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THE FIRST INHABITANTS OF AZERBAIJAN
The objective of archeology is to study ancient peoples' appearance, their development and formation. Archeology attempts to familiarize modern humans with the ancient past of humankind through the material finds of culture remnants.
Comprehensive evidence of material culture that is related to the time of the first inhabitants was found during archeological excavations in the territory of Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan was included in the list of countries which hosted the first sites of ancient people. The most ancient artifacts related to the appearance of the first primitive people in Azerbaijan from 1.7-1,8 million years ago have recently been found in the country.
Within the last fifty years the complex research, conducted in Azerbaijan, discovered the patterns of material culture and comprehensive scientific materials for the exploration of the history of the appearance, formation and evolution of ancient people. On the basis of discovered scientific materials the distant past, the initial stages of evolution of the first people and the characteristic features of the patterns of the material culture of our ancestors are being studied and explored.
Scientific research conducted by Azerbaijani and German scientists proved that primitive people appeared on the territory of Azerbaijan 2 million years ago. Yet in the period before 1950 the notion of the settlement of ancient people in Azerbaijan had been rejected. Yet in recent years the archeological research conducted by Azeri archeologists proved the groundlessness of such statements and the existence and formation of ancient people on the territory of the country by means of scientific materials. At the same time the civilization was of a specific kind on the territory of Azerbaijan.
In Azerbaijan copper ware were produced with great mastership from local ores in its ancient and medieval cities, among them Baku, Nakhichevan, Lenkoran, Shemakha, Gyanja, Shusha, Sheki and Guba. The most famous Caucasian centre for the production of chased copper ware was Lagich located near the ancient cultural centre Shemakha.
The ornament is usually based on a rather complex composition which includes different themes and is executed in the form of straight and broken lines with a multitude of dots, triangles and rhombic figures the ornaments incorporated floral subjects, depiction of birds and animals, and later the sun and people.
Most of the ornamented articles bear the master's mark, the date of completion and sometimes the owner's name. The diverse inscriptions including verses were usually engraved in Arabic. Ornaments were often intertwined with inscriptions executed to the beauty of the ornament.
The history of a nation has a most direct bearing on the national costume. It reflects, more than any other element of material culture, the specific features of a nation and belongs to the more stable ethnic characteristics.
National costume absorbs the ethnic, aesthetic and artistic features of a nation's creativity, which finds expression in the forms of garments, in the embroidery decoration in the art of weaving and the manner of knitting.
In the 17th century Azerbaijan was a major silk producer in the Near East. Its main sericultural region was Shirvan and the largest silk manufacturing centres were Shemakha, Basgal, Gyanja, Sheki and Shusha. They produced wonderfully fine silk fabrics with an exquisitely attractive design, ladies' head kerchiefs and other commodities.
The costume style was appropriate to the family status and age of the wearer. The costume of a maiden differed noticeably from that of a married woman. Young women wore particularly gay and attractive garments. The man's as well as woman's costume was basically the same in all the historical ethnographic zones of Azerbaijan. At the same time the man's costume bore the imprint of the wearer 5 social status.
The techniques and compositions of Azerbaijan embroideries have reached us through the centuries, The Italian traveller Marco Polo (13th century) noted the beauty of silk wares from Shemakha and Barda.
The English merchant and traveller Anthony Jenkinson (16th century) who had visited the local ruler in his summer residence marvelled at its splendour.
"The king was sitting in a rich tent embroidered in silk and gold", he wrote, adding that the ruler's garments were decorated with pearls and gems.
Embroideries were made on locally produced canaus, darai or velvet. The art prospered in Shemakha, Basgal, Gyanja, Sheki, Shusha and other Azerbaijan towns.
The more popular and widespread type of embroidery in Azerbaijan were gold stitch, satin-stitch, chain-stitch, "bird's eye" technique, the use of spangles, glass beads and stamped plaques, quilting, applique, spiral and fillet work.
Gold stitch on a very tight fabric is the oldest type. The embroideries used factory-made gold or silver threads. This type of embroidery was called gyulya-batyn.
