Geomorphological analyses have revealed the most ancient infrastructures of water management, dated 8000 years ago, at the Georgian Neolithic site Gadachrili Gora (Caucasus). A water stream rerouting using canals induced an inundation of the Neolithic village. The hydraulic infrastructures were then abandoned. Isotopic analyses on seeds from the archaeological site were used to identify the use of the canals for irrigation.
The Gadachrili Gora site, its canals and stratigraphy of the water management structures (CAD and photos : Vincent Ollivier).
River management for water supply is generally considered to have started 5500 years BC in the Middle East, with the development of the first Neolithic societies. In the South Caucasus, proofs of surprisingly early water management were found. A multidisciplinary team associating a past vegetation team (UMR 7209 du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris) and radiocarbon dating as well as stable isotopes specialists (LSCE UMR 8212, Université Versailles St Quentin) allowed to perform a detailed reconstruction of the landscape and societies evolution in this Caucasus region.
Ollivier V., Fontugne M., Hamon C., Decaix A., Hatté C., Jalabadze M., 2018, Neolithic water management and flooding in the Lesser Caucasus (Georgia), Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 197, pp. 267-287.