Kotov V.G.

Engraved images of the Shulgan-Tash (Kapova) cave, Bashkortostan, South Ural

The cave of Shulgan-Tash (Kapova) with wall drawings of the Upper Paleolithic is located in the mountain course of the River Belaya in the Southern Urals, nearby the village of Gadelgareevo, Burzyansky district of the Republic of Bashkortostan. In the process of more than 50 years of studying the cave sanctuary, the search for engraved images has been carried out. Two compositions with engraved images were discovered in 2008. Composition No. 1 is located in the Main Gallery, 100 m from the entrance, in a niche on the western wall at a height of about 2 m above the floor level. It consists of the elements located on two levels. At the lower level, a number of elements are confined to the natural fracture and a chain of caverns. Parallel to the horizontal crack, five lines were drawn. The lines connect to a quadrangular shape filled with vertical and horizontal lines. Behind it, the crack merges into a chain of caverns. The upper tier consists of four oval artificial recesses. The fourth groove is located under the engraved anthropomorphic figure, between the legs. This indicates that this is a vulva-shaped symbol. The grooves are connected by deeply incised lines to the quadrangular figure and caverns of the lower tier. Lines also run from the chain of the caverns downwards. Thus, these groups of artificial and natural elements were combined into a single composition. Composition No. 2 is located in the Dome Hall, 150 m from the entrance, above the Chapel of Skulls in the western wall, nearby the colorful wall images in the shape of splashes. It was made on a 16 cm × 14 cm rock surface leveled and cleaned of calcite deposits. The composition consists of three pictorial elements made in three different ways. The first element is represented by two parallel arcuate bands of comb lines of 4 cm wide and about 30 cm long made with a serrated stone tool of 4 cm wide in the soft mondmilch. Under them, with finger impressions in the mondmilch, a circle of about 6 cm in diameter was made of round dimples; rows of engraved straight lines and zigzags were applied to the right of the circle. At present, the composition is held together by calcite incrustation and has completely hardened. The use of stone tools to create the engravings and grooves, the calcite crust inside the engraved lines, the use of the natural forms of the wall relief in the pictorial ensemble, the similarity of the quadrangular figure with the quadrangular symbols painted with ochre in the same cave, and the presence of a vulva-shaped symbol — all this indicates the Upper Paleolithic Age of these compositions.

Keywords: Southern Urals, mountain course of the Belaya River, Shulgan-Tash (Kapova) cave sanctuary, engravings, Upper Paleolithic.


Zakh V.A., Efremov M.I.

The Neolithic and Early Metal complexes of the Chepkul 5 settlement in the North of the Andreevskaya Lake System

The problems of development of the early Neolithic and Early Metal Age complexes in the Tobol-Ishim interfluve are still insufficiently studied. A certain understanding of the cultural and historical processes that took place during these periods can be based on the materials of the multi-layered settlement of Chepkul 5, located on the territory of the Andreevskaya lake system near the city of Tyumen. The purpose of this work is to introduce into scientific discourse the research materials of the early Neolithic and Bayryk Culture complexes. Within the Neolithic pottery complex of Chepkul 5, it is possible to conditionally distinguish groups of vessels comparable to the ware of the Boborykino, Koshkino, Basyanovo and comb types, which find similarities in the vast territory from the eastern slopes of the Urals to the Baraba forest-steppe, and from the Lower Ob River to the steppes of Kazakhstan. Stone tools of such complexes, including Chepkul 5, contain points with high steep retouch, oblique points on blades, and geometric microliths. The presence of lips (overhangs) on the rims on the inside of the vessels, and certain other characteristics of ceramics, bring the analysed complex closer to the ware of the Boborykino Culture of the Yurtobor 3 settlement [Zakh, 1995]. Considering the date from charcoal from the settlement of Yurtobor 3 — 6591–6478 cal BC (UPI-559) [Zakh, 1995, 2009] — the time of existence of the settlement Chepkul 5 in the early Neolithic can be correlated with the end of the humid stage and the beginning of the dry period (8.2–5.5 cal ka BP) [Zach, 2021]. According to the location of the pits in the trench of the Early Metal Period dwelling 2 of Chepkul 5, which contained pottery with comb-pit and large-stroke ornamentation, the building can be reconstructed as a semi-dugout with a pillar-frame structure, with an area of about 40 m2. Similar structures, ware, stone and clay sinkers and other items belong to the Bayryk Culture, are dated to the 3rd mil. BC and can be considered together with the Ishim complexes of the Alexandrovo stage of the Ekaterinino Cultures within the comb-pit community of the 3rd mil. BC. However, the complexes of the Tobol and Ishim regions belong to different cultures, as evidenced by the complete absence of clay sinkers in the Ishim region and in the territories to the east. The presence of the latter, as well as drawings on dishes and petroglyphs in the Early Metal Period cultures of Trans-Urals, suggests that the population of the Tobol region was engaged in drive hunting for waterfowl during molting [Zakh, 2022], which could not but affect its cultural specificity.

