Bracelet from an Elunino burial at the Teleut Vzvoz-I site

Valkov I.A. (Barnaul, Russian Federation)


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The article studies a stone bead bracelet found in an Early Bronze Age burial of the Elunino archaeological culture during the excavation of the Teleut Vzvoz-I burial ground (heterogeneous in time) in the south of Western Siberia (Forest-Steppe Altai). According to a series of calibrated radiocarbon dates, the Elunino burial ground at the Teleut Vzvoz-I site was used in the 22nd18th centuries BC. The artefact under study was found in double burial No. 16 of the indicated burial ground, on the wrist of an adult (gender is not established). The bracelet includes 66 stone beads, as well as one stone base. This piece of jewellery is unique in terms of technique, as well as the sacral meaning embedded in it. The ornament found on the beads bears no analogies to those discovered in the well-known Bronze Age archaeological sites of Western and Eastern Siberia. The present publication considers the morphological and raw material characteristics of the bracelet, as well as the specifics of its production and use. In this study, trace analysis was performed, i.e. the analysis of macro- and micro-traces left on the surface of the item as a result of its production and subsequent use. All traces were examined using an MBS-10 stereoscopic microscope at a magnification of ×1656. It was found that some of the beads in the bracelet were made of serpentinite. The nearest sources of this stone are at least 250300 km away from Teleut Vzvoz-I. The beads are made by counter-drilling, drilling of blind holes, polishing and grinding. This find is unique due to ornamental compositions found on several beads in the form of oblique notches on side faces. The extremely small size of the beads (average diameter of 3.3 mm; average thickness of 1.4 mm) makes the pattern invisible to the naked eye. Thus, it is concluded that the ornament had a sacred meaning, and the bracelet itself served as an amulet. Despite no finds of ornamented bracelets dating back to the Bronze Age in Western Siberia and adjacent territories, typologically the bracelet bears analogies to the antiquities of the Okunevo culture, the Yamna cultural and historical community, as well as in the materials of the Bronze Age archaeological site of Gonur Depe (Turkmenistan). The study of the bracelet demonstrates the relevance of performing trace analysis of such items from other archaeological sites.

Key words: Bronze ge, Forest-Steppe Altai, Elunino culture, burial ground, jewelry, bracelet, beads, ornament, traceology.


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

Submitted: 07.11.2019

Accepted: 19.12.2019

Article is published: 02.03.2020


Valkov I.A.

Altai State University, prosp. Lenina, 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation