:

c1991.   "The Natufian culture in the Levant" edited by Ofer Bar-Yosef & Francois Valla; published in Ann Arbor, Mich.: International Monographs in Prehistory.

1995.   "Natufian chipped lithic assemblage: from Sunakh near Petra, southern Jordan" by Charlott Hoffmann Pedersen; published in Copenhagen: Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies.

     Arutiunov dates the Natufian Culture ca 10-8 millennia BC.[back]

4    Arutiunov states that a Neolithic without pottery is present in South America and north Africa.[back]

5    For Kenyon at Jericho there are two relevant texts:

1957.   "Digging up Jericho: The Results of the Jericho excavations, 1952-1956" published in New York: Praeger.

1984?   "Excavations at Jericho, 1960-1983" with contributions by Elizabeth Crowfoot et al.; published in London: British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.[back]

6    Although none of the texts listed in HOLLIS specifically reference ceramics, the following texts might prove informative:

1947.   "Die Schweiz zur Rentierzeit, Kulturgeschichte der Rentierjager am Ende der Eiszeit" by Hans-Georg Bandi: publication information: Frauenfeld, Huber.

     A recent festschrift commemorating Bandi's birthday is: 1985.   "Jagen und Sammeln: Festschrift fur Hans-Georg Bandi zum 65. Geburtstag (3. September 1985): gewidmet von den Mitarbeitern des Bernischen Historischen Museums, des Seminars fur Urgeschichte der Universitat Bern, sowie von Freunden und Fachkollegen im In- und Ausland" herausgegeben von Rudolf Fellmann, Georg Germann und Karl Zimmermann; published in Bern: Stampfli & Cie.[back]

7    For additional information on the Tripolie (Cucuteni-Trypillia) Culture see Lecture 12. The following four references are listed in HOLLIS regarding the Tripolie Culture:

1979.   "Arta culturii Cucuteni" by Vladimir Dumitrescu; published in Cucuresti: "Meridiane".

1984.   "Formarea si clasificarea grupelor de stil Ab si B ale ceramicii pictate Cucuteni-Tripolie" by Anton Nitu; published in Iasi: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Romania.

1984.   "The Cucuteni-Tripolye culture: a study in technology and the origins of complex society" by Linda Ellis; published in Oxford, England: B.A.R.

1989.   "Rannii etap tripol-skoi sul'tury na territorii Ukrainy" by Vladimir G. Zbenovich; published in Kiev: Nauk. Dumka.

     Arutiunov dates the Tripolie Culture to ca 4-3 millennia BC. He also confirms that the geographical extent of the Tripolie Culture is South Ukraine, Moldavia, and partly Romania. The Tripolie people, as per Arutiunov, lived in houses constructed both of wood and clay.[back]

8    The culture located in southern Caucasus or Georgia is called the Trialeti Culture.[back]

9    Lewis Binford has two recent publications:

1983.   "Working at Archaeology" published in New York: Academic Press.

1989.   "Debating Archaeology" published in San Diego: Academic Press. [back]

10   From the Lecture 5 section on paleodemography, we have: "projections are 50/60,000 population for eastern Europe and a little higher for Siberia. At the end of the Mesolithic, this figure increases twice". Thus if we assume populations in Siberia were 60/65,000 with one increase at 120/130,000 and a second increase at 240/260,000 then a Neolithic population of 300,000, the same as the 16th century population is not out of line.[back]

11   V. Mair's recent excavations in Xingjiang reveal the presence of ";Caucasian" or what Alexeev would call Europoid.[back]

12   Two recent publications on Dolmen include:   1990.   "Dolmen: architecture preistoriche in Europa" by Mirella Cipolloni Samop; published in Roma; De Luca edizioni d'arte.

1993.   "Les dolmens: societes neolithiques et pratiques funeraires: les sepultures collectives d'Europe occidentale" by Claude Masset; published in Paris: Editions Errance.[back]

13   Arutiunov comments that Druids are purely Celtic and modern Druids claim Stonehenge for their rituals but Stonehenge was definitely pre-Celtic.[back]

14   Anatolii Ivanovich Martynov's text is entitled:

1991.   "The Ancient Art of Northern Asia"; translated into English by Demitri B. Shimkin and Edith M. Shimkin and published in Urbana by the University of Illinois Press.[back]

15   Full bibliographic reference for Childe's text is:

1973.   "The dawn of European civilization" by V. Gordon Childe; 6th edition revised; published in Frogmore, Herfordshire: Paladin.[back]

16   Reference for this booklet (pamphlet) is:

1923.   "How labour governs; a study of workers; representation in Australia" by V.G. Childe; published in London: The Labour publishing company limited.

1964.   "How labour governs: a study of Australia"; by V. Gordon Childe; edited and with a forward by F.B. Smith; published in Melbourne: Melbourne University Press and New York: Cambridge University Press.

     COMMENT: Alexeev mentions this pamphlet to illustrate that in 1923 Childe's interest were Marxist i.e. labor and workers. Usually American scholars refer to Childe as someone who began his career as a non Marxist only to become deeply influenced by the Russian Revolution and the ideology of Lenin.[back]

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