THE EARLIEST WHEELED TRANSPORT IN SOUTHWESTERN CENTRAL ASIA: NEW FINDS FROM ALTYN-DEPE

THE EARLIEST WHEELED TRANSPORT IN SOUTHWESTERN CENTRAL ASIA: NEW FINDS FROM ALTYN-DEPE

ARCHAEOLOGY, ETHNOLOGY & ANTHROPOLOGY OF EURASIA Archaeology Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 37/1 (2009) 25–33 E-mail: [email protected] ...

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ARCHAEOLOGY, ETHNOLOGY & ANTHROPOLOGY OF EURASIA Archaeology Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 37/1 (2009) 25–33 E-mail: [email protected]

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THE METAL AGES AND MEDIEVAL PERIOD L.B. Kirtcho Institute for the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, Dvortsovaya Nab. 18, St. Petersburg, 191186, Russia E-mail: [email protected]

THE EARLIEST WHEELED TRANSPORT IN SOUTHWESTERN CENTRAL ASIA: NEW FINDS FROM ALTYN-DEPE*

The article addresses models of carts found at Altyn-Depe – a key Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement in Western Central Asia, dating to the late 4th – early 3rd millennia BC. This is the earliest evidence of wheeled transport in the region, providing information on the type and construction of carts used by the early agriculturalists of the Middle East. The models represent two-wheeled carts with shafts that were apparently linked to a yoke. Judging by representations of the harness, bulls (possibly oxen) were the only draft animals. In the second half of the 3rd millennium BC, fourwheeled carts appeared at Altyn-Depe. The most common type had high walls and two shafts, drawn by a single animal – a camel or, less often, a bull. Under the increasingly arid climate, the camel became the principal draft animal in Western Central Asia. The two types of carts – two-wheeled and four-wheeled – attest to two periods of intense contacts between people of Southern Turkmenistan and those of the adjoining regions. Key words: Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, earliest wheeled transport, Western Central Asia, Altyn-Depe, draft animals, draft camel, models of wheels, two-wheeled and four-wheeled carts.

Introduction The study of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze Age sites in Southwestern Central Asia suggests that Southern Turkmenistan and possibly northern Khorasan were source areas of early farming cultures, which eventually evolved into the early urban civilization of Western Central Asia, as evidenced by the late 3rd millennium site of Altyn-Depe (Masson, 1981: 96–108) *This work was carried out under the program of the Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium: “Adaptation of Peoples and Cultures to Environmental Changes, and to Social and Technogenic Transformations.”

and the late 3rd – early 2nd millennia BC Orientaltype proto-urban center at Gonur-Depe – the capital of Margiana (Sarianidi, 2005). The cultural and technological basis of the proto-urban centers of Southern Turkmenia formed in the late 4th and the early 3rd millennia BC. These processes occurred under intense contacts both with neighboring territories and with more remote and more advanced regions of the Near East (Kirtcho, 2008; Masson, 1981: 109–118). A key role in these cultural interactions was played by transportation, since regular contacts and especially trade are impossible without adequate means of transportation. The stages in the evolution of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age wheeled transport of Western Central Asia

Copyright © 2009, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology & Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.aeae.2009.05.003