Keywords: Lower Tobol region, Andreevskaya lake system, Chepkul 5, housing and household complexes, Neolithic, Early Metal Age, pottery, inventory.


Kupriyanova E.V.

The charioteering in the Bronze Age societies of the Southern Trans-Urals as a social phenomenon

The sites of the Sintashta and Petrovka archaeological cultures of the Bronze Age of the Southern Trans-Urals (Russia) have been traditionally considered as part of the realm of chariot cultures of early Indo-European communities. The analysis of the finds demonstrates that the phenomenon of charioteering carried an important symbolic role in the paradigm of the steppe communities of the Bronze Age. Numerous finds of chariot fragments, elk antler cheekpieces, paired horse sacrifices, remote combat weapons in cemeteries of Stepnoye I, Stepnoye VII, and Krivoe Ozero have been repeatedly subjected to scientific investigation. Collective burials have been discovered, in which even women and young children are accompanied by weapons, cheekpieces, fragments of chariots and sacrificial horses. Based on this, we have concluded that the community of “charioteers” included members of a certain clan, possibly related to the production and use of chariots, horse training, etc. At the same time, however, individual burials of adult men with elements of a chariot complex have also been found, which occupied central positions in kurgans; those men could have been actual chariot warriors. Recent findings provide a vivid evidence for this. In the field season of 2021, the Sintashta burial complex (kurgan 33) was investigated in the Stepnoye I cemetery, the central burial of which contained a skeleton of a 35–50 year old man who had a round healed hole in his skull. Theoretically, such an injury could have been caused by a battle axe, similar to ones found at the sites of the Sintashta and Petrovka Cultures. Furthermore, abnormal osteophytosis growths have been recorded on all areas of the man's spine, which could have resulted from both injury and high pressure on spine caused by driving a chariot. One elk antler cheekpiece (an element of horse bridle) was found in the burial, along with numerous bones of sacrificial animals. All details of the burial rite indicate that the buried man was a significant person for the community, probably a charioteer warrior. Previously obtained AMS dates attribute the Sintashta complexes of the Stepnoye I cemetery to the range of about 1950–1850 BC. Thus, the newly investigated kurgan 33 of the Stepnoye I cemetery respresents another piece of evidence indicating the existence of chariot culture among the steppe communities of the Bronze Age in the Southern Trans-Urals.

Keywords: Bronze Age, Southern Trans-Urals, Sintashta Culture, Petrovka Culture, charioteering, burial rite.


Shorin A.F.

