Topic ID #39094 - posted 1/8/2018 11:20 AM

Armenia- Masis Blur Field School 2018


The Southern Caucasus, located between Europe and Asia, has served as an important corridor for human movement and migration since the Paleolithic period connecting Anatolia, the Near East, Europe, and Asia. The Ararat plain in particular was among the most important routes during the Neolithic period. It is within this landscape that all known Neolithic settlements of Armenia are concentrated. The site of Masis Bur, a Neolithic sedentary agricultural settlement, is located on the ancient bank of the Hrazdan river, the largest river which flows through Armenia and drains into the Araks River along the border between Armenia and Turkey. Once a 2.5-meter-high anthropogenic mound, today the site can be recognized only through artifact scatters across the agricultural field. The mound was destroyed during the early 1970s, after which the Department of Archaeology of Yerevan State University conducted two seasons of exploratory excavations in the mid-1980s, documenting wellpreserved architecture and associated features built from plastered mud. The site was dated to the Late Neolithic Period (ca. 5600-5400 BC) based on ceramic and lithic typology. In 2012, our joint Armenian-American team began systematic excavations at Masis Blur under the auspices of Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Yerevan (Armenia) and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UC Los Angeles. Our work during three seasons revealed a 3-meter deep uninterrupted cultural sequence dated to around 6000 BC through radiocarbon dating methods (ca. 6200-5400 cal. 2 | P a g e BC). The settlement consists of circular plastered architecture with associated silos, hearths, workshops, various activity areas, and trash middens. It contains a rich collection of obsidian and bone tools, ground stone industry, ceramic fragments, zooarchaeological and botanical remains, as well as artifacts of personal adornment. The site is one of the earliest Neolithic communities recorded in the Southern Caucasus to date and has the potential to offer an important insight into the various processes that accompanied the establishment of the first farming economies the region. While most Neolithic research in the southern Caucasus has focused on vertical excavations, giving us an in-depth knowledge of the longue durée of the site occupation, our knowledge of horizontal spread and planning of these settlements is still sparse. Thus, our research at Masis Blur focuses on horizontal exposure of the site. The excavations of two nearby Neolithic sites (both 10-12 km from Masis Blur) over the last decade give us a good understanding of building phases and the general depth Neolithic settlements. However, we still do not know how densely these settlements were built at a given phases or how living and activity areas were organized at a settlement level. We believe that a large horizontal exposure, combined with special analysis, in addition to techno-chronological studies, will increase our understanding of cultural developments in the Ararat plain during the Neolithic period.

Credit Units: Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units) through our academic partner, Connecticut College. Connecticut College is a private, highly ranked liberal arts institution with a deep commitment to undergraduate education. Students will receive a letter grade for attending this field school (see grading assessment and matrix). This field school provides a minimum of 160 direct instructional hours. Students are encouraged to discuss the transferability of credit units with faculty and registrars at their home institutions prior to attending this field school.

Lodging: Students and staff will be staying in a dedicated excavation house in a quiet neighborhood in Yerevan. The accommodations are shared bedrooms, with two to five persons per room. Western-style showers and plumbing will be available at the excavation house, along with a kitchen and basic supplies for after-hours self-service. Sheets, pillows, and towels will be provided, but participants should bring personal hygiene products or purchase these in Yerevan. The dig house will have WIFI. Meals: Three meals (Armenian cuisine) per day are provided during the work week (Monday-Saturday). Students are responsible for their weekend meals (Sat dinner and Sun breakfast and lunch). This program can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets. However, kosher and gluten-free diets are not possible to accommodate at this location.


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