Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Doronicheva E.V.

New data on the formation of local variations in the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus

As of today, very few Upper Paleolithic sites are known on both the southern and the northern slopes of the Caucasus. Their materials allow tracing settlement dynamics in the region from 40/39 to 20 cal ka BP. The change of the research methodology, which today is focused on thorough excavations involving a range of natural science disciplines for complex investigation of the materials, including complete water sieving of the cultural deposits, enables obtaining many new, often unique data on human occupation, life-support strategies, and adaptations of humans in different periods of the Upper Paleolithic in the Caucasus. In our paper, a wide range of issues is discussed, concerned with the cultural affinity, diversity, and interaction of the Upper Paleolithic population of the Caucasus. The earliest Upper Paleolithic industries (40–35 cal ka BP) of the southern as well as the northern slopes of the Caucasus show the closest affinity. Studies of the raw-material strategies indicate the presence of contacts between populations of the northwestern and South Caucasus throughout the entire Upper Paleolithic and the development of extensive social networks. During the Late Upper Paleolithic period, the materials of the North and South Caucasus acquire certain features of distinctiveness, as in the stone industry and in bone tools and decorations. The appearance of geometric microliths in the South Caucasus contemporaneously with the Near East attests to the contacts between these regions. The delivery of seashells from the Caspian Sea coast to the Lesser Caucasus also indicates the southeastern direction of the contacts. The import of seashells from the Black Sea coast to the northwestern Caucasus indicates the southwestern direction of contacts. The unique finds that have analogies in the Upper Paleolithic of the Russian Plain indicate contacts between populations of the northwestern Caucasus and the Russian Plain that belong to different cultural areas. The current data demonstrate formation of local differences in the culture of the Upper Paleolithic populations in both the South and the North Caucasus, including under the influence of the neighboring regions.

Keywords: Upper Paleolithic, remote migrations, social networks, contacts between different cultural areas, Caucasus.


Karmanov V.N., Belitskaia A.L.

Muchkas-1 — a new reference complex of the Chuzh’yael’ Culture on the Mezen’ River

The results of the studies of the Muchkas settlement in 2020 are reported. The site is located on the right bank of the Mezen’ River in Udorsky District of the Komi Republic (northeast of the East European Plain). The exploitation of an unpaved motor road endangered the preservation of dwelling No. 1, which necessitated extensive excavation of an area of 82.5 m2. On the basis of the analysis of the complex of traces and remains, it has been determined that the studied structure is of a rectangular shape in plane, measuring 3.8m×5.5m with the area of 20 m2. Within the building, two hearths were used sequentially or concurrently. Related to them are two external horizontal heatingand-ventilating chimneys. Some information is preserved about the underground part of the structure. This was a
frame strengthened at corners by bundles of thinner trunks of trees, possibly, pointed and stuck into the ground. Pine and to a lesser extent spruce, juniper, and birch were used to build the dwelling. The collection of Muchkas-1 contains 3819 objects, including 30 identifiable flint implements, a flint pendant, 21 implements made from non-siliceous rocks, fragments of three ceramic vessels, and debris of calcinated bones. Scrapers predominate in the flint toolset, while knives, awls, and arrowheads are represented to a lesser extent. As the result of the traceological analysis, it has been determined that the arrowhead and the pendant bear traces of long-term carrying in a container, or wearing on the clothing or on the body. Tools made of non-isotropic rock include mostly grinding stones. A hammer stone and an adze are represented by single specimens. Among the faunal remains, bones of reindeer, beaver, marten, wolverine, squirrel, black grouse, goose, and pike have been identified. This attests to the dominant role of hunting in the appropriating economy of the inhabitants of Muchkas-1 settlement. The specifics of the building structure and technical-and-typological parameters of the pottery and stone tools allow attributing Muchkas-1 complex to the Chuzh’yael’ Culture of the final Neolithic period — the Chalcolithic. By virtue of 10 radiocarbon dates, the time of its construction is determined by the end of the 4th — first half of the 3rd mil. BC. The published data advance our understanding of the traditions of housebuilding, stone-working, and pottery-making of the prehistoric population of North-Eastern Europe and permit considering Muchkas-1 complex as a source of reference for the study of the Chuzh’yael’ Culture of the 4th — first half of the 3rd mil. BC.

