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The Kura-Araxes culture or the Early trans-Caucasian culture, was a civilization that existed from 3400 B.C until about 2000 B.C. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 B.C., and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1000 km by 500 km. 
The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Georgia and the Caucasus. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.
They built mud-brick houses, originally round, but later developing into a square design. The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising. They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses.
Their pottery was distinctive. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya. The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts.
Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia. The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Transcaucasia. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts).
Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population. Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable. One can also argue for at least an outpost of an early Semitic language, and certainly the presence of an early representative of the Kartvelian languages is not unreasonable. An influence of Indo-European languages was also likely present.
- The Chronology of the Caucasus During the Early Metal Age: Observations from Central Transcaucasus - Giorgi L. Kavtaradze
- The Beginnings of Metallurgy - includes extensive discussion of Kura-Araxes metalworking
- James P. Mallory, "Kuro-Araxes Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
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