Serikov Yu.B.

Revisiting the chronological attribution of microlitic complexes of the Koksharovsky hill and Vtoroy Poselok I

In this paper, we consider the reasons behind the attribution of microlitic complexes of the Koksharovsky Hill and the Vtoroy Poselok I site to the late Neolithic. Statistical and typological characteristics of microlitic complexes of these sites fully conform to materials of the Mesolithic sites in the Middle Trans-Urals. The identification of chronological complexes of stone inventory in materials of mixed sites should be made after the full publication of the entire assemblage of stone artefacts. The comparison of the presented materials with the Neolithic sites of the Middle Trans-Urals shows the absence in the local late Neolithic of complexes with such set of stone tools — first of all, a large number of cutters and carvers, as well as burins on straight retouched truncation and geometric microlites. But it is precisely carvers, burins (especially the ones on straight retouched truncation) and geometric microlithes that appear as characteristic products of the Mesolithic period. The dating of the microlitic complexes of the Vtoroy Poselok I site and the Koksharovsky Hill to the late Neolithic contradicts the early profile of the stone assemblage. We deny the definition of the Vtoroy Poselok I site as a single-layer site. Specific features of soil formation in the territory of the Middle Trans-Urals resulted in that the cultural remains of all periods from the Mesolithic to the Middle Ages are deposited within the soil layer of only 30–40 cm in thickness. Around the flow-through lakes all areas favorable for economic activities were inhabited repeatedly and in different archaeological epochs. In such particular sites, the objective prerequisites for the mechanical displacement of materials were created. Therefore, all complexes located in such places are mixed. The numerical ratio of the complexes of ce-ramics and stone products and the size of the dwelling in the Vtoroy Poselok I site is also inconsistent with the materials of the Neolithic sites of the Middle Trans-Urals. Given the mixed nature of materials of the Koksharovsky Hill and the Vtoroy Poselok I, the microlitic complex of artefacts present in both sites may indicate the presence of a significant Mesolithic admixture in them.

Keywords: Middle Trans-Urals, Mesolithic, Neolithic, microlitic complex, carvers, burins on straight retouched truncation, geometric microlith, beveled points.


Panteleeva S.E. 

Stylistic variability of the Abashevo ceramics: on the problem statement

The article presents the results of generalization and systematization of available data on household ceramics of the Abashevo cultural-historical community. This cultural formation extended through the forest-steppe zone of the European part of Russia from the Don Region to the Trans-Urals. The obtained radiocarbon dates comprise the period of 2200–1800 cal BC. The study is based on published information about collections of 33 settlements located in different parts of the vast Abashevo area. The following set of features was considered for comparison: tempering materials, methods of surface treatment, shapes of vessels, main ornamental elements and techniques of their application, and key ornamental compositions. As a result of the analysis, the ceramic collections were divided into seven groups, which can be combined into four large stylistic zones for the similarity of ornamental and morphological characteristics: Don-Volga, Trans-Volga, Cis-Urals, and Trans-Urals. The distribution areas of stylistic zones apparently correspond to the areas of residence of the major local groups of the Abashevo population. It is noted, that addressing the issues of chronological correlation of separate districts and the sites within them is impossible without the implementation of a large-scale program of radiocarbon dating. Stylistic variability of the Abashevo pottery was considered within the framework of the information exchange theory of H.M. Wobst. It has been concluded, that the inhabitants of the Cis-Ural settlements, who had the most diverse and expressive ceramic complex, were involved in active interactions with communities of other regions. A need to demonstrate the group identity was reflected in the appearance of pottery made in a specific style characteristic only for this group. At the same time, external connections initiated diffusion of foreign stylistic features that resulted in increased internal variability of wares. The main reason for the intensive cultural contacts was apparently the specialization of the Cis-Ural communities on metal production. The uniformity and simplicity of pottery from the Don-Volga settlements suggest a high degree of internal integration of the local population, and as a consequence
— the absence of necessity for marking the social boundaries between the groups. The external contacts were probably weak, or irregular, and they did not lead to significant changes in the structure of society and diffusion of new stylistic elements. Pottery of the Trans-Ural group appears rather independent, although some of the vessels have specific features of the Abashevo pottery tradition of the western regions. It can be assumed that the Trans-Ural settlements were occupied by a group of people that separated from the main Abashevo massif and advanced beyond the Ural Mountains in search of sources of high-quality ore raw materials. Apparently, these sites are the latest, and they are synchronous to the Sintashta antiquities.

Key words: Bronze Age, Abashevo cultural-historical community, settlements, ceramics.


Degtyareva A.D., Gubin A.A., Artemyev D.A. 

The potential of using scanning electron microscopy with an energy dispersive analyzer for the study of the Bronze Age metal: on the problem statement

The article is aimed at approbation of the scanning electron microscopy technique to analyse the inclusions and phase components of metallographic specimens using the results of spectral, XRF, atomic emission spectrometric, and metallographic analyses. The comparison of microstructural data with electronic images and XRSMA results in separate phases allowed identification of chemical composition of the inclusions and determination of the nature of the ores used for metallurgical processing. The article presents the results of an analytical study of the metal of the Petrovka Culture (19th–18th c. BC) of the Southern Trans-Urals using Tescan Mira 3 LMU scanning electron microscope with Oxford Instruments Analytical Ltd. Energy dispersive analyzer, implemented for determination of the elemental composition of the phases in the samples. For the analysis, metallographic specimens with the revealed microstructure of the metal were used. In the process of SEM-EDS analysis, visualisation of the surface of the specimens was performed, and the topology and structure of the metal were examined. The possibility of successful reduction of the oxide-carbonate ores without the introduction of sulphide minerals in the beginning of the 2nd mil. BC has been confirmed. It has been concluded that the presence of oxides and sulphides in the structure of pure copper is consistent with the determination of the character of ores used for smelting — oxidized or oxidized in a mixture with sulfides. The technique of identifying marker elements for the types of ores used, including As, Ni, Sb, Fe, Se, Te, has been tested. With a certain degree of probability, the types of minerals used in smelting have been determined. For the sites of the Southern Trans-Urals, where the main metallurgical centre with mines and settlements of metallurgists was located, characteristic was the use of chalcosine-covellite ores in furnace charge, apart from smelting oxide-carbonate ores. In the territory of the Middle Tobol River, in the settlements where metal processing was carried out, copper was used, obtained both from oxide ores and using chalcosine-covellite minerals from the zone of cementation of pyrite deposits.

Keywords: Southern Trans-Urals, Petrovka Ñulture, metallurgy, metallographic analysis, scanning electron microscopy.


Sataev R.M., Dubova N.A., Sataeva L.V. 

Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) in Gonur-Depe and the issues of the species distribution in the Ancient East

Animal husbandry, along with agriculture, was the main branch of the producing economy of the ancient population in Southern Turkmenistan. To date, sufficient data have been gathered to consider the exterior of large and small cattle, the time of their appearance in the region, and the nature of their exploitation. Still, very little information is available on a number of species, including Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). This is due to the fact that camel bones are extremely rare in complexes which are older than the Late Bronze Age. However, the remains of this species are widely represented in the Bronze Age site of Gonur-depe. Gonur-Depe is a supposed administrative and cult center of Ancient Margiana, located in the South-Eastern Karakum Desert 85 km north from the city of Bayramali (Mary wilayah of Turkmenistan), which functioned during 2500–1500 BC. The site includes two main objects: the North Gonur — administrative and religious center, and the South Gonur (“Temenos” — a small temple complex). The zooarchaeological material discussed in the article has been derived from the archaeological excavations of the North Gonur. Animal remains split into two large groups by their localization: bones from waste deposits, and those associated with local objects (buildings, burials, altars, etc.). Isolated camel bones or their fragments are found in all excavation areas of the North Gonur. Only 67 camel bones were extracted from the waste deposits, which constitutes just over 3 % of all domestic faunal remains found in the site. In addition, 18 isolated camel bones were unearthed from the filling of the grave pits. Given the small number of camel remains in household waste, we can suggest that, apparently, camels were rarely slaughtered for meat. Yet, a total of 16 camel skeletons of different preservation and completeness were recovered from nine burial structures. In burials 3200, 3225, 3240, 3900, and 3915, remains of carts with wooden wheels with bronze rims — tires — were found along with the camel skeletons. Despite the relatively large number of camel skeletons, it was possible to obtain only few measurements due to the poor preservation of the bones. Measurements of two skeletons from burial 3900 suggest that stature of the animals at withers was at least 165 cm. Apart from skeletal remains at Gonur-Depe, numerous images of double-humped camels are known, accomplished in different shapes and from various materials, which also help to elaborate the appearance of the animals. Camels, kept by the ancient population of Gonur, have passed a long way of breeding, and at present there are no data indicating the autochthonous domestication of this species. In general, zooarchaeological and archaeological materials demonstrate that camel played an important role in life of the ancient population of Gonur-Depe, which stretched beyond its simple utilitarian use.