The history of the study of the Cherkaskul Culture at the present stage 

The article presents the analysis of the current stage of the history of study of the Late Bronze Age Cherkaskul Culture, mostly distributed in the forest, forest-steppe and steppe areas of the Trans-Urals, including the Tobol region. The source base of the study is a critical analysis of scientific publications concerning the problems of the culture. Five stages in the history of the study of the Cherkaskul Culture were identified, but the achievements of the first four are presented only briefly, as these have been previously published. At the fifth stage (the end of the past — first two decades of the present century), new knowledge on various problems of the culture, as can be seen from the bibliography, was formed primarily by the efforts of scientific centers of Yekaterinburg, Tyumen and Chelyabinsk. These publications provide various concepts for the genesis of the culture, new calibrated radiocarbon dates are analyzed, which determine the age of the Cherkaskul Culture within the middle — beginning of the third quarter of the 2nd mil. BC. These also demonstrate the intense spread of the sites of this culture to adjacent regions to the west, east and south. Yet, a reasonable point has been raised regarding apparently not so significant influence of the Cherkaskul migrants on the archaeological sites of the eastern regions of Tataria (in particular, the Taktalachuk burial ground), and the Middle Volga region — the Suskan Culture. At the same time, the first publications have appeared on the technical and typological analysis of the Cherkaskul ceramics, the specifics of its metal complex and other categories of the grave goods. The research continues on different aspects of the diversified economy of the Cherkaskul communities in various natural and climatic zones of their habitat; the first data about possible acquaintance of some communities of the forest-steppe Tobol region with the basics of cereal cultivation have been introduced into scientific circulation. However, not all the issues are close to their final solution, which is in particular due to the specifics of the archaeological sites of the region, multi-layered and nonstratified nature of the majority of the settlements, small number of semi-closed housing complexes within them, as well as small number of identified and analysed closed burial sites.

Keywords: Trans-Urals, Late Bronze Age, Cherkaskul Culture, history of study.


Riabinina E.A., Maslyuzhenko D.N., Spiridonov I.À., Usachev E.V.

The hoard of the Early Iron Age at the settlement of Dianovo-II (Belozersk district of the Kurgan region)

In 2016, in the area of Dianovo village of the Belozersk district of the Kurgan region (West Siberia), a hoard of the Early Iron Age artifacts was found. While examining the area for the identification of structures of the Civil War period, a round-bottomed vessel was accidentally discovered. Inside the container, there was a massive rectangular bronze plate, glass beads, and fragments of jewelry, including bronze strings, bronze plaques in the shape of fish and four-petal plaques strung on leather cords, all wrapped in organic material (felt?). In total, the Dianovo treasure contains 370 objects made of bronze and glass, assembled within a single set, classified as women’s. At present, this is one of very few elements of the women’s costume of the Early Iron Age that have been best preserved in the Southern Trans-Urals. These finds were transferred to the archaeological laboratory of the Kurgan State University, and later the archaeological survey was carried out at the discovery location by I.A. Spiridonov. The purpose of this research is a typological description of the contents of the hoard, its chronological analysis, and a possible reconstruction of the bronze ornament. The main research materials are the container in which the treasure was found — a ceramic round-bottomed vessel, a set of bronze objects that piece together a female (breast?) adornment, a set of glass beads of three types (rounded blue, black (square and rounded) with festoon-like white and yellow pattern), and a massive bronze plate with traces of manufacturing, which probably had the purpose of an ingot. Based on the analysis of the materials, it has been established that the hoard was most likely left by the population of the Gorokhovskaya Culture. This conclusion was made on the basis of the shape and features of the ceramic vessel. This is also supported by the location of the treasure and the general dating of individual items: glass beads of the Black Sea origin have numerous similarities in the sites and are quite clearly dated by these analogues to the 4th–3rd c. BC. The dating of other items of the hoard — elements of the bronze ornament and a bronze ingot-plate is complicated due to the lack of clearly dated analogues or chronological duration of their use. Judging by the composition and carefulness of packing of the items, this hoard apparently was of a situational (possibly in the event of an attack) and returnable character.

Keywords: Western Siberia, Tobol basin region, Early Iron Age, hoards, Gorokhovo Culture, women's jewelry.


Kashchey O.A., Nedashkovsky L.F.

Ñhronology of the Karakiyasay II rock art

The article provides a brief description of the history of the study and characteristics of six large assemblages with petroglyphs of the Karakiyasay complex, located on the southern slopes of the Karzhantau mountain ridge (North-Eastern Uzbekistan). Currently, about 600 stones and rock outcrops with more than 3700 images have been identified within the site. The most interesting is the organization of the pictorial series of one of the assemblages — Karakiyasay II, on the materials of which, using cluster, planigraphic and stratigraphic analyses, it was possible to carry out the chronological attribution of almost all images of this section of the complex. For this, the semantic units of the organization of the visual series of the assemblage were initially designated, including single and paired images, multi-figure “scenes” and plot compositions. Then, for the most numerous images — 169 figures of the Siberian mountain goat, by the means of measuring the figures and calculating the ratios of a various quantities characterizing the proportions of the design of body parts of the animals — the ratio of the body height, length of the legs, neck and head to the length of the body, as well as by introducing quantities containing numerical indicators of the way animals are depicted (number of horns, number of legs, turn of the figure, angle of the legs, angle of the neck) — nine quantitative characters were determined. The next stage is the cluster analysis, which allowed us to identify three clusters (groups) of similar figures of mountain goats. Since the data obtained in the first two clusters turned out to be heterogeneous, they were also subjected to cluster analysis, as a result of which it was possible to identify nine types of figures characterized by a number of similar features. Later, using the analysis of planigraphy and stratigraphy, the accuracy of the identified types was verified, their chronological sequence was determined, and, based on the analogies with the manner of completion of figures in these types, the chronological attribution of the entire pictorial series of the site was carried out. The results of the study indicate that the petroglyphs in the Karakiyasay II assemblage were created mainly in the Late Bronze Age (the second half of the 2nd mil. BC — beginning of the 1st mil. BC) — Early Iron Age (7th c. BC — 4th c. AD).

Keywords: Western Tien-Shan, Uzbekistan, Karakiyasay, petroglyphs, Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, pictorial series, mountain goat figures, chronology of rock art, quantitative features, cluster analysis, palimpsests, planography.


Seregin N.N., Tishkin A.A., Matrenin S.S., Parshikova T.S.

Burial of a warrior of the Rouran period from Northern Altai

The article introduces into scientific discourse cultural, chronological and social interpretation of the warrior burial, investigated during the excavations of the necropolis of the Bulan-Koby Culture of the Choburak-I funerary and ritual complex. The site is located on the right bank of the Katun River, to the south from the Elanda village of Chemal district, Altai Republic. During the research, a burial of a man with a horse and accompanying equipment, including a representative set of weapons (bow, a large number of arrows with iron tips, a sword, two combat knives), a belt decorated with numerous belt fittings, horse equipment, and other items were studied. A detailed description of the finds, including both widespread and very rare types of items, has been carried out. The indicated circle of analogies from the sites of the Bulan-Koby Culture of Altai, as well as complexes excavated in adjacent territories, allows us to determine the date of burial mound ¹30 to the 4th c. AD. This conclusion is confirmed by the results of radiocarbon dating of a series of objects from the Choburak-I necropolis. The complex of elements of ritual practice indicates that the burial mound belongs to the previously identified Dialyan burial tradition of the Altai population of the end of the 1st mil. BC — first half of the 1st mil. AD. This is suggested by the combination of the following features: an oval mound with a crepidoma, inhumation burial rite, northwest orientation of the deceased, accompanying of the deceased by a horse laid “at the feet” of the person and its orientation with its head in the same direction as the deceased, inner grave construction in the form of a deck. The composition of the grave goods allows us to conclude that the buried man was of a high social status, possibly a warrior who commanded a large unit of professional warriors, and also, possibly, the leader of a local group of pastoralists who left the Choburak-I necropolis. Some peculiar features of the analysed complex reflect the ideological paradigm of the Bulan-Koby population, such as placement into the grave of a broken (disassembled?) bow and a large number of arrows, covering the person’s body at the time of the burial.

Keywords: Altai, Bulan-Koby Culture, Rouran period, warrior burial, chronology, interpretation.


Lyashchevskaya M.S., Bazarova V.B., Dorofeeva N.A.

