Gimranov D.O., Kosintsev P.A., Bachura O.P., Zhilin M.G., Kotov V.G., Rumyantsev M.M.

Small cave bear (U. ex gr. savini-rossicus) as a game species of prehistoric man

Imanay Cave is located in the Southern Urals (53°02' N, 56°26' E), at 420 m.a.s.l. A 9.5 m2 trench was excavated in the grotto in the inner part of the cave to examine the sediments. The accretion thickness was 1.2 m. The taphocoenosis of the Imanay Cave is of the Pleistocene age and contains about 10,000 specimens of bone remains of large mammals. They mostly belong to small cave bear (U. ex gr. savini-rossicus), and the remaining bones to species of the mammoth faunal complex (Lepus sp., Castor fiber, Marmota bobak, Canis lupus, Cuon alpinus, Vulpes vulpes, V. corsac, Meles sp., Gulo gulo, Martes sp., Mustela sp., Ursus kanivetz, U. arctos,
U. thibetanus,
Panthera ex gr. fossilis-spelaea, Mammuthus primigenius, Equus ferus, Coelodonta antiquitatis, Alces alces, Bison priscus, Saiga tatarica, Ovis ammon). In the layer with the bones, Middle Paleolithic stone artifacts were found, including several bifacial points. These tools have analogies in the Middle Paleolithic sites of the Caucasus region and Crimea. During excavations of the cave, the skull of a cave bear with artificial damage was found. The study of the artificial perforation on the skull was the purpose of the present paper. On the basis of dimensional and morphological features, it was established that the skull belongs to a small cave bear (U. ex gr. savini-rossicus). The skull was directly AMS radiocarbon dated to 34 940 ± 140 BP, IGANAMS-5652. Analysis of the growth layers in the teeth revealed that the animal died in winter at an age of 9-10 years. Trace evidence analysis showed, that the hole in the parietal region of the skull was made by a sharp bifacial flint point similar to the Middle Paleolithic points found in the cultural layer of the cave. The animal was killed during winter hibernation, most probably by stabbing with a spear. This is the first direct evidence of human hunting of a small cave bear. With the abundance of cave bear bones, the skull with the hole in it is the only evidence of human impact on this animal. There are no bones with traces of butchering and harvesting of the bone marrow.

Key words: small cave bear, Late Pleistocene, Middle Paleolithic, hunting, South Urals, Imanay Cave.


Durakov I.A., Mylnikova L.N.

Bronze-casting workshops of the Vengerovo-2 settlement (Baraba forest steppe)

The formation of the early bronze-casting production in Baraba and the appearance of products of the Seima-Turbino type were completed within the 3rd early 2nd mil. BC during the existence of the Krotovo Culture. Plenty of work has been devoted to its characterization; the presence of bronze-casting on the sites has been noted, but special studies of this type of sources are extremely few. The purpose of this paper is to present the characteristics of the production areas associated with the processing of non-ferrous metals, based on materials of the Vengerovo-2 settlement of the Krotovo Culture. Production sites were studied in six dwellings of the settlement. The uniformity of the workshops has been revealed in terms of site planning and principles of organization of the production, although differences in scale have been noted. The use of two types of the forges has been recorded. In all these workshops and in other sites of the culture, a multifunctional sub-rectangular hearth buried in the ground with the walls and floor lined with fragments of ceramics or clay coating was found (with dimensions of 1.65×0.87–2.3×0.9×0.21–0.52 m). The second type of the forges is less common a small round or oval pit (0.4–0.5 m in diameter) with the bottom and walls lined with baked clay or fragments. The smelting was carried out with forced air supply. The casting of the metal was taking place next to the forge. Crushed bones were used as fuel. The production complex demonstrates extensive external economic and commercial ties. This is manifested by penetration of significant volumes of non-ferrous metal into the ore-barren areas of the Central Baraba, as well as by the presence of imported foundry equipment (molds made of marl and talc). The simultaneous presence inside the casters’ dwellings of bones of taiga-zone animals and those living in the southern, steppe regions indicates significant length of the supply routes. The specific features and unification of the production of the manufacturing equipment, nature of the work carried out, volume of heats, and a large number of similar-type forms suggest specialization of the village in the bronze casting production.

Key words: Krotovo culture, Baraba forest steppe, Western Siberia, bronze-casting sectors, production, technology.


Gyul T.I.

