Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnofrafii   ¹ 1 (52)  (2021)



Lychagina E.L., Demakov D.A., Chernov A.V., Zaretskaya N.E., Kopytov S.V., Lapteva E.G., Trofimova S.S.

Human palaeoenvironment in the Upper Kama River basin: experience of reconstruction

Here, we present the results of comprehensive (archaeological and palaeoecological) studies undertaken in 20142018 in the basin of the Upper Kama River in the north of Perm Region, eastern part of the East European Plain. The main objects for the research were archaeological sites, primarily their chronological attribution and localization specifics. In total, 100 sites belonging to a wide chronological range from the Mesolithic to the Late Middle Ages were identified in the study area. The palaeochannel method was used to identify the association of the archaeological sites to certain landscapes within the river valley. As a result, five morphologically diverse sectors have been identified. For the reconstruction of natural landscapes and plant communities, palynological and plant macrofossil methods were used. Radiocarbon analysis was used to date these events. The initial human habitation of the Upper Kama region took place in the early Holocene, after the formation of the 2nd and 1st river terraces. The Mesolithic sites have been dated to this period. They were located either on the second river terrace, or on the bedrock valley side. In the Middle Holocene, along with the spread of broad-leaved species in forests, 6th–5th floodplain generations were formed, and the river was characterized by high water content. The Neolithic sites located on the Kama river terraces belong to this period. In the end of the Middle Holocene, the maximum distribution of spruce forests began. This was the time of existence of the Garin Chalcolithic Culture settlements. They were located either on the 4th5th floodplain generations, or on the bedrock valley side. In the end of the Subboreal and first half of the Subatlantic periods, a key role in the forest stand was played by pine, forming southern taiga light coniferous forests. The water content of the Kama decreased. The sites of the Early Iron Age, located on low terraces or in the floodplain, are dated to this time. In the second half of the Subatlantic period of the Holocene, forests acquired modern mid-taiga appearane, which coincided with the arrival of the medieval population. Medieval hillforts were located on the bedrock valley sides, and the settlements were associated with river terraces, shores of oxbow lakes and floodplains of small rivers.

Key words: the Upper Kama, archaeology, radiocarbon, paleochannel, spore-pollen and plant macrofossi analyses, Holocene.


Matveeva N.P., Prokonova M.M., Ovchinnikov I.Iu.

On the development of the Sargatka Culture in the Tobol River basin region (based on materials of the Ustyug-1 burial ground)

The article is concerned with characteristics of funeral traditions of the Sargatka Culture population based on materials of the Ustyug-1 burial ground located in the Zavodoukovsky District of Tyumen Region. Six barrows of the Early Iron Age were studied in the area. Mounds 5 (5th3rd c. BC), 51 and 52 (5th4th c. BC) belong to the early stage of the culture. Sargatka burials of mounds 27 and 49 (3rd2nd c. BC) were made during the middle stage. Burial from mound 56 (2nd3rd c. AD) belongs to the final period of the Sargatka Culture of the Early Iron Age. Thus, burials in the Ustyug-1 necropolis were made during the entire time of existence of the Sargatka Culture. The comparison of different periods of functioning of the cemetery within the same culture and microregion revealed a number of characteristic features of the complex in the context of the historical development of the Early Iron Age cultures in the forest-steppe zone. Furthermore, it was possible to trace the process of formation of the culture in the Tobol River basin, the composition and status of the individual groups of the population, and the nature of cultural ties. We conclude that the variation between the objects of different periods reflects the deve-lopmental stages of the Sargatka Culture in the local microregion. In the early stage of the culture, part of its population migrated from the east into the Tobol basin region. It was transformed here under the influence of local groups of the Baitovo Culture on the one hand, and certain groups of steppe nomads on the other. The burial rite of the local population changed dramatically as a result of contacts between the bearers of the Sargatka Culture and nomadic groups. This indicates the strengthening of the Iranian worldview component in the Sargatka environment. At the next stage, the interaction of the local population with the nomads of the Sarmatian circle became more active, and the level of militarization of the local population increased. In the late period, social stratification within the Sargatka Ñulture society increased, which was accompanied by an increase in prestigious consumption. This was expressed in a clear separation of the elite funeral rite from the ordinary one. The study of such monuments, which existed for a long time, can help us to understand the processes of formation and extinction of cultures.