Keywords: archaeology, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, settlement, semi-subterranean dwelling, ceramics, stone assemblage, house-building, traceology, archaeozoology, radiocarbon chronology.


Savko I.A., Kholoshin P.R., Demin M.A., Sitnikov S.M.

Analysis of the shapes of clay vessels from the Chekanovsky Log-2 burial ground of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) Culture in the foothills of Altai

The shapes of 32 vessels from the burials of Chekanovsky Log-2 cemetery were examined by a technique applied within the historical-and-cultural approach to study pottery shapes. The analysis was carried out at the levels of general proportionality of the shape, its natural structure, and the formedness of the functional parts. The aim of the study was to characterize the pottery traditions of the Andronovo population in terms of pottery shaping and to clarify their cultural dynamics. As the result, two mass traditions were identified, manifested by vessels of similar overall proportionality (35–36 degrees) but of two different structural types: ‘Lip+Neck+Pre-Shoulder+Body+Body Base’ (5 parts) and ‘Lip+Pre-Shoulder+Body+Body Base’ (4 parts). Comparative analysis of the vessels from two excavated sections of the burial ground (northern and southern), making use of the information about other morphological features of the vessels (decoration and surface treatment), as well as about the specifics of the burial ritual, enabled revealing the dynamics in the development of the considered pottery traditions and the cultural composition of the population that used the burial ground. It appears that the vessels of 5-part shapes with a fully formed body and a more pronounced neck tend to the classical Andronovo (Fedorovo) period. They are characterized by burnished surface and ornamentation with fine-toothed stamps in a variety of geometric motifs. The vessels of these shapes prevail in the burials of the northern dig, which demonstrated considerable cultural homogeneity. The vessels of 5-part shapes with a partly-formed body and a lower neck, along with 4-part shapes, probably became more widespread in the Late Fedorovo period. These items were less thoroughly burnished, but, more often, smoothed, with simplified ornamentation applied with a coarse-toothed or smooth stamp. These traditions are represented to a greater extent in the southern dig, which, in addition, appeared to be not so homogeneous due to the distribution of squater pots of various structures. This peculiarity may attest to the increasing complexity of the cultural composition of the population and intensification of cultural contacts at the late stage of the burial ground.

Keywords: forms of clay vessels, historical and cultural approach, Andronovo (Fedorovî) Culture, burial ground Chekanovsky Log-2, Altai foothills.


Bersenev E.V.

Abzakovo hoard of the Bronze Age in the Bashkir Trans-Urals

The paper is concerned with the results of the study of a hoard of bronze sickles discovered in 1970 in Baimaksky District of Bashkortostan. Originally, it comprised 13 items, but as of today three of them have got lost, and the collection numbers to only 10 sickles reposited in the National Museum of the Republic of Bashkortostan. It stands out that the items are lacking clear traces of use. Over the past 50 years, materials of the complex have not received sufficient coverage in the scientific literature, despite the rarity of this category of finds for the South Urals region in general, and for the territory of Bashkortostan in particular. This paper constitutes the first publication which combines and refines information about the hoard available in the scientific literature; it also provides a description of each item with updated and further detailed data on their parameters (length, width, thickness, bending height, etc.). In addition, the paper introduces in the scientific discourse photographic images of the bronze objects of the complex, which have been absent until now, instead of rather schematic drawings. Revisiting the materials of the hoard allowed it to observe that the data which was available in the literature had some inaccuracies, associated primarily with the parameters of the objects, the study of which helped clarify and extend the information on the description of the sickles remaining to date. The analysis of the material shows that the considered set of reaping tools has some analogies originating from the Bronze Age sites of the Trans-Urals, both from similar hoards and from settlements, cultural identity of which is determined quite clearly and is attributed by researchers to the Alakul antiquities. For this reason, the origins of the Abzakovo hoard are also associated with the representatives of traditions of the Alakul archaeological culture.

Keywords: Bronze Age, hoard, sickle, Trans-Ural, Bashkiria, Alakul Culture.


Prokonova M.M.

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

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 5th–4th 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 III–V 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 3rd–2nd 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 5th–4th and 4th–3rd 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.


Seregin N.N., Demin M.A., Matrenin S.S.