On the dynastic cult of the rulers of Bukhara Sogd in the Early Middle Ages (to the interpretation of the murals of the Varakhsha palace)

Varakhsha hillfort is located in the Bukhara oasis (Uzbekistan). From the 6th to 8th c., it was the residence of the rulers of Bukhara Sogd. Archaeological investigations of the Varakhsha were carried out in the late 1930s, and then later in 1947 and 19491954. During the excavations of the palace, wall paintings were discovered in the Red (Hindu) and East (Blue) Halls (7th–8th c.). In the East Hall, the center of the art composition on the south wall was dominated by a massive figure of a ‘king’ with a golden sword, seated on a throne with protomas of winged camels. Depicted next to him was a group of five people sitting on their knees the king's family. The elder man is making an offering to the fire on an altar. On the base of the altar, there is a male figure, seated on a throne in the form of a lying camel. This figure represents Vretragna, the Avestan deity of Victory. Mythogenically, Vretragna is close to the Vedic god of thunder Indra. In Avesta, Vretragna appears in various guises: a Bactrian camel; the bird of prey Varagn; a man with a golden sword. In Sogdian iconography, the image of the Bactrian camel is most often associated with Vretragna. The characters of the murals in the Blue Hall (the king’s family) bring offering to the fire lit in tribute to the deity to Vretragna. The central figure of this composition was identified by V.A. Shishkin as a king. In our opinion, it rather depicts Vretragna. This is implicitly indicated by the protomas of the throne in the form of winged camels and by the image of ‘the king with the golden sword’. The walls of the Red Hall of Varakhsha were decorated with a scene of hunters riding elephants. Each elephant was ridden by a servant-mahout and a lord, whose figure would be disproportionately large. They are slaying huge monsters. According to researchers, an image of the Sogdian deity Adbag is repeated here. The epithet ‘Adbag’ ‘Supreme deity’ is associated with Ahuramazda. B.I. Marshak and A.M. Belenitsky note, that here Adbag-Ahuramazda is likened to Indra riding a white elephant. It seems to us quite probable that such an epithet could be applied to various gods of a high status. Notably, it could be Vretragna depicted here, who is akin to Indra. We think that the image of Vretragna held a special place in the visual arts of Varakhsha, as the patron deity of the Bukhar-Khudat dynasty. He was depicted in the center of the composition in the Blue Hall in his Avestan hypostasis, and in the Red Hall he was depicted in the form of Indra.

Key words: Central Asia, Early Middle Ages, Bukhara’s (Western) Sogd, Varakhsha, monumental art, Avesta, zoolatry, Vretragna, Indra, Farnbag, dynastic cult.


Papin D.V., Stepanova N.F., Fedoruk A.S., Fedoruk O.A., Loman V.G.

Pottery traditions of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) population of the steppe Altai (based on materials from the settlement of Zharkovo-3)

Zharkovo 3 settlement is located in the south of Western Siberia in the steppe Altai. The site was studied by archaeologists of the Altai State University and they discovered two building horizons: one of the Andronovo time (one house was studied) and the other of the Late Bronze Age (two structures and a soot pit). The paper presents the results of a comprehensive analysis of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) ceramics of the Zharkovo 3 settlement. Fragments of 74 different vessels were used to analyze the ornamentation. The method of V.F. Gening was used. The authors conducted the analysis of shapes and ornamentation of the ancient tableware, and analysis of the technology of its manufacture. It has been established that the collection contains vessels of cap- and pot-shaped forms, the predominant technique of ornamentation of which is stamping. The ornamental compositions mainly consist of four or more different motifs. A series of 49 samples, apparently from 47 vessels, was subjected to technical and technological analysis. The method of study of ceramics, developed by A.A. Bobrinsky and followers of his school within the framework of the historical and cultural approach, was used. The potters of the village preferred medium-plastic clay of medium iron content as the raw material. The main recipe for the paste composition was ‘clay + chamotte + organics’. Research into the construction of the pottery has revealed consistent skills in its manufacture. The patchwork-lumpy and spiral-patchwork methods of forming the vessel hollow body, recorded in the settlement, are characteristic of the Andronovo ceramics throughout its distribution area. It can be stated that the Andronovo population, who left the pottery of the Zharkovo 3 settlement, achieved a certain unity of cultural traditions in selection of the raw materials and paste composition. Almost all vessels of the site exhibited the use of the same type of mineral additives chamotte. Deviations in concentration and dimension of its particles are associated with individual differences in the skills of the potters of the settlement. The presence on the site of individual vessels with pronounced differences in manufacturing technology should be regarded as examples of imports.

