Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 45, No 1 (2017)
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3-14 4095

Excavations of undisturbed Pleistocene deposits at the Bioče rockshelter layers 4 and 3 by the joint Russian-Montenegrian expedition yielded the fi rst evidence of Middle Paleolithic occupation. Primary reduction techniques are described and a typology of lithic industry is proposed. Techniques were quite simple, including parallel, orthogonal, and centripetal fl aking suggestive of the Levallois tradition. Flakes were mostly small, short, and robust with a straight profi le. Most tools are single and double sidescrapers. Atypical end-scrapers, becs, denticulate-notched tools, and fl akes with irregular retouch are few. The closest technological and typological parallels are with Crvena Stena layers XXII–XVIII, correlating with MIS 5c-b. This industry is based on Levallois and radial/discoid cores whereas elongate fl akes are few. The most frequent tools are side-scrapers and backed knives. Finds from Bioče span a long occupation period and testify to cultural evolution, suggesting, for the fi rst time, that this site may be key to understanding cultural processes during the Middle Paleolithic of the region.

15-24 6035

Archaeological and geomorphological studies at several sites near the village of Anzhevka contribute to the understanding of the cultural and chronological situation in the region during the Quaternary. They are especially relevant to intermediate regions such as the Kansk-Rybinsk Basin situated between the Baikal, Angara, and Yenisei drainages. Rescue excavations near Kansk on the right bank of the Kan River in 2015 yielded numerous fi nds relating to the Quaternary and the origin of modern topography of that basin. Excavated sites near Anzhevka include Nefteprovod-1 and -2 and Ryabchikov Klyuch-1, spanning the period from the Upper Paleolithic to recent centuries and including five geomorphological segments with different types of Quaternary deposits. The main landscape type at Ryabchikov Klyuch-1 is sharply ridged segmented, and that at Nefteprovod-1 and -2 is defined by structural denudation. It occupies the right edge of the Kan Valley, raised and divided into neotectonic blocks differing in elevation. The nature of the cuts is determined by geomorphological segmentation: the Quaternary stratum begins from the alluvial pack, and in certain areas between the pre-Quaternary sediments and the subaerial cover the alluvium is absent. Cultural layers are deposited in the upper pack, represented by the subaerial cover differing in various areas due to local alluvial erosion and aeolian deflation. Studies show the peculiar nature of geomorphology and sediments of the area, different from those at Strizhovaya Gora located 3.5 km downstream the Kan River.

25-35 3149

This paper is the second in a series of publications on various aspects of relationships between man and environment in the highlands of southeastern Altai. In these studies we assess the impact of climatic changes, evidenced by processes of glaciation and deglaciation, emergence of ice-dammed and residual lakes, soil and peat formation, and seismic activity, on the succession of sedentary and nomadic cultures, and on their distribution ranges in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. Geochronological data on the evolution of Late Pleistocene ice-dammed lakes and Holocene residual lacustrine systems within the Kuray and Chuya intermountain basins, including our new fi ndings based on geomorphological, geoarchaeological, and geochronological approaches, were summarized in the fi rst paper of the series. Using Paleolithic sites for assessing the time when the Chuya paleolake emptied in the Late-Pleistocene is unwarranted because their estimated age limits are wide, many are likely redeposited, and most fi nds are random. However, the analysis of spatial distribution of in situ sites spanning the period from the Late Bronze Age to the Middle Ages has provided evidence regarding the transformation of Holocene hydrosystems. New radiocarbon dates indicate substantial decrease of the Sartan glaciation as early as 14 ka cal. BP and desiccation of the last ice- dammed lakes within the Kuray and Chuya basins before 10 ka cal BP. The absence of Early Holocene archaeological sites in those areas may be due to the wide distribution of residual lakes in the bottoms of those depressions at that time.