The weapon complex of the Northern Altai population in the Xianbei period (on materials from the necropolis of Karban-I)

The paper is aimed at introducing into the scientific discourse and complex interpretation of the weapon items discovered during excavations of the sites of the Bulan-Koby archaeological culture of the Karban-I necropolis. This site, which comprises a series of burial mounds of the Great Migration Period, was partially investigated by the expedition of Barnaul State Pedagogical Institute in 1989–1990. The complex is located on the left bank of the Katun River, 1.7 km north-west of Kuyus village, in Chemalsky District of the Altai Republic. Weapons were found in five undisturbed male burials of the Xianbei period (mounds ¹ 9, 11, 14, 33, 39). The finds analyzed include long-range and close-range weapons: five compound bows; 14 iron arrowheads; four iron combat knives; and one dagger. Morphological analysis and classification of the objects, as well as their comparison with known artefacts of the last quarter of the 1st mil. BC — the first half of the 1st mil. AD from the sites of Central,
Inner, and North Asia became the basis for conclusions concerning the determination of the dating of the products. It has been found that the complex of weapons of the nomads who built the necropolis of the Bulan-Koby Culture at the mouth of the Karban River, was aimed at efficient countering of a lightly protected enemy and was appropriate for light cavalry and infantry. It includes both the already well-known (Xiungny) and new (local) modifications of the offensive weapons. In terms of its diversity and level of development, this set of weaponry was significantly inferior to the military arsenals of the Xiongnu and Xianbei periods, as well as that of the population of the Bulan-Koby Culture of the late 3rd — 5th c. AD. The body of the conclusions made permits it to assume that the considered corpus of weapons reflects the initial stage of the evolution of the armament of the Altai population in the first half of the 1st mil. AD. The published materials expand the source base for the study of warfare of the population of Northern Altai in the Xianbei period. The obtained results of the chronological interpretation of different categories of weapons can be used to refine the periodization of the sites of the Belo-Bom stage (2nd — 1st half of the 4th c. AD) of the Bulan-Koby Culture.

Keywords: Altai, Xianbei time, weapons, Bulan-Koby culture, bow, arrowheads, combat knife, dagger, chronology.


Zaitceva O.V., Vodyasov E.V.

The ‘old wood’ effect and problems of dating iron smelting sites

The paper is aimed at the analysis of the ‘old wood’ effect in radiocarbon chronology of iron smelting complexes of South Siberia. The production sites are here set outside the settlements, and radiocarbon dating remains the only means of their chronological attribution. With the example of Kuyahtanar metallurgical site in the Mountain Altai, we show that the range of a series of radiocarbon dates obtained for the same iron-smelting furnaces can span a thousand years. It has been established that such a chronological range can be explained by the use of wood from long-lived tree species for charcoal production and the resulting significant apparent age due to the ‘old wood’ effect. The essence of the effect consists in that as a tree grows, its inner annual rings die out and stop exchanging carbon with the environment, while the tree is still alive. Therefore, the pith of a longlived tree is much older than its outer rings, and radiocarbon analysis determines not the age of the archaeological
object, or time when the tree was cut, but the date of the death of that part of the tree which was sampled for the dating. Methodological recommendations have been drawn up capable of minimizing the impact of the ‘old wood’ effect in the dating of iron metallurgy sites. During the sampling, it is recommended to collect fragments of charcoal from the tree outer rings. In a case, where this is not possible, it is necessary to obtain a series of at least three dates for one site. In such a series, the latest of the three dates will be the closest to the age of the archaeological object. It is also necessary to determine the tree species used for burning the charcoal for smelting. After the tree species is identified, it becomes possible to infer its average and maximum life expectancy in the specific natural and climatic conditions, and, consequently, possible average and maximum impact of the ‘old wood’ effect. Since in the case of dating metallurgical sites the impact of the ‘old wood’ effect is virtually unavoidable, it is suggested that, in the future, the chronology of the complexes radiocarbon dated with a single sample of charcoal is revisited.

Keywords: radiocarbon dating, iron metallurgy, “old wood” effect.


Avdeev A.G., Okladnikova Ye.A., Svoiskii U.M., Romanenko E.V.

