Dublyansky Y.V., Shirokov V.N.

Age of the Upper Paleolithic sites in Kapova and Ignatievskaya caves (Southern Ural): revision and interpretations of the radiocarbon dates

There are two caves containing groups of wall paintings of the Upper Paleolithic age known in the Southern Ural: Kapova (Shulgan-Tash) and Ignatievskaya (Yamazy-Tash). In total, about 200 pictorial motifs have been recorded in the Kapova cave, among which there are life-like depictions of Pleistocene animals (mammoth and rhinoceros). Some 180 pictorial motifs have been found in the Ignatievskaya cave, which also show images of the Pleistocene fauna (mammoth and rhinoceros), although less realistic than those in the Kapova cave. The cultural layers have been discovered in the cave sediments at both sites. Archaeological excavations in the Kapova cave revealed multiple cultural layers which contained remains of the hearths, stone artefacts, fragments of ochre, decorations made of stone and tusk, a piece of burnåd clay cup, bone tools and animal bones (some with traces of ochre paint). In the Ignatievskaya cave, the Paleolithic cultural layer contains numerous fragments of charcoal, stone artefacts, rare fragments of ochre, decorations made from teeth of arctic fox and bison and from mammoth tusk, as well as the bones of Pleistocene animals. In the past two decades, a series of radiocarbon dates has been reported by different researchers based on the charcoal and bones from the cultural layers in both caves. Seventeen dates have been reported for the Kapova cave, including 14 Upper Paleolithic, 2 Bronze Age and 1 modern dates. The materials from the cultural layer of the Ignatievskaya cave have yielded 6 radiocarbon dates; another 3 dates were obtained directly from the charcoal used for the black paintings in the cave. Our analysis of publications, in which the radiocarbon dates from the Upper Paleolithic cultural layers of the Kapova and Ignatievskaya caves are used, has revealed that the dating results are often reported inaccurately or incompletely, which leads to serious errors in interpretations. In particular, the incorrect use of non-calibrated radiocarbon dates as calendar ages, completely changes the paleoclimatic context of the cave occupation; for the Kapova cave, for instance, such misinterpretation shifts the dates of the cave visiting and painting from the late part of the Last Glacial Maximum and early deglaciation to the Bølling-Allerød interstadial. In this paper, we revisit the published radiocarbon ages for these two Southern Ural sites, provide practical recommendations and re-emphasize the importance for accurate and complete reporting of radiocarbon ages in publications.

Key words: radiocarbon dating, Upper Paleolithic, Kapova cave, Ignatievskaya cave, Ural.


Degtyareva A.D., Ryndina N.V.

Knives of the Petrovka Culture in the Southern Trans-Urals: morphological and typological characteristics

The paper reports morphological and typological characteristics of knives of the Petrovka Culture in the Southern Trans-Urals and Middle Tobol River region (the Early Alakul period, as defined by N.V. Vinogradov). According to the 14Ñ dates (36 dates in total, half them are AMS dates), the chronological period of the Petrovka sites in the Southern Trans-Urals spans the 19th through 18th centuries BC. The inventory metal complexes of the Late Bronze Age cultures between the Don and Ishim Rivers, despite the large territory, have many common types of tools. This is particularly noticeable when comparing the largest category of the tools — the knives (49 specimens). Differentiation of the tools by type was based on the methodology of typological attribution of the inventory taking into account the presence or absence of particular qualitative characteristics and their combination — analysis of the handle decoration, presence of a bolster, knife tang, shape of the transition from the blade to the tang, and shape and cross-section of the blade. Alongside the morphological and typological characterization of the knives, mapping the tools finds and was also carried out with the search for analogues in neighboring cultures. The most effective results have been obtained by mapping of tools with rhombic tangs, crosshair and interception, which are most numerous (147 specimens). We have identified three types of the knives with prominent massive handle, knives with forged sleeve and seven types of the tools with tangs. The identified types of the Petrovka Culture of the Southern Trans-Urals are more or less characteristic of the family of related cultures of the Eurasian forest-steppe and steppe belt — Abashevo, Sintashta, Petrovka, Early Srubnaya, and sites of the Potapovka and Pokrovka types. On the basis of the statistical data, there have been identified the types of the knives with a massive handle, as well as those with a forged sleeve, which are predominantly associated with the metalwork centers of the Petrovka Culture. We have unraveled the particular significance of the knives with rhombic tangs, crosshair and interception in the ritual practices of the entire circle of the cultures from the forest-steppe and steppe belt, apparently related to the special social status of the buried individuals. Prototypes of most forms of knives with tangs have been found in the stereotypes of the objects from the production centers of the Circumpontian Metallurgical Province. The common momentum for the genesis of the forest-steppe and steppe cultures, originating from the Middle Bronze Age cultures of the Eastern Europe and Ural, explains the common morphology of the knives for the family of the related cultures of the first phase of the Eurasian Metallurgical Pro-vince with a variety of forms and in contrast to the uniform shape of the knives of the Srubnaya and Alakul types of the second phase of the Eurasian Province.

