Technological characteristics of objects made of iron and iron-carbon alloys associated with the Yudino Culture (according to the metallographic data)

Zinyakov N.M., Tret'iakov E.A.



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Towards the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE, the population of Western Siberia had achieved significant progress in the production and processing of ferrous metals. This is especially well demonstrated by the complexes of the 10th13th centuries in the Lower Irtysh River area (Western Siberia) and Lower Ob River area (Western Siberia) (archaeological sites of the Ust-Ishim and Nizhneobskaya Cultures), whose materials allowed tracing a unified tradition of metalworking among the representatives of these cultures. At the time, the adjacent territory of the Tobol River (Western Siberia) was occupied by population of the Yudino Culture, whose sites yielded many different-type products from ferrous metals. At the same time, the remains of metal production sites, which confirm the presence of this craft in the economy of the population of the Tobol River area in the 9th13th centuries, were found on the settlements. In this paper, an attempt has been made to study the objects made of ferrous metals aiming at reconstruction of the technology of metal production among the representatives of the Yudino Culture. To solve this problem, we analyzed by means of structural metallography a selection of 26 items from the settlements of Papskoye, Krasnogorskoye, Barsuchye, Rafailovskoye, and Vak-Kur burial ground. The results of the analysis showed that the raw material base was represented by raw steel and bloomery iron, which was most likely produced by local metallurgists. The most common technology of metal processing was open forging of hot metal, during which the object was given a future shape. Most of the objects contain microstructures of sorbite and martensite, which may indicate the use of heat treatment techniques by the blacksmiths, particularly, of soft and hard quenching. In some cases, the masters used the stacked billet method to increase the weight of the product. Nevertheless, the materials show more complex technological schemes, for example, carburization and three-layer welding. Objects made using this approach are characteristic of the territory of Northern Rus and can be considered as imports in the Tobol territory (Western Siberia). Cast iron products can also be regarded as imported, since the production of cast iron appeared in Western Siberia after the 16th century. Thus, the blacksmiths of the Yudino Culture mastered a wide range of metalworking techniques. However, there are technology-enabled objects typical of the urban centers of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the medieval archaeological sites of the Trans-Urals.

Keywords: Western Siberia, Tobol basin, arly Middle Ages, Yudino Culture, ferrous metal, metallographic analysis, production technology.


Acknowledgements. We express special gratitude to excavation authors Natalya P. Matveeva and Alexander A. Adamov whose materials were used in this article.

Funding. The reported study was funded by RFBR grant No. 20-49-720001


Creative Commons License

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

Accepted: 03.03.2021

Article is published: 15.06.2022


Zinyakov N.M., Kemerovo State University, Krasnaya st., 6, Kemerovo, 650000, Russian Federation, E-mail:,


Tret'iakov E.A., University of Tyumen, Volodarskogo st., 6, Tyumen, 625003 Russian Federation, E-mail: