Bronze Age Caucasus

13 Oct 2010

High in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia a previously unknown Bronze Age civilisation has been discovered - dating back to the 16th and 14th centuries BC. The sites are spread over 60 miles between the Kuban River and Nalchik in the east (see www.redorbit.com/modules.news/tools.php?tool=print&id1929825 - and it is probably connected to the Kuban civilisation which was discovered over a hundred years ago - but slightly later in date. The sites are very high, between 4000 and 8000 feet, and some 200 settlements have been plotted so far.

In Current Archaeology 248 November 2010 issue, and the section News, we learn that a site on Orkney going back to around 3000BC included the discovery this year of large numbers of roofing slates of uniform thickness - sounds very modern but that was the available material at hand. Clay had been used to caulk gaps between the slates. In addition, the huge building first unearthed in 2008, 25m by 19m, possessed massive 5m thick walls - why? A paved outer passage surrounds a cross shaped internal chamber and built into this construct are stones with cup marks, recycled standing stones, and numerous examples of incised decoration.

Post Ice Britain (ditto) ... archaeologists reinvestigating Star Carr near Scarborough, on what was formerly a large lake in the very early section of the Holocene (and subsequently became a bog) have discovered a substantial building - probably a house. It is well built, with thick timbers, and has been C14 dated 9200-8500BC. Carpentry was a developed skill even at this early date it would seem, as trackways/ walkways were also found, and numerous worked flints and other clues suggest the Mesolithic population of the region was quite high. They appear to have used fire to clear the lakeside so their favoured prey species, aurochs and red deer, could be seen more easily.

Ireland in the Mesolithic (ditto) ... some seven fish traps dating between 6000-5700BC were found beneath Dublin's dockland. At that time what is now the Liffey estuary appears to have also been a watery habitat and the fish traps themselves were found buried in estuarine silt (which preserved them) at a depth of 4m to 6m below current sea level.

.... and the Neolithic (ditto) ... which dates between roughly 4000 and 2500BC. An early site was found when the Waterford By Pass was being built while over in Co Kildare the river Lerr was the focus of human activity in both the Mesolithic and the Neolithic, even as late as the Iron Age - basically as a burial site (on gravel terraces or ridges of high ground).