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A.Courcier, B.Djallilov, N.Gailhard, A.Hauptmann - METALLURGY DURING THE CHALCOLITHIC (5-TH MILLENNIUM B.C.) IN AZERBAIJAN: AN INSIGHT THROUGH ANCIENT EXCAVATIONS AND RECENT DISCOVERIES (MENTESH TEPE, OVÇULAR TEPE)

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A. Courcier

Institut de Recherche sur les ArchéoMATériaux (CNRS), Belefort, France

B. Djallilov

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography ANAS, Baku, Azerbaijan

N. Gailhard

Universités Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Paris I, France

A. Hauptmann

German Mining Museum, Bochum, Germany

METALLURGY DURING THE CHALCOLITHIC (5-TH MILLENNIUM B.C.) IN AZERBAIJAN: AN INSIGHT THROUGH ANCIENT EXCAVATIONS AND RECENT DISCOVERIES (MENTESH TEPE, OVÇULAR TEPE)

The questions on the beginnings of ancient metallurgy in Azerbaijan have been the subject of studies since a long time ago and still continue to be debated today. The first metallurgical evidence, indeed mostly indirect, appeared during the 6th millennium in few sites related to Shomu-Shulaveri Culture: Gargalartepe (Азарова, Махмудов, Нариманов, 1973. С. 435), Göytepe (Courcier, in press), Hassansutepe (Museibli N., personal communication). During the 5th millennium, the metallurgy seems to be characterized by a technological development, according to the discoveries found, several decades ago, in sites related to Kul’tepe-Alikemektepe and Sioni Cultures. But, these data are too limited or too ancient in order to well define the Cultures represented, to date them and to estimate their relationships. As well as, the data concerning the metallurgy during this period are limited to few discoveries. At Kul’tepe 1 (Nakhichevan) and Alikemektepe (Imishli district), ornaments, tools and metallurgical waste were found by A.A. Abibullaev (Абибулаев, 1965. С. 67; Selimkhanov, 1966. S. 226) and F.R. Makhmudov (Махмудов, Нариманов, 1974. С. 455). However, the levels, where the metal objects were discovered, are not dated with certainty (Lyonnet, Gulyev, 2010. S.223-224). Two metal objects, discovered by I.G. Narimanov several years ago at Chalagantepe (Agdam district) (Нариманов, Джафаров, 1990. С. 5), illustrate the metallurgy during “Sioni Culture”. The settlement of Mentesh-Tepe is located in western Azerbaijan at the foot of the Smaller Caucasus in the Kura River valley. It was first visited by I.Narimanov in the 1960’s who dated it to the Chalcolithic period, mentioning the presence of combed pottery. At that time, the site was a small and already very damaged mound 40-45 m in diameter, 1 m high (Нариманов, 1987. С. 32-33). During the 70’s, the mound was totally leveled down in order to give place to a vineyard. Thanks to inhabitants’ indications, its location was re-discovered in 2007, near the village of Ashagi Ayibli in the Tovuz district. Excavations have been programmed since 2008 and are still in process. Sponsored originally by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France, they are now part of a joint ANR-DFG project “Ancient Kura” directed by Pr. Dr.Bertille Lyonnet (Head of research, CNRS – UMR 7192, Paris) and Dr.Barbara Helwing (Head of research, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Eurasien-Abteilung, Berlin). Four seasons of excavations at Mentesh-Tepe have unearthed numerous metallurgical evidences. Most of them come from the Chalcolithic levels and date to the second half of the 5th mill. BCE, others are related to the Kuro-Araxe Culture (second half of the 4th – first half of the 3rd mill.). The number of metallurgical finds is exceptional. It is the first time indeed that so many items, including objects, ores and waste, have been discovered in a settlement of such an ancient date in the Caucasus. In order to better understand and characterize the metallurgy at Mentesh Tepe we have engaged archaeometallurgical studies in Research Laboratory for Archaeology and Materials Sciences at the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum at Bochum (Germany), under the direction of Pr. Dr.Andreas Hauptmann. Ovçular Tepesi is a late prehistoric settlement located in western Nakhchivan, immediately to the North of the village of Dize (district of Sarur), on a natural hill overlooking the Arpaçay river. It is a multi-period site, whose archaeological deposits belong to the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. The site is situated in a strategic location. It controls one of the major northbound routes in Nakhchivan, which leads from the Araxes valley to the highlands of the South Caucasus. In 2006 the excavation of the site started in collaboration with a French team under the auspices of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (AMEA, NB) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) under the direction of C.Marro and V. Bakhshaliyev (Marro et al., 2011). Important information relating to metallurgy issues of Caucasian Late Prehistory was made at Ovçular Tepesi during the last three excavation seasons. In 2010, three copper axes were found in a Late Chalcolithic burial jar together with the remnants of new-born child. These tools consisted of two flat axes together with a shaft-hole axe-hammer. The exceptional value of this grave is further enhanced by comparison with four other child burials discovered at Ovçular Tepesi since 2006: one of them found by chance and out of context, only contained two copper rings and a few white beads while the others contained no gift at all. But for sure, the copper axes and another found in burial are clearly the reflection of some kind of social hierarchy, which appears to have been well established at Ovçular Tepesi by the end of the 5th millennium. Beside this discovery, we have also trace of a metallurgy production on the site with copper ore, slag, tuyère and one fragment of crucible. All these elements seem to suggest an unexpected metallurgical activity at a site like Ovçular Tepesi for the 5th and 4th millennium. The finding of metal objects or related object to the metallurgical production in a site like Ovçular Tepesi no doubt represents an exceptional discovery, even if very little is known about this technological context: geochemical and metallographic analyses are now conduct in Research Laboratory for Archaeology and Materials Sciences at the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum at Bochum (Germany), under the direction of Pr. Dr. Andreas Hauptmann. We hope to present at this conference more details about the production system leading to the crafting of these tools. These metallurgical evidences, found in these two recent excavations at Mentesh Tepe and Ovçular Tepe, illustrate probably the development of metallurgy during the 5th millennium BC. We will present here the preliminaries results of archaeometallurgical investigations realized in the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and Materials Sciences at the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum at Bochum in Germany. These research could contribute to better understand the beginnings of the metallurgy in the South Caucasus during the Chalcolithic.