Keywords: Turkmenistan, Bronze Age, Bactrian-Margiana Archaeological Culture, ancient animal husbandry, ritual objects.


Kostomarova Yu.V., Bulakova E.A.

The use-wear analysis of pebble tools from the Bronze Age settlement of Konoplyanka 2

The use-wear analysis of pebble tools from the Bronze Age settlement of Konoplyanka 2 The article presents the results of the study the tools made of pebble from the settlement of Konoplyanka 2. The site is located in the Kartalinsky district of the Chelyabinsk Oblast, Southern Trans-Urals. A collection of pebble tools (n = 26) was acquired during excavations of building 1 of the Srubnaya-Alakul and Cherkaskul Cultures, 14C dated to the 18th–16th c. BC. The aim of the research was to undertake the experimental-traceological study of pebbles with traces of wear from this site. To achieve this, the signs of utilizing of work surfaces of the tools were studied; a series of experiments were carried out on the use of pebble tools in pottery making and in the proces-sing of bone articles; their work surfaces were also analyzed, and the signs of wear in archaeological and experimental tools were compared. Trace analysis and photomicrographs of traces of wear on the tools were performed using Olympus BX-51 metallographic microscope with ProgRes C10 camera and MC-2 Z00M pancratic microscope with Canon EOS-1100 camera. The experimental part of the work was carried out by the authors in 2019–2020. As a result of the traceological analysis of the collection, four groups of wear traces were identified on tools made of pebbles. The experimental part of the work allowed proposing the interpretation for these traces. The tools of the first group were used in pottery production at the stage of surface treatment for smoothing the walls of vessels. The second group was used to burnish the dry surface of the vessels. Pebbles of the third group were used both for smoothing the surface of vessels and for polishing them. Tools of the fourth group are most similar in their microscopic features to experimental tools used for processing of skins and leathers or polishing bone products. Therefore, the majority of the studied pebble tools were used by representatives of the Cherkaskul Culture of the Konoplyanka 2 settlement in the process of making pottery vessels, at the stage of mechanical treatment of surface Three pebbles were used for processing of skins, leathers or for polishing of bone tools.

Keywords: Late Bronze Age, Cherkaskul Culture, Southern Trans-Urals, tools from pebbles, use-wear analysis, production of ceramics.


Alekseev A.N., Dyakonov V.M., Solovyova E.N., Nikolaev E.N., Boeskorov G.G.

The burial Ogonyok in the middle Lena River region: a new site of the Bel'kachi Culture

