The Caucasus Mountains north of the Black Sea in Russia contain more than 3,000 dolmens, built in the Middle Bronze Age between 2,900 and 1,400 BC. They lie in an area measuring 12,000 square kilometres along the coast. Most of them have four sides and a porthole opening at the front which was supposed to allow passage for the spirit.
Very little is known about the people who built these monuments. The dolmens in the Caucasus look very different from those in Western Europe, although they date from the same period. There are similarities with other monuments in some parts of Europe and Asia which also have the so-called openings for the spirit. Drawings were recently found in a number of the dolmens.
In addition to the 3,000 known dolmens, new ones are still being found. At the same time, however, some are being destroyed and theyn seem not to be protected.
The settlements are located by the water, on river terraces or slopes, some in higher-lying areas. The remains of houses belonging to the ancient inhabitants have also been found. They consisted of a wooden frame with walls of wicker and clay (a method of construction which in England would be called wattle and daub), and clay floors. Caves were also used as houses. Finds include clay ovens with clay-lined rubbish pits and the remains of a pottery oven.
Text Harrie Wolters
Translation Alun Harvey