Zakh V.A., Volkov E.N.

The pottery complex of the Mergen 6 early metal settlement in the Ishim area

In ancient times, two regions with different ornamental traditions were formed on the Tobol-Ishim territory. In the Early Neolithic Epoch, the tradition of combed ornaments began to develop in the Tobol area, whereas, at the end of the developed Neolithic period, the tradition of pit-comb pottery began to take shape in the Ishim area and in more eastern regions. These traditions had existed almost without mixing until the third millennium BC. Subsequently, pit-comb pottery complexes spread over the wide territory of Western Siberia from the steppes of Kazakhstan to the Taz peninsula, as well as from the Urals to the Yenisei. Since that time, comb impressions combined with pit rows along the vessel body had been observed in the ceramics of the Early Metal and pre-Andronovo Bronze periods in the Tobol area. In the late Bronze Age, the pit-comb ornamental tradition gradually started to restore its former borders. Bayryk culture complexes indicate that the population carrying pit-comb pottery started to spread in the western direction, including in the Tobol area. These complexes were in many respects similar to the pottery and inventory of the Mergen 6 settlement from the Ishim area. Due to the well-preserved state of organic remains (bone tools, actual bones of large and small mammals, as well as remains of fish bones and scales) in the cultural layer of the settlement, the complex is one of the most informative among the sites of the Early Metal Period. The ware found in the settlement has a wide range of analogies in synchronous cultures from forest and steppe territories. Judging by the site location (at the head of the river Mergenka outflowing from lake Mergen), osteological materials and inventory, the settlement population had appropriating economy, possibly with a predominance of fishing (weir fishing). A close resemblance of the Mergen 6 settlement ware and Bayryk complexes from the Tobol area suggests that the latter were formed on a local basis with the presence and adaptation of newly-arrived groups from the Ishim area among the local population.

Key words: Western Siberia, Tobol-Ishim area, Ishim area, Mergen 6, ceramics, comb-pit ornamental tradition, inventory, farming, migration.


Ilyushina V.V., Skochina S.N., Kisagulov A.V.


Field research conducted at the Bochantsevo-1 settlement lead to the discovery of a cultural layer containing pottery, bone remains, bone and clay inventory of the Late Bronze Age. In addition, spore-pollen data for this period were obtained.  Analysis of the application technique, ornamental elements of the found fragments, along with some features of the form allowed the authors to link the findings to the antiquities of the Alakul and Fedorov cultures. Analysis of the spore-pollen data obtained from the Late Bronze Age layer and of the discovered sterile interlayer shows that Bochantsevo-1 inhabitants chose to settle in an open place, i.e. a grass meadow with birch outliers growing nearby. In all likelihood, such a landscape and vicinity to the lake were most attractive for the sedentary population engaged in breeding cattle near the house. The analysis of faunal remains aimed at determining species and their age indicates meat-and-dairy orientation of the settlement’s cattle breeding in the Late Bronze Age. The role of appropriating economy branches was insignificant. The study of the inventory reveals that bone was the main material for making necessary tools involved in various areas of economic and production activities. The discovery of throwing weapons, fishing sinker weights, as well as tools for cutting the prey meat indicates the population's engagement in hunting and fishing. At different stages of pottery production, bone spatulas were used. The tanning industry was also important, as evidenced by the discovery of bone tools used for piercing leather. The discovery of ceramic spindle whorls indicates the settlement inhabitants to have been also engaged in weaving. One of the activities was metal production, as evidenced by splashing droplets and a double-blade knife found at the settlement. Typological and morphological characteristics of the knife correlate with materials from earlier periods of the Bronze Age (Sintashta culture). At the same time, the specifics of the production technology used at the Bochantsevo-1 settlement is comparable both to the Petrine tradition of metalworking and to the Tobol-Ishim culture of the Late Bronze Age. As a result of comprehensive studies, the question remains whether the Alakul and Fedorovo groups lived simultaneously in the settlement. At the current stage of research, it is possible to speak of the cultural affiliation of the settlement and materials with Alakul and Fedorov groups.

Key words: forest-steppe Tobol river basin, the Late Bronze Age, Alakul culture, Fedorovo culture, economy, production activity.


