CATEGORY: flora DEFINITION: A plant cultivated for its hairy flowering heads, from which come fibers widely used in textiles. The earliest cotton yet found comes from the site of Mehrgarh in Pakistan, where it was probably being cultivated before 4000 BC. The earliest records of cotton in the New World come from the Tehuacan Valley of central Mexico, c 4300 BC, and pre-ceramic villages on the Peruvian coast from 3300 BC. It was grown in northeast Mexico by c 2000, and was introduced into the southwestern United States in the 1st millennium BC. In the Old World, the first known occurrence is in the Indus Valley civilization where cotton was used for both string and textiles at Mohenjo-Daro by 2750 BC. The first record in African archaeology goes back only to the culture of Meroë in the fifth century BC. Actual cotton fabrics appeared at Mohenjodaro around 2500 BC.
CATEGORY: culture; site DEFINITION: A valley in southern Peru, north of the city of Ayacucho, with a series of caves -- notably Pikimachay (Flea) Cave and Jayamachay (Pepper) Cave -- which were the site of a complex of unifacial chipped tools (basalt and chertcore tools, choppers, unifacial projectile points) and bone artifacts (horse, camel, giant sloth) dating between 15,000-11,000 BC. A human presence has been suggested in the Ayacucho Basin at that time, which would correspond with the first wave" of immigrants to the New World. Succeeding levels contain burins blades fishtail points and manos and metates. Gourds squash cotton lucuma and seed plants such as quinoa and amaranth were cultivated in the Ayacucho Basin before 3000 BC; corn and beans within the next millennium. There were also ground stone implements for milling seeds. It has been claimed that llamas and guinea pigs were domesticated within the complex. "
CATEGORY: language DEFINITION: An heroic poem, considered the highest achievement of Old English literature and also the earliest European vernacular epic. Preserved in a single manuscript (Cotton Vitellius A XV) from c 1000 AD, it deals with events of the early 6th century and is believed to have been composed between 700 and 750. It did not appear in print until 1815. Beowulf is one of the earliest, longest and most complete examples of Anglo-Saxon verse. Although originally untitled, it was later named after the Scandinavian hero Beowulf. Its themes are essentially the conflict between good and evil and the nature of heroism; fantasy and reality are intertwined as the hero Beowulf fights Grendel and other semi-mythological monsters. There is no evidence of a historical Beowulf, but some characters, sites, and events in the poem can be historically verified. Perhaps Beowulf's greatest contribution to archaeology is the light the poem has shed on the funerary customs displayed in the Sutton Hoo ship burial. The opening passages describe how the dead King Scyld Scefing was borne out to sea in a ship; jewels were placed on his chest, armor and treasure heaped around his body, and a standard was hoisted overhead.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Muisca CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A South American people who lived in the high valleys around the modern cities of Bogota and Tunja in Colombia. They had a population of more than 500,000 and were more centralized politically than any other South American people outside the Inca empire. Each of the many small districts had its own chief and they belonged to several lesser states that in turn were allied to two major states, each headed by a hereditary ruler. The arrival of the Spanish cut short the Chibchas' development and their political structure was crushed in the 16th century. Their language was no longer spoken by the 18th century. Archaeological evidence is of a scattered rural population who cultivated highland crops and traded salt and emeralds for cotton, gold, and luxury goods. Gold, copper and tumbaga (a copper-goldalloy) were also worked in a variety of techniques. The ceremonial coating of the chief's body with gold leaf may well by the origin of the El Dorado legend. Chibcha's ceremonial practice centered around sun worship and included human sacrifice.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: El Paraiso CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A Late Preceramic site on the coast near Lima, Peru, occupied between 1800-1600 BC. The ruins reveal eight complexes of approximately 25 rooms, each built of stone. The complexes were rebuilt five or six times. Artifacts of shell, bone, stone, wood, and polished dried clay figurines have been found as well as evidence of woven cotton textiles.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The raising of plants by man for his use; deliberate propagation of a species primarily for its fruit, seed, leaf, or fiber. Cultivation greatly increased and stabilized man's food supply. The change from food gathering to food production has been called the Neolithic Revolution, and was one of the most important advances in human development. The first among Old World crops were wheat and barley, developed as cultivated species c 7th millennium BC. To these were added oats and rye in Europe, millet in Asia, and sorghum in Africa. In the Americas, the process was equally slow. First crops included beans, cotton, gourds, maize, manioc, potatoes, and squashes.
Hafun / Hafun Point
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Xaafuun CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A peninsula on the eastern coast of Somalia with the best archaeological evidence yet available from the East African coast south of the Red Sea for early tradecontact with the Mediterranean world at the beginning of the Christian era. No permanent settlement is attested, but burials contain imported pottery, some of it Hellenistic. The earliest written accounts of the East African coast occur in the Periplus Maris Erythraei" -- apparently written by a Greek merchant living in Egypt in the second half of the 1st century AD -- and in Ptolemy's Guide to Geography the East African section of which in its extant form probably represents a compilation of geographic knowledge available at Byzantium in about 400. The Periplus describes in some detail the shore of what was to become northern Somalia. Ships sailed from there to western India to bring back cotton cloth grain oil sugar and ghee while others moved down the Red Sea to the East African coast bringing cloaks tunics copper and tin. Aromatic gums spices tortoiseshell ivory and slaves were traded in return."