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initial Late Chalcolithic (Namazga II – early Namazga III period, ca 3650–3100/3000 BC)*. Like the Middle Chalcolithic ceramics, the objects are made of clay tempered with 2 4 3 1 vegetable matter or, less often, with mineral substance, and have a light (greenish, pink, of cream-colored) slip. They are round, 7–10 cm in diameter, have a large opening in the center 9 5 6 7 8 (one-¿fth to one-third of the diameter), and a protrusion, possibly rendering a unilateral hub (Kuzmina, Lyapin, 1980: 39). The artifacts are rather crude and generally asymmetric. Protrusions, including bilateral ones (Fig. 1, 12 11 10 13, 15, 22, 23), were apparently caused by 13 14 removing excessive clay left by piercing. The objects can be interpreted as models of wheels of the earliest carts. The actual wheels were discoid, ¿rmly connected to the 18 axle, and rotated together with it (Kozhin, 17 16 1986: 186). If so, the protrusions may have 15 5 cm 0 rendered a rigid connection between the wheel and the axle. These earliest models are rather different from Late Chalcolithic ones from the Namazga III period (ca 3200/3100 – 2800/2700 BC), represented at Kara-Depe 23 20 21 22 19 (Fig. 2, 24, 27–29) and Altyn-Depe (Fig. 2, 1–8, 10–15, 19, 22, 23). The difference Fig. 1. Wheel-shaped ceramic objects. Southern Turkmenistan concerns both their construction and size. (second half of the 4th millennium BC). Late 4th – early 3rd millennia BC models 1–4, 8 – Kara-Depe, horizons 1A, 1B, and 3 (after (Masson, 1960: pl. XIX, 6)); 5 – Chong-Depe (after (Sarianidi, 1965: pl. XXV, 35)); 6 – Altyn-Depe, excavation have bilateral “hubs” in the center, their 5, horizon 12; 7 – Ak-Depe, horizon 13; 9–12 – Ilgynly-Depe, horizons II and III; diameter does not exceed 4–7 cm, and the 13–15 – Geoksyur-9 (after (Khlopin, 1969: pl. XXVI, 48–50)); 16, 17 – Geoksyur-1, size of the opening is one-tenth to one-eighth horizon 5 (after (Sarianidi, 1960: pl. VII, 16, 17)); 18 – Northern Hill of Anau (after of the diameter of the wheel, possibly close (Kurbansakhatov, 1987: ¿g. 44, 17)); 19–21 – Akcha-Depe (after (Khlopin, 1969: pl. VII, 45–47)); 22, 23 – Aina-Depe (after (Ibid: pl. XXIII, 8–9)). to the actual proportions. Judging by the size of these artifacts and the openings, the models of carts made during the Namazga II period were ¿rst described by E.E. Kuzminykh (1980) based on were rather large and were possibly manufactured from the studies conducted in the 1950s–1970s. Many of his wood**. In Iran, the earliest model of a wheel with a principal conclusions remain valid, although generally earlier dates were suggested in more recent studies. *The archaeological periodization of Chalcolithic and Thanks to archaeological excavations at Altyn-Depe, Bronze Age localities in Southwestern Central Asia is based on conducted in the 1980s – early 2000s, and to the analysis strati¿ed reference sites – Northern and Southern Hills of Anau, of unpublished materials, new evidence has appeared, and Namazga-Depe. The following successive stages were bearing on the types of carts and the ways animals were established: Anau IA (the beginning of the Early Chalcolithic); harnessed in Southwestern Central Asia in the late 4th – Namazga I and Anau IB (Early Chalcolithic); Namazga II and Anau II (Middle Chalcolithic); Namazga III (Late Chalcolithic); early 3rd millennia BC. Earliest models of wheels The first evidence of wheeled vehicles in Southern Turkmenistan date to the mid and late 4th millennium BC. Clay objects, interpreted as models of wheels by several researchers (Fig. 1), were found in cultural horizons of early agricultural settlements of the Middle and

and Anau III (Bronze Age). At Namazga-Depe, the Bronze Age was further subdivided into Early (Namazga IV), Middle (Namazga V), and Late (Namazga VI). Sites of the Namazga I– III type represent three stages in the evolution of the Anau Chalcolithic culture, whereas Namazga IV–VI evidence the formation, peak, and collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations (Masson, 2006: 42–85). **That Chalcolithic and Bronze Age models of carts from Southwestern Central Asia were mostly wooden, is evidenced by the fact that terracotta and clay models of wheels are

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Fig. 2. Models of carts and wheels, and ¿gurines of draft animals. Southern Turkmenistan (late IV – ¿rst quarter of the 3rd millennium BC). 1–23 – Altyn-Depe, excavation 5: 1–8 – horizon 9, 9–15 – horizon 10, 16–20 – horizon 11, 21, 22 – horizon 12, 23 – horizon 13; 24–29 – Kara-Depe, horizon 1A (after (Masson, 1960: pl. X, 4, 13; XIII, 15–17)). 2, 5, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 22, 29 – clay; the rest is terracotta.

bilateral hub was found at the agricultural site of Tepe Sialk (Sialk II, 2) and dates to the early 4th millennium BC (Ghirshman, 1938: pl. LII, 9). Models of two-wheeled carts Apart from models of wheels, Namazga III type assemblages of Altyn-Depe contain clay and terracotta models of carts (Fig. 2, 9, 10, 17, 18, 21; 3; 4). They are small or even tiny oval or subrectangular objects with a thickened lower part, low walls, a transverse opening for the axle, and a deep longitudinal, slightly sloping channel for the shaft. Therefore they represent two-wheeled carts with a single ascending shaft which was probable fastened to the yoke. The animals, then, were harnessed in the same way as for plowing, shown on the famous top from Tepe-Hissar (Schmidt E.F., 1937: pl. XLVIII, H 4885). Some carts were possibly covered. One models displays vertical channels in the edges of the walls (Fig. 2, 9). Twigs inserted in these channels could have supported a roof or provided a frame for high, possibly plaited sides of the body (Fig. 4). A tiny numerous, whereas those of carts are quite few. It is easier to make a rectangular body and axles from wood, whereas wheels are easier to model from clay.