Ilyushina V.V.


In the archaeology of Northern Eurasia, the relationship between the Alakul and Fedorov cultures (Andronovo cultural-historical community of the Late Bronze Age) remains an issue. In order to resolve it, a detailed study of pottery complexes, namely, the technology of pottery making used by these cultures is required. This work presents new data on the technologies of pottery making used by the Alakul and Fedorovî groups of the Bochantsevo-1 settlement as well as their comparison. Thirty fragments from different vessels of the Fedorovî and Alakul cultures were subjected to technical and technological analysis using the approach developed by
A.A. Bobrinsky. The material analysis reveals the similarity of potters' skills at all the studied stages of pottery making. Alakul and Fedorovî potters used exclusively silty clay containing river mollusc shell for making ware. The information obtained on the chamotte composition indicates that both cultural groups had accepted views of using silty clay as pottery raw material. In the preparation of moulding materials, chamotte and organic additives were mainly used. The use of crushed calcined bone is recorded in Alakul vessels. The analysis of clay (with chamotte inclusions) indicates the traditional nature of these skills among the Alakul and Fedorovî potters. In addition, an admixture of talc is registered in the chamotte composition. Presumably, the use of talc was characteristic of these groups. The potters smoothed the finished ware with their fingers, cloth and spatulas, subsequently consolidating or polishing them to add shine. Consolidating vessel walls without polishing them was more characteristic of Alakul potters. The character of painted surfaces and fractures of vessels show them to have been baked in fire-pits or hearths. Most of the time, vessels were exposed to an incandescence temperature for a short period of time; however, fractures inherent in some Alakul pottery fragments indicate them to have been fired at lower temperatures. The comparison of the pottery making technology of the Alakul and Fedorovî groups (Bochantsevo 1 settlement) with previously obtained results reveals similarities with other complexes from the Tobol area near Tyumen. Preliminary results of studying materials from the Bochantsevo 1 settlement show that the eastern part of Bochantsevo 1 was settled earlier and was reclaimed by the Alakul group. The western part of this monument was settled later by the representatives of the Fedorovo culture. The presence of an insignificant number of Alakul vessel fragments in the Fedorovo complex may be indicative of the existence of the group representatives, which may also be evidenced by the results of studying the ware making technology.

Key words: forest-steppe Tobol area, the Late Bronze Age, Alakul culture, Fedorovo culture, ceramics, technical and technological analysis.


Gorokhov S.V.


When conducting a chronological and planigraphic analysis of cross pendants discovered in Russian orthodox necropoleis belonging to the 17th19th centuries, a researcher may encounter a situation of both adults and children of different age groups being buried in the same cemetery area, as well as within the same time period. However, these adults and children acquired their cross pendants at different moments. Therefore, to reconstruct the chronological development of such necropoleis in greater detail, it is required to know whether children’s graves contain any specific cross pendants and, if they do, at what age a children’s cross pendant was replaced with an adult one. This study was aimed at resolving the issue of correlation between the age of a buried person and the size of his/her cross pendant on the basis of archaeological material. The research base was represented by the collections of cross pendants formed during excavation works across the territory of the necropoleis of the Umrevinsky and Ilimsky Ostrogs, the cemetery of the Izyuk-I settlement, as well as by a collection of accidentally lost cross pendants from the Ob area near Novosibirsk. At the first stage, the dimensions of cross pendants were correlated with the age of the buried persons. It is determined that the width of a cross pendant depended on the age of a buried person, i.e. the older the buried person was, the wider his/her cross pendant turned out. This regularity has been observed in all the studied monuments to a various extent. The identified regularity testifies to the tradition in Siberia of replacing cross pendants when people reached a particular age; thus, a cross pendant was replaced once or twice at the age of 10–20 years. Such replacement of cross pendants might have been related to an accidental loss and a necessity to acquire a new cross pendant rather than to a tradition. The second research stage implied a planigraphic analysis of distribution of children’s graves with small-sized cross pendants within each necropolis. The analysis has shown the cemetery of the Izyuk-I village and the necropolis of the Ilimsky Ostrog to be characterized by a homogeneous distribution of small-sized cross pendants. Moreover, the necropolis of Umrevinsky Ostrog reflected an increase in the difference between the sizes of children’s and adult cross pendants in the 19th century. The sized-based comparison of cross pendants from the necropoleis and cross pendants accidentally lost during lifetime has demonstrated that, in the south of Western Siberia, people were buried with the same cross pendants they had been wearing during their lifetime.

