The use of plants by the population of Primorye in the Early Paleometal period (according to the archaeobotanical and archeological data) 

Sergusheva E..



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The Early Paleometal period (second half of the 2nd millennium BC end of the 1st millennium BC) is one of the least studied periods in the archeology of Primorye. There are not many studied and documented complexes. Their cultural chronology is still insufficiently developed. The identification of the archaeological cultures has not been completed and their subsistence systems have not become objects of research. The author makes an attempt to reconstruct the usage of plants by the populations of Primorye during this period. The research was based on the archaeobotanical analysis of plant seeds from the sites of this period, supplemented with the data on the finds of artifacts associated with agriculture. The data from 15 sites belonging to different cultures or groups of the Early Paleometal period were taken into account and analyzed. From 10 of them, the seeds were obtained with water flotation technique, which was not always carried out to a sufficient extent. In 5 sites, seeds were found on visual inspection (seeds accumulations, imprints on ceramics). Seeds of cultivated plants were found in all 15 sites. They were recovered from all flotation materials, even from small samples, which indicates the abundance of these remains in the sites deposits. The species composition of the seeds demonstrates the ubiquitous presence and, therefore, cultivation of two species of millet (Panicum miliaceum, Setaria italica). This is a typical set of cultigens for Primorye, where both species are consistently present on archaeological sites, starting from the Late Neolithic and in the following periods. Materials of Novoselische-4 and Anuchino-14 sites, where only P. miliaceum was found, look atypical. After the middle of the 1st millennium BC, naked barley was also found on some sites. The paucity of the data does not allow reliable reconstruction of the role of agriculture in the economy of the Early Paleometal population of Primorye. However, the presence of the cultivated plants on all the sites where the water flotation was used demonstrates their ubiquity, including the coastal settlements whose populations economy was mainly based on marine resources. This clearly indicates an increase of a role of agriculture in this period. The lack of special studies of the functions of such artifacts as hoes, grinding slabs and grindstones, traditionally referred to as agricultural, makes us consider with reserve their interpretation as exclusively agricultural. Obviously, they represent tools with complex functions. Specialized agricultural tools are represented by reaping knives. In Primorye, they appear in the Early Paleometal period. Their presence on the sites is regarded as evidence of the existence of agriculture. However, their absence does not imply the opposite. The archaeobotanical data from the sites of the Early Paleometal period confirmed the existence of wild plants gathering amongst the population engaged in agriculture. The remains of 8 plant species, which were found on all the sites where the water floatation was employed, have been identified.

Keywords: Primorye, Early Paleometal period, archaeobotany, archeology, agriculture, broomcorn and foxtail millets, naked barley, plants gathering.


Acknowledgements. The author expresses the sincere gratitude to the colleagues Natalia A. Dorofeeva and Irina V. Belova for the fruitful discussions during the article preparation.

Funding. The current study was conducted in the frame of the realization of the research project Archaeology and history of the Russian Far East and adjacent zones of East Asia in antiquity and the Middle Ages (No. 01201152560) of the Program of Fundamental Scientific Research in Archaeology of Russian Academy of Sciences.


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


Sergusheva E.., Institute of the History, Archaeology and Ethnology of Far-Eastern Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushkinskaya st., 89, Vladivostok, 690001, Russian Federation, E-mail:,