search this blog

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Domestic cattle in Neolithic Uzbekistan

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.


Nirjhar007 said...

Good Papers,
But why sudden this kind of posts post, what is the aim?.

Nirjhar007 said...

Interesting but expected reading.
//Subsistence economy at Kul Tepe (North-Western Iran) from Early Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age//
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)..

Davidski said...

I'm thinking of breeding some miniature cattle. Apparently they're a good investment and don't take up much space.

Nirjhar007 said...

Ah i see Dave, I'm also very interested, how about having a co-investor?.
I will post some other ones which look interesting, like this-
//Late Pleistocene to mid Holocene Equids on the Iranian Plateau. What news?//
A considerable number of archaezozoological investigations in Iran during the last two decades have made new osteological material available which provides novel information on ancient faunal diversity of the Iranian Plateau. In this poster, we will focus on presenting equid diversity in this part of the world.

Nirjhar007 said...

//Exploring traditions of equid exploitation in pre- and protohistoric Anatolia//
Benjamin S. Arbuckle
In this paper I present ongoing research focused on reconstructing the long history of equid exploitation in early and middle Holocene Anatolia. I address current archaeological and zooarchaeological evidence for traditions of hunting of wild hemiones and horses in the region as well as their eventual extirpation. In addition, the major problems of the timing of and mechanisms responsible for the appearance of domestic horses and donkeys in Anatolia are addressed. Finally, emphasis is placed on the difficulties involved in understanding equids in the archaeological record as well as potential for future work on this important topic.
//Archaeozoological investigation of the site of Shengavit, Armenia//
Ninna Manaseryan
The site of Shengavit lies in the Ararat Plain within the city of Yerevan. The exploration of Shengavit by the archaeologists began in 1936 (E.Bayburdyan, S. Sardaryan, and H. Simonyan). The cultural layers of Shengavit settlement built up during more than two thousand years and they have about 4 meters depth. The monument is dated at the beginning of the 4th -2nd millennium BC.
Faunal remains (1965-1980 excavated by G.Sardaryan; 2003-2007 excavated by H.Simonyan) from the site were delivered to the Institute of Zoology of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences for archaeozoological examination.
The result of the analysis of 3646 identifiable bone fragments show that 92.5% of them belong to domestic animals and 7.4% to wild animals. Among the domestic faunal assemblages from settlement, cattle bone fragments are predominant, while in the burials, the most common domestic animal bone belongs to horses. Red deer bones represent the majority of wild animal bones. Detailed examination of the material reveals: 1) the faunal composition of the region and the osteometric characteristics of the animal bones during that time period, 2) the successful livestock breeding and hunting abilities of the site’s inhabitants.

Nirjhar007 said...

Rémi Berthon
//A specialised pastoral system focused on Caprinae during the Chalcolithic in the Araxes Valley (South Caucasus): A view from Ovçular Tepesi (Azerbaijan)//
This communication will present new results from the zooarchaeological analyses carried out at Ovçular Tepesi, a Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age settlement located in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (Azerbaijan) in South Caucasus. Focus will be put on the definition of the pastoral system (i.e. the exploitation of domestic ungulates) and on the evolution of the later during the ca. 300 years of occupation of the settlement. ,The pastoral system will be discussed in the frame of the cultural development which occurred during the 5th and early 4th millennia in South Caucasus.
Julie Daujat1, Marjan Mashkour1, Karine Debue1, Shiva Sheikhi1, Solmaz Amiri2, Johanna Lhuillier3 and Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento
//Animal exploitation during the Iron Age at Ulug Depe, a large proto-urban site in eastern Turkmenistan//
Ulug Depe is one of the most imposing proto-urban sites of Central Asia. The long chronological sequence stretches from the Middle Chalcolithic to the pre-Achaemenid period, although the occupation is first attested in the Late Neolithic. The site is excavated by a French-Turkmen archaeological expedition since 2001, following other previous archaeological investigations by Russian teams.
Several thousands of animal bones were studied from twelve seasons of excavation and have provided an important set of information on agropastoralism, hunting practices as well as other aspects of daily life.In this work we will present the faunal remains from the Iron Age contexts, locally known as the Yaz period. The faunal spectrum is relatively diversified with a dominance of Caprini followed by cattle. Wild fauna is in majority represented by Gazella and E. hemionus. Equid remains also attest to the presence of horse and donkey.
Archaeozoological investigations in this part of Central Asia are still scarce and many questions related to the exploitation of animals are not well known. Ulug Depe faunal material is among one of the best documented available assemblages that provides a large set of information on the environmental setting of the site, caprine herding strategies and the use of animal remains in the production of objects.
One of the important issues currently in Central Asia is to understand how the steppe was used in terms of animal management and its relation with agriculture.

Nirjhar007 said...

Elizabeth Farebrother
//Prehistoric human-animal interactions of the Shahrizor Plain, Iraqi Kurdistan//
Whilst a wealth of zooarchaeological understanding has been documented from the analysis of animal bone assemblages from the Levant and Central Anatolia, the Eastern Fertile Crescent has remained understudied. The sites of Tepe Marani and Gurga Chiya lie adjacent to one another, and form the core of a joint excavation project by UCL, UCL Qatar and the Sulaimaniyah Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage. Located 7km west of Halabjah, Iraqi Kurdistan, both sites have yielded animal bone assemblages, together spanning a chronological sequence from Halaf to Uruk.
This research aims to redress this knowledge gap through the introduction of two new sites to our understanding of the Shahrizor Plain, alongside local and regional contextualisation of the resulting zooarchaeological data. Preliminary results from the 2013 and 2014 field seasons will be presented and discussed, placing an emphasis on butchery and taphonomic alteration of the animal bone assemblages. In particular, the human modification of animal bones material (e.g. burning, consumption and deposition) will be compared and contrasted in order to shed new light onto changes in human attitudes towards animals from post-domestication early village life to state formation.
Emmanuelle Vila1 and Jwana Chahoud1,
//The development of sheep breeds in northern Mesopotamia and the Levant during the third millennium BC//
At the beginning of the development of cities in ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq, northern Syria) and in the Levant around the end of the 4th millennium BC and until the 3rd millennium BC, ovicaprine remains dominated the archaeological fauna. The development of livestock production was certainly induced in response to the socio-economic growth associated with the urbanization process. The increasing demand for meat and textiles has led to the development of wool production based on the exploitation of small sized breed of sheep with a wooly fleece according to morphometrical analyses. Morphometrical data and their contribution to the identification of sheep breeds along with the question of the origins and expansion of a wooly sheep breed are discussed in the paper.
There are many more interesting ones....

andrew said...

Great stuff. Papers about period fauna (and flora) remnants are at least as informative, if not more, for the purposes of people trying to reconstruct prehistory, as for example, papers that try to make inferences about prehistory from genetic diversity in modern populations.

Karl_K said...


Indeed. If there is any true way to show the spread of a culture in pre-literate societies, it will be through their associated plants and animals. Their genomic sequences could only be passed on by direct contact, even if the people did not mix.

You can't learn to farm wheat by gathering planted seeds. And you can't learn to herd sheep by hunting domestic animals.

There has to be communication for this to occur.