Settlement structure of Early Medieval groups in the Trans-Urals

Kostomarov V.M., Tretyakov E.A.  (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


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The article considers the settlement of Early Medieval population in the Trans-Urals (4th9th centuries AD). The study is based on the data about the location of monuments attributed to the Bakal culture, which are recorded on the territory of the Tobol-Ishim interfluve and its water system in the area of the modern forest-steppe belt. The relevance of the study is determined by the following points: presentation of new data on the monuments of the Bakal culture; analysis of the settlement system and landscape use in the specified period; identification of economic areas characteristic of the early medieval population. In this study, the authors used the methods and approaches of landscape and settlement archaeology. In addition to the spatial and morphological characteristics, the source database includes data on the Earth's digital model drawing on SRTM30 data. The analysed materials (81 monuments 36 hillforts, 40 villages, 5 burial grounds) were collected in one geoinformation system; the authors proposed an improved classification of fortified villages, which provides the opportunity to characterise the economic structure of the Bakal groups in a new way. The hillforts comprise 27 terrace settlements located on the high bedrock coasts of rivers, as well as 9 floodplain fortified settlements situated on isolated hills. When identifying economic zones on the basis of constructed Thiessen (Voronoi) polygons, it was found that there was one or, less often, two fortified villages (hillforts) in the centre of one zone. Settlements were located not far from the centre (most often in a floodplain). The analysis of direct visibility from the settlements showed that direct visual watch was kept over the villages in the floodplain, with the visibility zones covering large floodplain sectors, thereby providing fairly tight control of the territory. It was established that the burial grounds were located in the immediate vicinity of fortified villages. The analysis revealed a correlation between the location of the village and the economy of the Bakal population, where cattle, prevailing in quantity, played an important role. This is due to the presence of large fortified settlements located in floodplains, whose population kept livestock. The authors established a system of the settlement and space-related occupation of the Medieval population in the Trans-Urals, with hillforts being the main centres used to control the territory simultaneously performing the functions of political, trade and economic centres.

Key words: Trans-Urals, arly Middle Ages, Bakal culture, landscape archeology, resettlement, range, GIS.


Funding. The article is written within the framework of the State Project No. -17-117050400147-2.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted: 10.09.2019

Accepted: 30.09.2019

Article is published: 30.12.2019


Kostomarov V.M.

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



Tretyakov E.A.

University of Tyumen, Volodarskogo st., 6, Tyumen, 625003, Russian Federation