Sacred objects from the sites of the Sargatka Culture in the context of interaction of the forest-steppe population with the nomads of the Ural-Kazakh steppes  

Prokonova M.M.




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The paper concerns the stone altars, clay dishes, and censers from the sites of the Sargatka Culture of the Early Iron Age. Analysis of their morphological features is carried out, as well as of the dynamics of changes in the forms, the context of their deposition in burials, and specifics of their use. As the result, the reasons for the appearance of these products in the forest-steppe zone of the Tobol-Irtysh and Baraba areas (Western Siberia) are clarified and their subsequent distribution in the given region is traced. Stone altars of types I, II, and IV started appearing in the 5th4th cc. BC in the Irtysh Basin and Baraba regions as a consequence of the Saka migration. Transformation of the religious and mythological views of the Sargatka population, as a result of the interactions of the Tobol-Irtysh communities with the nomads of the Ural-Kazakhstan steppes, led to the appearance of new rituals requiring small stone altars for their performance, due to which there was a growing demand for these products among local communities. However, by the 4th c. BC the production of altars in the Kazakhstan center ceased due to the decline of the Early Saka Culture. From this time, the population of the Sargatka Culture began making local copies of small type I altars from stone, although their production in the Sargatka area was difficult due to the lack of sandstone outcrops, which facilitated the use of more accessible material clay, as reflected in the appearance of clay dishes of types IIIV in the territory of the Baraba and Irtysh Basin. Connection between the local and imported products is indicated by the traces of their similar use. From the 3rd c. BC, scarce altars of type I could make their way into the Sargatka context as a result of close contacts with the population of the Upper Ob Basin, among whom these objects were widespread up until the 3rd2nd cc. BC. The appearance of type III stone altars and type VI clay dishes in the complexes of the Sargatka Culture of the Tobol and Irtysh Basins in the 5th4th and 4th3rd cc. BC might have been caused by the migration of a small group of nomads of the Southern Urals, or by close contacts with the population of the Gorokhovo Culture. Type V altars also were borrowed from the bearers of the Gorokhovo Culture. Their appearance may indicate the process of assimilation of the newly arrived Sargatka population in the Tobol Basin. In the 4th c. BC, clay dishes of type I appeared in the Irtysh Basin. From the 3rd c. BC, as a result of the intensification of contacts between the local population and nomads of the Sarmatian origin, these products became more widespread, while ceramic censers and clay dishes of type II also appeared.

Keywords: Western Siberia, Early Iron Age, Sargatka Culture, Sacred Objects, Censers, Ceramic Plates, Stone Altars.


Creative Commons License

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

Accepted: 12.09.2022

Article is published: 15.03.2023


Prokonova M.M., University of Tyumen, Volodarskogo st., 6, Tyumen, 625003, Russian Federation, E-mail:,