Seleznev A.G.

A horse-skier of the Bronze Age: a reappraisal of the cultural and historical interpretation of the decorative finial on a dagger from Rostovka, Western Siberia (on the 90th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir I. Matyushchenko)

This paper proposes the cultural and historical interpretation of the cast figure, consisting of a horse and a skier, on the finial of a bronze knife or dagger from the necropolis near the village of Rostovka. Two interpretations of this composition are outlined in the first part of the work. The first one suggests that the composition represents an actual cultural phenomenon a Bronze Age «Skijoring», a means of transportation where a skier is towed by, in this case, a horse. The second possible interpretation considers the composition almost exclusively as an illustration of myth and/or ritual and focuses on the search for the meanings reflected in the figures. The approach proposed in the paper assumes the existence of a known cultural practice, which is used as the basis of the myth-ritual plot embodied in the composition. The author’s version of the cultural and historical context of this prototype is presented in the second part of the work. The context of the artwork is the development of a forest-based culture, occupying the forest-steppe, mountain-taiga and southern-taiga belts of Siberia and maintaining its identity over a long period. The economic basis of this culture was appropriating forms, combined with horse breeding, designed to provide transport and satisfy food needs through hunting. A significant place in this culture is occupied by metallurgy and metalworking, initially bronze production, followed by iron production. Proof is given that the origins of this culture date back to the Bronze Age, and its formation is consistent with the development of cultures of horse-breeders and metallurgists, within the framework of the Seima-Turbino transcultural phenomenon. The Rostovka artist appears to capture a moment of experimentation with a new means of transportation, adapted to specific local climatic conditions. Scenes of equestrian-skiing racing have then been incorporated into a developing mythic story. Data on functionally and technologically similar methods of foot and horse towing, indirectly confirming the proposed concept are also presented in the work.

Key words: Rostovka burial ground, the horse and skier, Seima-Turbino transcultural phenomenon, forest culture complex, South of Siberia, traditional towing methods.


Zinyakov N.M., Tsembalyuk S.I.

Metal forge products at the Maray 1 hillfort

The article considers the problem of the origin of iron-processing production in the Tobol-Ishim interfluve during the Early Iron Age, which has yet to be fully studied. The absence of iron items in the monumental materials of the beginning of the Early Iron Age meant that questions concerning iron processing methods, sources of the metal and the time of the origin of the ferrous metallurgy in this territory were not raised. Until now, it was believed that all iron items found in Tobol-Ishim basin were imported. It is probable that the absence of finds of iron objects is related to the mode of occurrence under conditions of sandy soils. This means that their absence may be due to the fact that they have simply not survived to our present time. Analysis of forged products found at the Maray 1 site allows conclusions to be drawn about local iron and iron production. Metallographic studies of ferrous metal products show that the population of the Maray 1 settlement was at the initial stage of the development of iron. In this early smelting industry, a relatively soft bloom iron containing a significant amount of slag impurities was used as a raw material. Occasionally partially carburised iron was used. The smiths of this time were not yet familiar with the methods of manufacturing steel, but were familiar with techniques for working with metal in the forging process. Findings on the site of slags, iron bursts, drops and balls indicate the presence of domestic iron metallurgy among the Baitovo population. The process of metalworking and the manufacture of objects made of iron occurred directly on the territory of the settlement. The data obtained, in conjunction with the available materials on the presence of iron and iron processing industries among the population of the Sargatka culture of Tobol and Kulayka in the Lower Ob, led to a conclusion about the beginning of active development of iron production in Western Siberia in the Early Iron Age. The chronological framework of the study is 4th–2nd cc. BC.

Key words: Lower Ishim river, the Early Iron Age, iron products, metallographic analysis.


Piskareva Ya.Å., Sergusheva E.À., Dorofeeva N.À., Lyashchevskaya M.S., Sharyi-ool M.Î.

Economy of the Early Mediaeval population of Primorye (based on archaeological evidence for the Mohe culture)

This paper attempts to reconstruct the economy of the Early Mediaeval population of Primorye, based on an analysis of data obtained from archaeological sites of the Mohe culture. Sites of the Mohe culture in Primorye date from the 6th to the beginning of the 8th c. AD. With the emergence of the Bohai state in the western districts of Primorye, Bohai cultural elements gradually replace Mohe across the region and Mohe sites gradually disappear in the archaeological record. However, some features of the Mohe material culture continue to exist for some time. Paleogeographic evidence indicates a cooling of climate and decrease in rainfall in the 6th to 7th cc. AD and climate warming in the 8th c. There are limited but reliable archaeological evidences from Mohe sites for the existence of agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting, sea and river gathering and fishing, and plant gathering. However, it is not yet possible to rank these components of the economy by economic significance for the population. Our study shows an increase in agricultural activity from the early to the late stages of Mohe culture. The early sites do not demonstrate a significant role for agriculture, in contrast to the later sites, where there is clear evidence for an increase in the list of cultural plants and the volume of agricultural production. Changes in agricultural practice occurred rapidly and were triggered by historical events in the region, connected with the formation of Bohai State and the expansion of its borders. Changes also can be seen chronologically in the settlement patterns of the Mohe of Primorye. Early Mohe settled in places convenient for their traditional activities. At a later stage, sites which controlled territory and the waterway along the Razdolnaya river appear. Evidence for other components of the Mohe economy are limited and only confirm the presence of their in the Mohe subsistence systems in this region, but they are insufficient for more detailed reconstruction. It has been found that the Mohe of Primorye raised at least two types of domestic animals pigs and horses. There is mostly indirect evidence for hunting (arrowheads, knives, tools for currying skins) from the Mohe sites. The absence of mammal and bird bones prevents any more certain reconstruction of Mohe hunting objects. A few shells of marine and freshwater molluscs were found on three sites. Bone remains of eight species of marine fishes were also found on one site. The gathering of wild plants is confirmed by the finds of seeds and fruits of seven plants species. Most of the plants were used for food and some for medical purposes.