Key words: Bronze Age, Altai, ceramics, technology, Andronovo Ñulture.


Grushin S.P., Merts I.V., Merts V.K., Ilyushina V.V., Fribus A.V.

Semiyarka IV burial complex of the Middle Bronze Age (Eastern Kazakhstan)

The paper is aimed at the analysis of the Middle Bronze Age materials from the Semiyarka IV burial ground in East Kazakhstan. In 20162018, two stone fences on the site were investigated by a joint expedition of the Altai and Pavlodar State Universities. The two fences contained human burials, inhumed in a wooden structure and in a composite stone cist box. The purpose of this work is to determine regional features and chronology of the Semiyarka IV funerary complex, as well as details of the ethnocultural development of the local population in the Middle Bronze Age. The research methodology includes analyses of the planigraphy and stratigraphy, comparative and typological study of the artifacts, anthropological investigation, examination of the pottery manufacturing technology, and radiocarbon dating. The technical and technological analysis of the pottery production was carried out using the method of A.A. Bobrinsky. Radiocarbon dates from wood and human bone samples were obtained by the liquid scintillation method in the archaeological technology laboratory of the Institute for the History of the Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The dates were then calibrated using CALIB 8.2 program and IntCal 20 calibration curve. The body of collected data allows us to conclude that the Andronovo burial ground of Semiyarka IV is distinguished by its syncretism which is manifested in two different cultural components. The first component, ‘Central Kazakhstan’, is represented by the architectural traditions of building stone fences and graves cemented with a clay mortar, as well as by the presence of chamotte in the pottery containing additives traditional for the population of Central Kazakhstan. The second component, ‘Siberian’, is represented by the tradition of building wooden crypts, and in the ceramics complex, by some peculiar ornamental patterns typical of the eastern Ob River valley. The site is dated to the turn of the 18th/17th 16th c. BC. The architectural similarities of the Semiyarka IV burial ground structures with the Yenisei sites suggest that their origin is associated with the Irtysh River region. The migration period of the mobile Andronovo communities to the northeast is dated to the 17th c. BC.

Key words: East Kazakhstan, Middle Bronze Age, Andronovo cultural and historical community, funeral rite, migrations, ceramics.


Zakh V.A.

Incense burners and altar dishes of the Sargatka Culture

The paper concerns the so-called incense burners and small altar dishes found in the burial complexes of the Sargatka Culture in the forest-steppe region of the Western Siberia, as well as in the burials of the Cis-Urals nomads of the 4th–2nd c. BC, which were used for burning and incensing of various substances. Compilation of materials allows forming a clearer view on the possible function of these objects, which is debatable amongst the researchers. The incense burners are small cylindrical stone or pottery vessels with considerable amount of talcum in the pottery clay. The altar dishes represent round, oval or subrectangular objects made of stone and clay with or without legs. The cylinder-shaped incense burners and altar dishes are, apparently, similar in function to each other. The absence of a high rim on the latter is compensated by a large area of the dish itself. The volume of the incensed substance would be nearly the same in both types of the burners, while sustaining burning on the altar-dishes would not require special means, such as wall penetrations alike those in the cylindrical incense burners. Few preserved burials contain incense burners alongside other, in our opinion related, objects flat-bottom vessels, sometimes with stone bases, which allows reconstruction of the implement in its assembled form and suggestion of a method of its application. The main item was an incense burner a container of a cylindrical or conical shape, usually with through-holes in the wall to allow air intake inside the ware, sometimes having nipple-shaped protrusions on the inner surface of the bottom increasing the surface area of contact with the incense substance. The incense burner would have been placed in a flat-bottom jar filled with smoldering embers and installed on a fire-resistant base. The studied objects and their handling resemble the ceremonial described by Herodotus as a ritual purification amongst the Scythians. However, in our opinion, it cannot be ruled out that they could have been used in the rituals involving hallucinogenic substances, performed with the aim of prophesizing, divination, to communicate with gods and spirits, which were practised by people of the Sarmatian and Sargatian (at least in the western part of the area) Cultures and administered, most likely, by special, elected persons. When those persons die, the implements would be placed into their burials as a grave goods.

Key words: Western Siberia, Sargatka Culture, settlements, burials, flat-bottomed vessel, incense burner, altar dishes, ritual ceremonies.


Tataurov S.F., Tikhonov S.S.

