Preview

Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

Advanced search
Vol 44, No 2 (2016)
View or download the full issue PDF (Russian) | PDF

PALEOENVIRONMENT. THE STONE AGE

3-18 265
Abstract

The emergence of Levallois technique and the origin of the Levantine Middle Paleolithic, addressed in my previous publication, are revisited. In the fi nal Acheulean of the Levant, the Acheulo-Yabrudian industry emerged and the blade technology was invented. On that base, the Levantine Middle Paleolithic originated. The terms “Oldowan industry” and “Levantine Mousterian” should be abandoned. The Oldowan industry was associated with Homo habilis, who had never migrated outside Africa. Because early Middle Paleolithic industries originated from the Acheulo-Yabrudian industry of the Levant, they should be referred to as Middle Paleolithic rather than Mousterian. The Mousterian was associated with H. neanderthalensis, whereas the industries of territories where Neanderthals had not migrated should be referred to as Middle Paleolithic. Neanderthal migrations resulted in the emergence of Mousteroid industries in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Crimea, southern Siberia, etc. In Africa, a new taxon Homo heidelbergensis (H. rhodesiensis) originated ca 800 ka BP. Eventually, those humans migrated to the Near East, as evidenced by the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov site. Throughout the Middle Pleistocene, Near Eastern, primarily Levantine populations were involved in the sapienization process. By the early Upper Pleistocene, two sister taxa had apparently originated there: anatomically modern humans (Skhul, Qafzeh) and Palestinian Neanderthals (Tabun, Amud, Kebara). There was no radical change in Acheulean or Middle Paleolithic industries in the Levant that might suggest immigration from Africa or the adjacent territories of Eurasia. Anatomically modern humans associated with the Nubian Levallois industry migrated from Africa to Arabia ca 110 ka ago. They may have had short-term contacts with Levantine Middle Paleolithic populations, but archaeological evidence of acculturation is lacking.

19-29 434
Abstract

The fi rst peopling of Europe has been widely discussed for the last decades. The many fi ndings recorded in recent years have confirmed that Europe was occupied by hominins during the Early Pleistocene for over a million years. However, several issues are still questioned in the current debate about the fi rst peopling of Europe, including the continuity or discontinuity of this event. In this regard, a revision of the available zooarchaeological evidence for the Early Pleistocene in Europe is proposed in this article, discussing the infl uence on hominin behavior of meat-resource acquisition. The faunal evidence recovered from the European sites shows that hominins had access to a variety of meat resources, from small animals such as birds and reptiles to large variability of mammals like hippopotamuses and ungulates of varying sizes. This fossil record also suggests that hominins overcame the predation pressure exerted by hyaenids and felids, which competed for these same natural resources. The climatic fl uctuations which characterized this period, as well as the diversity of ecosystems found in the Mediterranean area and in the whole continent, make meat consumption a key resource concerning the adaptive possibilities of local hominins. Thus, the persistence and expansion of hominin settlement throughout Europe during the Early Pleistocene may have depended on the overcoming of these constraining factors, on the basis of the social cohesion of the groups and their capacity to provide with a Mode 1 technology a regular supply of meat resources.

30-46 307
Abstract

The article addresses Neolithic burials at Vengerovo-2A in the Baraba forest-steppe. Funerary and ritual complexes include a centrally located grave with an enclosing ditch separated into segments, which are oriented according to cardinal points. The funerary rite and the orientation of bodies are variable. A peculiar feature of this cemetery is that burials are of two kinds: (1) collective under mounds, arranged in special constructions with ditches, and (2) single without mounds. Reconstructed stages in the arrangement of burials were as follows: fi rst, a cup-like grave and a ditch delimiting the funerary space were dug. Next, the body was placed in the grave and possibly covered with earth. Then the remaining bodies were placed on top in several layers. The construction may have included a wooden roof. Finally, a low earthen mound was made above the grave. The Vengerovo burials resemble those at Protoka in the Baraba Plain. Funerary goods found at Vengerovo-2A were made of clay, bone, horn, and shells. Intact vessels are described. Those from the graves and ditches and those remaining from the funeral repast differ in terms of paste and decoration. Based on the petrographic analysis of stone tools from Vengerovo and coeval sites in Western Siberia, pebbles were taken from the Irtysh alluvium. The absolute chronology of burials is compared with that of the Protoka burial ground and of the Avtodrom-2 and Serebryanka-1 settlements in Baraba. Vengerovo-2A dates to the Late Neolithic (6th–5th millennia BC). Its burial rite and pottery evidences a blend of several traditions, and the same applies to other Neolithic sites in northern Eurasia. Finds from Vengerovo are paralleled by those from the taiga area of Western Siberia and Eastern Ural as well as from the Baltic and Karelia. Cranially, Vengerovo people display the Northern Eurasian trait combination. This fact along with skeletal and paleogenetic findings places them within what can be described as the Uralian and Western Siberian Neolithic community.