36-48 3968

Based on Carl Sauer’s hypothesis that agricultural activity may have occurred fi rst with the domestication of tropical plants, rice was long thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, where the climate is very warm and humid, with plenty of rainfall. After many new archaeological sites with evidence of older cultivated rice were discovered throughout the 1980s and 1990s in China, agricultural scientists now generally consider the middle Yangtze River and Yunnan regions, which are farther north than Southeast Asia, as the cradle of the earliest rice cultivation. The dates and geographic locations of historic rice cultivation have been challenged even further after carbonized rice hulls were excavated from the Sorori Village in central South Korea. This paper introduces theoretical arguments related to the transition period from foraging to farming systems in Korean archaeology and regarding the origins of rice, which is currently the most important crop for Northeast Asian peoples. A brief survey of research results, the ecological conditions of Northeast Asia, the biological uniqueness of rice, and archaeological evidence for rice cultivation from the Sorori site in Korea suggests that while we do not have any strong reason to believe that there is only one center of agricultural and domestication processes, and multiple origins for domesticated rice are still conceivable, temporal and spatial frames for the early history of rice cultivation need to be expanded.

49-61 3189

The study addresses cultural and chronological attribution of Avtodrom 2 – the largest and best-known Neolithic site in the foreststeppe zone of Western Siberia. Over eight fi eld seasons (1998, 2004, 2007–2012), excavations focused on its northeastern part, where dwellings with Artyn type of pottery and numerous stone implements were found. We describe ceramics, lithics, habitation and utility structures, and propose to attribute them to the Late Neolithic Artyn culture distributed in the forest and forest-steppe parts of the middle Irtysh drainage, in Baraba, and partly on southern Vasyugan. On the basis of radiocarbon and thermo-luminescent analysis of ceramics, the estimated dates fall within the middle and the second half of the 5th millennium BC. The Artyn people maintained ties with those of the Bystrinskaya culture of the Middle Ob and those of the Kokuy culture of the Irtysh and Ishim drainages. Cultural affi nities with people of the forest-steppe Upper Ob and of the northern Kulunda steppe are explored. The place of the Artyn culture among other Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age cultures is assessed. This culture belonged to the Late Neolithic stage in the evolution of autochthonous Ob-Irtysh community.


62-75 2642

A multivariate method for assessing cultural changes at stratified sites is proposed. Variables are technological properties of ceramics and occurrences of various categories of fl int implements. The method is applied to stratigraphic sequences of Chalcolithic fortresses in northwestern Caucasus (late 5th–early 4th millennia BC): Meshoko and Yasenova Polyana. Properties of ceramics include hardness, assessed on the Mohs scale, wall thickness, and frequency of fragments tempered with calcium carbonate. For Meshoko, S.M. Ostashinsky’s data on the number of implements made of colored flint, splintered pieces, and the total number of segments, points, inserts, scrapers, and perforators were used as well. Each parameter undergoes regular changes from the lower to the upper levels of the sequence: ceramics progressively deteriorates whereas fl int industry becomes more and more sophisticated. These changes occur in parallel. Data were subjected to principal component analysis. The fi rst principal component is regarded as a generalized measure of cultural change. Results support the view of the excavators: changes were caused by the interaction of two cultures differing in origin. The earlier culture, associated with constructors of the Meshoko fortress, shows no local roots and was evidently introduced from Transcaucasia. One that replaced it was signifi cantly more archaic, a few copper tools notwithstanding, and revealed local Neolithic roots. It alone can be termed the Culture of Ceramics with Punched Node Decoration. The ceramics of Yasenova Polyana, too, indicates cultural heterogeneity and two stages of settlement, but cultural changes are more complicated there, probably because the site existed longer, and more than two cultural components were involved.