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Fig. 3. Terracotta model of a cart (partially reconstructed). Altyn-Depe. Excavation 5, horizon 11 (early 3rd millennium BC).

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Fig. 4. Clay model of a cart (partially reconstructed). Altyn-Depe. Excavation 5, horizon 10 (ca 2900– 2800 BC).

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Fig. 5. Figurines of draft animals and fragments of models of carts. Altyn-Depe (ca 2400–2000 BC). 1–14 – camels; 15–18 – bulls; 19, 22, 23, 26, 27 – models of four-wheeled carts; 20, 21, 24, 25 – models of two-wheeled carts. 11, 16, 17, 20, 21 – clay; the rest is terracotta. 1–3, 5, 12, 15, 18, 25–27 – excavation 9, horizons 1 and 2 (27 – after (Masson, 1981: pl. XXX, 1)); 4, 14 – excavation 10, horizon 2 (after (Masimov, 1976: ¿g. 16, 11, 13)); 6, 7, 13, 23 – surface ¿nds; 8, 22 – excavation 7, horizon 3 (after (Masson, 1981: pl. XXX, 2, 5)); 9, 10, 19 – excavation 5, horizon 4, 9 (?), and 3; 11, 24 – excavation 8 (planigraphic), horizon 1; 16, 17, 20, 21 – excavation 1, horizon 3.

model of a two-wheeled cart of a similar construction (Fig. 5, 21) with a Àat oval body and numerous vertical channels (possibly for twigs supporting a roof) was found at Altyn-Depe in an assemblage dating to the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (early Namazga V, ca 2300 BC)*. Apart from Southern Turkmenistan, models of twowheeled carts with a single shaft for a yoke are common in late 3rd millennium BC sites of the proto-Indian civilization – Chanhu-Daro and Lothal (Childe, 1951: pl. IX, b, c; Rao, 1985: pl. CCXXI, B). *In 1966, about one hundred clay artifacts and their fragments were found in Altyn-Depe excavation 1 near the ceramic oven of horizon 3. Possibly they had been prepared for baking. About ¿fty of them represented animals (bulls, rams, and dogs), eighteen were anthropomorphic, and ten were wheels with hubs for models of carts; some objects have not been identi¿ed (Schetenko, 1968a: 43). Certain animal ¿gurines and sixteen anthropomorphic statuettes from that assemblage were published by V.M. Masson (1981: pl. XII, 1– 4, 6, 11, 13; XIII, 1–3, 6–9; Masson, Sarianidi, 1973: 168–170, Nos. 152–167 of the Catalog, pl. XX, 11, 12; XXI, 1–6, 8, 10–

New constructions of models appeared at a late stage of the Early Bronze Age (late Namazga IV, ca 2400 BC) when Altyn-Depe became a large proto-urban center with a developed communication system and a monumental central entrance (Masson, 1981: 33, ¿g. 11)*. A clay model of a two-wheeled cart with a rectangular body open in both the front and the rear is attributable to this period. The side walls of the cart are broken. Two longitudinal channels for a shaft to harness one animal are located in front (Fig. 6, 7; 7)**. The model was found in a small cell situated at the end of a corridor of a three13; XXII, 5–7). Among the initially unidenti¿ed objects were an oval body of a model of a two-wheeled cart (Fig. 5, 21) and fragments of at least two subtriangular bodies (Fig, 5, 20). *Other large centers of the Namazga IV – Namazga V period were Namazga-Depe and Ulu-Depe on the northern piedmont plain of the Kopetdag. **A fragment of the rear part of a rectangular body (the walls are missing) of a clay model of a cart with vertical channels for support was found at Namazga V excavation 1.