47-55 326
Abstract

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis is one of the main techniques for assessing various aspects of life of the prehistoric populations including diet and economy. Here, we present the theoretical background of the method, and review the major stable isotope paleodietary studies relating to the Eurasian steppe and available by the end of 2013. Existing data show that the diet of various Chalcolithic to Early Iron Age populations in the region varied in time and space and included substantial amounts of fi sh. Variations in diet and economy between groups associated with the same archaeological culture were likely caused by adaptations to local environments and climates. Millet appeared in the area (in the Minusinsk Basin) only in the 14th century BC. The Minusinsk Basin thereby became one of the fi rst centres of millet cultivation in Siberia. The impact of climate, specifi cally precipitation, on the isotopic values of human bone tissue has also been recorded. Although studies of ancient Siberian and Eurasian steppe groups are numerous, paleodietary research using stable isotope analysis is still at the data acquisition stage. One of the main criteria of modern research in the region is a systematic and well-designed approach to the isotopic analysis of various archaeological populations. This analysis must include not only human bone samples, but also those relating to all potential dietary components such as terrestrial and aquatic animals as well as samples of associated plants.

THE METAL AGES AND MEDIEVAL PERIOD

56-68 147
Abstract

A Mesolithic site with an intrusive early medieval burial at Ilyinka in the Don basin is described. The Mesolithic assemblage suggests a revision of the Donets culture, whereas the burial reveals contacts between the nomadic peoples, pointing to affi nities with Alans rather than Bulgars. Based on soil analysis, environment and climate are reconstructed with reference to chronology and cultural attribution. The soil is gray sabulous pseudofi brous unsaturated humus with traces of modern and possibly ancient anthropogenic disruption. A succession of various pedogenic regimes caused by climatic and biotic changes is revealed. The early stage is marked by predominantly steppe conditions alternating with arboreal phases, whereas at the late stage the only landscape was steppe. An interchange of cultures occurred mainly during the steppe phases. The total duration of steppe regimes was at least 6 thousand years (alternating pedogenic phases make a more accurate estimate impossible). Despite the instability of the pedological record on the sandy subatratum, automorphous soils can be helpful for environmental and cultural reconstructions.

69-80 184
Abstract

The article focuses on Siberian petroglyphs traditionally attributed to the Angara style. Views regarding the distribution and chronology of this vaguely defi ned style are divergent. The objective of this article is to give it a more stringent defi nition, to assess its chronology and its relationship to the rock art of western and southern Siberia. We analyze three palimpsests from Kamenny Ostrov II on the Angara. Using A.P. Okladnikov’s drawings at Saint-Petersburg Archives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the evolution of the style is traced. Based on the analysis of all relevant petroglyphs, the distribution area of the Angara style proper is delimited. It includes the Baikal area (the Angara and upper Lena) and the right bank of the middle Yenisei. A local variety of the tradition existed on the middle Lena, Aldan, and Olekma. The Baikal tradition had infl uenced the iconography of the famous elk fi gures of the Tomsk area at the early stages of its forming. However, the Tomsk petroglyphic gallery and similar rock art sites traditionally believed to represent the Angara style must be regarded as an independent Bronze Age tradition.