Key words: Late Bronze Age, Southern Trans-Urals, Middle Tobol, Petrovka culture, knife morpho-logy, typology.


Ilyushina V.V., Alaeva I.P., Vinogradov N.B.

Pottery complex of the Bronze Age burial ground of Kulevchi VI: typology and technical-technological analysis

This paper presents the results of the typological study and technical-technological analysis of the pottery complex from the Late Bronze Age burial ground of Kulevchi VI (Southern Ural, Russia). The typological analysis of 107 objects yielded 10 types of the vessels correlated with four cultural and chronological groups: Petrovka; Early Alakul; Alakul and Alakul-Fedorov. The presence of all designated groups and types of vessels in the burial ground indicates functioning of the necropolis during the whole period of existence of the Alakul Culture: types IÀ, IÁ and IÂ the formation stage of the actual Alakul Culture associated with the pottery of the Petrovka type of the sites; types IIÁ, IIÂ, III the golden age of the Alakul Culture; and type IIÃ the late stage of the Alakul Culture, reflecting the engagement with sub-cultural groups of the Fedorovskaya population. The technical-technological analysis using the method developed by A.A. Bobrinsky revealed the pottery skills of the population making different types of vessels. Amongst the studied population, only natural clays were used for pottery. The molding composition included organic additives and talcum gruss, and sometimes also chamotte. One program of constructing of the clay blank, the vaulted bottom type, has been identified, and the use of the patchwork spiral applique has been recorded. The surface of the vessels was smoothened and subjected to glazing. The firing of pottery items was carried out in fire-pits and hearths. Close similarity of the potters’ skills at different stages of pottery making has been observed for the items of the Petrovka, Early and Classical Alakul and Alakul-Fedorov Cultures. Correlation of the collected information with the known data on the ceramics of the Petrovka and Alakul types demonstrates commonality of the skills possessed by these groups of the population of Southern Ural and Northern Kazakhstan. On the basis of similarity of the pottery-making technologies of different chronological groups of the burial grounds of Kulevchi VI, it has been established that the development of the pottery-making traditions of the population was taking place within affinal groups. The similarity of the pottery traditions and gra-dual evolution of the Petrovka, Early Alakul; Alakul and Alakul-Fedorov groups allow considering them within the framework of the same phenomenon the Alakul Culture.

Key words: South Ural, burial ground Kulevchi VI, Alakul culture, ceramics, typology of ceramic vessels, technical and technological analysis.


Kostomarova Yu.V.

The metal forging tools of the Late Bronze Age population of the forest-steppe  Tobol River region (experimental-traceological analysis)

