აღმოსავლეთ ხმელთაშუაზღვისპირეთის არქეოლოგიური კონტექსტის არსებობა სამხრეთ კავკასიის შუა ბრინჯაოს ხანის კულტურაში
ივანე ჯავახიშვილის სახელობის თბილისის სახელმწიფო უნივერსიტეტის გამომცემლობა
From the end of III millennium BC and especially the first quarter of the II millennium BC in South Caucasian dominant cultural landscape, i.e., the Trialeti culture, evidently became clear the appearance of those artefacts which were characteristic for the Ancient Near Eastern and, in particular, Eastern Mediterranean region’s archaeological context. The present article devoted to the detail typological and artistic-stylistic analysis of the certain type of patterns that are related and sometimes finds a close analogue with the material of the different cultural centers of the contemporary period Near Eastern world. Among these assemblages obviously prevalent are the metal items made by bronze or, in some case, even precious metals. Appearance of this certain types of valuable patterns in the South Caucasian region and, consequently, its widespread diffusion allows us to assume in favor of the most activated communication in the period of the I and II phases of the Middle Bronze Age, i.e., from the mid III millennium, including the first half of 17th century BC. This time interval in South Caucasus coincides with the existence of two different archaeological unites: Bedeni and Trialeti cultures. South Caucasus which is considered as the most northern periphery of the Near East, from the remote past was a distinguishable region from the point of intercultural relation with the neighboring southern civilizations. This relationship becoming especially activate and, as well of another dimension, from the end of III and first quarter of the II millennium BC which is corresponds to development of the Trialeti culture. The best evidences that revealed obvious the cultural communication between the mentioned regions comes exclusively from the burial sites of this cultural unit. Exactly this culture, better than any other Bronze Age ones, reveals those innovations and achieves which seems familiar not only to the local but as well the neighboring Ancient Near Eastern civilizations. This fact in different years was discussed in various publications of some Georgian and foreigner scholars (O. Japaridze, E. Gogadze, K. Rubinson, M. Puturidze and others). It should be noted that none of the other South Caucasian cultures doesn’t represents such large quantity of Near Eastern style artifacts as the Trialeti culture of the Middle Bronze Age. It is thus significant that the start of the Trialeti culture at the same time represents the beginning of the cultural orientation of the South Caucasian area toward the Near Eastern civilizations. Among the impressive number of the different types of precious burial goods (toreutics, jewelry) of the Trialeti culture, it is possible to single out the main ‘alien’ Near Eastern style items, or some individual features which differs from the characteristic local artifacts, and have no prototypes in the Caucasian region. Exactly such artifacts indicate that nearly all achievements and knowledge of producing the certain fashionable metal items of different styles were known and successfully adopted by the Middle Bronze Age South Caucasian cultural unites (Bedeni and Trialeti cultures) from the Near Eastern world. Supposing that transfer and distribution of various modern technical methods and stylistic fashions point out about the cultural connections between the above-mentioned regions and, as well, the common knowledge in craft of the complicate metalworking field. Currently, given an attempt is to consider the archaeological context of cultural interrelation of the South Caucasian mentioned cultures with the most south-western region of the Near East, i.e., Eastern Mediterranean. Before the consideration of the above-mentioned issue, it seems important specially shortly mention about the existed communication between these regions in previous period, i.e., during the Early Bronze Age archeological culture. This is exactly those exceptional periods, when beside the other areas of Ancient Near East, the Eastern Mediterranean and South Caucasus was covered by the entire Kura-Araxes cultural unit. Consequently, the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture represents the most evident, specific and long lasting, nearly one thousand years, period of interrelation between the South Caucasian and Eastern Mediterranean regions. After this powerful and widely distributed culture, cultural unity between the interesting to us regions were interrupted around 2500/2400- 2200 BC years which was the period of quite another Bedeni culture. After this short period of interruption, the intercultural relationship again was renovated at the developed, II phase of Middle Bronze Age Trialeti culture. This famous phenomenon, i.e., the Trialeti culture shows the few types of metal artifacts obviously well represented in Eastern Mediterranean archaeological context. This kind of materials indicates in favor of actualization of relationship between these regions. Though, it might be the direct, instinctive or indirect contacts and quite possible that be realized by the help and via the other region of the Ancient Near East, like the central Anatolia. In essence, recording of the Near Eastern cultural tradition’s important archaeological evidences in large amount of the sites of South Caucasian culture, obviously have a great sense for understanding the existed relationship in end of III – first half of the II millennium BC. Specially should be assigned those group of artifacts which