81-90 188
Abstract

A late 9th century jeweler’s kit from dwelling 2 at Osinovoye Ozero, a Mohe site on the Middle Amur, is described. Bronze was smelted in a crucible placed on a ceramic support inside a vessel-like furnace. Nine bronze plaques from the same dwelling are compared with negatives of molds in which they were cast. Based on results of the elemental analysis of plaques, these fall into three groups. The fi rst differs from the other two by the source of ore, and plaques of the second group were recast more than once. Most Turkic type plaques were evidently destined for recasting into Mohe ornaments. The latter include one openwork and two fi gured plaques as well as bronze bells found in 2012 in dwelling 3. Because bronze items differing in composition were recast several times, the source of ore cannot be identifi ed. Techniques of manufacturing molds and facing of plaques, used by Central Asian and Mohe artisans, are reconstructed.

91-101 246
Abstract

Various artifacts depicting paired horse heads are known in many ancient cultures of Siberia. The earliest in Yakutia is a bone amulet-pendant from the habitation layer of Ulakhan Segelennyakh, dating to the middle or second half of the 1st millennium AD. In 17th and 18th-century Yakut burials, ring buckle pendants with double-headed horses, decorating either burial clothing or vessels, are frequent. Museum collections show similar pendants often decorated leather koumiss vessels “Siri isit”, which were used in the evocation rite of heavenly deities protecting humans and cattle. In certain Yakut representations, heads of horses have bridles connecting them with rings, which, in our opinion, refer to celestial bodies. A horse begotten by the sun is a common motif in Yakut myths. Solar horses Dzhesegey were considered progenitors of humans. Many representations of double horse heads in museum collections are pendants worn on women’s festive belts and waistcloths. This motif has survived in modern Yakut jewelry, architecture, and design. Its sources should possibly be sought in the Xiongnu culture of the Trans-Baikal region and Mongolia. Certain Yakut two-headed horse pendants have close parallels amongst the Tagar and Tashtyk representations.

102-108 195
Abstract

The Umrevinsky hoard, comprising 107 silver wire kopeks, was found in 2008 outside the walls of Fort (Ostrog) Umrevinsky, founded in 1703 on the right bank of the Ob River, 100 km north of Novosibirsk. This is the first time such a hoard was discovered in the Novosibirsk stretch of the Ob. Its composition is assessed with reference to archaeological fi ndings relating to Fort Umrevinsky. The chronology of the coins and of their deposition are evaluated. The location is near a dwelling within a manor, in an ash layer. The coins are relatively poorly preserved. We were able to identify the minting years of 34 coins. All specimens with legible stamp impressions were minted between 1696–1717. Based on the results, a conclusion is made that this was a hoard of coin silver. Firstly, most kopecks bear no discernible images that would guarantee specifi c weight and silver content; secondly, the hoard was deposited no earlier than 1735, i.e., 20 years after the coins had gone out of use. This conclusion is supported by the fact that some coins were apparently used as ornaments which were sewn on clothes by the natives. All these fi ndings enrich our knowledge of the history of Fort Umrevinsky.

109-117 245
Abstract

Variously preserved leather shoes from three 17th–18th century Russian villages on the Irtysh River, like those from Siberian towns of Mangazeya in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District and Tara in the Omsk Region, are used to reconstruct certain constructive and technological aspects of footwear manufacture. Ten types of shoes are described. A high heel shoe from Izyuk I combines Russian and Western European features. To assess its original form, a model was manufactured on a last, and a graphic reconstruction of the shoe was made in fi ve views. As a result, constructive defects, possibly accounting for discomfort, mentioned by 17th century written sources, were revealed. The local variety of high heel shoes likely originated in Western Siberia in the last quarter of the 17th – early 18th century. Shoes like those found in Izyuk appear to have been manufactured in Tara and were probably acquired there by local villagers. They differ from those made in Mangazeya.

