Architecture of fortified settlements belonging to the Sintashta-Petrovka type in the existing versions of visual reconstructions  

Soldatkin N.V. (Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation)


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The article analyses the main visual reconstructions of settlements belonging to the Sintashta-Petrovka type (SPT settlements): dwellings, fortifications and entire settlements. SPT settlements are located in the Southern Trans-Urals and Northern Kazakhstan. The stage of their habitation, which includes the use of fortifications and the regular layout of settlements, is associated with the materials of the Sintashta and Petrovka cultures, dating from the end of the 3rd to the first quarter of 2nd millennia BC. Traces and remains of buildings, preserved in a strongly transformed form in the occupation layers of sites and discovered during excavations and remote studies, constitute sources for reconstructions. The fragmented state of the sources explains the highly conditional character of reconstructions of entire structures. Early reconstructions appeared in the early to mid-1990s. They show the architecture of two settlements (Sintashta and Arkaim), whose dwellings are depicted with standardised layouts, flat roofs and shared longitudinal walls made from soil blocks. The fortifications were depicted as massive, complex structures, styled after the concept of the Country of Towns. These images have become classic, and authors of all future versions made a start from them. Most versions are dedicated exclusively to Arkaim and are rather controversial, often exaggerating the monumentality and complexity of the architecture of this site. The proposed reconstructions of Arkaim are not accompanied by a reliable study of archaeological sources. There are reconstructions of other SPT settlements exhibiting some differences from classic visualisations. They constitute 3d models of individual sections of buildings (dwelling No. 5 of Kamenny Ambar, dwellings and fortifications of Ustye I), images of two different phases in the life of the entire Kamenny Ambar settlement, as well as a series of sketch drawings depicting these sites as settlements of pastoral farmers that have fairly simple fortifications rather than grand proto-cities. Due to the fragmented state of sources, the lack of procedures for reconstructing such architecture and insufficient argumentation, the existing reconstructions constitute largely a visual form of translating subjective ideas of different authors about the architecture of SPT settlements.

Key words: Southern Trans-Urals, Northern Kazakhstan, Bronze Age, Sintashta-Petrovka type settlements, Sintashta culture, Petrovka culture, Bronze Age architecture, reconstruction of architecture, 3d reconstruction.


Funding. This work was supported by a grant from the Russian Scienc Foundation No. 16-18-10332-. Lifestyle of the population of the Southern Trans-Urals in the diachronic perspective: from sedentary forms to mobility (based on materials from the Karagaily-Ayat river basin), hands. L.N. Koryakova.


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

Submitted: 08.10.2019

Accepted: 19.12.2019

Article is published: 02.03.2020


Soldatkin N.V.

Institute of History and Archaeology of Ural Branch RAS? S. Kovalevskoy st., 16, Yekaterinburg, 620990, Russian Federation.