The burial Ogonyok in the middle Lena River region: a new site of the Bel'kachi Culture The article presents the results of a comprehensive study of the Ogonyok burial, discovered and investigated in 2016 in the city of Yakutsk, Central Yakutia, in the middle reaches of the Lena River. The purpose of the study was to determine its cultural and chronological characteristics, to identify the features of the funeral rite and specifics of the accompanying grave goods. In addition to historical and archaeological methods, the methods of trasological analysis of stone tools, radiocarbon dating and date calibration, isotope analysis of human and animal bone collagen, and determination of the species composition of the fauna that was part of the burial equipment were used. The burial place was destroyed during land works, as such, only part of the accompanying equipment and osteological material was preserved for the analyses. Excavations of the remains of the burial were carried out, which made it possible to determine approximately its orientation, the position of the deceased and the depth from the day surface. Similarities to the accompanying goods, which included a flint core and three blades, an arrowhead, polished adze, bone composite arrowhead with a blade in the groove, anthropomorphic figurine from a mammoth tusk, fragments of a bone polisher and a needle, as well as faunal remains, were found in the complexes of the Bel'kachi Neolithic Culture of Northeast Asia of the end of the 5th–3rd mil. BC. Further analogies were identified in the synchronous Neolithic cultures of the Baikal, Transbaikalia, Lower Amur region, Primorsky Krai and Chukotka. The funeral ritual of filling the grave with ocher also brings the Ogonyok burial closer to other Bel'kachi cemeteries. Paleozoological analysis has shown that bones of lynx, wild reindeer and geese were present in the burial. Four AMS radiocarbon dates were obtained from human and animal bones, which attribute the burial in the first quarter of the 4th mil. BC. An interesting fact was the identification of an offset in the age of human bones relatively to the age of animal bones, the former being approximately 200 years older, which is apparently associated with freshwater reservoir effect. Analysis of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes demonstrated that the human diet was based on meat food, as well as, apparently, fish products, with a minor inclusion of wild plants. The burial of Ogonyok is one of the few “pure” sites of the Bel'kachi Neolithic Culture in Yakutia.

Keywords: Yakutia, Middle Lena, Neolithic, funeral rite, funerary inventory, freshwater reservoir effect, Bel'kachi Culture.


Fedorov V.K. 

Pottery vessels of the early Southern Ural nomads with dimple-pearl ornament: origins, existence, disappearance

The article aims at studying vessels of early nomads decorated with dimple-pearl ornament. To achieve this, the following issues need to be addressed: their origins, territorial distribution, chronological framework of the distribution, connection of the ornament with certain types of vessels, and the reasons for the disappearance of vessels with this ornament. A set of methods has been applied to achieve this, including cartographic, comparative, deductive and inductive, and also the methods of analysis and synthesis. The source base of the study consists of 35 vessels and fragments of six more vessels. Dimple-pearl ornament refers to the earliest types of ornaments. It represents small round depressions on the body of vessels, applied both on the outside and inside. Where the depressions are sufficiently deep, protuberances are formed on the opposite side of the wall of a vessel, which received the name “pearls” in the archaeological contexts. The ornament is applied with a stick with a rounded end. The origin of this ornament on the vessels of early nomads of the Southern Urals was connected on the one hand with the population of the pre-Sauromatian time who migrated from the Lower Volga Region, and the local Southern-Ural tradition of the Final Bronze Age on the other hand. The ornament in the form of dimples and “pearls” first appeared on squat jar-like vessels with a small spout in the 7th — first half of the 6th c. BC. In the 6th — early 4th c. BC this ornament is found mainly on two types of vessels — those with conical body, short neck, bent rim and a tubular spout, and on tall vessels with body swollen in the middle. Occasionally, large vessels are found that combine two types of ornament — dimples along the body and fingernips, mainly in the upper part. Other vessels with dimple-pearl ornament sometimes carry other types of ornament — nail prints and so-called “Sauromatian pictograms”. Most of such vessels have admixture of chamotte in clay dough. Fragments of early nomads’ vessels with dimple-pearl ornament sometimes are found on river-bank sites which served as stopping places during seasonal migrations. With a certain degree of admissibility, such sites may be considered as “settlements”. The discrete nature of distribution of vessels with dimple-pearl ornament in South Ural territory occupied by early nomads shows that this ornament was only in use among some families, or clan groups, or specific tribal groups. The tradition of decorating vessels with dimple and “pearls”, the latter to a lesser extent, existed among the nomads of the Southern Urals until the beginning of the 4th c. BC. With the spread of vessels with an admixture of talc in the clay dough, this ornament disappeared.

Keywords: ceramic vessels, ornament, Early Iron Age, nomads, the Southern Urals.


German P.V., Leont’ev S.N.