76-82 4902

A rare archaeological specimen from the Middle Don River, a large dugout found in 1954, is described. The history of discovery, fieldwork, and conservation are outlined. The key role at all stages belonged to M.E. Voss, who did her best to unearth and preserve the specimen—the first prehistoric dugout to be found, restored, and exhibited in the USSR. She died before being able to describe the boat in detail. Its age is still problematic. Though it is exhibited among the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic fi nds and has been tentatively dated to the third or early second millennium BC, certain facts relating to the archaeological context contradict this date, and no radiocarbon analysis has been conducted. A brief review of purportedly Stone Age dugouts from Europe is provided with reference to discovery, restoration, and exhibiting. Most appear to be younger than the Stone Age.

83-92 6377

In 1911, during the excavation of a Cucuteni-Tripolye settlement near Popudnya, now Cherkasy Region, Ukraine, the Polish archaeologist Marian Himner discovered a unique house model reproducing the interior with two anthropomorphic characters. The model was repeatedly discussed in the archaeological literature. However, the analysis of the fi nd, owned by the National Archaeological Museum in Warsaw, and its parallels, using archival photographs of the early 1900s, kindly provided by Polish colleagues, suggests a different interpretation. The model shows the interior of a typical Tripolye house, similar to the interiors of buildings excavated at settlements of Tripolye BII–CI stage in the Bug-Dnieper watershed. Contrary to a popular view, there is no “idol” inside. Rather, there are two naturalistically rendered characters, male and female. The woman is grinding grain, and the man is sitting in front of the stove, watching her. The closest three-dimensional “narrative” models come from Sushkovka and Chichirkozovka settlements, related to the same “Tomashovka-Sushkovka” local group of sites as Popudnya. This group includes famous Tripolye giant settlements 300–400 ha in area, with an estimated population of 5–8 thousand. The naturalism of the Popudnya model resembles the style of anthropomorphic figurines from settlements of the same group. We suggest that the scene depicted by the model either refers to a specifi c folkloric or mythological motif or visualizes a benevolent formula relating to household foundation.

93-103 6512

Old Turkic statues discovered by the author near Apshiyakta on the Middle Chuya River, Central Altai, have no parallels either in the Altai or in adjacent regions. They show two vertically arranged faces on the same facet of the statue—that of a man and that of a woman below. The woman wears a tricorn headdress. The statues are described with regard to several other Old Turkic female sculptures from Central Asia. Previous attempts at interpretation were unsuccessful because several Kimek and Kipchak specimens had been erroneously included in the database. Probably most Old Turkic sculptures with beardless faces found in Southern Siberia, Eastern and Western Central Asia depict women. The Apshiyakta specimens are similar to female sculptures with tricorn headdresses from Semirechye and represent a variety of the so-called face sculptures. On the basis of parallels and the semantic analysis of this headdress, it is concluded that these female portraits do not depict the goddess Umay or a shamaness; rather, they refer to noble Old Turkic women. The Apshiyakta sculptures, then, manifest the same idea that is embodied in the genre scenes in yurts––coupled images of the husband (warrior, or batyr) and his wife (katun). According to a radiocarbon estimate, these statues, like the Kudyrgetype funerary structures, date to the late 500s–early 600s. The canonical scene of the male and female rulers (the latter wearing a tricorn headgear) sitting in a yurt, is shown in numerous sculptures, petroglyphs, burial items, and coins. It may refer to the marital union between two aristocratic Turkic families (Ashina and Ashide).

104-111 1378

We describe iron armor plates, weapons, and horse harness from a randomly discovered site at Filimonovo in the Kan Valley,southern Siberia. The reconstructed lamellar armor consists of several horizontal rows of vertically arranged and joined narrow iron plates. Parallels suggest a date and cultural attribution. The accumulation of fi nds includes three-bladed arrowheads, stirrups, bipartite bits, buckles, twisted loops, and bronze plaques. Items of horse harness are typical of the mid-fi rst millennium AD Old Turkic culture. The armor, the decorated stirrups, and horse harness from Filimonovo apparently date to the late 500s, when the Yenisei Kyrgyz were forced to admit their vassalage to rulers of the First Turkic Khaganate. We suggest that the Filimonovo assemblage is a cache. The tradition of caching weapons and armor was practiced by various peoples of southern and western Siberia during the Xiongnu-Xianbei age and in the Early Middle Ages. Based on the analysis of various types of plates, a reconstruction of the late first millennium AD Old Turkic armor is proposed.

