Shorin A.F., Shorina A.A.

Historiography of the Neolithic Trans-Urals: the Kozlov and Poludenskaya Cultures

The paper concerns the analysis of the history of the study of the Kozlov and Poludenskaya Neolithic Cultures. The territory of distribution of these archaeological cultures from the end of the 7th to the third quarter of the 5th millennium BC encompassed the forest Trans-Urals and the southern taiga zone of Western Siberia, as well as the adjacent northern edge of the forest-steppe. The source base of the research is represented by a critical analysis of scientific publications touching upon the problems of the Neolithic period in the Trans-Urals, primarily those addressing the functioning of the Kozlov and Poludenskaya Cultures, since the appearance of the first scientific concepts to the present day. Three stages in the history of the study of the analyzed cultures have been identified. Although the first artifacts of the Neolithic era are known in the region since as early as the 1830s–1860s, the beginning of the development of first scientific concepts about the Neolithic period of the Trans-Urals (the first stage) is associated with publications of V.N. Chernetsov and O.N. Bader at the turn of the 1860s–1870s. These researchers contemplated the development of the Trans-Ural Neolithic period within the framework of a single East-Urals culture in three successive stages. V.N. Chernetsov introduced the concept of “the Kozlov phase” into scientific discourse as the early stage, followed by the Yuryinsko-Gorbunovskaya and Chestyyag phases. O.N. Bader retained the name of the early stage as the Kozlov stage, but replaced the designation of the other two with the terms “Poludenskaya” and “Sosnovoostrovskaya” stages. A milestone in the historiography of the Neolithic period in the Trans-Urals was the monograph by V.T. Kovaleva published in 1989. Therein is introduced a new, fundamentally different from its predecessors, concept of the development of the Neolithic in the region. The researcher abandoned the view of the cultural unity of the Neolithic period in the Trans-Urals and substantiated two lines of development that had emerged already at the early stage — the Koshkino and Kozlov groups of archaeological sites — and which continued in the Late Neolithic as the Boborykino and Poludenskaya Cultures. Since then, the main ideas of V.T. Kovaleva's concept have been developing, or have been fundamentally revised on the basis of new sources compiled by the scientists.

Keywords: Trans-Urals, Neolithic, Kozlov and Poludenskaya Cultures, history of study.


Enshin D.N.

Neolithic pottery from the settlement of Mergen 6 in the Lower Ishim (groups III and IV): characteristics and interpretation

In this paper, a ceramic complex (groups III and IV) of the early Neolithic settlement of Mergen 6 (Lower Ishim River region, Western Siberia, 7th millennium BC) is examined. The aim of the work is to analyze the materials through the prism of contacts, connections and mixing of different cultural traditions in the early Neolithic period of the Trans-Urals and Western Siberia. The research is based on the elements of the historical-cultural and formal-classification approaches. The source base comprises 284 vessels. As the result of the analysis carried out in several stages (morphology of the vessels, tools and techniques for applying ornamentation, structural components of the decor, the nature of the systematic organization of the ornamental components, and relationship between the image components and structure of the vessel’s shape), it was found that the products of group III correspond to the tradition of making vessels with relief bands of the taiga zone of Western Siberia and the Urals (Satyginsky, Mulymyinsky types, etc.), whereas those of group IV demonstrate a mixture of all pottery traditions identified within the complex. On this basis, the main directions of the sociocultural ties of the ancient population of the Lower Ishim region in the early Neolithic period have been determined — western (the Middle and Southern Trans-Urals), north-western (the taiga zone of Western Siberia and the southern Northern Trans-Urals), and, probably, southern (the steppes of modern Northern Kazakhstan). One of the most important factors of the variability of the early Neolithic pottery has been identified — the interaction and mixing of different communities. All this allows speaking about the settlement of Mergen 6 as a center (cultural, economic, sacred (?)) at the intersection of landscape and geographical zones (steppe — forest, Trans-Urals — Western Siberia) and ways of dispersal
of various groups of the ancient population.

Keywords: Early Neolithic, Trans-Urals, Western Siberia, Lower Ishim River Region, Mergen 6, ceramic complex, vessels with relief bands, mixed cultural traditions.


Grigoriev S.A.

Development of metallurgy of copper and copper alloys in China in the 2nd millennium BC

The first rare metal finds in China are dated to the Neolithic period, but most of them belong to its final phase. For this period, pure copper is known, very rare arsenic alloys, probably smelted from ore with arsenic admixtures. At the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, in Gansu, the technology of smelting ore with the following alloying with arsenic, occasionally tin minerals were borrowed from an unknown source. This technology spread to the east, and is present in the Erlitou II layer. At the beginning of the Erlitou III phase (which corresponds to the beginning of the Shang dynasty), the tradition of the Seima-Turbino metallurgy and the technology of smelting copper sulfide ores and alloying with tin penetrated into the Yellow River basin from the north (through Shanxi) from southern Siberia. This tradition soon spread to southern China, as well as the western and northern periphery of Chinese civilization. The penetration of the Karasuk tradition of arsenic alloys is also observed in the west and north in the late Shang period, and the Shang and Karasuk metallurgical traditions coexisted there. A special situation formed in Xinjiang, where the Andronovo tradition of smelting sulfide ores and tin alloys penetrated, but this penetration was limited to the west of the region. It did not affect the development of Chinese metallurgy. In general, in China, there is the same correspondence between the types of used ores and alloys as in the rest of Eurasia: native copper and malachite — pure copper, oxidized ores and secondary sulfides with gangue — arsenic copper, occasionally tin bronze, copper-iron sulfides — tin bronze. But in China, this sequence was driven by two technological impulses at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC (from an unclear source) and at the end of the second half of the 2nd millennium BC from southern Siberia. In addition, during the late Shang period, the interaction of the Shang and Karasuk traditions occurred in the north and west.

Keywords: Bronze Age, metallurgy, China, alloys, smelting technologies.


Selin D.V., Chemyakin Yu.P.

Pottery of the population of the Kulayka Culture (Surgut variant) in the settlement of Barsova Gora III/2: technology and traditions

Barsova Gora is a unique complex of archaeological sites of the Neolithic — Late Middle Ages. The representative body of the collected sources requires systematic analysis, primarily, of the pottery collections. This paper presents the results of technical and technological analysis of 50 vessels of the Kulayka Culture (Surgut variant) from different dwellings of the settlement of Barsova Gora III/2. The study of the technological markers was carried out with the aid of binocular microscopy of the surfaces and fractures of the ceramics, followed by the comparison with an experimental collection of technological markers. It has been determined that ferruginous lowsand clays were used as the raw ductile material. The main artificial admixture is represented by broken stone, while chamotte and organic substance are found in the clay paste only alongside the broken stone. It has been found that the principal recipe of the clay paste is clay + broken stone (64 %). The second most common recipe of the clay paste is clay + broken stone + chamotte (28 %). It is possible that the raw materials for the grus were imported from areas with stone outcrops, and/or unknown sources of stone from Barsova Gora and the surrounding area were used. The bottom and hollow body of the vessels were formed from laterally overlapping bands. External and internal surface treatments vary, and include 29 different combinations. A comparison of the pottery technology of the ceramics from the settlement of Barsova Gora III/2 with the pottery from the fortress of Barsov Gorodok III/6 showed their similarity. Differences appear in particular adaptive skills of the potters. These differences can be explained by active two-way contacts of the population of Barsova Gora III/2 with the representatives of other archaeological cultures who lived in this territory, and by the started processes of mingling of the pottery technology.

Keywords: Surgut Ob region, Barsova Gora, Early Iron Age, Kulayka Culture, ceramics, technical and technological analysis


Zinyakov N.M., Tret'iakov E.A.

Technological characteristics of objects made of iron and iron-carbon alloys associated with the Yudino Culture (according to the metallographic data)

Towards the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE, the population of Western Siberia had achieved significant progress in the production and processing of ferrous metals. This is especially well demonstrated by the complexes of the 10th–13th centuries in the Lower Irtysh River area (Western Siberia) and Lower Ob River area (Western Siberia) (archaeological sites of the Ust-Ishim and Nizhneobskaya Cultures), whose materials allowed tracing a unified tradition of metalworking among the representatives of these cultures. At the time, the adjacent territory of the Tobol River (Western Siberia) was occupied by population of the Yudino Culture, whose sites yielded many different-type products from ferrous metals. At the same time, the remains of metal production sites, which confirm the presence of this craft in the economy of the population of the Tobol River area in the 9th–13th centuries, were found on the settlements. In this paper, an attempt has been made to study the objects made of ferrous metals aiming at reconstruction of the technology of metal production among the representatives of the Yudino Culture. To solve this problem, we analyzed by means of structural metallography a selection of 26 items from the settlements of Papskoye, Krasnogorskoye, Barsuchye, Rafailovskoye, and Vak-Kur burial ground. The results of the analysis showed that the raw material base was represented by raw steel and bloomery iron, which was most likely produced by local metallurgists. The most common technology of metal processing was open forging of hot metal, during which the object was given a future shape. Most of the objects contain microstructures of sorbite and martensite, which may indicate the use of heat treatment techniques by the blacksmiths, particularly, of soft and hard quenching. In some cases, the masters used the stacked billet method to increase the weight of the product. Nevertheless, the materials show more complex technological schemes, for example, carburization and three-layer welding. Objects made using this approach are characteristic of the territory of Northern Rus and can be considered as imports in the Tobol territory (Western Siberia). Cast iron products can also be regarded as imported, since the production of cast iron appeared in Western Siberia after the 16th century. Thus, the blacksmiths of the Yudino Culture mastered a wide range of metalworking techniques. However, there are technology-enabled objects typical of the urban centers of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the medieval archaeological sites of the Trans-Urals.