118-128 282
Abstract

Native northwestern Siberian representations of a bear-like deity known as the Old Man of a Sacred Town span the period from the Early Iron Age to the present. It is proposed that the character standing full-length is indeed the deity, whereas bears shown in side view or in so-called sacrifi cial posture (head between fore paws) refer to prey. The distinction was especially marked in Early Iron Age representations found on the right-bank stretch of the Ob from its confl uence with the Irtysh in the south to Vanzevat village near Beloyarsk, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District–Yugra, in the north. Certain newly acquired Oriental and Sarmatian bronze mirrors and silver artifacts, too, depict bears standing full-length; the scene shown on one of the mirrors is paralleled by ethnographic evidence. In the 19th and 20th centuries, bear festivals were held by several local groups of Ob Ugrians, specifi cally in a territory Eva Schmidt considers the source and the secondary area of the Old Man’s cult. These rites played a key role in the center of the Por clan—the Vezhakary village near Beloyarsk, the Khanty-Mansi Autonmous District–Yugra. During the rite, the killed bear is placed in the “ancient” sacred posture, its head between the fore paws. This posture, however, is not represented in Mansi or Khanty art, where the “Old Man of the Sacred Town” is still being rendered standing full-length.

129-136 148
Abstract

Results of a pathological examination of craniodental remains of 71 individuals buried at four Late Bronze and Iron Age cemeteries in the Sevan Basin, Armenia, are outlined. The general adaptation to the local environment appears to have been adequate. Among the pathogenic factors, those causing infections appear to have played a key role. Exposure to cold coinciding with chronic staphylococcal and streptococcal foci was likely the major cause of otitis media. Auditory exostoses, too, may indicate exposure to cold air and/or cold water. Periodontal disease and abscesses are frequent, attesting to poor dental hygiene. Dental calculus is nearly universal, indicating preference for viscous food, possibly rich in proteins. Pathological tooth wear is rare. Certain crania, mostly male, display traumatic lesions and the same applies to postcranial bones, likely evidencing violence. Two instances of decapitation were registered. Episodic stress markers point to adverse conditions such as infections, parasites, and starvation periods. Individuals who died before reaching maturity appear to have experienced maximal stress.

137-147 328
Abstract

The burial near Lake Atlasovskoye, Yakutia, is one of the earliest Yakut burials, dating back to the 14th or 15th centuries and associated with the medieval Kulun-Atakh culture. Initially, its age was assessed by the comparative typological method based on artifacts, and later а radiocarbon estimate was generated, suggesting that the burial dates to the early stage of the Kulun-Atakh culture. Its highly unusual feature is that the individual was buried in a seated position – an exceptional case in the Yakut funerary practice. The cranium was completely wrapped in a bandage sewn from birchbark sheets, under which lethal injuries were found. Our comprehensive study was aimed at assessing the individual’s lifestyle and cause of death. Postcranial bones revealed pathologal symptoms unusual for an early age (20–25) and caused by excessive physical strain, suggesting that the man was either a slave or a warrior. The complex birchbark bandage may indicate high status. Together with the seated position of the body, this makes the military status even more likely. Multiple traumatic lesions inflicted with a cutting tool indicate the violent nature of conflicts at the early stage of the Yakut culture. Craniometruic analysis reveals Buryat and Mongol affi nities, supporting epic evidence relating to Yakut origins, in which Buryat or Mongol immigrants had taken part.

148-154 283
Abstract

A hypothesis regarding the origin of certain Neolithic groups of Yakutia is put forward. Neolithic crania from that region are Mongoloid and exhibit traits peculiar to present-day Tungus as well as to Chukchi and Eskoaleuts. Their distinctive feature is high braincase, seen nowhere else in eastern Siberia at any time. Samples associated with the Ymyiakhtakh, Belkachi, and Boisman cultures were compared using multivariate analysis. Based on skeletal and environmental evidence it is concluded that Neolithic inhabitants of northeastern Asia were migrants from Beringia – a land that had been submerged following global warming and the melting of glaciers in the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Beringians were forced to migrate to adjacent areas. Cranially, they displayed a combination of traits peculiar to Pacific Mongoloids and were likely related to the Boisman people, who lived 7–5 ka BP along the Sea of Japan coast from northern Korea to Peter the Great Bay.



ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)