‘Polish-Lithuanian’ archaeological materials from the excavations of the town of Tara

In this article, the authors analyse materials from the excavations of the Tara fortress (Omsk Region, Wes-tern Siberia), founded in 1594 by Prince Andrei Yeletsky and functioned as the main outpost of the Russians in the Middle Irtysh region to counter Khan Kuchum, the Kuchumovichs, and then the newly-arrived population from Dzungaria and Kazakhstan, until construction of the Omsk fortress in 1716. The aim of this research is to identify amongst the finds the articles of Polish-Lithuanian origin, in outward appearance similar to Russian ones. Having studied the collections formed during the excavations of the fortress in 20072020, the authors came to the conclusion that such items are definitely represented by the signet rings with nobility coats of arms, coins, and baptismal crosses made according to the Catholic canon. Potentially, Polish-Lithuanian origin could be assigned to some types of fabrics and leather goods, such as a travel compass case with images of French fleur-de-lis, some types of shoes, and handgun holsters. The presence of Venetian glass ware and plinth bricks in the layers of the 17th c., according to the authors, is also associated with the arrival in Tara of the population that had previously resided in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or on the western borders of Muscovy. The owners of these items ended up in Tara (and in Western Siberia) because they were taken prisoners or sided with the Russians during the Russian-Polish wars. Over time, they formed a special category of service people called ‘Lithuania’. This is evidenced by numerous written sources. The basis for this conclusion is given by particular characteristics of Tara's trade relations established, primarily, with China, Lesser and Greater Bukharia, and the Uzbek Khanate, i.e., with the south in the 17th c., from where Chinese porcelain, silk and cotton fabrics, and some types of smo-king pipes came to Tara. At that time, weapons, bread, coarse fabrics, money for salaries of the servicemen of the Siberian garrisons, and cheap beads were imported to Tara from the west through Kazan, Kungur, and Lozva. In the 18th c., the main trade of the Russians began to concentrate in Troitskosavsk (Kyakhta since 1934) on the border with Mongolia, from where tea, silk, and porcelain were exported, whereas a flow of Russian-made goods, as well as European wines, sugar, some species of nuts, and spices, was established through Kazan into Siberia. Instead of ’Lithuania’, Germans started coming to Siberia. In the 19th c., Poles reappeared en masse in Western Siberia. However, those were no longer residents of Lithuania and Western Russian principalities, but ethnic Poles exiled to Siberia for participation in anti-Russian uprisings.

Key words: archeology of Western Siberia, Russian fortresses, ethnos, trade, “Lithuania”, Russians.


Kulakov V.I.

Sudovians in Sambia in the 13th14th centuries

The aim of the proposed work is to ascertain, based on archeological data and written sources, the presence of individuals of the easternmost tribe from the community of the Western Balts — Sudins/Yotvingians. Both scientific data from old German excavations and the latest archaeological research in the Zelenogradsk district of the Kaliningrad region are introduced into the scientific discourse. There are no funeral monuments of the Teutonic Order in the territory of the ‘Sudovian corner’ (Lat. Campus Sudowitarum) in the northwestern part of the Sambia peninsula. Ethnographic data on this part of the Amber Coast, provided by the local history manuscripts of the 16th–17th c., include data on the West Baltic population of Western Sambia without actual confirmation of its tribal affiliation. In fact, authors of Polish written sources of the Order time do not draw distinction between the Sudins and Prussians either. Individual burials of male warriors and women with features characteristic of the Sudovian funeral rituals were found at the Prussian burial grounds of the Northern Sambia. Anthropological data confirm this conclusion. In the eastern part of the Prussian tribal area, occupied by the Prussians in the pre-Order times, according to the dating of the burial grounds, two burials with spearheads were encountered amongst the complexes of the 14th c., which can be tentatively associated with bearers of the Sudovian traditions. The low representation of the Sudovian burials at Prussian burial grounds attests to the fact that the Order authorities could have appointed individual representatives of the Sudovian aristocracy, who sided with the conquerors, in order to strengthen the Order in the local polcas (volosts). Using the linguistic and cultural closeness with the Sembians, these Sudins possessed military power (presence of spearheads in the burials, with the common absence of weapons in the Prussian community graves) and could have been collecting taxes on behalf of the Order (the presence of a Western European moneybag in burial Ve-161). The seemingly unnatural presence of the Baltic warriors in the service of the Teutonic Order is symbolized by the decoration of the buckle from burial Ve-161, which bears the coat of arms of the Order and a stylized image of the mythical companion of God Perkuno — the sacred goat, an object of the Prussian sacrifices, presented here as a symbol of the native spiritual traditions.

Key words: southeastern Baltic, Sudavians, Yatvyag, order time.