Periodization Table - Karashamb

Development of the cultural-chronological periodization table for the Karashamb necropolis, which serves as the bases for publishing in the catalogue-album. For the development of the periodization table, we have taken into account information available to us for the entire region, stratigraphic and radiometric information from archaeological monuments. Based on the information obtained from archaeological monuments of the region dated to the Bronze - Iron Age (Early Bronze Age: Kura-Araxes; Middle Bronze Age: early tome culture, Trialeti-Vanadzor, Sevan-Artsakh, Karmir Berd, Karmir Vank; Late Bronze Age: Lchashen-Metsamor), on information obtained from type-sites and over 1500 burials excavated from Karashamb, we have developed the following periodization table.


For Lchashen-Metsamor Culture

LM 5B - first quarter of the 7th century - mid 6th century BC. For defining and dating of this sub-stage are important materials of the Urartian layers of Karmir Blur (for the lower border) and the tombs with classical Urartian materials in which materials typicl for the Achaemenid period (for the upper border) are also present.

LM 5A - first quarter of the 8th century - first quarter of the 7th century BC. For defining this sub-stage are essential those archaeological layers and tombs, in which materials typical for Urartian (Van-Tosp) and Lchashen-Metsamor cultures appear together, but local pottery examples typical for Karmir Blur layers are absent. This stage coincides with the group of sites of «Early Urartian period» of H. Martirosyan (Мартиросян 1956). The dating of its lower border is based on materials from the «layer of furnaces» of Metsamor following the «burnt layer», and for the upper border - the possible dating of construction of Teishebaini (Мартиросян 1954; Мартиросян 1964; Avetisyan and Bobokhyan 2012).

LM 4B - mid of the 11th century - border of the 9/8th centuries BC. This sub-stage is defined based on the materials of the pre-Urartian layer of Metsamor, the «burnt» layers of Karmir Blur and Dvin as well as the layers and tombs typical for preceding Early Iron Age.

LM 4A - mid or end of the 12th century - the mid 11th century BC. Many Early Iron Age tombs in Armenia are represented both by materials typical for the mentioned «burnt» layers and that of the Late Bronze Age. These observations allows us to define a sub-stage based on materials which are characterized by the comparatively earler pre-Urartian traits. The radiocarbon data for the latest layers of the Late Bronze Age can be considered as terminus ante quem for this sub-stage (Avetisyan and Avetisyan 2006; Avetisyan 2009).

LM 3 - mid 13th century - mid or end of the 12th century BC. The main characteristic trait of the sites of this sub-stage is presence of certains types of weapons and ornaments, which are not typical for the complexes of the Early Iron Age and early stages of the Late Bronze Age. For the lower border of this stage are important late radiocarbon dates of materials typical for the early stages of the Late Bronze Age.

LM 2 - third quarter of the 15th century - mid of the 13th century BC. Layers and tombs with classical sets of the Late Bronze Age ceramics and metal artefacts make up the core of this stage. It coincides with the «Lchashen group»of sites defined by H. Martirosyan. Chronological frames are defined by radiocarbon data from Gegharot, Tsaghkahovit and some other settlements.

LM 1 - end of the 16th century - third quarter of the 15th century BC. Complexes of this sub-stage are represnted by materials typical for the end of the Middle Bronze Age and for the Lchashen-Metsamor culture. At the same time, during this sub-stage appear such types of ceramics that are absent in the complexes of the preceding and following periods. The majority of metal artefacts are identical to characteristic assemblages of the Late Bronze Age. Based on these criteria this stage is characterized not as transitional phase but as the earliest reflection of the Lchashen-Metsamor complex (Badalyan and Avetisyan 2007; Avetisyan and Bobokhyan 2008).
The periodisation system of the Middle Bronze Age archaeological cultures is represented by three stages which we call post-Kura-Araxes (PKA) 1, 2, and 3.

