Trialeti–Vanadzor culture

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A bejeweled gold cup from Trialeti. National Museum of Georgia, Tbilisi.

The Trialeti–Vanadzor culture, previously known as the Trialeti–Kirovakan culture, is named after the Trialeti region of Georgia and the city of Vanadzor, Armenia. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BCE.[1] The Trialeti–Vanadzor culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura–Araxes culture.[2] Some scholars speculate that it was an Indo-European culture.[3][4][5] It developed into the Lchashen–Metsamor culture.[6] It may have also given rise to the Hayasa-Azzi confederation mentioned in Hittite texts,[7] and the Mushki mentioned by the Assyrians.[8]


The earliest Shulaveri–Shomu culture existed in the area from 6000 to 4000 BC.[9] The Kura–Araxes culture followed after.

The flourishing stage of the Trialeti–Vanadzor culture began near the end of the third millennium BC.[10]

During the final phase of the Middle Bronze Age (c.1700–1500 BC), in addition to the Trialeti–Vanadzor culture, three other geographically overlapping material culture horizons predominate in the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) and eastern Anatolia: Karmir Berd (a.k.a. Tazakend), Karmir Vank (a.k.a. Kizil Vank, Van-Urmia), and Sevan-Uzerlik (a.k.a. Sevan-Artsakh).[11]

Black-burnished and monochrome painted wares vessels from the cemeteries of Ani and Küçük Çatma (Maly Pergit), both in the Kars Province of Turkey, and tr:Sos Höyük IV in Erzurum Province resemble those of Trialeti.[12]


At that time, there was already strong social differentiation indicated by rich mound burials. There are parallels to the Early Kurgan culture. Cremation was practised. Painted pottery was introduced. Tin-based bronze became predominant. Geographical interconnectedness and links with other areas of the Near East are seen in many aspects of the culture. For example, a cauldron found in Trialeti is nearly identical to the one from Shaft Grave 4 of Mycenae in Greece.[10]

The Trialeti–Vanadzor culture shows ties with the highly developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean,[13] but also with cultures to the south and east.[14]

Trialeti-Vanadzor painted monochrome and polychrome pottery is very similar to that in the other areas of the Near East. In particular, similar ceramics are known as Urmia ware (named after Lake Urmia in Iran). Also, similar pottery was produced by the Sevan-Uzerlik culture, and the Karmir Berd-Sevan culture.

The site at Trialeti was originally excavated in 1936–1940 in advance of a hydroelectric scheme, when forty-six barrows were uncovered. A further six barrows were uncovered in 1959–1962.[15]

Related kurgans[edit]

Martqopi kurgans are somewhat similar, and are contemporary to the earliest among the Trialeti kurgans. Together, they represent the early stage of the Early Kurgan culture of Central Transcaucasia.

This Early Kurgan period, known as Martkopi-Bedeni, has been interpreted as a transitional phase and the first stage of the Middle Bronze Age.[16]

Burial practices[edit]

The Trialeti–Vanadzor culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves.[13] These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq.[9] They also worked tin and arsenic.[17] This form of burial in a tumulus or "kurgan", along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery.[18] In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy.[19] This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.[20]

The Trialeti–Vanadzor pottery style is believed to have developed into the Late Bronze Age Transcaucasian ceramic ware found throughout much of what is now eastern Turkey. This pottery has been connected to the expansion of the Mushki.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Munchaev 1994, p. 16; cf., Kushnareva and Chubinishvili 1963, pp. 16 ff.
  2. ^ The Making of Bronze Age Eurasia - Page 266 by Philip L. Kohl
  3. ^ John A. C. Greppin and I. M. Diakonoff, "Some Effects of the Hurro-Urartian People and Their Languages upon the Earliest Armenians" Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 111, No. 4 (Oct.–Dec. 1991), pp. 721 [1]
  4. ^ Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel, Jean M. Evans, Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) [2] (2008) pp. 92
  5. ^ Kossian, Aram V. (1997), The Mushki Problem Reconsidered pp. 254
  6. ^ Robert Hewsen. Armenia: A Historical Atlas. University of Chicago Press. 2001. p. 22.
  7. ^ Kosyan, Aram (2014). "To the East of Hatti". In Özfırat, Aynur (ed.). Essays in Honour of Veli Sevin. Yayinlari. p. 279.
  8. ^ Kossian, Aram V. (1997), The Mushki Problem Reconsidered pp. 260-261
  9. ^ a b Geraldine Reinhardt, Bronze Age in Eurasia Lecture Delivered 29 July 1991; Archived 21 JUL 2015
  10. ^ a b Joan Aruz, Sarah B. Graff, Yelena Rakic, Cultures in Contact: From Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B.C. The Metropolitan Museum of art symposia. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013 ISBN 1588394751 p12
  11. ^ Daniel T. Potts A Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Volume 94 of Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. John Wiley & Sons, 2012 ISBN 1405189886 p.681
  13. ^ a b "Trialeti culture". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-02-16.
  14. ^ Edens, Christoper (Aug–Nov 1995). "Transcaucasia at the End of the Early Bronze Age". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 299/300 (The Archaeology of Empire in Ancient Anatolia). The American Schools of Oriental Research: 60, 53–64. doi:10.2307/1357345. JSTOR 1357345. S2CID 163585471.
  15. ^ The Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus. Charles Burney and David Marshall Lang p 90- 96.
  16. ^ The Beginnings of Metallurgy
  17. ^ Edens, page 56
  18. ^ Edens page 58
  19. ^ Edens page 59
  20. ^ Edens, see generally
  21. ^ Kossian, Aram V. (1997), The Mushki Problem Reconsidered pp. 260-261

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