Dwellings and households of the Late Neolinhic Sosnovy Ostrov ulture in the Trans-Urals: a model of economic activities

Usacheva I.V.  (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


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In this work, the author set out to test the procedure for studying the size of dwellings from the perspective of the household using the Sosnovy Ostrov culture of the Late Neolithic as an example. This implies considering the house collective as being maximally adapted to local environmental conditions and as being optimal in size for the implementation of a specific type of economic activity associated with the household. The study covers the southern taiga zone of the Tobol basin area (the border region between the Urals and Western Siberia) in the first half of 5th millennium Cal . In the course of the systematic source analysis, the author employed the methods commonly used in natural science, geography and the humanities: topographic, hypsometric, planigraphic, comparative ethnographic, etc. It was found that the dwellings of the Sosnovy Ostrov culture were large in sizes (60125 m2) as compared to the dwellings of other Neolithic cultures in the Trans-Urals. In addition, a pattern in the location of villages relative to the water network was shown. They are situated close to lake isthmuses and wellhead capes (located downstream of a tributary mouth). The analysis of settlements revealed in-depth long-term dwellings, as well as light structures and utility pits located inside and outside of dwellings. This fact, along with the material distribution, suggests the sedentary lifestyle of the population. A settled way of life in the context of appropriating economy is possible only if the population possess a highly productive skill. The modelling of the situation, drawing on the ethnographic data available for these territories, indicates that the population was engaged in weir fishing. This conclusion is consistent with paleoclimatic reconstructions and the topography of the settlements. In addition, it is indirectly confirmed by a large number of woodworking tools in the stone inventory. The construction and maintenance of a weir require the coordinated work of a large team, which correlates with the size of the Sosnovy Ostrov dwellings. The presence of a common hearth in the dwellings suggests that the Sosnovy Ostrov households were built on the principles of undivided authority and existed in the form of large (extended) families. The study results indicate a high informative potential of a dwelling when considered from the perspective of a household adapted to the specific conditions.

Key words: the Neolithic, Trans-Urals, Sosnovy Ostrov culture, dwelling, household, productive fishing, sedentary life.


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: 16.09.2019

Accepted: 30.09.2019

Article is published: 30.12.2019


Usacheva I.V.

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