Namazga-Tepe

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Namazga-Tepe

 

(Namazgatepe), the remains of an Aeneolithic and Bronze Age settlement in what is now the Turkmen SSR, 7km west of the Kaakhka railroad station. Its area is about 70hectares. The thickness of the cultural layers is as much as 34m.

Excavations by B. A. Kuftin in 1952 established the stratigraphy of Namazga-Tepe, which became a guide to investigations of other remains in Middle Asia. Namazga-Tepe I, the layer dating from the second half of the fifth and the early fourth millennium B.C., has dwellings made of sun-dried bricks, single flexed burials, painted modeled vessels, copper objects, and clay female statuettes. Activities were concentrated in the northern part of the settlement. In Namazga-Tepe II, the layer of the mid-fourth millennium B.C., bichromatic vessels have been found. Namazga-Tepe III dates from the late fourth and early third millennium B.C. and is typified by vessels with representations of animals similar to those found in Iran (Sialk, Hissar).

In the middle of the third millennium B.C. (Namazga-Tepe IV), the settlement grew and expanded to its entire size. The potter’s wheel came into use, and flat terra-cotta female figurines became common. Namazga-Tepe V, which dates from the late third and early second millennium B.C., was marked by the greatest level of cultural development. It was during this period that an urban civilization of the ancient Oriental type formed, with principal centers at Namazga-Tepe and Altyn-Tepe. At this stage, pottery was unornamented, and there were two-level potter’s kilns, copper and bronze cast objects (knives, daggers, mirrors), and clay models of vehicles. The remains of multiroom dwellings separated by narrow streets have been discovered. Along with Mundigak and Shahri-sohte in eastern Iran, Namazga-Tepe was at this time one of the important center of urban civilization between Sumer and India.

After the middle of the second millennium B.C. (Namazga-Tepe VI), the culture went into decline. The area of settlement decreased, and the clay objects become cruder. The decline may have been associated with the resettlement of tribes.

REFERENCES

Litvinskii, B. A. “Namazgatepe.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1952, no. 4.
Trudy Iuzhno-Turkmenskoi arkheologicheskoi kompleksnoi ekspeditsii, vol. 7. Ashkhabad, 1956.
Masson, V. M. Sredniaia Aziia i Drevnii Vostok Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.

V. M. MASSON

References in periodicals archive ?
Major sites in Turkmenistan are those of Anau, Namazga depe, Altyn depe, Togolok, Ulug depe and Gonur depe.
Namazga depe, near Kaka, was studied from 1949 onwards by soviet scientists.
At Anau, Turkmenistan, grape seeds are absent from the Chalcolithic mound, with deposits dating as late as 3100 BC (Miller 2003), but do occur in the Bronze Age mound, Namazga V levels (c.
The Namazga IV period at Altyn depe dates from 2700 to 2100 BC (Masson 1979: 29).
The largest settlements in the Kopet dag foothills were Namazga depe (above 50 ha) and Altyn depe (26 ha), Ulug depe (20 ha), Kara depe (15 ha), and Geoksyur (12 ha).
In a similar pattern, the settlement of Kara depe was abandoned and its population joined the large centre of Namazga located near-by.
These details are very similar to the late Namazga V figurines (type I and type III) from the foothill zone of southern Turkmenistan (Masson & Sarianidi 1973).
Such terracotta animal figurines have been part of the Central Asian cultural tradition since Namazga III times; they may be originally related to the painted animal designs on the Namazga III ceramics from Kara depe (Masson 1961).
The stepped design is traditional in Central Asia, where it is found on the painted ceramics from Namazga IV times and on carved stone beads, censers and discs from Namazga IV levels of Ulug depe.
It expanded to Uzbekistan, to eastern Iran and into Baluchistan (Santoni 1984; 1988; Jarrige & Hassan 1989; During-Caspers 1992; Hiebert & Lamberg-Karlovsky 1992), and Seistan (Besenval & Francfort in press), merging with the piedmont Namazga V at the Kelleli and ancient Gonur oasis of Margiana.
By such an approach also it becomes clear that the influx from Indus and Elamite Iran is more technological and morphological in a broad sense than ideological and societal, and that the Oxus Civilization is not an organic development of the large cities of Namazga IV-V, but above all a descendant of the small piedmont towns with fortified palaces like Mundigak and Sarazm, and of the previous Proto-Elamite expansion, in relation with a permanent steppe connection, from the Afanasevo-Okunevo-Kel'teminar times to the Andronovo-Kajrakkum-Tazabagjab period.
The initial settlement is dated to 2200-2000 BC (Gonur period 1, the late Namazga V period), and the establishment of the distinctive oasis culture forming the base of the 'Oxus Civilization' to 2000-1750 BC in Gonur period 2 (BMAC) (Hiebert 1993b).