Landscape development history of the Zabolotsky peat bog in the context of initial settlement of the Dubna River lowland (Upper Volga basin)  

Panin A.V., Sorokin A.N., Bricheva S.S., Matasov V.M., Morozov V.V., Smirnov A.L., Solodkov N.N., Uspenskaia O.N.



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Zabolotsky peat bog is a unique biospheric and cultural-historical archive located in the north of the Moscow Region on the territory of the Dubna River lowland. Despite the advances in studying the Zabolotsky region, the question of reconstruction of the primitive population habitat remains unresolved. Until recently, it has been believed that in the Late Valdai period, the Dubna River lowland was covered by the waters of an extensive glacierdammed Tver paleolake, drained only at the turn of the Pleistocene and Holocene. It was assumed that the lake's existence prevented the settlement of the territory, whereas after its drainage, the shallow residual water pools were actively exploited in the economic activities of the primitive population. However, paleogeographic and archaeological materials have been accumulated during the last two decades that questioned the existence of large dammed lakes in the Upper Volga basin in the Late Valdai time. This paper presents the results of three years (20182020) of research, allowing revision of the ideas about the Quaternary geology and development of the geomorphic conditions of this area. A program of research, comprising topographic and geodetic surveys, drilling using a portable boring rig, lithologic description of the core, radiocarbon (AMS) dating, paleo-soil studies, biological analysis of organic macrofossils, and ground-penetrating radar, has been carried out aimed at reconstruction of the paleogeographic setting and landscape development. Drilling data were used to build the profile across the left bank of the Dubna River floodplain with extension to the low terrace. The lithofacial analysis of samples and AMS dating allowed identifying three generations of ancient riverbeds, the deepest of which (with the bottom at 12 m below the water edge) is more than 30 thousand years old. The biological residues from the dark-coloured loams directly below the peat bottom belong almost exclusively to higher plants, both arboraceous and wetland, which may have been brought in by the floodwaters. The ground-penetrating radar profiles clearly show the boundaries of three electromagnetically homogeneous sedimental layers the peat, silted peat, and loam. The paleogeographic data, in conjunction with the geophysical profiling data, indicate the existence of a copious waterway in the lowland (the ancient Dubna River) no later than 15,00016,000 years ago which formed a floodplain with large features of fluvial paleorelief available for settlement. These data agree well with the new serial AMS-dates for the resin from the grooves of the bone and horn artifacts, which permit extension of the time of the initial development of the Zabolotsky peat bog by the bearers of the Resseta Culture to 15,500 years ago. The conclusions drawn have major significance for the development of an evidence-based chronology of the events and dynamics of the settlement strategy of the population during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. The new data not only are consistent with the system of global paleoecologic events and history of the development of the outwash plain zone in Eastern Europe, but also provide the basis for refinement, and, possibly, revision of a range of current concepts.

Keywords: geoarchaeology, palaeohydrology, alluvial accumulation, paleochannels, groundpenetratingradar, GPR, AMS dating, Tver Glacial Lake, Zabolotje geoarchaeological polygon (GAP).


Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful to Prof. V.V. Stavitsky and interns from the Faculty of History, Languages and Literature of Penza State University for their active contribution to the 2018-2019 fieldwork and Dr R.G. Gracheva (IG RAS) for advice on soil science issues.

Funding. The fieldwork, archaeological and geochronological studies were supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project number 19-09-00143A). The paleohydrological and paleolimnological reconstructions were supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project number 17-17-01289). Laboratory processing was carried out using the infrastructure of the IG RAS within the state-commissioned task -19-119021990092-1 (FMWS-2019-0008).


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


Panin A.V., Institute of Geography, RAS, Staromonetniy per., 29, Moscow, 119017, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Sorokin A.N., Institute of Archaeology, RAS, Dmitriya Ulyanova st., 19, Moscow, 117292, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Bricheva S.S., Institute of Geography, RAS, Staromonetniy per., 29, Moscow, 119017, Russian Federation, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie Gory, 1, Moscow, 119234, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Matasov V.M., Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie Gory, 1, Moscow, 119234, Russian Federation, RUDN University, Miklukho-Maklaya st., 6, Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Morozov V.V., OOO Arheologija Vostochno-Evropejskoj ravniny, prosp. Mira, 89, Moscow, 129085, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Smirnov A.L., Institute of Archaeology, RAS, Dmitriya Ulyanova st. , 19, Moscow, 117292, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Solodkov N.N., Penza State University of Architecture and Construction, German Titov st., 28, Penza, 440028, Russian Federation, -mail:,

Uspenskaia O.N., All-Russian Research Institute of Vegetable Growing, Vereya, str. 500, Moscow Oblast, Ramensky district, 140153, Russian Federation, -mail:,