Key words: staurography, children cross pendant, Izyuk-I, Umrevinsky Ostrog, Ilimsky Ostrog, Spassky necropolis of Irkutsk, Siberia.


Tikhomirov K.N.


Due to the work of archaeologists and ethnographers, the funeral ceremony of the population having inhabited the middle and lower stretch of the Tara river (southern taiga zone of Western Siberia) at the end of the 17th–18th centuries has been quite extensively studied. However, little has been known thus far about its early period (late 16th early 17th century) and the ethno-cultural identity of the people who buried the dead there. The discovery of coins during excavations conducted at Seitovo 4 a burial ground located on a right bank of the Irtysh river on the southern outskirts of the eponymous village in Tarsky district, Omsk region allowed the burial dates to be established. The above-mentioned coins of the Russian Tsardom (Moscow ‘denga’ minted in 1538–1561) belonged to the time of monetary reform under the rule of Ivan the Terrible. The data analysis revealed some specific features of the burial ceremony: grouping the graves in one complex; moving the body to one of the grave walls (usually northern); displacing the bones of the deceased on one side towards the spine; special actions when filling the grave pit; firing the burial pit and the area around it, etc. In addition, rare and unique things were found, including a forked arrowhead made from a copper plate with shaft remains; an article made from a copper plate in the form of a flat arrowhead with a single barb and a hole in the middle; a rectangular double-edged firesteel. At the same time, the features typical of burial grounds of the 17th–18th centuries widespread in the region were present: one burial under a mound in pits recessed into the ground; construction of ditches around the pit; traditional inventory (arrowheads, iron knives, axes, earrings, signet rings etc.); positioning the deceased on their back, with head to the north-north-west, etc. This shows that the complex belonged to their circle, constituting the earliest part of the funeral rite of the Tara Tatars' ancestors during the specified period. The analysis of written sources (first half of the 17th first half of the 18th century) reveals that only Tatars, mostly the Ayali group, lived there at that time. Thus, assuming that the buried belonged to the specified group, conclusions can be drawn about the individual features of the burial rite.

Key words: Western Siberia, Middle Irtysh area, the ancestors of the Tara Tatars, Seitovo IV burial ground, special features in the burials, 1618th centuries.



Zimina O.Yu., Zherebyatyeva N.V., Idrisov I.R., Sizov O.S., Moskvina N.N., Afonin A.S., Ivanov S.N., Ryabogina N.E.


On the basis of complex paleogeographic studies, we have created a large-scale paleo-landscape map covering the territory of the Andreevskoye lake flow system, in-between the Tura and the Pyshma rivers (West Siberia), for the interval of 2850–2600 cal. BP. According to the mapping results, the areas of key vegetation types were determined. By selecting modern analogues, we calculated the ecological capacity of the territory, as well as its biological productivity potential for providing plant and animal resources. In the past, spatio-temporal changes in the share of the main plant communities were based on the degree of area drainage varying with different climatic conditions. As a result of palynological and geochemical studies, a trend towards increasing humidity and falling temperature was identified in the given chronological interval. In this regard, the map shows a large proportion of birch forests and damp meadows, whereas coniferous forests and swamps were less dominant in the landscapes as compared to present times. In 2850–2600 cal. BP, the territory of the Andreevskoye lake system was developed by the representatives of the Itkul culture. On the basis of data on the natural resources available in the territory, the bioproductivity potential for producing and appropriating economy was calculated. The calculations are based on historical and ethnographic analogies and take into account the fact that producing industries used only 20–22 % of the territory's resource base. Evidently, the greatest amount of food was provided by fishing rather than by hunting and producing industries. Fishing was of paramount importance, as evidenced by the location of settlements (mainly on the lake shores). Reconstructed data on the territory's resource supply, allowed us to determine a possible size of the Itkul population having lived in the territory of the Andreevskoye lake system. The calculations used the data on the energy value of various products, taking energy consumption of people involved in vigorous physical activity into account. In the given chronological interval of 2850–2600 cal. BP, local resources allowed for the possibility of simultaneous residence of about 280–373 people. The indicator of resource availability in the territory allows the paleodemographic calculations to be significantly adjusted using methods for estimating a dwelling area, since they determine the population density limit, provided the land is used simultaneously. The figures obtained for the number of Itkul population correspond only to the minimum values, calculated by taking the area and number of dwellings of this culture into account.