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Indus Valley civilization CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: One of the great civilizations of antiquity, located in Pakistan and northwest India in the 3rd millennium BC. Nearly 300 settlements of the civilization are known: two large cities (Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa), and a number of smaller towns and villages (Chanhu-Daro, Judeirjo-Daro, Kalibangan, and Lothal). The Harappan civilization was characterized by a high level of architectural, craft, and technical achievement. We know little of the political, social, and economic structure of the civilization because, although it was literate, the script remains undeciphered. Like other early civilizations in Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Harappan civilization was based on the cultivation of cereal crops (plus rice and cotton), probably with irrigation. Among the most distinctive achievements of this civilization are the architecture and town planning, with the use of true baked brick for building, and cities and towns laid out on a grid-iron street plan, perhaps the earliest examples of town planning in the world. Among crafts, the most outstanding were the seals, mostly made of steatite and decorated with carefully executed incised designs. The Harappan civilization came to an end early in the 2nd millennium, either as a result of environmental factors (excessive flooding) or as a result of invasions by Aryan intruders. It is divided into three phases -- Early, Mature (Urban), and Late (Post-Urban) and emerged from Punjab and Baluchistan regions.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Huaca Prieta de Chicama; Chicama CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A Late Preceramic site on the desert coast of north Peru with a radiocarbon date of c 2300 BC and probably occupied from c 3500-1800 BC. It was the first preceramic village to be excavated in the country and one of the first sites dated by the radiocarbon method. Evidence of a sedentary life is seen in subterranean houses, gourd containers, and reliance on sea food, wild plants, and cultivated beans, peppers, and squashes -- the earliest agriculture in South America. The people made patterned cotton textiles by twining without the aid of a loom and also produced basketry.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An Iron Age site in southern Zambia, occupies in the 14th-15th centuries AD by peoples who engaged in extensive trade in copper and gold. Elaborate graves contained metal bangles, ingots, iron hoes and gongs, bundles of copperwire, woven cotton cloth, marine gastropod shells, gold beads, and imported glass beads. This evidence for development of trade in the Zambezi Valley coincides in date with the decline of Great Zimbabwe.
Pacific Littoral tradition
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A tradition developed c 4000-1800 BC on Peruvian coast. Settled communities lived off maritime resources and cultivated cotton and gourds for materials for fishingindustry. Bone, wood, shell, stone were worked. There were textiles, an early art style, and temple platforms in ceremonial centers.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Valley site in Puebla, Mexico, with human occupation from at least 7000 BC. This desert valley, 1800 meters above sea level, has one of the longest continuous sequences in Mesoamerica (ending 1520 AD). The earliest inhabitants were nomadic food-gatherers and hunters. Maize was grown by c 5000 BC, pottery was first made around 2300 BC, and settled village life may go back to the 3rd millennium BC (though it is not well attested before 1800 BC). Incipient agriculture phases gave way to reliance on domesticated foods. From the Pre-Classic period onwards, the valley was not as important as the richer and more fertile areas of Mexico. It was, before the Spanish conquest, a center of Mixteca-Puebla culture. The earliest phase is considered part of the Desert Tradition. The Ajuereado Phase (before 6500 BC) was characterized by small wandering groups engaged in hunting and gathering. In the El Riego Phase (6500-5000 BC) small groups gathered seasonally into larger groups, and grinding tools, weaving, and some plant cultivation occurred. The Coxcatlan Phase (5000-3500 BC) marked the appearance of larger semi-sedentary groups occupying fewer sites and engaged in agriculture. Artifacts include manos and metates and improved basketry. A significant change in settlement pattern occurs in the Abejas Phase (3500-2300 BC) with pit house villages occurring along the river terraces as year-round dwellings. New species of plant food, long obsidian blades, and possibly cotton appeared and there is increased hunting of small game. Pottery, which is a good index to the degree of permanence of a settlement (fragility makes it difficult to transport), was made in the Tehuacán valley by 2300 BC. The later phases (including Purron, 2300-1500 BC) represent a sedentary life, wide use of ceramics, and domestication of the dog.
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Pre-Dogon people with large necropolises in Mali, Africa, of the 11th-16th centuries AD. The oldest wood sculptures to survive (dated 15th-17th centuries AD) were found in caves in the Bandiagara escarpment and are attributed to the Tellem. The figures, simplified and elongated in form, often with hands raised, seem to be the prototype of the ancestor figures that the Dogon carve on the doors and locks of their houses and granaries. Cotton and woolen cloth have also been found in the caves.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: The interlacing of long, thin materials, such as yarn or thread to make cloth (fabric) or baskets. The use of wool, cotton, silk, flax, or some other plant or animal fiber yarn or thread to produce textiles of various sorts by criss-crossing the yarns together in at least two directions. Warp threads are those which run up and down the length of a piece of textile, weft threads are those that run across the weave at right angles to the warp. Many different patterns are possible, producing different kinds of textile and styles of weave. Patterns can be introduced by using different colored threads in a set order. The earliest evidence of weaving is that represented as textile and flexible basketry impressions on burnt clay from Pavlov in the Czech Republic which date to between 25000 and 23000 BC. The oldest woven cloth so far discovered is made from flax, dates to about 7000 BC, and comes from Çayönü, Turkey.