Prehistoric Ceramics of Northern Afghanistan: Neolithic through the Iron Age


For nearly four millennia, Afghanistan has been at the crossroads of Eurasian commerce and remains ethnically and linguistically diverse, a mosaic of cultures and languages, especially in the north, where the Turkestan Plain is a conduit for the so-called Silk Route, a series of “roads” that connected far-flung towns and urban centers and facilitated the transfer of goods and services. The research reported herein involves the comparative analysis of archaeological ceramics from a series of archaeological sites excavated in northern Afghanistan in the mid-1960s by the late Louis Dupree and me. I served as the field director (1965–1966) and analyzed the ceramics excavated from all six archaeological sites. These were Aq Kupruk I, II, III, and IV located in Balkh Province (north-central Afghanistan) and Darra-i-Kur and Hazar Gusfand situated on the border between Badakshan and Tarkar Provinces (extreme northeastern Afghanistan). Ten of the 72 ceramic types from the Aq Kupruk area have been published [1, 2, 3] but none of the 53 wares from northeastern Afghanistan have been described. The majority of the Aq Kupruk materials are undecorated (plain ware) ceramics but there is a unique series of red-painted decorated ceramics (Red/Buff, numbered types 45 through 52) with early first millennium BCE designs but the pottery dates to the BCE-CE period. The results of ceramic typological, macroscopic, binocular and petrographic microscopy (thin-section analysis and point counting) are reported.

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Kolb, C.C. Prehistoric Ceramics of Northern Afghanistan: Neolithic through the Iron Age. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1047, 102 (2007).

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