Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 44, No 1 (2016)
View or download the full issue PDF (Russian)


3-26 688

The origin of Near Eastern Middle Pleistocene blade industries is discussed with reference to the Levallois reduction technique. Special attention is paid to the Gesher Benot Ya’akov site, Israel, where the Levallois technology is the earliest in the region (ca 800 ka). Whereas later Acheulean industries show no continuity with the Levallois tradition, the alternation of predominant Middle Pleistocene technologies indicates changing adaptation strategies caused by ecological conditions. Accordingly, the early appearance of the laminar technology in the Near East evidences local evolution rather than immigration. The major factors underlying this innovation were adaptation and the intrinsic development of the Levallois system. Laminar technologies, which are fi rst evidenced by certain Levantine sites even earlier than Gesher Benot Ya’akov, became widely distributed at the Acheulo-Yabrudian stage of the late Acheulean. A well developed blade technology is demonstrated by the Amudian industry of Qesem, Israel, dating to 400–200 ka.

27-38 869

The paper presents a typo-technological analysis of the lithic assemblages from the 1965 excavation of Khar cave in mountainous region of Central Zagros, Iran. Khar cave is one of the rare excavated Paleolithic sites in Zagros region with a stratifi ed sequence encompassing archaeological materials from both MIS 2 and MIS 3. The research is based on typo-technological characteristics of artifacts from the both parts of the Khar cave lithic assemblage, which are stored in the National Museum of Iran and in the Montreal University and have not been properly studied in terms of technology. The paper addresses the issue of Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Zagros, technological characteristics of Baradostian/Zagros Aurignacian industries, and the possibility of industrial evolution from the late Baradostian to the early Zarzian. Despite the small size of the assemblage, the analysis illustrates a sequence of changes and continuity in core reduction strategies and tools production in Khar cave, beginning from Late Middle Paleolithic to Epipaleolithic. However based on the current state of data, the paper reaches a conclusion that our technological data supporting the hypothesis of Middle to Upper Paleolithic continuity in Zagros are insuffi cient and we can neither confi rm nor reject the possibility of a gradual transition in this region.

39-50 606

Primary reduction techniques used at Kara-Bom, the Altai Mountains, are analyzed using the refi tting method. In previous studies, the Kara-Bom assemblages provided a basis for reconstructing the evolution of lithic industries in the Altai Mountains over most of the Middle Paleolithic and at the early stages of the Upper Paleolithic (ca 60–30 ka BP). Under the new stratigraphic subdivision of Kara-Bom, four habitation stages are described. The refi tting of artifacts from the Middle Paleolithic (MP2) layer indicates the Levallois unidirectional convergent fl aking aimed at producing points and blades as a co-product of reduction sequences. Based on cores and groups of spalls from the Upper Paleolithic layers UP2 and UP1, the variation of Upper Paleolithic reduction techniques is reconstructed and a conclusion is made that signifi cant changes in core reduction occurred: the Middle Paleolithic (Levallois) fl at unidirectional technique gave way to bidirectional volumetric subprismatic and prismatic reduction of the Upper Paleolithic type. The Kara-Bom assemblages appear to have been stable variants of the blade technology aimed at producing large and medium-sized blades as well as the narrow-faced micro-reduction aimed at producing bladelets. The comparison of Kara-Bom with contemporaneous industries of northern and eastern Central Asia suggests that the earliest Upper Paleolithic industries (before 35 ka BP) show a marked predominance of the Kara-Bom-type reduction techniques.

51-64 439

Based on 94 sites of the Bohunician, Szeletian, Aurignacian, and Gravettian cultures, marking the Neanderthal to Homo sapiens sapiens transition, stages in the evolution of the Paleolithic settlement north of the Moravian Gate are described with special reference to environmental adaptation. Relevant factors include climate, relief, altitude, proximity of water sources, availability of lithic raw material and fl oral and faunal resources as well as the socio-cultural level of the respective groups. While being similar in terms of habitat choice, these cultures differed in placement of sites and the exploitation of resources. The most conservative style of exploiting the environment is evidenced by Bohunician sites, which are mostly situated on the southeastern, eastern, and southern slopes, 205.5–310.0 m asl. The typical feature of Szeletian sites is central placement on elevations; they are situated in lowland slopes facing north and southwest, mostly at 217–316 m asl. Areas preferred by Aurignacians and Gravettians were larger, with diverse, often rugged terrains. Aurignacians preferred northern mountain slopes, 205–378 m asl. Gravettians settled mostly in lowlands, on southern slopes and terraces, 220–286 m asl. This territorial expansion testifi es to growing opportunities caused by higher sociocultural potential, enabling people to inhabit formerly uninhabited zones.


