Metal products of the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture from the Middle and Upper Tobol areas

Degtyareva A.D. (Tyumen, Russian Federation), Vinogradov N.B.(Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation), Kuzminykh S.V.(Moscow, Russian Federation),

Rassomakhin M.A. (Miass, Russian Federation)


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The article describes morphological and typological characteristics of non-ferrous metal, determines the formulae of alloys, as well as identifies techniques used for the production of tools by the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture from the South Trans-Urals (15th/14th and 12th/11th BC). We carried out the morphological and typological study of the non-ferrous metal along with the X-ray fluorescence (Institute of Archaeology RAS, Institute of Mine-ralogy UB RAS; X-MET3000TX analysers from Oxford Instruments Analytical, M1 Mistral from Bruker Nano GmbH) and metallographic (Tyumen Scientific Centre SB RAS; Zeiss Axio Observer D1m microscope) analyses. A total of 19 tools exhibiting morphology inherent to the tool collections of the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture were selected for the study. These tools comprised random finds and items from the settlements of the Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions of Russia, as well as from the Kostanay Region of Kazakhstan: daggers, spearhead, sickles, socketed chisels, a spear end cap and single-blade knives. A group of tools and weapons characteristic of all Eurasian cordoned-ware cultures was distinguished daggers with handguards and socketed grooved chisels. In addition, weapons characteristic of the sites attributed to the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture (Saryarka, Altai, and Semirechye) were identified within the weapon complex of the South Trans-Urals. These weapons included bush hooks of the Sosnovaya Maza type, knives having marked handles, spearheads with holes and socketed straight-blade chisels. The metal of the South Trans-Urals is distinguished by the marked heterogeneity of its chemical composition with the predominance of low-alloyed bronzes CuSn, CuSnAs and CuAs (66.7 %). There are 4 pure copper items, as well as products from the complex alloy CuSnAsNiCo and products with elevated iron concentrations (up to 2.68 %). These data indicate that the population experimented in the course of metallurgical processing of raw materials; they transitioned to smelting metal from sulphide ores or to the smelting of copper with sulphide or silicate nickel ores of the Ufaley Massif (deposits in the Chelyabinsk Region). South Ural craftsmen produced bronze and copper primarily using technologies for casting tools in one-sided (with flat covers) and two-sided moulds. The casting was followed by refining operations using the cold forming technology with the intervals of low-temperature forging modes. This choice of temperature is justified in the procession of low-alloyed bronze. Clearly, the centre for metal production of the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture in the South Trans-Urals was a metallurgical one, with the development of both oxidised and sulphide deposits in the South Urals. Innovative technologies of smelting copper with chalcopyrite, arsenopyrite, and nickel-containing ores were introduced. The complex of tools attributed to the Alekseyevka-Sargary tribes from the Tobol area is generally identical to the bronze inventory from Saryarka, Altai and Kyrgyzstan. Local craftsmen employed the traditional technologies of processing copper and bronze commonly used in the centres for metal production throughout the area of the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture, working primarily with bronzes low-alloyed by tin. As in previous eras, tin ingots and products were delivered from Central Kazakhstan and Ore Altai, but in much smaller quantities. The small number of products and the data of an analytical study indicate the relocation of the main centres for metal production of the Alekseyevka-Sargary culture from the Urals region (as compared to the big centres of Petrovka and Alakul cultures) to Central and Eastern Kazakhstan, up to Xinjiang in China.

Key words: Southern Trans-Urals, Bronze Age, Alekseyevka-Sargary culture, metal composition, production technology.


Funding. The article is written within the framework of the State Projects No. -17-117050400147-2 (A.D. Degtyareva); No. -18-118011790092-5 (S.V. Kuzminykh).


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Submitted: 09.09.2019

Accepted: 30.09.2019

Article is published: 30.12.2019


Degtyareva A.D

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



Vinogradov N.B.

South Ural State Humanitarian Pedagogical University, Lenina st., 69, Chelyabinsk, 454080, Russian Federation



Kuzminykh S.V.

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



Rassomakhin M.A.

South Ural Federal Scientific Center for Mineralogy and Geoecology Ural Branch RAS, Ilmen reserve, Miass, 456317, Russian Federation