Chain-stitch type was widespread among the silk embroidery. In the 19th century the town of Sheki was the main producer of chain-stitch embroideries.
Fertile soil, mild climate and warm sun rays have determined favourable conditions for flora. Almost each out of 6000 species of plants found on the territory of Azerbaijan has medical properties. For centuries Azerbaijan had been a country of various handicrafts, particularly carpet-making.
Carpet-making is one of the ancient fields of the decorative-applied art of Azerbaijan. According to archaeological excavations in the territory of Azerbaijan and to literature sources, carpet-making had been conceived in ancient times.
Carpets and carpet-ware made in Azerbaijan had repeatedly been glorified in historical books, classic and folk literature.
Magically playing, the colours of carpets absorbed ruby brightness of pome-granate, golden brilliance of quince, copper of saffron and lilac tints of grapes.) Inexhaustible richness of colours, inimitable in its beauty interlacement of patterns, flight of artistic fantasy and consummate skill- that is Azerbaijan carpet.
According to the historical sources, Azerbaijan was one of the most important centres of pile and flat-woven carpets production in the East in Middle Ages.
Facts confirm, that north-eastern part of Azerbaijan was a centre of high quality carpets production in the VI-VII centuries.
Famous Chinese traveller Khuan-Tesank, who visited Iran in the VII century, wrote in his memoirs: "Azerbaijan is one of the largest centres of the carpet-making".
A special scientific interest is shown in two stone moulds for casting bronze articles, the evidence that the bronze implements and weapons discovered in Azerbaijani excavation sites were chiefly of local make.
This fact has been confirmed by spectral analysis.
Attention is drawn to a large collection of lusterware and glazed ceramics discovered at excavation sites in Balakan, Baku, Barda, Ganja, Shemaha, all existing from medieval times.
Glazed ceramics from these cities bears the distinctive traits of that period and embraces in terms of territory a wide range of Oriental countries.
At the same time it has many local features.
Many items boast a virtuoso technique and subtle elegance which make them veritable genres of Azerbaijani applied art.
Many glazed dishes and cups bear paleographic inscriptions dating to the 9th-12th cc., the golden age of the art of ceramics.
They have preserved several names of ceramics masters of those days, although unfortunately most of them have remained unknown.
These were silver coins - drachmas and tetradrachmas - of the great conqueror himself. Alongside the broad circulation of Hellenistic coins in ancient Azerbaijan - Atropatheneum and Caucasian Albania - the mintage of domestic means of circulation silver coins imitating those of Alexander the Great and the kings of Seleucia and Parthia - was launched here since the 3rd century B.C.
The conquest of Azerbaijan by the Arabs in the 7th century was marked by an advancement of money circulation and increase in intensity of money minting. From the second half of the 9th century A. D: The coinage, in particular, silverirhams of such feudal Azerbaijan states as those of the Shirvanshahs-Mazyadids (in Shirvan), the Sajids, the Salarids, the Ravvadids, and the Sheddadids (in Arran) not only met the requirements of the domestic market of Azerbaijan, but also played the role of international money alongside the Caliphate's coins In the 15th-16th centuries Azerbaijan economy and culture blossomed forth anew. High-standard coins tangas of the Shirvan-shahs circulated throughout the whole of Transcaucasus, playing the role of a universal medium of payment. In the south of the country, in Arrant and Azerbaijan, several states sprang up one after another under the aegis of the Turkic dynasties of Gara-goyunlu and Ag-goyunlu, and the Sefevids, which minted not only silver but also gold coins.
After the formation of the Sefevid state in the early 16th century, objective conditions were created there for the development of productive forces and the shaping up of spiritual values.
The monetary system of the Sefevids based on a heavyweight 9.4-gramme silver unit reflected in a certain sense the economic and political might of that state.
Azerbaijan is one of the ancient countries in the world. Primitive men
had inhabited in Azerbaijan since the existence of initial periods of
humanity. Primitive man is considered to live 1,5 million years ago.
Azikh cave is considered to be the third settlement of man for its