Key words: Western Siberia, Tobol basin region, Early Iron Age, Sargatka Culture, funeral rite, burials with a horse.


Vildanova E.V.

Joint finds of knives and swords in burial complexes of the early nomads in the Southern Urals

The paper considers iron knives which have been found together with swords or daggers in burials of the early nomads of the Southern Urals. The aim of this work was to collect information about joint findings of edged weapons and knives and to determine the functional purpose of such bladed sets. This research uses data on seven joint finds of a sword/dagger and a knife in the early nomadic burials of the Southern Urals, originating from six burial grounds. The paper also addresses the issue of origins of this tradition. The functional affiliation of the object as a weapon has been determined by the localization of the knife directly on the sword or dagger in the military burial. Knives which have been found together with a dagger or a sword could represent elements of military weapons of the early nomads of the Southern Urals. Most likely, the sword scabbards had an additional pocket for knife on the frontal side. This explains the location of the knifes directly along the axis of the sword blade. Such knives probably were used as auxiliary weapons and only in a close combat. If knives are considered as a category of military auxiliary weapons, then their disappearance could be related to some kind of military «reform», expressed in appearance of heavy armed cavalry, distribution of spears, standardization of swords, daggers and arrowheads. The time of existence of such edged sets fits into the middle/second half of the 5th turn of the 4th/3rd c. BC. A limited number of finds in the early nomadic complexes in the Southern Urals indicates a rather rare use of this weaponry element. The tradition of such edged kits possibly dates back to the nomadic cultures of Central Asia. The edged sets of a dagger and a knife have been found in tombs of the late stage of the Uyuk (Saghlyk) Culture (5th3rd c. BC). The placement of a knife on the waist of the deceased (sometimes in the same scabbard together with dagger) during the Early Scythian and later periods suggests the conceptualization of knife as a weapon.

Key words: early nomads of the South Urals, knives, blade weapons, bladed sets, auxiliary weapons, chronology.


Seregin N.N., Narudtseva E.A., Chistyakova A.N., Radovsky S.S

Yuan time metal mirror from the collection of the Altai State Museum of Local Lore

This article is concerned with the Chinese metal mirror, which, as it has been found during the study, has been stored for a long time in the collection of the Altai State Museum of Local Lore, but as yet has not attracted the attention of specialists and has not been introduced into scientific discourse. A special research has been required to determine the time and circumstances of its arrival to the museum, which involved working with the documentation of the Altai State Museum of Local Lore, stored both within the institute and in the State Archives of the Altai Territory. It has been concluded, that the mirror represents an occasional find and it came to the museum in the first quarter of the 20th century from the Yenisei Province (currently, the southwestern part of Krasnoyarsk District. The article presents a detailed morphological characteristic of this artifact. The basis of the composition in the ornamented part of the mirror is a stylized image of a single dragon. Its mouth is trying to grasp the holder, which symbolizes the “fire pearl”. The analysis of the specialised literature and catalogues showed that in Chinese mirrors such composition appeared only during the Tang Dynasty (618–907) and continued to exist during the Song Period (907–1279). It has been determined that the composition presented on such objects was reproduced for several centuries (Jin, Liao, and Yuan Dynasties), undergoing transformations associated with stylistic nuances (details of the image, shape of mirror, presence or absence of inscriptions) and size and quality of the objects. Based on the obtained data, the mirror from the Altai State Museum of Local Lore has been attributed to the Yuan dynasty period. There are almost no analogies to such objects in Northern and Central Asia, despite the significant number of mirrors of the Mongolian time stored in collections of Siberian museums. Therefore, it seems possible to acknowledge the rarity of these very specimens; the fragmentarity of their distribution could possibly be explained by peculiarities of the history of specific craft centers that have yet to be investigated.