Materials from the burials of Sergushkin-3 ground cemetery in the Northern Angara region: on the issue of chronology and geneses of the Tsepan Culture

The Sergushkin-3 ground cemetery (Northern Angara region), studied in 1974-2011, included 24 burials of the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age and the Middle Ages. The cultural and chronological attribution of some complexes is polemical. The purpose of this article is to introduce into scientific discourse materials from burials 8 and 9, including the results of contextual and comparative study of funeral and commemorative practices of these assemblages, as well as paleo-anthropological data and radiocarbon dates. Burial 8 contains macerated, broken and partly burned bones of a 25–30 year old woman and represents an oval pit oriented along the river. According to the grave contents, the remains of the dead woman were burnt in the burial pit. She was accompanied with two sickle type bronze blades, a stone arrowhead and two bone plates. The burnt tree samples provided the radiocarbon ages of 3165 ± 130 BP (SPb_147) and 2945 ± 130 BP (SPb_148). Burial 9 contains macerated, partly broken and burnt bones of a young 18–20 year old man and a young 16–20 year old woman in a ground pit oriented along the river. The partial cremation of the remains was performed outside. The deceased were accompanied with a piercing tool made of moose splint bone, one stone and four bone arrowheads, four horn arrowhead sockets and a hollow horn collar. The burnt tree samples were radiocarbon dated to 2790 ± 100 BP (SPb_381) and 2750 ± 100 BP (SPb_382). The grave goods of both burials are similar to those of the Tsepan Culture of the Early Iron Age (8th–2nd c. BC), while the calibrated calendar interval of their radiocarbon ages is within 15th-10th c. BC. It agrees with the dates of the same “early” Tsepan burial 4 on the Pashina settlement (late 2nd — early 1st mil. BC). The recorded details of funeral rites of these burials are typical for earlier assemblages in the Baikal-Angara region. The sickle type bronze blades and horn sockets are unique for the Bronze Age materials in Angara and Baikal regions, but they impressively resemble the curved knives and bone sockets of the pre-Scythian period from Yakutia and Trans-Baikal region. Based on the above, a suggestion has been made regarding the initial stage of formation of the Tsepan Culture as having been the result of migration processes in the region in the second half of the 2nd mil. BC.

Keywords: Northern Angara region, Sergushkin island, burials, Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Tsepan Ñulture, radio-carbon dating.


Alexeev A.N., Bravina R.I.

Xiongnu-Xianbei layer in the Yakut Culture

The aim of the article is to systematize and conceptualize the similarities between the paleo-ethnographic culture of the Yakuts and the Xiongnu of Central Asia, and to assess the possible ways of their appearance and incorporation into the new environment. In addition to the published data on this topic, the main source for the preparation of this paper was authors’ field archaeological material, collected during many years of expeditions. Among the materials of the Yakut Culture, a group of objects, the origin of which is associated with the Xiongnu-Xianbei time, includes some motifs of the traditional Yakut ornament, as well as artifacts — fragments of a compound bow, whistling arrowheads, Wushu coins, burial structures, etc. The earliest finds of these types of articles come from the cultural layers of the settlement of Ulakhan Segelennyah on the Olekma River, dated to the period within 110 BC — 350 cal AD. It is believed that the Xiongnu-Xianbei community was formed at the end of the 2nd — beginning of the 3rd c. AD after the fall of the Xiongnu Empire under the blows of warlike Mongol-speaking Xianbei. We conclude that in the Middle Ages the ancestors of the Yakuts had direct or indirect cultural ties with the Xiongnu. This could happen in the way of the resettlement of a small group of Xiongnu or Xiongnu-Xianbei to the north, or, more likely, it was the result of contacts between the Xiongnu or the ancestors of the Yakuts during their residence in the south of Siberia in the Early Middle Ages. The broadcasting of Xiongnu cultural traditions through the tribes of the Tashtyk Culture of the Minusinsk depression, with which, according to some researchers, the ancestors of the Yakuts once had active ethnic and cultural contacts, is also possible. In the Yakut Culture, the southern elements turned out to be in demand, as evidenced in particular by the funerary structures of the Yakuts in the Late Middle Ages. In the Lensky region, there was a further development of products of the indicated types, which led to the formation of a peculiar appearance of the traditional culture of the Yakuts.

Keywords: Yakutia, archeology, burials, settlement, Yakuts, Central Asia, Xiongnu, ancient Yakutia, indigenous tribes.