The paper reports on the results of experimental-traceological study of stone tools used for metal forging by the Late Bronze Age population of the Middle Tobol River region (Western Siberia). The chronological span of the study, according to the radiocarbon dating, extends from the 17th to 9th centuries BC. This paper aims to substantiate and expand the existing knowledgebase on the metalwork production with the aid of experiments in forging copper and bronze. The research materials include about 60 stone tools from the Late Bronze Age sites and 23 experimental tools. The trace evidence analysis and microphotography of the signs of use-wear have been performed using a continuous-zoom microscope MC-2 ZOOM with 10õ to 40õ magnification and a Canon EOS-1100-D camera. The experimental study involved cold and hot forging of copper and bronze items with different tin content and their surface smoothening. As a result, the efficiency of the stone tools in molding has been confirmed. The signs of use-wear of the tools have been recorded. Distinctive use-wear features of hammers for cold and hot forging associated with the tool kinematics have been identified. It has been concluded that the wear signs on the hammers used for incomplete hot and hot forging were identical. It appeared that the smooth working area of some flatters was the result of preliminary abrasive treatment. Smoothening and drawing proved efficient in processing of copper items and low-alloyed bronzes. This treatment was carried out on the hot metal. It has been ascertained that the kinematics of processing of the copper and bronze items was the same. The signs of usage of the tools employed for shaping bronze moldings with different tin content differ from those on the tools used on copper by more extensive chipping, which is due to a higher hardness of tin-copper alloys. Prototype multi-functional tools used in different operations, viz., forging and drawing, have been identified. Their specific is the working area with a combination of several groups of wear marks overlapping each other. Therefore, we managed to produce a series of the experimental tools used in copper and bronze forging. This allowed us to elaborate the functional identification and technology of some archaeological instruments from the Late Bronze Age sites of the forest-steppe Tobol River region.

Key words: forest-steppe Tobol River region, Late Bronze Age, industrial activity, metalworking, stone tools, experimental work, the use-wear analysis.


Berlina S.V., Zimina O.Yu.

Housebuilding of the Itkul Culture population in the subtaiga forest-steppe Trans-Urals

This paper presents the results of the analysis of housebuilding tradition and graphical reconstruction of nine buildings from three stages of the eastern branch of the Itkul Culture (end of the 8th 6th c. BC): Itkul (end of the 8th first half of the 7th c. BC); Karagay-Aulsky (second half of the 7th c. BC); and Vak-Kurovsky (6th c. BC). The fortified settlements, whose buildings have been studied, are located in the valley of the Tobol River (subtaiga northern forest-steppe zone, Western Siberia): Karagai Aul 1; Karagai Aul 4; Vak-Kur 2; and Sanatoriy Lesnye Gorki 1. By means of constrained reconstruction based on the analysis of planigraphy and stratigraphy of the excavation site, basic elements of the building frame, viz., the postholes marking the boundary and belonging to the building structure, were identified. Then the specifics of the building frame, techniques employed in construction of walls and roof, and building materials were determined. In the final step of the reconstruction, a series of drawings of the buildings were created. As a result of the analysis of the building remains, a long-lasting housebuilding tradition of the western Itkul Culture population has been recorded the use of a pile-dwelling structure built on the day surface. In terms of the shape, elongated sub-rectangular and polygonal-rounded dwellings have been identified. The wall framework consisted of two pillars joined by a beam at the top. These modules constituted perimeter of the structure and were held together by a second row of joists. The framework of the walls and the ridge beam were fixed to each other by scaffold poles placed on the ridge beam at one end and on the wall joist at the other end. The space between the frame elements was filled with tilted timber logs, whole or split lengthwise, and the walls at the top would be insulated with bark and hay or have a soil filler. The roof of the buil-dings was mainly double-slope and a four-slope roof has been recorded only in one instance. The exit from the building was located in one of the walls, usually the short (face) wall. Annexes (lofts?) have been recorded for four buildings. The pile-dwelling structures of above-ground type have a broad range of territorial and chronological analogies; although in the Tobol River region at the turn of the Bronze to the Early Iron Age they appeared in a developed form. The origins of this phenomenon in the studied territory can be established by further research.

Key words: Western Siberia, Trans-Urals, transition period from Bronze Age to Early Iron Age, Itkul Ñulture, fortified settlement, housebuilding.


Zykov A.P., Koksharov S.F., Maslennikov E.R.