Keywords: Western Siberia, Tobol basin, Åarly Middle Ages, Yudino Culture, ferrous metal, metallographic analysis, production technology.


Zakh V.A., Rafikova T.N.

Tarkhansky Ostrog of the 17th−18th centuries: a study based on the materials of geophysical and archaeological research of 2020−2021

The paper is aimed to introduce into scientific discourse materials of the research of 2020–2021 which confirm the earlier conjecture on the location of the Tarkhansky Ostrog as on the butte at the confluence of the Tobol and Tap Rivers. The results of the geophysical surveys and excavations on the area of 168 sqm provided conclusive evidence towards the correctness of the preliminary argument on the location of the Ostrog and attribution of the materials of the early modern period to one of the first fortresses of the end of the 16th — beginning of the 17th centuries in the Lower Tobol River area. Uncovered remains of a palisade ditch and a wall, alongside the geomagnetic data and written sources, allow estimation of the shape and size of the burgh. Apparently, it had a subrectangular area of 1400 to 2000 sqm. The discovery of the palisade ditch provided the opportunity to render the location of the outpost and position of the turrets (“the fortress with a wooden palisade and two turrets”) at the western wall of the burgh which defended the less sloped, thus underprotected, as compared to the opposite, edge of the butte. The cutting by the palisade ditch of the remains of a thermal engineering structure with Russian ware in the filling and a series of bronze decorations shows that the chronology of the butte occupations and its stratigraphy, even within the Russian period, were significantly more complex than it appeared on the basis of only the written sources. A series of posts, probably belonging to the fence (wall?), with some of the associated pits disturbed by the palisade ditch and thermal engineering structure, belong to an object of an earlier period. It is not implausible that the remains of the fence-wall belong to the Tatar’s settlement of Tarkhan-Kala, whose location was associated by G.F. Miller with the Russian burgh positioned not far from the estuary of the Tura River, on the south-eastern side of the Tobol River. A representative pottery complex, comprising the fragments of at least 156 vessels, likely of the local produce, alongside the shards of Chinese porcelain ware, was unearthed in the excavation ditch of 2021. Some shards of glassware were found. Among the iron tools, noteworthy are a spadeiron, broken knives, a key, an arrowhead, hinges, a bracer, fishhooks, stab awls, sewing needles, and nails of various sizes. Of the bronze items, notable are a chest handle, an onlay, bronze decorations, lead bullets, and coins. Clay fishing weights and honing stones, alongside the aforementioned items, shed light on the occupations of the burgh residents. The complex of the obtained data allows conclusion on the viability of further investigation of the outpost: its layout and lifestyle, and material culture of its inhabitants during the period from the 17th to the middle of the 18th century.

Key words: Western Siberia, the Lower Tobol region, the confluence of the Tobol and Tap, the Tarkhansky Ostrog of the 17th — the middle of the 18th century, written sources, geophysical and archaeological research, artifact complex.


Panin A.V., Sorokin A.N., Bricheva S.S., Matasov V.M., Morozov V.V., Smirnov A.L., Solodkov N.N., Uspenskaia O.N.

Landscape development history of the Zabolotsky peat bog in the context of initial settlement of the Dubna River lowland (Upper Volga basin)