65-71 759

The study aims at a social interpretation of the Sintashta burials, southern Ural (21st–18th century BC cal.), where artifacts related to bronze metallurgy (molds, ceramic nozzles, ore and slag remains, metal bars and drops) had been placed. These were found in at least 10 % of graves. If stone hammers and abrasive tools are included, the share increases to one-sixth. The fi ndings apparently indicate the social identity of those buried and point to a general characteristics of the group. People engaged in metal production were mostly adult males, and were relatively few. Women, too, may have participated, at least at the preparatory stages. Markers of engagement in metal production very rarely co-occur with attributes of high status such as mace-heads, spearheads, axes, chariots, and cheek-pieces. This agrees with conclusions of cross-cultural studies suggesting that “metallurgists” were not top-ranking members of the social hierarchy. Nor were they subject to discrimination in the Sintashta society, because being buried at a cemetery evidenced high status. Professional membership was an important but not the main criterion of personal identity. Despite being few, burials of smiths distinguish Sintashta from most other Bronze Age steppe societies of Eurasia.

72-81 685

Late Bronze Age quartzite pebble tools from the Tobol forest-steppe sites associated with the Fedorovka, Cherkaskul, and Pakhomovskaya cultures were subjected to a comprehensive analysis with regard to raw material and technology. Pebbles requiring no retouch were preferred, and in rare instances the working surface was processed by percussion. Based on the results of the traceological analysis, types of wear such as crumbling, polishing, various deformations, etc., are described. The analysis of microwear traces and of their co-occurrence has allowed us to subdivide the tools into four groups. To assess the tentative function of each group, a series of experiments in processing skins, dressing leather, polishing clay vessels, stone axes, and metal tools, was conducted. Experimental tools, too, were subjected to use-wear analysis. The comparison of experimentally derived wear marks with those revealed microscopically on ancient tools has made it possible to attribute the groups and relate them to various manufactures. Most pebble tools from Late Bronze sites were polyfunctional. They were used for dressing skins, processing leather, and burnishing clay vessels. Monofunctional pebbles used in a single manufacture (skin dressing or the production of ceramic or metal tools) are less frequent. The use of small quartzite pebble tools may be seen as a cultural and chronological marker of the Andronovo, primarily Cherkaskul, tradition.

82-92 805

Composition and construction history of a ritual complex with deer stones at Uushigiin uvur, Hovsgol aimag, Mongolia, are inferred from fi ndings of large-scale excavations in 2013. The earliest elements of the complex were six catacombs fi lled with stones, and ritual pits. Possible placement of known deer stones was discovered, and lower parts of fi ve new ones were found in situ. The excavated part of the complex included two ensembles similar in composition and consisting of rows of deer stones. Each ensemble rested on two stone platforms, one curved (oriented in a north-south direction), the other rectangular (oriented in an east-west direction and accompanied by stone stelae). Deer stones were placed along the western edge of the curved platforms. East, north, and south of the ensembles, altars with buried horse bones were discovered. These objects did not overlap one another, which suggests a single compositional structure of the work. Further north, two more rows of deer stones were situated. On the eastern side of those, there were similar altars, and on the western side, stone rings with fragments of calcined animal bones. In terms of structure and composition, all ensembles (platforms with stelae, an arc of altars with horse remains from the east, stone rings with calcined animal bones from the west) are similar to ritual constructions around funerary mounds—the khereksurs of Central Mongolia, supporting the idea that deer stones had replaced actual burials.

93-103 555

The analysis of Early Iron Age gold jewelry from Hankarinsky Dol and Inskoy Dol in the Altai, Arzhan II royal mound in Tuva, and Filippovka I and II royal mounds in the Southern Urals, has detected platinoid inclusions similar to those in artifacts from the Near East. Their morphology and composition suggest that gold was mined from placer deposits located near the gold and platinum bearing ultramafi c belts. Microinclusions consist of solid solutions of osmium, iridium, and ruthenium. Their nomenclature was evaluated by the proportion of these components. Triangular plots of microinclusions in artifacts from the Urals reveal four clusters: principal (ruthenium and iridium-osmium) and secondary (osmium-ruthenium and iridium-ruthenium), the latter relating to nanoscale particles surrounding larger ones. Their emergence is due to the impact of gold melt on microinclusions. During melting, heated air in micropores could cause oxidation of osmium with subsequent assimilation of oxidation products by melt. Micropores, 1–0.4 μ in size, were revealed in 5–10 %. This should be taken into account when comparing the composition of microinclusions and minerals from tentative placer sources. Artifacts from Siberia show a mostly ruthenium tendency. Osmium-ruthenium and iridium-osmium trends were also detected, but not the iridium-ruthenium trend, possibly due to small sample size relating to Siberia. The presence of PGE microinclusions in ancient gold artifacts may suggest that these were manufactured locally.