Typology of the medieval axes from the north of Western Siberia

The paper presents the results of the research on the Middle Ages iron axes found in different years in the north of Western Siberia and the Urals, excluding pole-axe (berdysh Rus.) that appear in large numbers in the study area with the growing of the Russian population. The relevance of such study has matured, since there are enough sources that need to be generalized and critically compiled. Taking into account the morphological features of the archaeological evidence, the authors propose to classify all currently known axes by 2 groups and 13 types. The first group including 3 types of minting axes were made exclusively for combat use. The second group includes 10 types of axes, classified as universal, which served both for the military and for economic purposes. The text with the description of the sites contains also table with the data on the basic parameters of axes (item length, blade width) and the time of their use (existence). For the first time, a new type of battle axe (type 13), accidentally found in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Ugra, is published. We present analogues of this subject among the products of Russian blacksmiths of the 13th–14th centuries and explain the position on the dating and on origin of the axe. The paper discusses the evolution of certain types of objects, describes plots concerning the origin of certain items (imports from Volga Bulgaria, Russian lands, etc.) and the special attitude of the local population to this type of weapon, which could be stored for centuries in the holy places of the Ob Ugrians. The authors come to the conclusion that imported axes of the second group were used as a standard for Siberian blacksmiths. But local products, characterized by primitive technology (a multilayer package), low quality welding of iron strips and an abundance of slag inclusions, can be finally identified only after metallographic microstructural analysis. This research should be prolonged, because annual archaeological investigations replenish the source base, and, with no doubt, the typology of axes proposed in the article will be supplemented and adjusted.

Key words: iron axes, blacksmithing, the Middle Ages, the north of Western Siberia, typology.


Zinyakov N.M., Poshekhonova O.E.

Technological research into the metal attributes of the Northern Selkup shaman costume of the XVII–XVIII centuries

To reconstruct the technological methods and technical achievements of Northern Selkup blacksmiths, the components of the Northern Selkup shaman costume, which is composed of ferrous metal, were studied using metallographic analysis methods. The materials were found in two graves in a Kikki-akki burial ground from the XVIIXVIII centuries (Western Siberia, Taz river). It was found that the basic raw materials for production were unevenly carbonized steel and soft iron; high-carbon steel was also found in rare instances, which was most likely received by Northern Selkup blacksmiths from Russia. The iron items of the shaman costume were forged by professional blacksmiths who possessed complex technological skills and production equipment.

Key words: Western Siberia, late middle ages, upper-Taz Selkups, shaman costume, ferrous metal, metallographic analysis, production technology.


Danilov P.G.

The 18th century Tobolsk tiles from the Governor's Palace

In Siberia, ceramic tile manufacturing should be dated to the 1670s1680s, when the stone building in Tobolsk commenced. The source base for studying the tile craft in Siberia is provided by archaeological investigations on Russian settlements. This paper aims at the typology of plots and graphical reconstruction of the appearance and color scheme of a collection of repousse polychromic tiles acquired in the course of archaeological investigations of the Governor’s Palace in Tobolsk. The collection is dated to the first half of the 18th century. Most of the tiles were fragmented and had signs of burning. The discovered tile fragments belong to the repousse polychromic type. We consider them to be the stove decoration sets due to the traces of smut and soot on the back side and by the presence of a box-shaped rump with some space from the edge. The rump has holes on the sides made to fix the tiles onto a stove with wire. The tiles from the Governor’s Palace can be subdivided as follows: 1) wall tiles of ‘small hand’ and ‘large hand’; 2) corner wall tiles; 3) corner wall halves; 4) flat banded tiles; 5) corner flat bands; 6) roller-band; 7) cornice belt; 8) valances; 9) legs and 10) gorodki (product made of clay with variations in size used for decoration of brick furnaces). Twenty themes have been reconstructed from the preserved fragments. The stoves with such facework belong to the Renaissance type. In the tile manufacture, opaque, dull enamels were used: blue; turquoise green; white and yellow, as well as translucent glaze producing a glossy brown color on red clay. The study of the tile drawings and ornaments revealed that most of them were borrowed from other centers of tile manufacturing. A large part of the drawings either has stylistic similarity or is an accurate copy of the drawings on the tiles manufactured in Moscow in the 1670s1680s. The drawings on five tiles do not have records in the earlier published works, and therefore they may have local origins. The tile ornament is mainly floral-geometrical, except for three tiles. Two of the latter have zoomorphic drawings of birds and the third one depicts a planter. Both plots are amongst the most popular themes in Russia.

Key words: Tobolsk, Governor's Palace, polychrome glazed tiles, typology of plots, graphic reconstruction.