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The Making of Bronze Age Eurasia

The Making of Bronze Age Eurasia

by Philip L. Kohl

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ISBN-10: 0521130158

ISBN-13: 9780521130158

Pub. Date: 04/06/2009

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

This book provides an overview of Bronze Age societies of Western Eurasia through an investigation of the archaeological record. Philip L. Kohl outlines the long-term processes and patterns of interaction that link these groups together in a shared historical trajectory of development. Interactions took the form of the exchange of raw materials and finished goods,


This book provides an overview of Bronze Age societies of Western Eurasia through an investigation of the archaeological record. Philip L. Kohl outlines the long-term processes and patterns of interaction that link these groups together in a shared historical trajectory of development. Interactions took the form of the exchange of raw materials and finished goods, the spread and sharing of technologies, and the movements of peoples from one region to another. Kohl reconstructs economic activities from subsistence practices to the production and exchange of metals and other materials. He also examines long-term processes, such as the development of more mobile forms of animal husbandry, which were based on the introduction and large-scale utilization of oxen-driven, wheeled wagons and, subsequently, the domestication and riding of horses; the spread of metalworking technologies and exploitation of new centers of metallurgical production; changes in systems of exchanges from those dominated by the movement of luxury goods to those in which materials essential for maintaining and securing the reproduction of the societies participating in the exchange network accompanied and/or supplanted the trade in precious materials; and increasing evidence for militarism and political instabilities as reflected in shifts in settlement patterns, including increases in fortified sites and quantitative and qualitative advances in weaponry. Kohl also argues forcefully that the main task of the archaeologist should be to write culture-history on a spatially and temporally grand scale in an effort to detect large, macrohistorical processes of interaction and shared development.

Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
Cambridge World Archaeology Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Illustrations and Maps xiii

Abbreviations xvii

Preface xix

1 Archaeological Theory and Archaeological Evidence 1

Anglo-American Theoretical Archaeology from ca. 1960 to the Present - A Brief Overview 2

Back to the Future - Or Towards and Interpretative and Explanatory Culture History 8

The Devolution of Urban Society - Moving Beyond Neo-evolutionary Accounts 10

Steppe Archaeology and the Identification (and Proliferation) of Archaeological Cultures 15

Chronological Conundrums - The Application of Calibrated C14 Determinations for the Archaeology of the Eurasian Steppes 19

Inherent Limitations of the Present Study 21

2 The Chalcolithic Prelude - From Social Hierarchies and Giant Settlements to the Emergence of Mobile Economies, ca. 4500-3500 BC 23

The Production and Exchange of Copper from the Balkans to the Volga in the Fifth and Fourth Millennia BC - The Carpatho-Balkan Metallurgical Province (CBMP) 28

The Form and Economy of the Gigantic Tripol'ye Settlements - Nucleation of Population and the Development of Extensive Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Particularly the Herding of Cattle 39

An Overview of the Social Archaeology of the Chalcolithic from the Northern Balkans to the Volga and beyond from the Fifth to the Second Half of the Fourth Millennium BC 46

The Collapse of the Southeastern European Copper Age - Single- and Multicausal Explanations from Invading Nomads and Environmental Crises to Shifts in Interregional Relations 50

Biographical Sketch E. N. Chernykh 54

3 The Caucasus - Donor and Recipient of Materials, Technologies, and Peoples to and from the Ancient Near East 57

The Caucasus - Physical and Environmental Features and a Considerationof Earlier Chalcolithic Developments 62

The Maikop Culture of the Northern Caucasus - A Review of Its Kurgans, Settlements, and Metals; Accounting for Its Origins and Wealth and a Consideration of Its Subsistence Economy 72

