Microbiomarkers of the local environment and interior of Neolithic and Eneolithic dwellings (settlements of Mergen 6 and 7)

Ryabogina N.E., Yuzhanina E.D., Ivanov S.N., Golyeva A.A.


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, № 4 (55)




              page 5–16




The paper concerns the analysis of the local environment around the multi-layer settlements of Mergen 6 and 7 situated in the immediate vicinity of each other. The settlements existed successively (partly contemporaneously in the early and high Neolithic) in the forest-steppe belt of Western Siberia. Two methods were chosen to obtain the results: spore-and-pollen (palynological) and microbiomorphic analyses of the cultural layers of the settlements of Mergen 6 and Mergen 7. In the settlement of Mergen 6, the following samples were collected for the palynological and microbiomorphic investigation: a vertical column from the center of the ditch of the dwelling no.5; areal soil samples of the dwelling no.5 from underneath the pottery debris of the Neolithic and Eneolithic periods; areal samples from the bottom layer of the dwelling no.21. In the settlement of Mergen 7, two vertical core samples were selected for the pore-and-pollen analysis: in the ditch of the dwelling no.1; and in the inter-dwelling area. Samples from the hearthing of the dwellings and from the inter-dwelling space were collected for the microbiomorphic analysis. The obtained results show that both settlements existed during the forest-steppe conditions, although the original landscapes of the sites chosen by the people for building the settlements were different in the early and high Neolithic. It appears that during the early Neolithic, the settlement of Mergen 6 was associated with an open site with meadow-steppe vegetation; birch forests constituted a small part of the landscape, whilst there were no pine forests in the close vicinity. During the middle Neolithic, people in the settlement of Mergen 7 preferred to settle in a birch wood, having cleared out a small area to build the dwelling. The results of the microbiomorphic analysis show that, despite the lack of pine forests nearby the settlements, people still used pine timber in housebuilding, apparently, intentionally. The frequent occurrence of remains of the wood detritus at the level of the floor of the dwellings and under pottery supports the initial archaeological observations about timber decking inside the houses. However, pollen and phytolithic studies do not demonstrate a wide use of the wetland waterside vegetation in housebuilding, apparently, because the lake at the time was not overgrown on the banks by reed and cattail. Therefore, despite the close location of the two sites and their similar hunting-fishing specialization of the subsistences, their populations in different chronological periods preferred distinct local conditions.

Keywords: pollen, phytoliths, Neolithic, Eneolithic, settlements, local environment, Western Siberia.


Funding. The research was carried out on the basis of the state assignment, the project No. 121041600045-8.


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

Accepted: 16.09.2020

Article is published: 23.12.2021


Ryabogina N.E., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation, E-mail: nataly.ryabogina@gmail.com, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1098-0121


Yuzhanina E.D., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation, E-mail: el.yuzh@gmail.com,  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7077-2618


Ivanov S.N., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation, E-mail: ivasenik@rambler.ru,  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8566-0080


Golyeva A.A., Institute of Geography RAS, Staromonetny per., 29, Moscow, 119017, Russian Federation, E-mail: golyevaaa@yandex.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1162-3321