References

Абибуллаев О.А., 1965. К вопросу о древней металлургии Азербайджана // МИА. Вып. 125.

Азарова Р.Б., Махмудов Ф.Р., Нариманов И.Г., 1973. Раскопки на энеолитическом поселении Гаргалар Тепеси // АО-1972 г. М.

Махмудов Ф.Р., Нариманов И.Г., 1974. Поселение Аликемек Тепеси // АО-1973 г. М.

Нариманов И.Г., 1987. Культура древнейшего земледельческо-скотоводческого населения Азербайджана (эпоха энеолита VI-IV тыс. до н.э.). Баку.

Нариманов И.Г., Джафаров Г.Ф., 1990. О древней металлургии меди на территории Азербайджана // СА. №1.

Courcier A., 2012. Mentesh Tepe, the metallurgical Evidence: preliminary results of archaeometallurgical analyses // Archäoligische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Bd.44.

Courcier A., in press. Ancient metallurgy in the Caucasus from the middle of the Vth/ beginnings of the IVth to the IIIrd millennium B.C. // A Global Perspective in Early Metallurgy. New York.

Courcier A., Bode M., Hauptmann A., Jalilov B., Prange M., Ragimova M., forthcoming. Archaeometallurgical research on metallurgical artefacts discovered at Mentesh-Tepe (the 5th millennium BC): preliminary results // Origini (in press).

Lyonnet B., Gulyev F., 2010. Recent Discoveries on the Neolithic and Chalcolithic of Western Azerbaijan // TÜBA-AR. Vol. 13.

Marro C., Bakhshaliyev V., Ashurov S., 2011. Excavations at Ovçular Tepesi (Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan). Second Preliminary Report: the 2009-2010 seasons // Anatolia Antiqua. Vol. 19. Paris.

Selimkhanov I.R., 1966. Ergebnisse von spektralanalytischen Untersuchungen an Metallgegenständen des vierten und dritten Jahrtausends aus Transkaukasien // Germania. Bd. 44.