Key words: paleolandscape map, resources endowment, paleodemography, Transitional Time from the Bronze to the Early Iron Age, West Siberia.


Bolelov S.B., Kolganova G.Yu., Nickiforov M.G.


The paper is aimed at studying the astronomical orientation of Khorezmic architectural monuments. By the term «astronomical orientation», the authors understand the alignment of the building elements with astronomically significant directions corresponding to the directions of the world, sunrise and/or sunset azimuths at solstices and azimuths of the rising/setting of the Moon at its northern and southern extremes. Analysis of the accuracy of monument plans showed that they could not be used to solve the issue of determining astronomical orientation. The main reason for this consists in the lack of unification in determining the position of the north. Verification showed that both magnetic north and true north could be picked on archaeological plans, and in some cases, one might suspect an incorrect recalculation from magnetic to true meridian. The unsuitability of earlier archaeological plans for the analysis of astronomical orientation severely limits the number of objects that can be used, since many of the monuments described in the last century works do not exist today. Therefore, in order to analyse astronomical orientation, it is necessary to perform new ground-based measurements. However, due to the impossibility of conducting new measurements during the field studies, we took the satellite imagery of Google Earth, which, along with the obvious advantage, leads to some restrictions. For example, a monument should be visible from space and have geometrical dimensions much larger than the pixilation of the image. As a result, for studying astronomical orientation, it was possible to select 37 objects, which have the shape of a convex polygon. The use of statistical analysis allowed us to establish the presence of two significant azimuths: alignment of the monument with the meridian line and with the sunrise azimuth at the winter solstice. The remaining astronomical azimuths are met in isolated cases, but we cannot confirm their presence due to a small number. It should be noted that some researchers have already paid attention to the practice of orienting structures along the meridian line, so the detection of this azimuth is not unexpected. However, compared to previous works, we have obtained accurate azimuth estimates, which are suitable for statistical analysis. In addition, the considered monuments belong to a single cultural tradition and are located within the same historical region. The cultural significance of the winter solstice day in Khorezm and neighbouring regions can be proved by Biruni’s information. Following his descriptions, the residents of Sogd and Khorezm celebrated the same holiday associated with the onset of the winter solstice.

Key words: Central Asia, azimuths, astronomical traditions in architecture, astronomy and culture.


Kulakov V.I.


There are two known versions of maces in the culture of early medieval Prussians: staffs and krivula (crooked staffs). The data presented in this article has allowed the author to draw the following preliminary conclusions about the use of various forms of maces by the Prussians: (1) In the Early Middle Ages (presumably already at the beginning of the first century AD), the population of the southeastern Baltic used staffs/maces with different tops symbolizing the social status of its owner. (2) A mace, which had obviously no practical significance judging by its insignificant length, can be seen in the left hand of Prussian stone sculptures, depicting legendary princes Bruteno and Widewuto. In the sculpture’s right hand, there is a sacrificial drinking horn. Obviously, both a mace and a horn were attributes necessary for offering sacrifices. (3) Curved branches of the krivula trees, which belonged to priests of various ranks and specialties, were primarily of ceremonial significance. Judging by the preservation state of the Insterburg collection exhibits, such krivulas were used by the Prussians including in the Modern Era. (4) With a certain degree of caution, it can be assumed that in the pre-order time straight staffs/maces were among sacrificial attributes of the Prussian society representatives of various social ranks. Priests of different levels used crooked staffs (krivula) in the course of religious ceremonies.

Key words: the Prussians, period of the Early Middle Ages, attributes, social and cult values.