Aknashen, also known as Khatunarkh, is an archaeological site located in the Armavir Province of modern-day Armenia. The settlement dates back to the Neolithic period and has provided valuable insights into the region’s early history of human civilization. Here is a detailed overview of the site.
Location and Excavations
Aknashen is an archaeological site situated near the village of Metsamor in the Ararat Valley, within the Armavir Province of Armenia. The settlement dates back to the Neolithic period and was first discovered in the 1960s. Systematic archaeological excavations at Aknashen began in 2004, led by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, with the involvement of international researchers as well.
The archaeological site of Aknashen dates back to the Neolithic period, around the 6th millennium BCE. The excavations at the site have revealed multiple layers of habitation, suggesting that it was occupied for a prolonged period. Some of these layers may date to the Chalcolithic period, also known as the Copper Age, which represents the transitional period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.
The excavations at Aknashen have uncovered the remains of both circular and rectangular mud-brick houses, demonstrating the architectural styles and building techniques of the Neolithic period. Some of these houses had plastered floors, which is evidence of the attention paid to construction quality and living conditions during that time.
The presence of central hearths in some dwellings suggests that they were used for cooking and heating purposes, indicating the development of domestic activities and the importance of hearths in Neolithic households.
Furthermore, the layout of the houses at Aknashen implies that the settlement was planned and organized. This level of organization reflects the complexity of the society living there and provides a glimpse into the social structure and community life during the Neolithic period in the Armenian Highlands.
A variety of artifacts have been uncovered at the Aknashen archaeological site, including pottery, obsidian, bone, and stone tools. These artifacts provide valuable insights into the daily life, trade, and cultural practices of the Neolithic inhabitants of the site.
The pottery discovered at Aknashen is characterized by its dark color and, in some cases, features geometric patterns and decorations. This showcases the artistic expression and pottery-making skills of the people who lived there.
The presence of obsidian tools is particularly noteworthy, as it indicates long-distance trade between Aknashen and other settlements. Given that the nearest source of obsidian is more than 100 kilometers away, this suggests that the inhabitants of Aknashen were part of a wider trade network in the region.
The discovery of numerous clay figurines at the site implies that the inhabitants of Aknashen likely practiced some form of religion or ritual. These figurines may have been used as votive offerings, representations of deities, or as part of other ritualistic activities.
In summary, the diverse range of artifacts found at Aknashen provides a wealth of information about the Neolithic people’s way of life, their interactions with other communities, and their cultural and religious practices.
Economy and Lifestyle
The inhabitants of Aknashen were primarily involved in agriculture and animal husbandry, which formed the basis of their subsistence and economy. The cultivation of crops such as wheat, barley, and lentils provided them with a stable food source, while the raising of domesticated animals, including cattle, sheep, and goats, supplied them with meat, milk, and other products.
The presence of grinding stones, querns, and other tools associated with food processing at the site is indicative of a well-developed agrarian economy. These tools would have been used for tasks such as grinding grains into flour, which was then used to make bread and other staple foods. Agriculture and animal husbandry development during the Neolithic period represented a significant shift from a primarily hunting and gathering lifestyle to a more settled, agrarian-based society.
This transformation allowed for the growth of more complex societies, as food surplus and storage enabled the development of permanent settlements like Aknashen. The well-developed agrarian economy also facilitated the emergence of specialized labor and social stratification, which are characteristic features of more advanced civilizations.
The settlement of Aknashen plays a crucial role in understanding the early human civilization in the Armenian Highlands. The site offers valuable evidence of the transition from a hunting and gathering lifestyle to a more settled, agrarian-based society. This shift allowed for the development of more complex societies, as agriculture and animal husbandry provided a stable food source, leading to the establishment of permanent settlements like Aknashen.
Moreover, the site demonstrates the cultural connections between the Armenian Highlands and the broader Near East during the Neolithic period. For instance, obsidian tools indicate long-distance trade with other settlements in the region. Artifacts such as pottery and clay figurines also reveal similarities in artistic expression, craftsmanship, and religious practices with other contemporary Neolithic cultures.
In summary, the archaeological site of Aknashen is essential for understanding the development of human civilization in the Armenian Highlands and the connections between this region and the broader Near East during the Neolithic period. The site sheds light on the transition to an agrarian-based society and the cultural practices that defined this crucial period of human history.