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room house (excavation 5, horizon 4). The assemblage collected in the cell also included clay ¿gurines of draft bulls, a model of a wheel with a bilateral hub, damaged anthropomorphic ¿gurines, a female statuette (Fig. 6), stone tools, broken vessels, and some other objects. A small hearth on a square adobe base was located in the corner of the cell. Two-wheeled carts drawn by a single animal continued to be used in the Middle Bronze Age (Namazga V period, the last third of the 3rd – early 2nd millennia BC). A small model of a two-wheeled cart with two channels for shafts (Fig. 5, 24) and a minute model of a covered two-wheeled cart (Fig. 5, 25) with traces of attachment of the head from the animal ¿gurine were found at Altyn-Depe. Models of two-wheeled carts with a body open in the front and high walls were also recorded at Namazga-Depe (Kuftin, 1956: ¿g. 27).

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*Although the models were found within horizons 1 and 3 of the Middle Bronze Age, stylistic features of painted ornamentation on the walls suggest that they were manufactured at the end of the Early Bronze Age. **Models of wheels used for a partial reconstruction were found near the model of the cart. ***Regrettably, both the published photograph of the model and the drawing made based upon it (Kuzmina, 1980: ¿g. 2, 13) are of poor quality, so it is dif¿cult to judge about the

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Models of four-wheeled carts Models of four-wheeled carts appeared in Southern Turkmenistan at the end of the Early Bronze Age; they are well represented in assemblages of the Middle Bronze Age. Based on the best-preserved specimens, at least four variants of construction of the body can be distinguished. Variant 1. Subrectangular body open in the front, with high side walls. Models of such earliest fourwheeled carts with ornamented walls were found at Altyn-Depe (Fig. 5, 19, 22) (Masson, 1981: pl. XIX, 1)*. Actually this is the same variant of construction as in the two-wheeled clay model (Fig. 7). A fragment of a body of another model of this sort was discovered at the Bezmein settlement of the late Namazga IV – early Namazga V periods (Kuzmina, Lyapin, 1980: ¿g. 3, 4; Lyapin, 1975). Variant 2. A subrectangular body with a round bottom, lower frontal and high side and rear walls; the rear wall is lower than the side walls (Fig. 8)**. Judging from the description provided by A.F. Ganyalin (1959: 34, pl. V), the model of the cart found in 1953 at AltynDepe had a body of a similar shape: it was rectangular; the side walls were broken, but they presumably were higher than the 5.5–6 cm high frontal and rear walls***.

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Fig. 6. Clay artifacts. Altyn-Depe. 1, 2 – ¿gurines of draft bulls; 3–5 – anthropomorphic statuettes; 6 – model of a wheel; 7 – model of a cart; 8 – unidenti¿ed object. 1 – excavation 8 (stratigraphic), horizon 5 (ca 2500 BC); 2–8 – a cell in a dwelling, excavation 5, horizon 4 (ca 2400 BC).

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Fig. 7. Clay model of a cart drawn by a bull (partially reconstructed). Altyn-Depe, excavation 5, horizon 4 (ca 2400 BC).

Both models were recovered from horizon 2 of the middle Namazga V period (ca 2200 BC). The Anau III assemblage on the Southern Hill of Anau comprises the rectangular body of a cart model with broken walls, construction of the body. Another drawing of possibly the same model after reconstruction (no other nearly complete models of four-wheeled carts have been found at Altyn-Depe) was published by G.N. Lisitsyna (1978: ¿g. 6, 4).

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Draft animals

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Fig. 8. Terracotta model of a cart drawn by a camel (partially reconstructed). Altyn-Depe, excavation 9, horizon 2 (ca 2200 BC).

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Fig. 9. Terracotta model of a cart (partially reconstructed). Southern Hill of Anau (the last quarter of the 3rd millennium BC). Archives of the Institute for the History of Material Culture, Department of Photography, negative No. III 9579, excavations by R. Pampelli (1904).

which is Àattened on the bottom (Fig. 9) (Schmidt H., 1908: 172, ¿g. 419, pl. 47, 11). Variant 3. Oval body with high walls. A model of this sort with a sculptured representation of a bull’s head in front was found at Ulug-Depe of the Namazga V period (Lisitsyna, 1978: ¿g. 6, 5). Variant 4. The frontal part of the cart model in the form of a flat rectangular platform with three projections at the front (Fig. 5, 27), found at AltynDepe. A similar rectangular body with three projections at the bottom (in the corners and the middle of the frontal wall), lower frontal and side walls (the rear wall is missing) was found at Bezmein (Kuzmina, Lyapin, 1980: ¿g. 3, 3). Models of variants 1 to 3 with channels for shafts and places where the animal figurine or its head were attached probably represent carts drawn by a single animal. Models of variant 4 with traces of the attachment of two ¿gurines and/or with butts (probably for the shaft) evidently represented larger carts pulled by two animals.

