Late Bronze Age anthropological materials from the Nepljuevski kurgan cemetery  

Karapetian M.K., Leybova N.A. (Moscow, Russian Federation), Sharapova S.V. (Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation)


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The body of works on craniological and paleoodontological analyses of the materials from the Bronze Age sites of the Southern Trans-Urals still has not clarified the question of the genesis of the people who lived in this area. This is partly due to fragmentary state of the available materials, so that publication of new data appears highly relevant. This paper deals with the results of craniological and dental analyses of an osteological sample from two kurgans of the Nepljuevski burial ground, excavated between 2015 and 2017 by a Russian-German archaeological expedition. The burial ground is located 300 km south-west of Chelyabinsk city, in Kartalinsky district in the steppes of the Southern Trans-Urals. The recovered materials are dated to the Late Bronze Age and attributed to the Srubnaya-Alakul Culture variant. Materials and methods. Metric description of 5 male and 6 female crania is given. The dental sample comprised remains of 14 children and adolescents and 12 adults. Standard craniometric and paleoodontological protocols were used. Statistical procedures included principal component analysis (PCA) for craniometric traits and correspondence analysis for odontological traits. Results. Generally, the crania show morphology characteristic for the European (Caucasian) groups. The male crania are homogenous in such traits as narrow, vividly protruding nose and a pronounced horizontal profiling. The sample is dominated by individuals with a high facial height. Females and males generally show morphological similarities, but females, on average, have a relatively higher braincase, wider and lower orbits, a relatively wider nose, and slightly less pronounced horizontal profiling. The odontological analysis is in line with the cranoimetric data indicating European ancestry. One of the distinct characteristics of this sample is the presence of enamel pearls a usually rare trait in 5 out of 12 individuals, which may indicate an increased percentage of biological relatives in it. Conclusion. Overall, the crania from kurgan 1 find analogies among gracilized high-faced forms widespread in Southern Urals and Kazakhstan during the Bronze Age, often linked to the southern ancestry. The attribution of the Nepljuevski sample to the circle of gracile forms is indicated by the results of odontological analysis, which revealed its proximity to the Tripolye culture sample.

Key words: Southern Ural, Late Bronze Age, Srubnaya-Alakul cultural type, craniometry, paleoodontology.


Acknowledgements. The authors express gratitude to G.V. Rykushina and V.V. Kufterin for providing unpublished odontological and to A.I. Nechvoloda for craniometric data.


Funding. The study was financed by the Russian Science Foundation, grant 16-18-10332. The research infrastructure (storage and access to the anthropological collection) was provided by the state project AAAA-A16-116040110036-1 Ancient and medieval cultures of the Urals: global characteristics in regional context.


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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


Karapetian M.K.

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Mokhovaya st., 11, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation



Leybova N.A.  

Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Leninski prosp., 32a, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation



Sharapova S.V.

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