A new interpretation of the inscriptions on the handles of signature knives found on the shores of Sims Bay

The article reports on a new interpretation of the inscriptions on two personalized knives found on the coast of Sims Bay in the Laptev Sea. This interpretation differs from the readings published previously by paleographers and source-study experts due to the fact that it has been possible to devise correct transcription of these inscriptions with the aid of the method of non-contact 3D modeling of epigraphic records developed by the RSSDA Laboratory and used in the Code of Russian Inscriptions (CIR). The reading of the inscriptions on the signature knives proposed by the authors of this paper has enabled establishing their ownership to Gurii (baptismal name) — Akakii (prayer? name) Ivanov son of Karzyaev’s, likely the head of the commercial and industrial expedition of the 1620s. The site of the polar mariners of the 17th century in Sims Bay is located 70 km west of the island of Thaddeus Severny, where in 1940 members of the hydrographic detachment of the East Taimyr hydrographic expedition found similar articles, including 8 other knives. Unfortunately, these knives have only partially preserved handles, and most of them turned out to be represented only by the blades. Inscriptions made in the Slavic ligature could be found only on two knives from a hut in Sims Bay. According to the official version, both sites belong to the members of the Russian trade and industrial expedition of the 17th century. The rich composition of the collection of archaeological artifacts assembled at the locations of these two sites makes this monument unique for the Russian culture of the 17th century.

Keywords: Taimyr Peninsula, island of Thaddeus Severny, Sims Bay, archaeological artifacts, expeditionary research, nominal knives, 17th century, Russian polar expeditions, Code of Russian Inscriptions, Old Russian epigraphy, non-contact 3D modeling of inscriptions, mathematical visualization methods, photogrammetry.


Tataurov Ph.S.

Residential buildings of the Russian population in the Omsk Irtysh region in the 17th — beginning of the 20th c. in the archaeological and architectural-ethnographic dimension

Over the past thirty-five years, a series of archaeological sites of the period of the Russian colonization of Siberia have been investigated in the territory of the Siberian macroregion, which made it possible to identify regional features and to trace evolution of the socio-cultural identity of the Russian Siberian in the 17th–19th cc. A topical issue is the in-depth study of the processes of ethno-cultural adaptation in microregions. In this work, as one of the aspects of adaptation, changes in the house exterior in the Omsk Irtysh region are considered. This work is aimed to consider main types of the residential buildings of the Russian population in the Omsk Irtysh region in the 17th — early 20th c. in order to determine their specifics and development trends. The work is carried by a complex approach, involving the use of different types of sources, such as archaeological, written, and ethnographic. To compare the buildings studied in the Omsk Irtysh region with houses in other regions, a comparative historical method was used. Analysis of the archaeological materials on the architecture and layout of urban dwellings of the 17th–18th cc. showed specifics of the housing in different parts of the town. The houses of the representatives of the tsarist administration, senior clergy, and military commanders with multi-chambered buildings were located in the territory of the kremlin — the central part of the town. In the walled part of Western Siberian towns, where representatives of other social groups lived, both single-chambered and multi-chambered houses were built, although so far only few of them have been identified archaeologically. Stoves with chimneys and mica windows, as socially significant structural elements of the house, were gradually becoming attributes of the dwellings not only of the representatives of the tsarist administration, but also of the middle strata of the townspeople. In the rural areas, Russian immigrants in the 17th — first half of the 18th c. were erecting multi-chambered buildings of a large area. The set of socially-marking structural elements was the same as in the town. The archaeological material obtained during the study of residential buildings of the rural sites of the Irtysh Basin is generally of the same type and is equally characteristic of village and town alike. Based on the results of the author’s own ethnographic observations, a characteristics of individual residential buildings of the 19th — beginning of the 20th c. is given. There has been noted the prevalence of two-chambered dwellings by the end of the 19th century in the Russian village, which required less building material, as compared with multi-chambered counterparts, and were easier to heat. Multi-chambered buildings and carved platbands constituted socially marking traits of dwellings of the wealthy strata of the rural population. The field observations warranted further archaeological and ethnographic studies of the rural and urban wooden architecture to gain a deeper insight on the evolution of the housebuilding that combined traditional elements of the 17th–18th cc. with innovations, simplification, and standardization of the 19th–20th cc.

Keywords: residential buildings, Omsk Irtysh region, the 17th — beginning of the 20th century, archeology, ethnography of Russians.