Teset culture

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The Teset culture was an Ekuosian culture of the Bronze Age that existed in the vicinity of Argeyaz Bay from approximately 1400 to ???? BCE. The culture is named for the village of Teset where a significant number of artifacts were uncovered by farmers in 1891. The Teset culture has been identified with the Proto-Argeyazic language based on linguistic and archeological evidence.

Society

Organization

The Teset culture was pastoral and semi-nomadic, and was organized into clans of 100-500 people, in turn divided into patrilineal families of 5-30 people. Each family was headed by a patriarch (Proto-Argeyazic *gwor) and consisted of his wife, his children (including all adult sons and unmarried adult daughters) and their spouses, and his grandchildren. After the death of the patriarch, the adult sons would divide the property and form their own family unit. Some clans were likely headed by a single chieftain (*gworkun), others by a council of patriarchs.

Settlements

All Teset clans were centered on a semi-permanent village (moved every 5-10 years), often along the coast. These consist primarily of small mud-brick (and, to a lesser extent, stone) structures clustered into familial compounds.The entire clan would have spent the rainy season in the village together, with most families then dispersing to their own seasonal camps during the dry season. These are typically found over a wide area, overlapping with those of other clans. In addition to ensuring adequate feed for livestock, this seasonal out-migration would likely have allowed families to access a greater number of resources for the clan, given the highly varied climate of the region. Cloth or hide tents were used during the seasonal migration, though established familial camps containing one or two mud-brick or rammed earth structures have been found.

Religion

Based on the Algazi and Hemeshi indigenous religions, as well as archeological evidence, a rough picture of Teset/Proto-Argeyazic religion can be drawn. Major rituals typically took place during the rainy season, when the whole clan was present. The Teset pantheon appears to have been separated into two or three classes. One set of deities (Proto-Argeyazic *axa) represented various environmental forces (such as rain, death, the sea, and the sun and moon). A second, known as "fathers" or "mothers" were believed to be the ancestors of individual plant and animal species; they may have been identified with individual clans as well. A class of spirits (*tahen) representing fixed objects or geographical features may have comprised a third class, or they may have been grouped with a class of "free" spirits (*motyur) that may have represented the dead. The Teset people likely cremated their dead, considering the lack of burial sites and its history of practice among the Algazi. Funerary customs beyond this remain fairly uncertain, though it would appear that the god or goddess of death was held to be a hospitable figure and associated with the desert.

Technology

The Teset culture created large amounts of ceramic jars, pots, beads, and drinking vessels, with kilns being found in every excavated Teset village. While bronze tools and copper jewelry are found frequently in Teset sites, they universally appear to be of foreign origin. This would suggest that the Teset people themselves had no knowledge of metalworking, instead acquiring metal goods through trade.

The Teset people appear to have lacked the wheel as well as both horses and camels, the most common Ekuosian pack animals. During migrations, supplies and possessions were carried on travois which were likely pulled by livestock. Primitive boats have been found in coastal Teset sites, though their role in Argeyazic migrations is uncertain.

Food

The Teset culture raised sheep and goats as their main livelihood. They also practiced horticulture, raising corn, wheat, legumes, and grapes to supplement their diet. Few Teset sites have evidence of fruit or nut trees, likely due to their transience; presence of these foods in Teset sites is the result of either foraging or trade. Teset clans with coastal access also fished; fish can often be found in inland seasonal camps of coastal clans, implying that they were often dried and/or salted to preserve them.