Models of color metal production in the Urals in the Early Iron Age

A.D. Degtyareva (Tyumen, Russian Federation), S.V. Kuzminykh (Moscow, Russian Federation)


                  page 41–60


There were various models of metal production among the population of the Itkul and the Savromat archaeological cultures during the Early Iron Age in the Central and South Urals. The Itkul culture is a culture of miners and metallurgists. Its basic fraction — the Itkul or Trans-Ural center of metallurgy — was initially focused on mi-ning and metal production. The main collections of Itkul copper and bronze products were found at the objects related to production activity (settlements and hillforts of metallurgists) and cult practice (sanctuaries). Itkul tribes had a clearly expressed metallurgical specialization in production, ore processing (generally malachite) in huge scales, melting of oxidized copper and production of a wide range of products with a subsequent active participation in trade and exchange transactions. The metal of early nomads of the Southern Urals and Western Kazakhstan comes from funeral complexes, where representatives of military and priestly estates were often buried, with unique and sacral significant products. Relatively progressive models of production with accurately traced correlation of product type — chemical composition of a metal — technology were developed in West Kazakhstan-Southern Ural center of metal production of the Savromat archaeological culture. All sacrally significant objects are made of tin and tin-arsenic bronze. At the same time, share of tin impurities was often unfairly high, up to 31%, which resulted in fragility of metal even after it was subject to a special heat treatment. Casting on lost wax models, casting in unilateral, two-or three-leaved forms (often metal) with plug-in inserts remained the dominant scheme of receiving products. The authors describe the main vectors of historical and metallurgical contacts of the Savromat tribes with production centers of Ore Altai and Central Kazakhstan, from where tin and tin-arsenic alloys arrived. Their northern neighbors, miners and metallurgists of the Itkul culture, were the main suppliers of copper to the early nomads of the Southern Urals and Western Kazakhstan.


Key words: Urals, Early Iron Age, Savromat culture, Itkul culture, metal production models, non-ferrous metal, manufacturing techniques.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-41-2-041-060




A.D. Degtyareva

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation



S.V. Kuzminykh

Institute of Archaeology RAS, Dm. Ulyanova st., 19, Moscow, 117036, Russian Federation