The period between the 4th and 3rd millennia B.C. was the time of great cataclysmic events in the Caucasus; its cultural advances were influenced by changes within its boundaries as well as interactions with the outside world.
The most significant occurrence of this epoch was the appearance of a large number of peoples of Mesopotamian cultural identity who contributed to speeding up the rhythm of its cultural development, adding “explosive” character to its progress.
During this period the South Caucasus experienced two powerful waves of Middle Eastern expansion: the first at the time of Late Neolithic culture of Sioni in the 4th-5th millennia B.C., and the second at the period of Tsopi culture in the Late Neolithic Age, at the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th millennium B.C., which is known as the Uruk expansion era. Later, in the second half of the 4th and throughout the 3 rd millennium B.C., during the Early Bronze Age the Kura-Araxes culture of the Caucasus spread throughout the greater part of the Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia, northern parts of Iran, Middle East and even Europe.
In this context, recent archaeological finds in the Southern and Northeastern Caucasus gave yet another, entirely new nuance to scientific researches into the ancient past of the Caucasus. They made it clear that incursion of these peoples into the Caucasus was not a onetime event, but continued for a significantly long period. Reasoning by the topography of the archaeological finds in Mesopotamia, it becomes clear that large masses of migrant settlers from that area did not move straight along the route to Transcaucasia in order to reach the destination faster. Actually, they settled down in every region of the Caucasus, in the mountains and flatlands, in areas where they could maintain a lifestyle familiar to them.
It seems obvious that from that period on, two cultures of the Caucasus that had been at different stages of development could coexist peacefully on the basis of their mutual participation in metallurgical manufacturing; it was this type of communal economy that gave impetus to a speedy development of the local culture. This is well illustrated by the metallurgical items of the Kura-Araxes culture, which is significantly more advanced in comparison with the preAeneolithic culture.
At present the situation has changed drastically. On the basis of a whole series of radiocarbon analyses, it has been proved [15; 82] that burial mounds of the ancient pit-grave culture are of a significantly later period in comparison with Maikop archaeological sites. This allows scholars to assume that the tradition of building this type of burial mounds emerged precisely in the Maikop culture. Its ties with Levant and Mesopotamian antiquities point to its earlier origin [15: 97]. At the same time, a whole range of chronological data obtained with radiocarbon analysis has established that the settlements and burial mounds of the South Caucasus containing Uruk artefact are coexistent with the Maikop culture [13: 149-153] and, accordingly, the ancient pit-grave culture and its burial mounds belong to a later period. Therefore, today we cannot possibly ascribe the emergence of this kind of burial mounds in the Maikop culture as well as similar contemporaneous sites in the South Caucasus to the influence of the steppe zone cultures. Moreover, there were no adverse conditions that would have prevented emergence of this type of burial mounds in the Caucasus itself
BULLETIN OF THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, vol. 6, no. 2, 2012
Uruk Migrants in the Caucasus
ABSTRACT. At the end of the 5th and in the 4th millennia B.C. large masses of Uruk migrants had settled in the South, and later in the North Caucasus. Assimilation of cultures of the newcomers and residents, as a result, caused their “explosive” development paving the way to the formation of the Maikop culture in the North Caucasus and the Kura-Araxes culture in the South Caucasus. © 2012 Bull. Georg. Natl. Acad. Sci.