Typology of the medieval axes from the north of Western Siberia  

Zykov A.P., Koksharov S.F., Maslennikov E.R. (Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation)


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The paper presents the results of the research on the Middle Ages iron axes found in different years in the north of Western Siberia and the Urals, excluding pole-axe (berdysh Rus.) that appear in large numbers in the study area with the growing of the Russian population. The relevance of such study has matured, since there are enough sources that need to be generalized and critically compiled. Taking into account the morphological features of the archaeological evidence, the authors propose to classify all currently known axes by 2 groups and 13 types. The first group including 3 types of minting axes were made exclusively for combat use. The second group includes 10 types of axes, classified as universal, which served both for the military and for economic purposes. The text with the description of the sites contains also table with the data on the basic parameters of axes (item length, blade width) and the time of their use (existence). For the first time, a new type of battle axe (type 13), accidentally found in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Ugra, is published. We present analogues of this subject among the products of Russian blacksmiths of the 13th14th centuries and explain the position on the dating and on origin of the axe. The paper discusses the evolution of certain types of objects, describes plots concerning the origin of certain items (imports from Volga Bulgaria, Russian lands, etc.) and the special attitude of the local population to this type of weapon, which could be stored for centuries in the holy places of the Ob Ugrians. The authors come to the conclusion that imported axes of the second group were used as a standard for Siberian blacksmiths. But local products, characterized by primitive technology (a multilayer package), low quality welding of iron strips and an abundance of slag inclusions, can be finally identified only after metallographic microstructural analysis. This research should be prolonged, because annual archaeological investigations replenish the source base, and, with no doubt, the typology of axes proposed in the article will be supplemented and adjusted.

Key words: iron axes, blacksmithing, the Middle Ages, the north of Western Siberia, typology.


Funding. This work was supported by the program of the Presidium Urals Branch, RAS 18-6-6-15 Archaeological sites as sources the reconstruction of the development of prehistoric societies of the Urals and the north of Western Siberia (Project Manager Alexandr Shorin, Doctor of Historical Sciences).


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

Accepted: 29.05.2020

Article is published: 28.08.2020


Zykov A.P

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



Koksharov S.F.

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



Maslennikov E.R.

Ural Federal University, prosp. Lenina, 51, Yekaterinburg, 620142, Russian Federation