The decorative practice based on natural forms in the Paleolithic of the Urals

Kotov V.G. (Ufa, Russian Federation)


                  page 16–27


In recent years, archaeologists have found objects of decorative activity based on natural forms of bone and stone which were manufactured by men in the Ural-Volga region at the Upper Paleolithic monuments in the Kama area (Shirovanovo site), in the Middle Trans-Urals (Gari site), in the Southern Urals (Bogdanovka and Sergeevka 1 sites), in the mountainous part of the Southern Urals (Shulgan-Tash (Kapova) and Bayslantash caves) and in the Southern Trans-Urals (Troitskaya 1 site). The tradition of using natural forms in pictorial practice applies both to the early Upper Paleolithic and to the final stage of the Paleolithic era. Their distinguishing feature is the selection of shaped pebbles or bones, which have a certain similarity to an animal or a human, and they were only slightly altered by men. Depending on the material and the purpose, various processing methods were used: upholstery, sawing, stationing, drilling, engraving. The process was always aimed at obtaining important details that emphasized similarity of natural forms with an imaginary phenomenon, meaning usually eyes, a mouth, if it referred to a head, or in case of a mammoth, a recess between the back and the head, and the trunk. According to the content, items of decorative activity in the Paleolithic epoch fall into: images of people — 3 items, animals — 5 items, bird depictions — 1 item, and ornamented pebbles — 1 item. Along with this, we found examples of offerings in the form of pebbles of unusual rocks (green serpentine, crystal pendants on a shingle slate and serpentinite) in the cave sanctuary of Shulgan-Tash. In case of the Upper Paleolithic, we can assume that the use and veneration of natural forms was an important and specific way of symbolization within the pictorial activity in the territory of the Ural-Volga region. This is characteristic of «Ural» and, more broadly, «Siberian» cultural tradition of the Upper Paleolithic.


Key words: sculptures, processed shaped pebbles, processed shaped bones, the Upper Palaeolithic, the Urals.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-40-1-016-027




V.G. Kotov

Institute of History, Language and Literature Ufa Scientific Center RAS, pr. Octiabria, 71, Ufa, 450054, Russian Federation