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Oct 12, 2010 11:36 AM by AP

Archaeologist Finds 200 Settlements that Date Back to 1600 B.C.

MOSCOW (AP) - A Russian archaeologist claims to have found the well-preserved ruins of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilization in Russia's North Caucasus.

Andrey Belinskiy said Tuesday that in the past five years the Russian-German expedition he heads has excavated around 200 settlements that date back to 1600 B.C.

He said the settlements had carefully designed houses and oval courtyards and were built in the mountains between the Kuban River and the site where the city of Kislovodsk stands today.

Belinskiy said the highlanders had contacts with Middle Eastern civilizations and later merged with the so-called Kuban culture, known for exquisite bronze artifacts.

The North Caucasus is one of the world's most ethnically diverse regions, located between the Caspian and Black seas.

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