112-120 3451

We describe 1083 leather items found during the excavation of Tara, one of the oldest Russian fortifi ed towns in western Siberia. Their preservation is excellent owing to high humidity of habitation deposits and the presence of natural preservatives in the soil. Most items are details of footwear (64 %) and scraps of material (26 %), other leather items are mittens, scabbards, and belts. Unique finds include a saddle holster and a compass case. Most artifacts date to late 1600s–early 1700s. The most popular footwear categories were soft composite shoes and stiff high boots worn by garrison members. Fashion shoes were rigid. On the basis of the collection we reconstruct certain aspects of the early Russian settlement of the Irtysh region at the time when it became part of the Russian Empire.

121-134 5768

The article describes the morphology of two permanent molars from the Pleistocene layers of Denisova Cave, the Altai Mountains. Denisova 4 is an upper left third or second molar, and Denisova 8 is an upper left third molar. Both specimens were examined using the extended trait battery. Results indicate a high informative potential of dental traits for the analysis of group variation within the genus Homo. They support the view that Denisovans, or H. altaiensis, were a distinct group of hominins differing from both H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis not only genetically but morphologically as well. The distinctive dental features of Denisovans include extremely large dimensions and affi nities with Homo erectus of Sangiran and the Middle Pleistocene hominins of China such as Xujiayao. Based on the morphological analysis of Denisovan upper molars, it is proposed that the unidentifi ed part of the Denisovan genome may stem from Homo erectus. Dentally, Homo altaiensis is a very
conservative taxon.

135-145 4946

Zeleny Yar is a cemetery situated 40 km east of Salekhard, Yamalo-Nenets District. Human remains of 43 individuals from 37 graves have been published so far. Mummifi ed remains were discovered in eight graves dating to the 12th and 13th centuries. We outline the results of a computed-tomography analysis of the best-preserved mummy––that of a male from grave 27. On the basis of examination of endocranial sutures, the individual’s age was estimated at 45–55. Dental pathology includes caries with consecutive apical periodontitis, and osteoarthritis of the left temporomandibular joint. Also, the examination revealed injuries and degenerative-dystrophic postcranial lesions. To analyze the individual’s physical type and reconstruct his face, a plastic cast of the cranium was modeled using the 3D-modeling technique. The male had a Mongoloid appearance. Specifi cally, he can be attributed to the Yamal-Yenisei local variant of the West Siberian race. The modern representatives of this type are the Nenets of the Siberian tundra.

146-156 2185

Two thousand children and adolescents of both sexes aged 7–17 were studied in 2009–2010 in Arkhangelsk and several villages of the Arkhangelsk Region. Results were compared with data on 1500 children of the same age collected by the same authors in the same area in 1988–1989. The program included some 50 metric and descriptive characteristics, biological age estimates, and somatotyping. We collected data on parental education and occupation, number of children per family, etc. Lengths of body segments and extremities, body mass index (BMI), and certain other indices were calculated. Statistical analysis included standardization of data and one-way ANOVA. Urban children were shown to be slightly taller than their rural peers but did not differ from them in weight, chest circumference or BMI. Modern children, both urban and rural, showed larger stature, weight, and chest circumference compared to those measured in 1988. Signifi cant changes in body proportions were found in modern children: they had longer trunks, smaller shoulder breadth, and larger pelvic breadth. Also, signifi cant increase in limb circumferences and subcutaneous fat was found. Modern urban and rural children were closer to each other in most physical characteristics than were their peers of the previous generation. The results can be interpreted in terms of the ongoing secular trend in population of the Arkhangelsk Region.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)