Environment and man in the Late Palaeolithic — Middle Ages in the southern Primorye: review

Questions concerning the effect of environment on appearance, development and disappearance of archaeological cultures in the territory of southern Primorye have been addressed in the article. The chronological framework of the research is from the Late Palaeolithic through to the Middle Ages. Thirty three natural sections of different genesis have been examined for reconstruction of the Late Pleistocene — Holocene environment. Palynological, diatomic and radiocarbon methods have been used for their examination. The data on archaeological periods and cultures have been provided based on the analysis of materials of Primorye archaeological sites (including 14 Palaeolithic, 33 Neolithic, 30 Paleometal, and 15 Medieval). Climatic changes have been discussed in terms of their effect on the resource base of people. The earliest Palaeolithic sites, which 14C date approximately 16,000 years BP, were found in Eastern part of Primorye. Climate warming and rise of sea level in the Early Neolithic (ca. 8,000 years 14C BP) facilitated the growth of resource base and expansion of the Neolithic people with sustainable adaptation models in Primorye. This manifested in the appearance of long-term settlements and differentiation of the tool sets. The beginning of the sea regression around 6,000 14Ñ years BP resulted in the extinction of the Boysman Culture. Slight cooling and aridization of the climate 5,600–5,400 14C years BP contributed to the appearance of a new cultural tradition involved with agriculture. The long existence of cultures in the Late Neolithic and Paleometal periods, with significant climatic shifts, can be explained by introducing mixed economy model with increased role of the economy of producing type. In the Late Paleometal and Medieval periods, economic, political and military factors had a great impact on communities, along with environment and climatic factors. Correlation of palaeogeographical and archaeological data demonstrated a certain synchronicity of environmental changes and cultural events. Climatic fluctuations led to migrations, variations in local population density, changes in adaptation strategies of the people, and changes of direction of economic activities.

Keywords: southern Primorye, climate change, Palaeolithic — Middle Ages, archaeological cultures, Late Pleistocene — Holocene, migrations, cultural adaptations, economic activity, resource base.


Chernysheva E.V., Kashirskaya N.N., Dushchanova K.S.

Soil biochemical inticators of initial presence of fat in different archaeological contexts

The article proposes a new biochemical approach for the reconstruction of the initial presence of fatcontaining products in different archaeological contexts (ceramic vessels from burials, soil samples in different parts of the skeleton and cultural layers of archaeological sites) based on the study of qualitative and quantitative changes in the parameters of the soil microbial community, namely, specific groups of microorganisms (lipolytics), a number of lipolytic enzymes, as well as the utilization spectrum of readily available low molecular weight substrates. Ground samples of the studied objects were collected in the following regions: ceramic vessels — the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the Chechen Republic; burials — Krasnodar Krai; the cultural layer of the settlement — Lipetsk region. The number of lipolytic microorganisms and the level of enzymatic activity in the soil directly depend on the amount of the incoming substrate, in the decomposition of which they participate. After the decomposition of organic residues in the soil, a microbial and enzyme pools are formed, which can persist for a long period. The obtained preliminary data on the study of the decomposition dynamics of fatty substrates give us possibility for the reconstruction of the initial presence of fat in different archaeological contexts using the methods of soil microbiology and biochemistry. But, for a more accurate extrapolation of the results of a model experiment to archaeological objects, more points of observation in time are needed, since the introduction of substrates with different properties and composition can provoke microbial community succession in different ways. Hence, the equilibrium state of the microbial community in each variant of the experiment will be reached at different times. However, the results of the study of soils and cultural layers of archaeological sites of Bronze Age and early medieval time have convincingly shown the possibility of applying our approach. As we assumed, the maximum lipase activity was found in the soil samples under the skull, chest and pelvis, i.e. in areas of human body with the highest content of fat tissues. This showed the possibility for reconstruction the original contents of the vessels from burials using the methods of soil microbiology and biochemistry. A high number of lipolytic microorganisms and lipase activity were detected only in 15–20 % of the vessels. We suggest that fat food may not have been as widely used in the funeral rite as ritual food. The study of lipase activity made it possible to clarify the features of the economic usage of the territory of archaeological site, to identify possible places for cooking.

Keywords: archaeological microbiology, soil biological memory, microbial communities, enzyme activity, cultural layers.