A complex study of anthropological materials of the Maitan burial ground of the Bronze Age Alakul Culture in Central Kazakhstan  

Solodovnikov K.N.




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A correlation of the results of the study of the paleoanthropological materials from the necropolis of Maitan by different scientific methods has been carried out in order to establish chronological and spatial differentiation of the burial ground and origins of the group. The complex approach allows the analysis of the problems of absolute and relative chronologies of the necropolis, demographic dynamics of the group in the context of the natural environment, and anthropological and genetic structure of the Bronze Age populations of the Eurasian steppes. The paleodemographic context reconstructed for the Maitan group is typical for the populations of the Bronze Age; some of its features may indicate an early period of adaptation, possibly related to migration of the group into the new territory. The intergroup statistical analysis of craniological materials suggests primarily western origins of the people. Particular craniological characteristics of some interred of the necropolis correspond with the recorded on the Maitan ware long-distance imports from the Urals-Tobol region of the Alakul Culture. For the first time on the materials of a numerically representative series of samples of humans and terrestrial herbivores of the Bronze Age Central Kazakhstan, Upper Tobol River region, and Trans-Urals steppes, the regional isotopic background has been established. Some individuals from the earliest burials of Maitan, according to the radiocarbon dating, are similar in isotopic ratios of carbon and nitrogen to the groups from further western regions of the Upper Tobol River steppes, whereas the other interred correspond in the isotopic values with local Central Kazakhstan samples. It is possible that at the later stages of the spatial organization of the necropolis, women featuring a genetic profile different from other individuals and buried within the fences of the western planigraphic group took part in the formation of its remaining collective. In general, according to the series of calibrated radiocarbon dates, Maitan burial ground dates to the 18th early 17th century BC.

Keywords: paleodemography, craniometry, isotopic analysis, paleogenetics, necropolis planigraphy, Bronze Age, Alakul ulture.


Acknowledgements. We express our sincere gratitude to V.V. Kufterin (Moscow) for the detailed consideration of the methodological aspects of paleodemographic analysis, V.G. Loman (Karaganda) for important information provided on the technological features of ceramics from individual burials of the Maitan burial ground and discussion of common problems of archaeological cultures of the Bronze Age of Kazakhstan, M.P. Rykun (Tomsk) for assistance in working with the archive and anthropological collections of TSU, S.V. Svyatko (Belfast) for discussing the problems of interpreting the results of paleoisotope analysis, V.G. Volkov (Tomsk) for discussion of paleogenetic research, A.A. Tkachev (Tyumen) for consultations on the formation of the Maitan burial ground, the circumstances of its excavations and publication of materials, I.V. Chechushkov (Chelyabinsk) and A.V. Polyakov (St. Petersburg) for assistance in calibrating radiocarbon dates.

Funding. This work was carried out according to state order No. 121041600045-8.


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


Solodovnikov K.N., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation, E-mail: solodk@list.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0925-7219