Aydogdy Kurbanov : Exploring the Neolithic to Chalcolithic transition in Central Asia. Case study in Dashly-depe (Turkmenistan)

On The November 4, 2019

10h00 to 12h00
26, Place Bellecour - 69002 Lyon
Salle de réunion - Allée A - 1er étage

The Neolithic Dzheitun culture (ca 6300 - 4500 BC), the period of the origin and early development of agricultural economies in Western Central Asia, was followed by the Chalcolithic Anau and Namazga cultures. The names of these cultures came from the names of two archaeological sites in southern Turkmenistan. The period Anau IA (4500 - ca 4000 BC) was period of the Neolithic to Chalcolithic transition in this region. For the history of Western Central Asia, this was a major era of social transformation caused by the technological change (e.g. introduction of irrigation farming, metallurgy), which allowed increasing economic production and exchange in turn leading to social stratification (i.e., the formation of “elites”). The main elements of the Dzheitun culture disappeared.

The lecture will be about Dashly-depe which is an important archaeological site that seems to span the Neolithic-Chalcolithic transition in the foreland of the Central Kopetdag. The radiocarbon dates from this site give important new data and underline the likelihood that this site probably begins in the Neolithic (Dzheitun) period, at the same time or even before the sequence at Anau North. The layers excavated so far chronologically overlap with all the periods of Anau. In the Chalcolithic periods (Namazga I-III) life appears to have continued without any visible major interruption from the older layers and therefore this transition phase can be studied here - a situation very rare in Central Asia.
During the 2018 excavation seasons, due to the National Geographic financial support, pottery similar to the materials of the Yaz I culture (ca 1500 - 1000 BC) was found in a trench at the top of the mound. After several archaeological seasons Dashly-depe, being a unique site in this region, demonstrates a chronological sequence from the Late Neolithic period and through the Bronze Age periods up to the Early Iron Age. Dashly-depe is, at present, also one of the most western early sites of the late Dzheitun and early Namazga cultures, which may also permit studying contacts to the contemporaneous cultures in neighboring regions.

Bio: Aydogdy Kurbanov is a historian and archaeologist who specializes in the study of the Prehistoric and Early Medieval Central Asia. He is a Fellow 2019-2020 of the Collegium de Lyon.