Zabolotsky peat bog is a unique biospheric and cultural-historical archive located in the north of the Moscow Region on the territory of the Dubna River lowland. Despite the advances in studying the Zabolotsky region, the question of reconstruction of the primitive population habitat remains unresolved. Until recently, it has been believed that in the Late Valdai period, the Dubna River lowland was covered by the waters of an extensive glacierdammed Tver paleolake, drained only at the turn of the Pleistocene and Holocene. It was assumed that the lake's existence prevented the settlement of the territory, whereas after its drainage, the shallow residual water pools were actively exploited in the economic activities of the primitive population. However, paleogeographic and archaeological materials have been accumulated during the last two decades that questioned the existence of large dammed lakes in the Upper Volga basin in the Late Valdai time. This paper presents the results of three years (2018–2020) of research, allowing revision of the ideas about the Quaternary geology and development of the geomorphic conditions of this area. A program of research, comprising topographic and geodetic surveys, drilling using a portable boring rig, lithologic description of the core, radiocarbon (AMS) dating, paleo-soil studies, biological analysis of organic macrofossils, and ground-penetrating radar, has been carried out aimed at reconstruction of the paleogeographic setting and landscape development. Drilling data were used to build the profile across the left bank of the Dubna River floodplain with extension to the low terrace. The lithofacial analysis of samples and AMS dating allowed identifying three generations of ancient riverbeds, the deepest of which (with the bottom at 12 m below the water edge) is more than 30 thousand years old. The biological residues from the dark-coloured loams directly below the peat bottom belong almost exclusively to higher plants, both arboraceous and wetland, which may have been brought in by the floodwaters. The ground-penetrating radar profiles clearly show the boundaries of three electromagnetically homogeneous sedimental layers — the peat, silted peat, and loam. The paleogeographic data, in conjunction with the geophysical profiling data, indicate the existence of a copious waterway in the lowland (the ancient Dubna River) no later than 15,000–16,000 years ago which formed a floodplain with large features of fluvial paleorelief available for settlement. These data agree well with the new serial AMS-dates for the resin from the grooves of the bone and horn artifacts, which permit extension of the time of the initial development of the Zabolotsky peat bog by the bearers of the Resseta Culture to 15,500 years ago. The conclusions drawn have major significance for the development of an evidence-based chronology of the events and dynamics of the settlement strategy of the population during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. The new data not only are consistent with the system of global paleoecologic events and history of the development of the outwash plain zone in Eastern Europe, but also provide the basis for refinement, and, possibly, revision of a range of current concepts.

Keywords: geoarchaeology, palaeohydrology, alluvial accumulation, paleochannels, groundpenetratingradar, GPR, AMS dating, Tver Glacial Lake, Zabolotje geoarchaeological polygon (GAP).


Sergusheva E.À.

The use of plants by the population of Primorye in the Early Paleometal period (according to the archaeobotanical and archeological data)

The Early Paleometal period (second half of the 2nd millennium BC — end of the 1st millennium BC) is one of the least studied periods in the archeology of Primorye. There are not many studied and documented complexes. Their cultural chronology is still insufficiently developed. The identification of the archaeological cultures has not been completed and their subsistence systems have not become objects of research. The author makes an attempt to reconstruct the usage of plants by the populations of Primorye during this period. The research was based on the archaeobotanical analysis of plant seeds from the sites of this period, supplemented with the data on the finds of artifacts associated with agriculture. The data from 15 sites belonging to different cultures or groups of the Early Paleometal period were taken into account and analyzed. From 10 of them, the seeds were obtained with water flotation technique, which was not always carried out to a sufficient extent. In 5 sites, seeds were found on visual inspection (seeds accumulations, imprints on ceramics). Seeds of cultivated plants were found in all 15 sites. They were recovered from all flotation materials, even from small samples, which indicates the abundance of these remains in the sites’ deposits. The species composition of the seeds demonstrates the ubiquitous presence and, therefore, cultivation of two species of millet (Panicum miliaceum, Setaria italica). This is a typical set of cultigens for Primorye, where both species are consistently present on archaeological sites, starting from the Late Neolithic and in the following periods. Materials of Novoselische-4 and Anuchino-14 sites, where only P. miliaceum was found, look atypical. After the middle of the 1st millennium BC, naked barley was also found on some sites. The paucity of the data does not allow reliable reconstruction of the role of agriculture in the economy of the Early Paleometal population of Primorye. However, the presence of the cultivated plants on all the sites where the water flotation was used demonstrates their ubiquity, including the coastal settlements whose population’s economy was mainly based on marine resources. This clearly indicates an increase of a role of agriculture in this period. The lack of special studies of the functions of such artifacts as hoes, grinding slabs and grindstones, traditionally referred to as agricultural, makes us consider with reserve their interpretation as exclusively agricultural. Obviously, they represent tools with complex functions. Specialized agricultural tools are represented by reaping knives. In Primorye, they appear in the Early Paleometal period. Their presence on the sites is regarded as evidence of the existence of agriculture. However, their absence does not imply the opposite. The archaeobotanical data from the sites of the Early Paleometal period confirmed the existence of wild plants gathering amongst the population engaged in agriculture. The remains of 8 plant species, which were found on all the sites where the water floatation was employed, have been identified.

Keywords: Primorye, Early Paleometal period, archaeobotany, archeology, agriculture, broomcorn and foxtail millets, naked barley, plants gathering.