104-113 506

A cast bronze plaque from Shuryshkary, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, representing a human-like character, is described. It was the central element in a domestic religious complex. The plaque belongs to a little-known type of medieval status markers. Apart from the central anthropomorphous character, it shows two birds and solar and lunar signs. There are also later engravings, apparently made by the owners. The plaque is part of a series of 20 similar status-marking ornaments of the late 1st–early 2nd millennia AD. Four of these likewise depict anthropomorphic characters. Iconographically, the image on the Shusryshkar plaque resembles other medieval anthropomorphic and ornithomorphic representations from northwestern Siberia. Based on the series of parallels, the specimen dates to the 11th or 12th centuries and was apparently manufactured locally, since all the parallels stem from northwestern Siberia. Most such plaques were parts of hoards or medieval and modern sanctuaries of Ob Ugrians. The likely place of manufacture is the northeastern Urals or northwestern Ob basin. The scenes shown on the plaques shed new light on contacts between aboriginal northwestern Siberia and centers of medieval civilizations. 

114-122 471

Over the last two decades, the archaeological study of the Russian sites in Siberia has expanded not only in scale and geography, but also in the scope of research issues. As a result, the archaeology of Siberian Russian cities has turned into a separate subdiscipline within Siberian studies. Excavations of late 16th to 19th century forts, towns, and cities has had a positive impact on public attitudes. These sites are now viewed as an integral part of the nation’s cultural heritage and an invaluable source of historical knowledge. The importance of historical archaeology is gradually being acknowledged by historians, who, until recently, tended to monopolize historical reconstructions of Muscovy and the Russian Empire. Historical archaeology sets up a broader format of research focused on this pivotal period. The article outlines the fi ndings of archaeological excavations at old Russian sites in Siberia, juxtaposing them with written evidence. The following tasks are addressed: (1) localizing historical sites and attributing excavated ones; (2) modeling wooden architecture; (3) reconstructing the composition of herds through faunal remains. 

123-136 1145

This compilation of faunal data has allowed the development of a chronology of the dispersal of domesticated horses from the Eurasian steppe into Southwest Asia. During the late Pleistocene horses were widespread throughout much of the Near East, however increasing aridifi cation led to their extinction from the region. Their presence within the archaeological record of the Late Holocene therefore suggests their spread as a human-controlled domesticate. Early domesticated horses are found at Botai, Kazakhstan, although faunal data indicates that Anatolia, Iran and the southern Levant contained surviving populations of wild horses during the mid-Holocene. If these remains from the Levant, western Iran and Anatolia do not belong to native wild progenitors, their presence in Late Chalcolithic deposits indicate an introduction of domesticated horses to this region much earlier than previously assumed. The Buhen horse is the oldest dated domesticated horse in Egypt and was assumed to be anachronistic given the lack of contemporaneous Levantine specimens. However horses were present in the Levant prior to and contemporary with the Buhen horse, illustrating a steady southward distribution from the Eurasian steppe over two millennia dating from the Late Chalcolithic to the Late Bronze Age; a spread likely hastened by the widespread adoption of chariot warfare in the early second millennium BCE.

137-146 464

The Nagaybaks are one of the Turkic-speaking groups of the Southern Urals, related to Christened Tatars of the Middle Volga, to Chuvash, and possibly to Udmurt and eastern Mari. The key factor in their origin was the emergence of Orenburg Cossack Host with a number of native troops in the 1730s. Unlike the Kalmyk, Bashkir, and Misher Tatar troops, which were ethnically homogeneous, the Nagaybaks served alongside Russian Cossacks. Owing to certain circumstances, specifi cally to the state policy of “organizing” the natives (Christening, recruiting for the Cossack Host, and geographic isolation from closest ethnic relatives), their ethnicity shifted from religious (“Christened Tatars”) and social (Tatar Cossacks) to ethic proper (Nagaybaks). This case exemplifi es the impact of state policy on the origins of new ethnic groups. Current Nagaybaks ethnicity includes geographic, religious, and social constituents. Recent scholarship and the last two censuses mention just one name, Nagaybaks, which, in essence, is an exoethnonym. This article discusses all exoethnonyms and endoethnonyms of that group.

147-156 663

The mandible of a child from the Upper Paleolithic site of Listvenka in the Krasnoyarsk-Kansk forest-steppe, south-central Siberia, was subjected to a new detailed study. It was found in 1992 and was fi rst published fi ve years later with very incomplete information about place and context. The need for revision was prompted by the sophistication of dental trait batteries, new views of the diagnostic signifi cance of certain dental traits, availability of new techniques, etc. Now the fi nd can be related to habitation layer 12g, consistently dated to ca 13 ka on the basis of three estimates. Results of the multi-slice computed tomography suggest that the child was 3.5–4.5 years old. Like most fossils representing early anatomically modern humans, the specimen is rather robust by modern standards. Based on the combination of nonmetric and metric traits, the individual’s place among other eight Upper Paleolithic children was assessed. The distinctive feature of the mandible is generally modern morphology combined with robusticity and a neutral position on the west-to-east scale. We tentatively describe this trait combination as Upper Paleolithic Central Siberian.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)