raniological data on the problem of relationship between populations of the Early Bronze Age Yamnaya and Afanasyevo cultures

Khokhlov A.A. (Samara, Russian Federation), Solodovnikov K.N. (Barnaul, Russian Federation),

Rykun M.P., Kravchenko G.G. (Tomsk, Russian Federation), Kitov E.P. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


                      page 86106


This study focuses on the problem of the relationship between two distinctive Early Bronze Age cultures Yamnaya of Eastern Europe and Afanasyevo of Southern Siberia; the issue is still very topical and appealing to a wide range of specialists in the field of history. Here we summarize the existing hypotheses on the origin of the Afanasyevo population, compare cranial material of geographically and chronologically different groups of these cultures with the series of Eneolithic Middle Bronze Age skulls from Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia and South Siberia. Multivariate statistics techniques, such as canonical analysis and clustering of Mahalanobis distances, were used. The heterogeneity of the local Yamnaya and Afanasyevo groups, as well as predominance of wide-face European-type anthropological components in both populations, were shown. Comparative Neo-Eneolithic craniological materials of Altai, adjacent areas of Southern Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan demonstrate morphological complexes with moderate face profiling. The population with such appearance cannot be considered as a basis for the European-type Afanasyevo population. Among available Neo-Eneolithic craniological series from Central and Western Asia, Caucasus and South-Eastern Europe, various types of dolichocranial meso- or hypomorphic European-type individuals clearly prevail. They are morphologically different from the Afanasyevo craniological samples of Altai and the Minusinsk Hollow. As such, we deny the existing point of view on the origins of the proto-Afanasyevo population in Central and Western Asia regions. From the overall results of morphological analysis, we suggest that the ancestors of the proto-Afanasyevo population need to be sought specifically among the steppe and forest-steppe Eneolithic Early Bronze Age populations of Eastern Europe. According to our data, Yamnaya groups from Volga-Ural regions, which, moreover, appear to be chronologically the oldest ones within the populations of the Yamnaya cultural-historical area, demonstrate the greatest craniological similarity with the Afanasyevo groups from the Altai Mountains. Therefore, we support archaeological research and anthropological arguments which suggest that the appearance of the proto-Afanasyevo people in the Altai region is related to the migration of some Eneolithic Early Bronze Age Eastern European population, most likely from the Volga-Ural areas.


Key words: Yamnaya culture, Afanasyevo culture, morphological features, anthropological components, genetic unity.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2016-34-3-086-106




A.A. Khokhlov

Samara State Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities, M. Gorky st., 65/67, Samara, 443099, Russian Federation



K.N. Solodovnikov

Altai State University, Lenina prospect, 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation



M.P. Rykun

National Research Tomsk State University, Lenina prospect, 36, Tomsk, 634050, Russian Federation



G.G. Kravchenko

National Research Tomsk State University, Lenina prospect, 36, Tomsk, 634050, Russian Federation



E.P. Kitov

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninsky prospect, 32, Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation