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0487 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 487 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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on the site ever since its abandonment, gradually breaking up and carrying off all softer materials. In time the potsherds and other hard fragments, as well as the gravel contained in bricks and mud walls, would sink lower and lower as the loose earth originally embedding them was blown away, and would at last come to lie densely on the surface. Once this stage was attained, the protective crust formed by hard deposits from different ` culture ' layers would prevent further wind-erosion or at least greatly retard it. It is obvious that a process such as the conditions described clearly indicate presupposes a very prolonged occupation of the ground. Recognition of this must also warn us that the pottery remains now found side by side on the surface at this and the other prehistoric sites are likely to be the products of a ceramic industry extending through centuries. This conclusion again, combined with the indications furnished by individual small finds, helps us to realize both the long duration and the comparatively high development of the chalcolithic civilization attested by these remains of the desert delta.

It is obvious that at the prehistoric sites surveyed above indications as to the people who once lived there and the approximate period of their occupation can be hoped for only from the small relics that have survived the destructive force of wind-erosion. Among these relics the fragments of pottery are by far the most numerous and instructive. A careful analysis of the materials, forms, and decorative patterns represented among them will be found in the first part of the general note prepared by Mr. Andrews on the pottery from Sistân sites and prefixed to the Descriptive List in the next section. In a preliminary paper by Mr. Andrews discussing and illustrating the painted pottery from these prehistoric sites ' due attention has already been called to the particular interest which attaches to it on account of its unmistakable affinity to the ceramic products of a chalcolithic culture brought to light by recent discoveries in widely distant parts of Europe and Asia. This resemblance is emphasized also by Dr. W. Percival Yetts in a short but stimulating notice published in connexion with the former paper and dealing with the important discoveries made by Dr. J. G. Anderson of extensive remains of chalcolithic culture in Ho-nan and Kan-su.8 The remarkably wide spread of painted pottery with designs closely resembling those to be found on our Sistân fragments is brought out in the brief but pregnant remarks which Mr. Hobson has devoted to the latter in his Appendix D. Reference to the very instructive monograph of Dr. T. J. Arne, which deals with the painted pottery among Dr. Anderson's finds in Ho-nan, and to Dr. Anderson's own ` Preliminary Report ' on his discoveries in Kan-su, will best illustrate the extraordinary range covered by the known chain of finds. This now stretches from central China through Balûchistân, Persia, Mesopotamia, and other parts of the Near East to southern Russia, Transylvania, and Thessaly.8

It would not come within my range to discuss the detailed points of contact which our Sistân painted pottery presents with similar ware from far-off regions of Eurasia. Nor could I discuss here their general bearing on the interesting problems raised as to the origin, spread, and chronological limits of this chalcolithic civilization, even if the extensive literature relating to all those discoveries were at present within my reach. But I may well call attention to geographical considerations that invest our Sistân finds with special interest, as linking several areas of the same or closely allied prehistoric culture which are otherwise far separated from each other. I refer

Interest of pottery

from chalcolithic sites.

Sistân linking areas of chalcolithic civilization.

7 See ` Painted Neolithic Pottery in Sistân, discovered by Sir Aurel Stein. By Fred H. Andrews ', Burlington Magazine,

1925, pp. 304 sqq.

8 See `Painted Neolithic Pottery in China, by W. Percival Yetts ', ibid., pp. 308 sqq.

e Cf. ` Painted Stone Age Pottery from the Province of I-Ionan, China, by T. J. Arne ', in Palaeontologia Sinica,

Series D, vol. i, fasc. 2, Peking, 1925 ; and ` Preliminary Report on Archaeological Research in Kansu, by J. G. Anderson ', Memoirs of the Geological Survey of China, Series A, No. 5, Peking, 1925.

Both papers supply useful information on the scattered literature dealing with finds in the Near East and Europe.