Key words: metal mirror, China, museum, accidental find, dragon, interpretation, Yuan Dynasty.


Adamov À.À.

Firearms and weapon devices of the Russian army in 1582-1585 (based on materials from the settlement of Isker)

Archaeological materials found in different periods during the excavations in the settlement of Isker (Kuchum, 17 km from the city of Tobolsk), the ancient capital of the Khanate of Sibir, allow the analysis of firearms of Russian warriors of the 15821585, who took part in the Yermak’s Conquest of the Khanate. Various gun barrel fragments, breechloader bolts, a hammer with a lock spring, steel strikers with turnscrews, metal and bone ramrod parts, bullet moulds were discovered during the excavations in Isker. These findings suggest that Russian pishchal arquebuses with matchlocks of the first half of the 16th century were the major weapon in service. On the tips of wooden ramrods, there were copper and bone bushings for ramming the projectiles. Ramrods were also equipped with three-leafed bushing caps for bore cleaning. All-purpose steel strikers with turnscrews unscrewed the bolts that attached barrels to stocks and disassembled locks; they had holes to be suspended on the gun. Stone bullet moulds were used for moulding lead bullets. The carefully examined archaeological collections from Isker do not support the hypothesis proposed in scientific literature stating that Yermak’s Cossacks were armed with flintlock firearm and small-bore guns.

Key words: Isker, Western Siberia. Khanate of Siberia, 16th century, weaponology, Russian warrior firearms, Yermak, pishchal arquebus, lock, ramrods.


Gorokhov S.V.

Position of arms as an essential element of the orthodox funeral tradition in Siberia (case study of the Nikolskaya Church cemetery in in the city of Novosibirsk)

The purpose of this article is to analyze the planigraphic distribution of graves characterized by different positions of arms of the buried people and to identify patterns in their localization. The source base of the research is represented by 384 graves of the Nikolskaya Church necropolis in the town of Krivoshchyokovo. The arms position has been determined for individuals from 152 graves. The classification criteria for arms positions of the deceased have been developed. The analysis of graves enabled us to make a full list of all possible positions of the right or left arm, including the following ones: the arm is stretched along the body (0°), bent at the elbow at ~40°, ~68°, ~90°, ~112°, ~139° or ~166°. In cases when one arm was put on the other one, the relative position of arms (above or below) was recorded. The combination of individual positions of arms and their positioning relatively to each other determines the overall type of arms position. The planigraphic analysis of arms positions of buried people by types has been undertaken. It has been identified that graves with several “plain” and complex types of arms positions are located quite closely to each other. The distribution of graves with certain types of arms positions in the studied part of the necropolis cannot be accidental. Therefore, the established facts of restricted loca-lization of types and complex types of arms positions of the buried people are determined by a cause or a group of causes associated with the historic circumstances of the period when the necropolis was formed. One could assume that the types of arms positions changed over time, following the transformation of beliefs and prescriptions of the church in relation to the existing burial tradition. The specific position of arms can be related to the confession of the deceased person and his/her family, as well as traditions of particular regions. In the former case, the position of arms can be characteristic of a specific confession, while in the latter case of the place of origin of the colonists. Over time, as a result of the long cohabitation and mixing of populations through marriages, the funeral rite should be reduced to a specific single type, however, never reaching an absolute unification due to migration flow of people following different burial traditions. The program of further research into the funeral traditions has been proposed.

Key words: Siberia, Novosibirsk, 18th19th centuries, necropolis, obsequies, position of arms.


Bolelov S.B., Kovrizhkina M.M., Kolganova G.Yu., Nickiforov M.G., Semikopenko G.P.