seems the characteristic material for the Easten Mediterranean region and clearly revealed in Middle Bronze Age assemblages of Bedeni and Trialeti cultures. Among these materials it is especially important to note the following artifacts: a) anchor shaped metal axes which used to be as the insignia for the elite representatives of society (rulers, priests); b) metal, double handled cauldrons of the utilitarian purpose which were intended for the burial ritual banquet; c) bronze long swords – rapiers which always were recorded only in rich burial sites. In presented article discussed about the close resemblance with the analogical type of above noted metal production with those from the ancient the Eastern Mediterranean region and as well the entire Near East. From this point we focused on those metal weapons and vessels discovered in Byblos, Kül Tepe- Karum Kaneș II layer, #18 rich merchant’s grave of Assur, Ras Shamra, Abidos, Kheluan, Luristan and Mycenaean #5 shaft-grave. By scholars all of them considered as a close analogue to the items from South Caucasian Middle Bronze Age various burial sites. It is an important issue to define the detailed localization and local typological variety of all these above-mentioned types of metal objects which were distributed not only in Eastern Mediterranean but as well in other different areas of the Near East and South Caucasus. Such radiation of these assemblages proves in favor of that, the in South Caucasian cultural landscape they were distributed from south, exactly the Ancient Near Eastern region. Supposing that the all-above-mentioned artifacts indicate that the III – II millenniums BC South Caucasian Middle Bronze Age Bedeni and Trialeti Cultures were in certain cultural relationship with the Near Eastern world and, in particular, with Eastern Mediterranean. Expressing this assumption, we based on the fact of diffusion of these materials within the last area. It is essential to indicate that from the different Middle Bronze Age cultural unites of different phases of it (Bedini, Trialeti, Middle Bronze Age III phase, Tazakend, Sevan- Uzerlik and Kizil Vank cultures), exactly the famous Trialeti Culture of Brilliant Kurgans is distinguished with the close intercultural relations with Near Eastern world and not the other ones which very rarely or completely not at all demonstrates such case. The Trialeti culture is evidently outstanding one from the point of the activation of intercultural relation, accepting and in some cases transformation of the Near Eastern civilizational achieves in local, South Caucasian landscape and their clear adaptation. Considered in the presented article archaeological context provides an important information and illustrates the intensified international communication and acceptance of many cultural achievements symptomatic for the Middle Bronze Age above-mentioned areas. At the end of III and first quarter of the II millenniums BC, these communications reached quite another, even the top level. The best evidence which confirms this fact comes from the burial sites of the famous Trialeti culture, located in different areas (current Eastern Georgia and Armenia) of its wider distribution. Valuable patterns of South Caucasian bronze and precious metal samples of this culture clearly shows the novelty in stylistic and technical methods which mainly were characteristic for the neighboring southern civilizational unites. Among those artifacts which find close analogies with the Eastern Mediterranean cultural world obviously might be separated the anchor-shaped axe, bronze cauldron and bronze rapier (long sword). All these categories clearly reveal the closest similarity, sometimes even the identity, with those from the entire Near eastern region. Beside the already noted metal artifacts, South Caucasian archaeological evidences of late III – first quarter of the II millennium BC presents the many other different categories of toreutics and jewelry produced by rich metals which indicates in favor of the existed trade-exchange or/and cultural interrelations of this area with the outer, exclusively, Near Eastern world. The Trialeti culture, development of which coincide with this period is directly related with drastic social stratification and concentration of wealth by the ruling elite. Together with the considered bronze long swords, anchor-shaped axes represented the elite’s insignia and cauldrons, the several other precious metal items of this culture are the clear manifestation of a fairly developed level of toreutics, which signals the developed phase of high artistic craft in the southern regions of Caucasus. The origin of the all incomparable precious metal working patterns of the Trialeti culture was predetermined by several factors, among which we must include increasingly brisk contacts with the Near East. The highly artistic and fine-crafted prestigious artifacts clearly shows that Trialetian craftsmen were familiar with the achievements and traditions of the southern civilizations, one of the important areas of which was the Eastern Mediterranean region. In conclusion, it can be pointed out that today it is quite clear that there is an evergrowing necessity to conduct a detailed study of the complexes of the mid III – first quarter of the II millenniums of already mentioned cultures in accordance with the Eastern Mediterranean and more eastward surrounding areas of the Near East.
ეძღვნება აკადემიკოს ზაზა ალექსიძის ხსოვნას (1935 – 2023)/ Dedicated to Memory of Academician Zaza Aleksidze (1935 – 2023)
აღმოსავლეთმცოდნეობა, №12, თბილისი, 2023, გვ.: 188-203/ Oriental Studies, №12, Tbilisi, 2023, pp.: 188-203