Metallurgical groups of non-ferrous metal products of the Baitovo Culture in the settlement of Marai 1

Tigeeva E.V., Tsembalyuk S.I.




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In the paper, the results of an analytical investigation of 28 artefacts made of non-ferrous metal originated from the materials of the settlement of Marai 1 of the Lower Ishim River basin of Tyumen Oblast are presented. Among the items were arrowheads, awls, decorations, plates, drops an ingot and a bracket attributed to the Baitovo Culture. The upper cultural horizon of the settlement marks the site of the Baitovo Culture of the beginning of the Early Iron Age, dated to the 4th2nd centuries BCE. Based on the results of the spectral analysis carried out in the laboratory of nature sciences of the Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, five metallurgical groups were identified. The artefacts belonging to the groups of pure copper (14 items) and dopped alloys (14 items) split evenly. Ten items are made of tin bronze. Two items belong to the tin-arsenic bronze group and one to the arsenic bronze group. The plate made of a copper-based alloy with the additions of tin, arsenic and silver represents an isolated item. A correlation was identified between the type of the artefact and the material it is made of. It was most prominent with the example of the arrowheads made of pure copper and the implements made of dopped alloys. There is a discernible continuation of the traditions of the epoch of bronze manifested in the use of both dopped alloys, as well as pure copper. For the local production, feedstock material was used, possibly supplied in ingots from the metallurgical centers of Central and Eastern Kazakhstan, which were rich in tin ore deposits. Pure copper, as well as the arrowheads (made of pure copper) were probably imported from the workshops of the Itkul Culture. The Urals metal could have also been distributed along the river system of the Tobol and Ishim onto quite far-off territories. From the 7th5th centuries BCE, the Itkul metallurgical center was practically a monopoly supplier of copper and products for a range of the cultures (including the Baitovo Culture) of the mountain-forest and forest-steppe Trans-Urals and Western Siberia, and it was actively functioning until the 3rd century BCE. Its distinctive feature was the production of throwing weapons from pure oxidized copper. Therefore, the orientation of the historical-metallurgical relations on both western centers, as well as eastern, has been ascertained, which indicates extensive exchange-of-goods relations of the groups of the Baitovo population. However, the decrease of the supply of tin-ore alloys, as well as the decline of the Itkul metallurgical center towards the 3rd century BCE resulted in the search for new sources of feedstock material and expedited the transition to the ironwork production.

Keywords: metallurgical groups, Early Iron Age, X-ray fluorescence analysis, pure copper, tin bronze.


Funding. The work was carried out according to the state task No. 121041600045-8.


Creative Commons License

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

Accepted: 29.09.2021

Article is published: 15.12.2022


Tigeeva E.V,, Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Chervishevskiy trakt, 13, Tyumen, 625008, Russian Federation, E-mail:,

Tsembalyuk S.I., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Chervishevskiy trakt, 13, Tyumen, 625008, Russian Federation, E-mail:,