Supposedly, in the 4th – early 3rd millennia BC in Southern Turkmenistan, only bulls (or oxen ?) were used as draft animals. In any case, only Late Chalcolithic bull ¿gurines have transversal openings in the withers for fastening the harness or painted strips presumably rendering a harness on the animal’s face and back (Fig. 2, 25, 26). Such ¿gurines attributable to the second half of the 3rd millennium BC (late Namazga IV – Namazga V) were found at Ulug-Depe (Lisitsyna, 1978: ¿g. 6, 1) and Altyn-Depe (Fig. 5, 15–17; 6, 1, 2). Some of them have a distinct hump (Fig. 6, 1) and possibly represent zebu-like animals. However no bone remains of humped zebu cattle were recorded at Chalcolithic or Bronze Age sites in Southern Turkmenistan (Kasparov, 2006: 57). At the same time, one ¿gurine (Namazga V period) with an opening in the upper part of the hump represents a camel (Fig. 5, 11). Isolated bones of two-humped camels found on the Northern Hill of Anau, at Chong-Depe, and at sites of the Kelteminar cultural community (Ibid.: 62, 63; Kuzmina, 1980: pl. II) testify that Bactrian camels lived in Western Central Asia as early as the 5th–4th millennia BC. In the second half of the 3rd millennium, they were already used as draft animals. The earliest, reliably documented terracotta head of a harnessed camel was recovered from horizon 4 of Altyn-Depe (ca 2400 BC) (Fig. 5, 9)*. A painted sculpture of a camel head from Taichanak-Depe dates from the same period (Schetenko, 1968b: ¿g. 11, 2). Terracotta and clay heads of camels or, less often, of bulls with pins that were inserted into the carts and with openings in the front of the animal’s face for reins are frequent at sites of the Namazga V – Altyn-Depe type (Fig. 5, 1–10, 18) (Masson, 1981: pl. XIII, 10–12; XXX, 2–4) and at other sites of Southern Turkmenistan (Kuzmina, 1980: pl. II; Kuzmina, Lyapin, 1980: ¿g. 1, 4, 5; Lisitsyna, 1978: ¿g. 6, 2). Figurines of two-humped camels (Fig. 5, 12–14) were found at Altyn-Depe in layers attributable to the late 3rd millennium BC. The important role of camels in the late 3rd – early 2nd millennia culture of Southern Turkmenistan is evidenced by ¿nds from Gonur-Depe (Dubova, 2004: 267, ¿g. 22; Sarianidi, 2005: 193, 210, ¿g. 56, 95, 96). Details of models of carts and other wheeled objects In Late Chalcolithic models of carts (the same as in most Early and Middle Bronze Age specimens), axles were *A similar head found in the upper layer of the in¿ll of the yard (horizon 9 of the ¿nal Late Chalcolithic) (Fig. 5, 10) may have gotten into this layer when later sediments collapsed.

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put through a hole at the bottom of the body. In the late Namazga IV period, there appeared terracotta models with molded oval or subrectangular “loops” (Fig. 5, 23) that were attached to the lower portion of the body with pins (Fig. 10, 2, 8). Axles were put through these “loops.” This system of axle attachment is illustrated by a model of a two-wheeled cart from Namazga-Depe (Kuftin, 1956: ¿g. 27). According to E.E. Kuzmina, the two ways of fastening the axles did not reproduce the constructions of actual carts; rather, they imitated two ways of fastening axles on Near Eastern iron models (Kuzmina, Lyapin, 1980: 40, 41). The latter, however, date to the end of the 3rd – beginning of the 2nd millennia BC. The “loops” on the models possibly imitate the connection between the frame of the body and the ¿xed axles. Separately made “loops” were used for connecting the axles not only to the models of carts, but also to animal ¿gurines and to zoomorphic vessels. The earliest wheeled ¿gurine and a fragment of a vessel with a zoomorphic handle are attributed to the mid 3rd millennium BC

