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European Kingdoms

Early Cultures

 

Early Caucasus

The pre-history of Europe is a long and largely uncertain period in which small windows of opportunity to view events can be gained through archaeology. Masses of material are found each year by archaeologists, and a system was long ago needed to help organise all these findings.

FeatureThe system which has evolved to catalogue the various archaeological expressions of human progress is one which involves cultures. For well over a century, archaeological cultures have remained the framework for global prehistory. The earliest cultures which emerge from Africa are perhaps the easiest to catalogue, right up until human expansion reaches the Americas. The task of cataloguing that vast range of human cultures is covered in the related feature (see link, right). Archaeological cultures remain the framework for global prehistory.

Europe's earliest cultures which came out of Africa via the Near East are perhaps the easiest to catalogue. These early cultures include transitional ones such as the Bohunician, which covers part of the earliest occupation of modern humans in Europe.

Once the ice had retreated and Europe had become a much more hospitable place, human cultures became increasingly regionalised, or at least confined to areas less expansive than the entirety of Europe. The Magdalenian culture of circa 17,000 to 12,000 BC includes the well-known cave art of Lescaux (in France) and Altamira (in Spain), with the earliest dated sites being in France.

Subsequently, cultural complexity appears and increases as human populations increased. What had been a single human culture across Europe eventually divided in two which - at least at first - can be equated to Northern Europe and Southern Europe.

In the south the late Palaeolithic Epigravettian culture emerged across much of Italy, the Balkans, and western Ukraine. When this entered the Mesolithic period regional variations had already begun to appear, sparking the start of a series of local Eastern European cultures which began with the Iron Gates culture in the Balkans and the Shan Koba culture in Crimea. The Caucasus mountain range to their immediate east soon experienced its own wave of archaeological cultures, starting with the Gubs.

Homo Neanderthalis

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by David Reich (Harvard Medical School), from A Genetic Signal of Central European Celtic Ancestry, David K Faux, from Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability, and Transmission, Benjamin W Roberts & Marc Vander Linden (Eds), from The Magdalenian Settlement of Europe, Quaternary International Volumes 272-273 (2012), and from External Links: The Genetic History of Ice Age Europe (Nature 2016), and Dietary Change from the Mesolithic to the Middle Ages in the Iron Gates, C Bonsall (Lead Author, Cambridge University Press, 18 July 2016).)

EARLY CULTURES INDEX

King list Gubs Culture
(c.11,200 - 6000 BC)


The type site for the Gubs culture are the Gubs rock shelters in the north-western Caucasus, a series of shelters on the left bank of the Borisovskoe Gorge.

King list Imereti Culture
(c.11,200 - 6000 BC)


Imeretian locations contain Levantine influences, as do the other cultures in the Caucasus which have sometimes been gathered under the Trialetian umbrella.

King list Chokh Culture
(c.11,000 - 6000 BC)


The most representative site for the Chokh culture is the Chokh site itself, which today is located in the central (mid-mountain) part of Dagestan.

King list Trialetian Culture
(c.11,000 - 7600 BC)


The term 'Trialetian' has often been used as an umbrella catch-all for a total of five South Caucasus cultures, but is not widely accepted.

King list NE Black Sea Culture
(c.10,000 - 6000 BC)


This culture emerged along the north-eastern coast of today's Georgia as a sister of the larger Imereti to its south, with inland extensions of perhaps fifty kilometres.

King list Kobuleti Culture
(c.9700 - 6500? BC)


The emergence of the Kobuleti comes as something of a surprise, appearing in a fully completed form at the beginning of the Holocene.

 
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