PKA 3 - the 18/17th centuries - third quarter of the 16th century BC. Stratigraphic data from Haftavan and Uzerlik tepe, as well as the case of coexistence of materials typical for Karmir-Berd (KB), Sevan-Artsakh (late complexes - SA-2), Karmir-Vank (KV), Trialeti-Vanadsor (complexes following the «Flourishing period - TV-3») cultures enable us to group the corresponding materials in a single culture-chronological stage - PKA III. The chronology of this phase is based on radiocarbon data from Horom, Oshakan Tomb N 30 and Sotk 2.
For the definition and chronology of PKA II we would like to mention that our observations demonstrate that the complexes to be attributed to Trialeti-Vanadsor culture are characterized by three typological groups - TV-1, 2, 3. TV-1 comprises tombs typical for Early Kurgans’ inventory (most part of kurgans of «Flourishing period» I group defined by E. Gogadze, «Big» kurgan of Karashamb, Nerkin Naver Tomb 1, etc.), materials of lower layer of Uzerlik tepe and Armenian tombs connected with it, materials of Trialeti II group, as well as II and III groups with «mixed» materials. TV-2 coincides with III group of «Flourishing period» of E. Gogadze (except those complexes which are represented by the Late Bronze Age materilas) and complexes connected to it in their inventory. At the same time, the presence of common traits in these two typological units attest that all of the complexes to be attributed to the «Flourishing period» can be grouped within a single stage, which has been already suggested by B. Kuftin (Куфтин 1941).
The inventory of tombs excavated in Sisian I cemetery, characterized by unique painted vessels, demonstrates that it takes an intermediate position between the upper and lower layers of Uzerlik tepe. Taking into account what was said above, we separate the SA-1 typological unit. The presence of vessels of TV-2 in Sisian I tombs speaks of the contemprenaity of these two complexes. Based on this observation, we unite the tombs with materials of TV-1-2 and SA-1 within a single stage (PKA II). At the same time, taking into account, that within this stage are present complexes with earlier and later traits we group the TV-1 complexes into PKA IIA and PKA IIB sub-stages. Particularly, in the Karashamb «Big» kurgan, Artashavan Tomb N 5, Nerkin Naver Tomb N 1, as well as in many complexes excavated in Georgia and Aserbaijan are present artefacts typical for Bedeni kurgans, a case attesting that these all should be dated according to the upper chronological border of PKA I stage. For PKA II there are radiocarbon dates both from «pure» complexes (Aruch Kurgan II, Lori Berd Tomb N 77) and from TV-2/SA-1 coexested complexes (Geghakar layers and Sisian I Tomb N 5). The data for lower and upper borders for this stage are integrated between 1880-1690 BC., i.e. 1690 BC appears as terminus post quem for PKA III and terminus ante quem for PKA II. Radiocarbon data for TV-1 are only from a single site (Nerkin Naver) which is not enough to present the chronology of this stage in a wider context. In any case, taking into account the lower border of Nerkin Naver data, which fluctuate between 2340 and 2030 BC, the chronological borders proposed for Haftavan VIC as 2200-2000 BC (Burney 1983; Burney 1994) as well as data obtained for the upper chronological border for complexes of PKA I, we can state that 2200/2170 BC can be considered as terminus post qem for PKA II stage.
Accordingly, we propose the following periodization scheme:

PKA 2B - beginning of the 19th century - border of the 18/17th centuries BC.

PKA 2A - the 23/22th centuries - beginning of the 19th century BC.
Recent radiocarbon data from the site of Gegharot enable us to date the Karnut-Shengavit complexes to the 2900-2500 BC (28). Absolute data from Aghstev valley sites, such as the Kalavan 1 tombs also attest that unmixed complexes should be dated to the end of the 27th - border of the 26/25th centuries BC . It is noteworthy that, as a rule, within the ceramic repertoire of the mentioned Karnut-Shengavit group are absent vessels decorated with engraved triangles with grooved lines, which are very popular in the «upper» layer of Shengavit and in Aigevan. The mentioned ornament is typical also for the Early Kurgans. This fact hints that these archaeological realities, previously considered within the Karnut-Shengavit stage, should be separated as a distinct chronological horizon attesting the end of the Shengavit culture, which is not reflected in Gegharot, Karnut and similar sites.
By juxtaposing materials and radiocarbon data from some of the Kura-Araxes culture sites with materials typical for Early Kurgans we think that the ceramic repertoire of such sites as Aigevan and the Shengavit upper layer should be grouped within 2500-2335/2325 BC, being different in their «transitional» traits from Kura-Araxes unmixed layers. On the basis of what has been said above, and with the data on absolute datings of Kura-Araxes unmixed layers in mind, the final stage of Shengavit culture in the Araxes basin we date from the border of the 26/25th centuries to the third quarter of the 24th century BC. The stratigraphic position of Shengavit, Dvin, Sos Höyük tombs suggests that 2335/2325 BC is a terminus post quem for these.
PKA 1 - third quarter of the 24th century - border of the 23/22th centuries BC. (Avetisyan and Bobokhyan 2008; Smith, Badalyan, and Avetisyan 2009; Avetisyan and Bobokhyan 2012).


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