A dagger from Stepnoye VII cemetery as an indicator of intercultural contacts in metalworking in the Bronze Age of the Southern Trans-Urals

Kupriyanova E.V., Taskaev S.V. (Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation)


                  page 17–27


The aim of the article is to describe the results of multidisciplinary analyses of a unique bronze  dragger from the bicultural cemetery of Stepnoye VII in the Southern Trans-Urals. This item was found in an Alacul’ burial which was attached to a Petrovka burial complex. There were graves of two sub-adult individuals in richly ornamented costumes with a pair of horses sacrifice and expensive grave goods in the burial. The burial built in the Petrovka burial complex demonstrates the Alacul’ population’s desire to show their belonging to the Petrovka cultural tradition. The dagger is a bronze weapon with a cut pseudo-molded-on metal handle. The suffice optical microscopy has allowed to determine the dagger production technology — lost loam mold process without further perfection. Second use traces of the object are practically absent. The dagger was made by a high-level professional especially for a certain sacrificial ritual. The material elemental analysis was identified by Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDXS) method, also roentgenostructural analysis and X-ray phase analysis were used. The dagger was made out of medium tin bronze alloy. Stannery (tin metal) concentration in the alloy amounts to 7,9–10 %, copper amounts to 88,6–90,9 %. Other elements admixtures are negligible — 1 % and less. The dagger metal chemistry is similar to a set of tools from the graves of the Petrovka cemetery of Stepnoye VII, some of them are analogues with the goods from the Seima-Turbino (circle of) burial sites, according to their typology. Two items are close analogues of the dagger according to its look: the daggers from the Gladunino hoard (Kurgan oblast) and from Shaitanskoye Ozero II site (Sverdlovsk oblast). However, a comparison of the look and production technology of the Stepnoye IV dagger with its close analogues shows higher professionalism it was made with. Obviously, there was a vast contact zone which connected different metallurgical production centres during the Bronze Age. The Stepnoye region belongs to the boarder-zone of the forest-steppe world and the steppe inhabitants, and it had been a contact zone among tribes with different economic systems at all times. The people who lived in the boundary zone (Petrovka tribes that built the sites at Stepnoye village, in particular), were the mediators of an exchange in metalwork technology between the southern and northern areas and, probably, they mediated tin alloys supply from the Northen Ural mines. From all appearances, the dagger from the complex 8 of the cemetery of Stepnoye VII was made by the local masters. The model embodied in this dagger having wide parallels does not speak for import of items, rather for import of ideas and images, common environment and relations between northern circumference metal-makers from Petrovka-Sintashta world and Seima-Turbino transcultural phenomenon representatives.


Key words: Bronze Age, Southern Trans-Urals, metallurgy, dirk, Petrovka culture, Alakul’ culture.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-41-2-017-027




E.V. Kupriyanova

Chelyabinsk State University, Br. Kashyrinykh st., 129, Chelyabinsk, 454001, Russian Federation



S.V. Taskaev

Chelyabinsk State University, Br. Kashyrinykh st., 129, Chelyabinsk, 454001, Russian Federation

NRU South Ural State University, prosp. Lenina, 76, Chelyabinsk, 454080, Russian Federation