Dental characteristics of the Scythian time population of the Forest-Steppe Altai

Leibova N.A. (Moscow, Russian Federation), Tur S.S. (Barnaul, Russian Federation)


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Materials from the analysed sites of the Staroaleyka and Kamen Cultures in the Forest-Steppe Altai (Southern Siberia) are dated to the 6th2nd c. BC. The aim of this study is to introduce the dental data for the Staroaleyka and Kamen Cultures into scientific discourse, to identify and analyse intergroup variability within both communities, their origin and genesis, and the direction of their relations with the Bronze and Early Iron Age populations. Materials of the Staroaleyka Culture are represented by a series from three burial grounds: Firsovo-14, Tuzovskiye Bugry and Obskiye Plesy 2, dated to the 6th5th c. BC. The Kamen Culture series from the Forest-Steppe Altai has been collected from six burial grounds: Rogozikha-1 (6th4th c. BC), Obyezdnoye-1 (5th4th c. BC), Kamen-2 and Kirillovka-3 (5th3rd c. BC), Novotroitskoye 1 and 2 (5th3rd c. BC), Maslyakha-1 (3rd2nd c. BC). In total, 402 individuals were examined using the Odontological program. The analysed craniological series are stored in the TSU (Tomsk) Cabinet of Anthropology and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Altai of AltSU (Barnaul). As comparative data, published Bronze and Early Iron Age series from Western, Southern and south of Eastern Siberia, southern Trans-Urals, Aral Sea Region, Central and Western Kazakhstan were used. Study methods: 25 odontoscopic and odontoglyphic features were recorded. Ten key characteristics, which have comparative data in literature, were discussed. The evaluation of the traits and their further analysis were carried out according to the methodology of A.A. Zubov. The construction of circular polygons and calculation of the average taxonomic distances were carried out in the GROUP COMPARISON program (author Olga M. Leybova), designed for processing of dental data. Intergroup variability was assessed through correspondence analysis in the STATISTICA 8 software. For the first time, dental data for the Staroaleyka Culture population have been received, and data for Kamen Culture has been significantly extended. Despite the territorial and chronological proximity of the Staroaleyka Culture series, it has been established that they belong to two different odontological variants. Odontological data does not exclude the presence of the Ural component in their morphological complex. The analysed samples of the Kamen Culture, with the exception of those from Rogoziha-1, appear to represent the Western odontological branch with different proportions of the eastern component in the series. In the morphocomplexes of the groups from the Obyezdnoye-1 and Kamen-2 burials, traits of an undifferentiated gracile type have been identified. The burial complexes of Novotroitskoye 1 and 2 and Maslyakha-1 were left by anthropologically uniform population representing a maturized odontological variant. Similarly to the craniological data, a fairly wide range of contacts has been established for the population of the Kamen Culture, including the early nomads of the Southern Urals, Western Kazakhstan, south-western and eastern Aral Sea region on the one hand, and Tuva and the Minusinsk Basin on another. Unlike craniological studies, odontological data does not suggest any proximity to the synchronous Pazyryk population of the Altai Mountains. Significant differences have also been revealed with the Kamen Culture population of the Ob River region near Novosibirsk.

Key words: Altai, Early Iron Age, Staroaleyka ulture, Kamen culture, dental anthropology, northern gracial type, undifferentiate gracial type, Ural race.


Acknowledgements. We would like to thank M.P. Rykun for her help in working in the anthropology offices of Tomsk State University.

Funding. The work was carried out with the financial support of the RFFI (grant No. 19-09-00205).


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Accepted: 07.09.2020

Article is published: 27.11.2020


Leibova N.A.

Miklouho-Maclay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Leninski prospect, 32, Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Leibova N.A.)


Tur S.S.

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

E-mail: (Tur S.S.)