The Kura-Araxes Cultural-Historical Community (Obshchnost') of Transcaucasia - The History of Its Research and the Distribution of Its Settlements Documenting the Initial Dense Occupation of Different Attitudinal Zones throughout the Southern Caucasus and Adjacent Regions; the Nature of These Settlements and Evidence for Social Differentiation; the Spread of Kura-Araxes Peoples into the Near East in the Late Fourth to Middle Third Millennium BC 86

The Caspian Coastal Plain of Southeastern Daghestan and Northeastern Azerbaijan - The Velikent Early and Middle Bronze "Component" of the Kura-Araxes "Cultural-Historical Community"; the Sequence from Velikent and Related Bronze Age Sites, ca. 3600-1900 BC 102

The Early Kurgan Cultures of Transcaucasia - The Arrivals of New Peoples, Changes in Subsistence Economic Practices, and the Emergence of Social Complexity 113

Conclusion - Some Later Developments in Caucasian Prehistory and Shifts in the Production and Exchange of Metals 121

Biographical Sketch R. M. Munchaev 122

Biographical Sketch M. G. Gadzhiev 124

4 Taming the Steppe - The Development of Mobile Economies: From Cattle Herders with Wagons to Horseback Riders Tending Mixed Herds; the Continued Eastward Expansion of Large-Scale Metallurgical Production and Exchange 126

Archaeology on the Western Eurasian Steppes - A Short Sketch of the Recognition of Cultural Diversity and Its Relative Periodization 128

New Perspectives on Pre-Pit Grave Interconnections on the Western Eurasian Steppes 132

Horse Domestication and the Emergence of Eurasian Mounted Pastoral Nomadism 137

Bronze Age Life on the Steppes: Pit Graves to Timber Graves - Major Patterns of Development and Changes in Ways of Life 144

Bronze Age Herding vs. Eurasian Mounted Pastoral Nomadism 158

The Transformation and Eastward Expansion of Metallurgy during the Late Bronze Age; Accounting for Its Social Organization - The Contrastive Highly Centralized "Gulag" or Flexible/Opportunitstic "Gold Rush" Models 166

Biographical Sketch N. Ya. Merpert 180

5 Entering a Sown World of Irrigation Agriculture - From the Steppes to Central Asia and Beyond: Processes of Movement, Assimilation, and Transformation into the "Civilized" World East of Sumer 182

Archaeological Explorations in Western Central Asia from the Excavations at Anau to the Discovery of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (or "Oxus Civilization") - The Evolutionary Heritage of Soviet and Western Archaeology in Central Asia 184

Physical Features of the Land - Deserts, Mountains, and Sources of Water; Environmental Changes and Adaptations to Arid Environments; Irrigation Agriculture and Extensive Herding and Seasonal Transhumance 187

The Two Worlds of Western Central Asia: "Civilized" and "Barbarian"; Archaeological Transformations - Mobile Cattle Herders Become Irrigation Agriculturalists; the Multiple Origins, Florescence, and Collapse of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex 192

Secondary States East of Sumer ca. 2600-1900 BC - Cycles of Integration and Collapse; Shifts in Patterns of Exchange and Interregional Relations from the Late Chalcolithic through the Middle Bronze Age 214

Jiroft/Halil Rud: A Newly Discovered Regional Polity or Secondary State East of Sumer in Southeastern Iran 225

Archaeology, Language, and the Ethnic Identification of Material Culture Remains - Pitfalls and Lessons 233

Biographical Sketch V.I. Sarianidi 241

6 The Circulation of Peoples and Materials - Evolution, Devolution, and Recurrent Social Formations on the Eurasian Steppes and in West Asia: Patterns and Processes of Interconnection during Later Prehistory 244

Modeling the "World(s)" of Bronze Age Eurasia 245

The Functional Use of Metals, Rising Militarism, and the Advent of Iron 252

Evolution and Devolution in Bronze Age Eurasia - Culture History in Archaeology as the Search for Macrohistorical Patterns and Processes rather than the Compilation of Data; Social Evolution as "World" History 256

Appendix 261

References 269

Index 291

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