Seregin N.N., Tishkin A.A., Matrenin S.S., Parshikova T.S.

Unusual burial of an adolescent with military equipment from the Rouran time necropolis of Choburak-I (Northern Altai)

In this article we introduce into scientific discourse and provide diverse interpretation of the extraordinary burial of a young man of 13–15 years old, investigated during the excavation of the necropolis of the Bulan-Koby Archaeological Culture within the Choburak-I funeral and memorial complex. This site is located on the right bank of the Katun River, 3.6 km south from the Elanda Village in the Chemal District, Altai Republic. The unique nature of this object (mound no. 29a) is determined by the presence of a full-fledged “male” inventory with the deceased, including long-range weapons (bow and arrows with iron tips) and close combat (knife in a scabbard), items of equipment (belt buckles, distributors, fasteners), whip with a bone handle. In addition, a bone comb was discovered in the grave, which is traditionally an attribute of grave goods in female burials of the Altai population of the Xianby-Rouran period. At the same time, there was no riding horse in the burial, which was a mandatory attribute of funeral practice for full-fledged members of society. A comparative study of different categories of weapons, equipment, tools and household utensils, as well as comparison of the obtained results with radiocarbon dates, made it possible to establish the chronology of the published complex within the second half of the 4th — first half of the 5th c. AD. In the context of the funeral rite of adult population who used the Choburak-I burial ground, the grave of an adolescent from mound no. 29a belongs to the Dyalyan tradition, whose representatives were the elite of the society of cattle breeders in the Northern Altai during the Rouran period. The analysis of the obtained materials testifies to the special (“transitional”) individual status of the deceased person in the nomadic society of the Bulan-Koby Culture in the middle of the 1st mil. AD. Probably, the specificity of the deceased's life position was determined, on the one hand, by reaching a certain age and belonging to a fairly wealthy family, and by limitations in physical development recorded in the course of anthropological research, on the other hand.

Keywords: Altai, Bulan-Koby Culture, Rouran time, burial, chronology, interpretation, social history.


Tret'iakov E.A. 

Chronological complexes of medieval sites in Western Siberia

Recently, an opinion has been established about the broad chronology of the medieval cultures in the study of the Middle Ages of the Trans-Urals. Particularly, the period of existence of the Bakal Culture has been considered to fit within the framework of the 4th–13th centuries, and the Yudino Culture within the 6th–13th centuries. Based on the general chronology of the archaeological sites, as well as discovery of materials of different cultures within the same settlements, the researchers suggested a certain level of interaction between representatives of the Bakal and Yudino Cultures. Such ethno-cultural situation probably had to be accompanied by economic, social or military aspects of the interaction of the medieval communities. However, we cannot readily accept the coexistence of representatives of the Bakal and Yudino Cultures, since no multicultural burial complexes have been found and no syncretic has been observed in the material culture. Thus, one of the main objectives was to detail the chronology of the medieval complexes and to identify the chronological phases. To address this problem, we have assessed all known dated archaeological sites of the medieval period, examined by stationary excavations and subjected to absolute and relative dating, 36 sites in total. Using the comparative typological method, an attempt was made to narrow the chronological framework of material complexes for each site. All radiocarbon dates have been calibrated using OxCal 4.3 program and IntCal13 calibration curve with a confidence interval 95,4 %, and 68,3 %. The absolute dates were then correlated with the relative dates. As a result, two chronological periods were defined: 4th–8th and 9th–13th centuries. The first period correlates with the period of existence of the Bakal Culture. The later dates, obtained from the few single-layer sites of the Bakal type, are not supported by the material complexes and the presence of burial grounds of this time. Archaeological sites of the Yudino Culture appeared in the territory of Trans-Urals in the 9th century. This has been reliably confirmed by the appearance of single-layer settlements and monocultural necropolises dating to the developed medieval period. In summary, we conclude that the chronology of the Medieval cultures of the Trans-Urals does not overlap, and the analysis of microstratigraphy of the majority of settlement complexes allows observing the gradual replacement of some cultural groups by others.

Keywords: Western Siberia, Tobol basin, Middle Ages, chronology, radiocarbon and relative dating, Bakal and Yudino cultures.