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(Fig. 10, 1, 6). Wheeled zoomorphic vessels are most numerous in the Altyn-Depe assemblages of the last third of the 3rd millennium BC. Representations of camels (Masson, 1981: pl. XX, 3) and bulls (Fig. 10, 1, 9–11) are most frequently encountered on such artifacts. Some Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze age models of wheels have drawn circles on their lateral surfaces (Fig. 2, 12, 29; 10, 16) (Kuftin, 1956: ¿g. 27). These circles possibly represent a leather or metal band placed over the rim of a wheel. The Middle Bronze Age assemblage from Altyn-Depe contains models of wheels with embossed details that probably correspond to light wooden wheels with slots or to composite wheels with metal tires (Fig. 10, 12, 14, 17, 18), The latter are known from Early Dynastic Period collections of Ur, Kisha, and Suz (Childe, 1951: 179–183, pl. VII, ¿g. 3; Littauer, Crouwel, 1979: 15–36, ¿g. 3, 5, 7). At Gonur-Depe, fourwheeled carts with composite wooden wheels and bronze tires that resemble Suz specimens were found in “royal” tombs of the late 3rd – early 2nd millennia BC (Dubova, 2004: 276–279; ¿g. 35–37, 40–42).

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Fig. 10. Terracotta artifacts. Altyn-Depe (ca 2500–2000 BP). 1 – wheeled ¿gurine of a bull; 3–5, 7 – wheeled zoomorphic vessels; 2, 8 – “loops” for axles; 6 – the handle of a vessel shaped as a ram’s head (?); 9–11 – spouts shaped as bull heads; 12–18 – models of wheels. 1, 6 – excavation 5, horizon 5; 2–4, 8, 11–16, 18 – excavation 9, horizons 1 and 2; 5, 7 – excavation 7, horizon 3; 9, 10, 17 – surface ¿nds.

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The function of the models of carts and their occurrence The function of the models of carts and of the wheeled zoomorphic objects remains obscure. Fragments of a model of a two-wheeled cart in a burial of child aged 9–10 at Altyn-Depe (Fig. 11) may indicate that they were toys. Also, traces of abrasion on hubs (Fig. 10, 13) and in places where the wheels contacted the body of the model or the zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 5, 7; 10, 7) indicate that the models were rolled. On the other hand, abundant evidence from various parts of the ancient world points to a symbolic and prestigious meaning of carts in burials (Masson, 1976: 165, 166) and to their use in rituals (Kuzmina, 1980: 19, 20). In any case, the form of these models may be in some way indicative of the actual construction. The analysis of the frequency of models of wheels, carts, and representations of draft animals with relation to excavated areas in various stratigraphic horizons of Altyn-Depe suggests that their occurrence was highest in Late Chalcolithic layers (horizons 10 and 9). In the Early Bronze Age, their frequency decreased nearly fourfold, whereas during the late Namazga IV and Namazga V periods their number increased again (by a factor of 3).

Conclusion Based on models of carts, wheels, and representations of draft animals, the history of wheeled transport in Southwestern Central Asia from the Chalcolithic to the Middle Bronze Age falls into three stages. The ¿rst stage (the second half of the 4th millennium BC) is tentatively characterized by wheel-like objects and possibly by remains of models of carts with ¿xed discoid wheels connected to a rotating axle. The second stage (late 4th – ¿rst half of the 3rd millennia BC) is marked by twowheeled carts with single shafts and rotating wheels with bilateral hubs, drawn by two bulls. At the third stage (second half of the 3rd millennium BC), two-wheeled and four-wheeled carts with high sides appear, as well as covered carts drawn by a bull or, more often, by a camel connected to the cart by shafts. There were also open carts pulled by two bulls. A new system of attaching the axles and a new type of composite wheels probably appeared at the same stage. Apparently, carts of all types were ¿rst of all used for carrying loads. Covered two-wheeled carts, basically similar to medieval arbas, were probably used for transporting people. The appearance of the two principal types of carts (two-wheeled carts drawn by two animals, and two- and four-wheeled carts drawn by a single animal) and their distribution at Altyn-Depe may evidence two periods of intense contacts between Southern Turkmenistan and the adjacent territories in the late 4th – early 3rd millennia BC and in the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. The relative scarcity of remains of models of carts in the early and middle stages of the Early Bronze Age (ca 2750–2450 BC) may testify to a transportation crisis that occurred in the second quarter of the 3rd millennium BC. At that time, progressive aridization precluded the use of carts drawn by bulls as a means of long-range transportation. Climatic changes apparently led to the domestication of the camel, which, in the second half of the 3rd millennia, became the principal draft animal of Western Central Asia.

References

Fig. 11. Remains of a wooden (?) model of a cart with terracotta wheels from a child’s burial. Altyn-Depe, excavation 9 (ca 2000 BC).

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Received February 1, 2008.