Using the USSR General Staff maps to determine the geographical coordinates in archeology

The main problem of archaeological plans drawn in the mid-20th century is that almost all of them have poor accuracy of spatial localisation of objects. Simple estimates show that the error relatively to the actual position of the site can reach several hundred meters on the Earth surface. Because of this, only large, well-preserved objects can be identified using archaeological plans. If the monument is small and poorly preserved, then it is impossible to distinguish it among modern buildings. This is especially critical if the search radius, which depends on the error in the archaeological plan, reaches 300500 meters [Bolelov et al. 2019]. This situation complicates creation of modern accurate maps and geographical information systems. To specify the position of the monuments, we propose using maps of the General Staff of the USSR (GS), which contain the location details of a large number of archaeological sites. According to our estimate, the GS maps have an error of ca. 50 meters, which significantly reduces the search area. The idea is that, first, the site on the archaeological plan must be identified with the object on the map of the GS, and then the GS coordinates (SK-42) need to be recalculated to the WGS-84 ones of Google Earth. A simple method of conversion from the SK-42 coordinate system to WGS-84 and vice versa in the form of additive corrections to geographical coordinates is proposed. Estimates of random errors have been obtained, which are caused by the error in compiling and analysing the maps. Although numerical estimates have been obtained for the territory of historical Khorezm, it is most likely that the same transformations are applicable to other territories. The described technique has been successfully applied to the archaeological sites of the Yakke-Parsan Channel, which, according to the map of E.E. Nerazik [2013, fig. 14], comprises 20 monuments. Of them, only six largest structures had an accurate identification. As a result of the research, we found and identified seven objects more. The comparison of coordinates made possible the preliminary identifications, and final identifications were made after comparing the appearance of the objects with architectural plans. Other sites have not been found because they have not been preserved to our time. Nevertheless, the GS maps allow obtaining accurate coordinates of the lost monuments.

Key words: archaeological sites, determination of geographical coordinates, mathematical proces-sing of maps, Khorezm.


Bachura O.P., Kosintsev P.A.

Seasonal pattern of domestic cattle slaughtering in the Late Bronze Age Tanalyk settlement (Southern Ural)

The settlement of Tanalyk (Bashkortostan) is the most fully studied household object of the Late Bronze Age in the territory of Southern Ural. The pottery assemblage allows attributing it to the Srubnaya Alakul type. The majority of bone remains in this site belong to domestic animals, and the number of wild species remains is extremely small. There is no evidence of farming in the Late Bronze Age. Thus, the subsistence of the Tanalyk population was based on livestock production. As such, the time of livestock slaughtering can be indicative of people’s presence in the site. The purpose of the present research was to determine the type of the Late Bronze Age Tanalyk settlement as permanent or seasonal. The slaughtering season and the age of cattle (46 individuals), sheep/goats (33 individuals) and horses (24 individuals) have been determined. Both determinations were based on the analysis of growth layers in animal teeth (cement and dentine). In archaeozoology, there is a traditional method of estimation of animal age-at-death based on the state of their dental system. Data obtained by these two methods have been inter-compared. It has been established that domestic animals were slaughtered entire year round, with no seasonal preference for various species. Only for sheep/goats, slaughtering season was related to their age. In warm seasons, young animals were slaughtered three times more often than in cold time of the year. Cattle, sheep/goat and horses were slaughtered mainly in cold seasons, in smaller numbers in summer, and only in minimal quantities in spring. The practice of year-round slaughtering of animals shows, that at least part of the community lived in the settlement permanently and did not make seasonal movements. Comparison of the age structures obtained from the study of tooth growth layers and the condition of the dental system showed their strong structures similarity, which is very important methodologically. This allows a reliable use of the age structure based on the condition of dental system to interpret the patterns of economic exploitation of domestic ungulates.

Key words: Southern Urals, Bronze Age, domestic animals, season- age of-death, growth layers.