Key words: Early Middle Ages, Mohe archaeological culture, settlement system, agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, hunting, gathering, Primorye.


Tataurov S.F.

Lighting of housing, administrative and temple complexes in the city of Tara, Omsk Oblast, Russia, in the 1719th centuries

This study reveals the problem of lighting of buildings domestic, administrative and religious in the city of Tara during the 1719th centuries. At night, especially in the winter, many economic activities took place indoors, making adequate lighting of interiors of dwellings a priority. In the evenings, women spun, wove, and processed the products of agriculture and foraging. Men carved wooden utensils, made footwear and engaged in other crafts. This article describes the window as one of the key structural elements of the dwelling and discusses the process of replacing mica windows with glass in the 18th and 19th centuries. It illustrates the range of lights and candlesticks recovered during archaeological excavations. The social significance of lighting devices for the population of a Russian Siberian city is shown. In the city of Tara provision of lighting fell into three categories. The system of lighting in Tarsky churches was the most difficult large windows were made to maximise light, often at the expense of warmth, and special lamps and numerous icon holders to candles were used. However, these devices were used only on church holy days, and on weekdays there was only natural light in the churches. Significant funds were spent by the Tara administration on lighting state buildings military and clerk's huts, an arsenal, a treasury, etc. Excavation findings show that candlesticks were used to hold candles. The wood splinter was the main source of light in houses of working people and petty bourgeoises, but findings of the combined illuminations with nests under candles indicate that on holy days residents used the corresponding holy day lighting. The archaeological findings associated with the lighting of housing, administrative and religious complexes, are some of the most indicative markers of innovations in the city in the fields of construction and architecture, living conditions and life. The study of this subject is also relevant to trade relations, because a considerable number of the objects associated with lighting are imported.

Key words: Western Siberia, the 17–19th centuries, city of Tara, city estate, windows, lighting fixtures.


Boltaev A.Kh.

Research carried out by S. Yurenev on the Mosque Kalyan, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

This article describes S.N. Yurenev's archaeological findings in Bukhara city. The local archaeologist and geologist S.N. Yurenev started his archaeological research in 1952 with his study of the Mosque Kalyan (in Uzbek Masjidi Kalon — «Great Mosque») in Bukhara city, and has subsequently carried out further research on the Mosque Kalyan monument. In this study, S.N. Yurenev's interest in building history and construction technology is applied to the Mosque Kalyan. Nowadays S.N. Yurenev’s article has been active up to now in the archaeological expeditions around the Mosque Kalyan and its surroundings. In the research, S.N. Yurenev pointed out the Special scientific and restoration, production workshop which managed the excavations works and gave the instructions to the expedition's final reports which was handed over by the organisation. This article demonstrates the variety of methods used by S.N. Yurenev in his archaeological research. During the expedition the material culture from different periods was recovered and analysed by professional archaeologists. In addition, he collected and analysed ethnographic research material. S.N. Yurenev has not previously published his investigation results, being under the impression that his work was not up to modern archaeological standards. In this article S.N. Yurenev's archaeological research is presented for the first time.

Key words: archaeology, shurf, sondage, foundation, mosque, madrasah, Special scientific and restoration, production workshop, dome, excavations.


Serikov Yu.B.

Concerning the functional purpose of so-called harpoons       

Previous study has divided toothed bone tips into actual harpoons and serrated points, such as arrowheads, jails, darts and spears. Distinctive features of true harpoons are the means of clamping them to the shaft in the form of holes, recesses, grooves, reverse teeth or projections. There is no good evidence for the use of these so-called harpoons. According to many researchers, harpoons were used for hunting of big fish and aquatic animals such as beaver and otter. But ethnographic studies of Siberian peoples indicate that they hunted beaver and otter using traps, toils, bows and crossbows. The ethnographic data also indicates the continuation of ancient methods of catching fish such as stabbing with a spear and bow shutting. Some details of harpoon design raise many questions. Elongated nozzles, shallow recesses, low projections, insufficient diameter of the holes on the stems are all features which do not appear to correspond to a true harpoon. Archaeological assemblages include harpoons with stems wrapped in birch bark and coated with resin. This clearly indicates that these harpoons were permanently attached to the shaft. A study 30 years ago in the construction of harpoons concentrated attention on the «neck» — the lower part of the head between the lower tooth and the reverse tooth, projection or recesses. This neck feature is strong and is practically always present on serrated tips, which have traditionally been considered to be harpoons. Experiments with clamping these so-called harpoons showed that the «neck» section could be used for a tight attachment to the shaft. End availability opposite the tooth, projection, hole or recess helped with the attachment. So, these tools could have served as jail heads. Only serrated points with a hole or expressed opposite tooth could operate as true harpoons. Thus, we see that the role of harpoons in the economy of ancient populations has been greatly overestimated.

Key words: harpoon, jail, head of arrow, functional purpose, ethnographic data, experiment, the forest zone of Eastern Europe, Ural and Siberia.