Neolithic in South-Eastern Uzbekistan began in the VI millennium BC

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists have explored the rocky canopy of Kainar-Kamar, located in southeastern Uzbekistan, and have discovered a well-preserved succession of cultural layers from the Holocene era.

An analysis of animal bones at this monument showed that the locals began to engage in cattle breeding as early as the 6th millennium BC. They did not find any evidence of agriculture older than the 2nd millennium BC. The results of the study are presented in the journal Archaeological Research in Asia.

The process of transition from an appropriating to a producing economy is one of the turning points in the history of mankind.

The domestication of cereals and small cattle began no later than the 10th millennium BC in several centers of the Fertile Crescent, from where this type of farming spread to the rest of the Middle East and Europe. However, the process of transition to cattle breeding and agriculture in Central Asia remains rather poorly studied.

Most of the materials related to the neolithization of this region were obtained by Soviet archaeologists as early as the middle of the last century.

They identified three main cultures of the Early Neolithic: Jeytun (Turkmenistan), Kelteminar (Eastern Turkmenistan, South Kazakhstan and Western Uzbekistan) and Hissar (Tajikistan). Archaeologists believe that the neolithization of the region began in the 6th-5th millennium BC.

Neolithic in South Eastern Uzbekistan began in the VI millennium BC 2

Yoshihiro Nishiaki from the University of Tokyo, together with scientists from Uzbekistan, explored the Kainar-Kamar rock canopy, discovered in southeastern Uzbekistan near the famous Teshik-Tash grotto, where Soviet archaeologists discovered the burial of a Neanderthal child.

The researchers noted that this newly discovered site preserved well-dated cultural layers covering the entire Holocene epoch, that is, more than ten thousand years.

Archaeologists have identified six main periods when people occupied this monument, starting from the Mesolithic era. They confirmed the selected periodization (with the exception of the most ancient stage) using 39 radiocarbon datings.

So, they assigned to period 1 the cultural layer dating back to 1200 BC – 300 AD. In it, scientists found fragments of ceramics, animal bones, as well as bronze and iron tools. Period 2 (c. 4200–2900 BC) includes several hearths made of limestone and sandstone, as well as stone tools, a small number of bone tools, and pottery.

Archaeologists noted that the cultural layer, dated around 5600-5300 BC, is characterized by a fairly long presence of people. In it they found hearths, stone and bone tools. Similar finds were made in the cultural layer dating back to 7700-6600 BC, where a large amount of ash was also found.

Older deposits contained scant evidence of human presence. Thus, the rock canopy was used by local residents in different eras. At the same time, archaeologists noted that their absence from the site around 6000 BC may be due to climatic changes that occurred about 8200 years ago.

Neolithic in South Eastern Uzbekistan began in the VI millennium BC 3

A study of faunal materials collected at this site showed that at the beginning of the 6th millennium BC, local residents switched to a pastoral lifestyle.

This is indicated by an increase in the number of remains of sheep and goats (with a predominance of the former), and these animals gradually decreased in size (indirect evidence of domestication). In addition, the bones of cattle first appeared at this time.

In parallel, there was a change in the technologies for the production of stone and bone tools, which became similar to the Neolithic industry of Southwest Asia. However, archaeologists have not been able to link the finds with previously identified cultures.

During the excavations, scientists did not find evidence that people from Kainar-Kamar cultivated crops before the 2nd millennium BC. In addition, among the stone implements there are no tools that could potentially be used for harvesting.

However, archaeologists have found a large number of remains of pistachios (Pistacia vera) at the site, which are quite rare on prehistoric sites. Apparently, in this region, these fruits have been used as a seasonal food for the past ten thousand years.

Neolithic in South Eastern Uzbekistan began in the VI millennium BC 4

Earlier on N + 1 they talked about the research of Neolithic sites located in Turkey. So, archaeologists found 11,000-year-old pillars in the form of phalluses in a buried building, and anthropologists figured out the domestication of sheep and goats in the settlement of Ashikly-Hyuyuk.

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