Palaeodemography of Gonur: a review  

Kufterin V.V., Dubova N.A. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


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This paper outlines results of a palaeodemographic study on the Late Bronze Age skeletal sample from Gonur Depe an ancient proto-urban center in the Murghab oasis (Southern Turkmenistan, 23001500 ). The analysed sample consists of 4060 individuals (2245 from the Main and Royal necropolises, 1732 from the ruins of the palace-temple ensemble, 5 from the so-called cemetery of the temenos, 60 from Gonur-20 and 18 from Gonur-21). The analysis includes computation of the standard palaeodemographic parameters; life tables and demographic curves for the total sample and separately for males and females are presented. The total Gonur sample is characterised by a close to normal sex ratio (with a slight predominance of females relative to males) and corresponds to the minimum standard infant mortality. The average age of death for adult males is 34.5 years, for females is 34.2 years, and for the total population (including children) 26.2 years. Demographic patterns for samples from the Gonur necropolis (2245 individuals) and from the ruins of palace-temple ensemble (relatively late burials, 1732 individuals) are different. At the same time, the authors emphasised that all the groups of tombs from various parts of this site belonged to the representatives of a single archaeological population. The results of an intergroup comparison (using Principal Component Analysis) allows us to conclude that the demographic patterns of the Gonur Depe sample are close to those of skeletal population from such proto-urban centers as Altyn Depe (Southern Turkmenistan) and Sapallitepe (Southern Uzbekistan), as well as to the sample from the Elunin culture (Teleutskyi Vzvoz-1 burial ground). It is concluded that the studied skeletal population, according to paleodemographic data, demonstrates a relatively high living standard and a successful population. Moreover, the obtained results are important, because Gonur Depe materials can be taken as reference in modelling the demographic structure of the past human societies (in particular, those of the Bronze Age).

Key words: paleodemography, Bronze Age, Gonur Depe, Turkmenistan, Central Asia.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2019-44-1-064-073


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Article is published 2.04.2019 .



V.V. Kufterin

Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Leninsky av., 32a, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation



N.A. Dubova

Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Leninsky av., 32a, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation