The Erda culture [ɜ:də] (Modern Arithide [ɛʁðə], Dethrian [ɛrðə]) is the name given by archaeologists to the group of early Areth, Neolithic settlements excavated in Erdia along the lower course of the Or river, dating to more than 6,000 years ago. The first representative settlement found of the culture lay approximately 6 keth (21km) northwest of modern-day Kyris.
The river Or: genesis & destruction
The shifting course of the Or and the soft alluvial clay of the region probably was a double-edged sword to the Erda peoples: while the river ensured a constant replenishment of mineral deposits throughout the area to sustain the fertility of the region that had attracted settlement in the first place, the softness of the soil likely provided meagre protection from the heavily seasonal precipitation in the area or the hydraulic power of the Or. When the settlement ruins were first chanced upon, they were already severely eroded, and artefacts therefrom were scanty, consisting almost entirely of buried bones and stone tools, although the signs of human habitation are unmistakable: a buried mud-brick house exposed thanks to the erosive force of the river alerted archaeologists to the existence of a ruin in the first place.
Significance of finds
Despite being the oldest culture found in the area, the Erda is considered the most advanced, with evidence found of rice and wheat cultivation, including preserved grains. The buried bones found in and around the settlements included those of domesticated sheep and cattle, as well as marine animals, indicating a significant degree of pastoral farming and fishing; an incomplete human skeleton was also discovered, thought to have originally been buried in a wooden or bamboo casket. While pottery or shards, key to undertsanding a newfound culture, was not found at any of the Erda sites, diverse and highly polished stone tools (including not a few made of obsidian) suggest a considerable level of technological advancement, as well as some degree of specialisation.
The degree of destruction wrought by the river Or has been suggestive to archaeologists regarding the connection between the Erda culture and the somewhat younger but visibly closely related Nuroi, Pisa and Duvai cultures: a hypothesis rapidly gaining in popularity and acceptance in academic circles today posits the establishment of the latter three cultures by flood refugees from the minority of the Erda people who had remained behind in the Southerly Movement; the siting of those three cultures considerable distances away from the river is claimed to be strong evidence.
- Main article: Origins of the Areth
It is widely accepted that the Areth originated from the Erda culture, though the notion is still contested by certain individuals who believe that the Areth came to Erdia from Arophania rather than the other way round, citing as grounds for their stand the fact that artefacts excavated in Arophania date further back than any found thus far on Marcasia.
Other discovered settlements—of the Nuroi, Pisa and Duvai cultures, among others—have been linked to the Erda as successor cultures despite their relative backwardness. Proponents of the Arophanian Theory of Origin prefer to class those cultures as having arisen independently and subsequently subsumed into the invading Areth.