Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 45, No 3 (2017)
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3-16 687

This paper presents new data on the structure and the lithological, pedological, paleontological, and paleomagnetic features of the Middle and Upper Quaternary sediments in the Peschanaya River valley, the foothills of northwestern Altai. Those horizons contain a loess-soil sequence and sediments relating to two Middle Pleistocene interglacials. On the basis of palinological characteristics of one of the Middle Pleistocene interglacials, the succession of fl oras during the respective stages is reconstructed. The Middle Pleistocene interglacial fl oras of Western Siberia are compared with that reconstructed on the basis of the Karama site, evidencing marked differences. The fl ora around Karama included broad-leaved taxa that were absent during the Middle Pleistocene interglacials of western Siberia, when apart from modern arboreal taxa, only cold-resistant broad-leaved ones were present (Tilia, Corylus, Ulmus, and Juglans). The Karama fl ora resembles the last western Siberian thermophilic fl ora––Barnaul, which existed during the long climatic warming of the Early Pleistocene, corresponding to the Tiglian in northwestern Europe (2.23–1.59 Ma BP). Since the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene, interglacial fl oras of western Siberia have resembled modern ones. In terms of phytocenotic and palaeoclimatic features, Middle Pleistocene interglacial environments of western Siberia display a sharp contrast with those of Barnаul and Karama.

17-28 436

We analyze stone tools unearthed in 1974 from a Neolithic dwelling D (excavation area I) on Suchu Island, the Lower Amur. The assemblage includes 1518 artifacts attributed to the Malyshevo, Kondon, and Voznesenovskoye cultures, to the Belkachi complex, and to the Final Neolithic. To identify the raw material, a microscopically guided petrographic analysis was carried out. The most frequently used rocks were sedimentary (siltstone, mudstone, and sandstone) and siliceous (fl int, quartzite, chalcedony, and jasper). Also, typological and functional analyses were conducted. The distribution of artifacts on the fl oor of the dwelling was evaluated by planigraphic analysis, and the functional analysis allowed us to reconstruct household activities relating to the procurement, processing, and consumption of food resources. A database concerning subsistence activities was generated with a view to reconstruct various aspects of the prehistoric economy of the region.


29-40 1944

The earliest art of Western Europe was evolving together with the Homo sapiens population of hunter-gatherers in the glacial environment of the northern hemisphere over the entire Upper Paleolithic (36–13 ka BP). The most important rock art sites, such as Altamira and La Garma in Spain, and Lascaux, Niaux, Cussac, and Chauvet in France, are relevant to the socio-cultural behavior and needs of anatomically modern humans. In this paper, we intend to identify certain changes in the symbolic language, in the ways animals are rendered, and in the layout of artistic space over 15,000 years separating the two key rock art galleries with the best preserved representations: Chauvet (36 ka BP) and Lascaux (21 ka BP). Chauvet, discovered in 1994, is located in the Ardèche Valley near the Mediterranean coast. In this large cave, numerous new kinds of Upper Paleolithic rock art were documented, spanning two distinct occupation periods between 37,000–30,000 years ago. The early stage is the Aurignacian with black zoomorphic paintings, dating to 37,000–33,500 BP. Lascaux, discovered in 1940, is situated in the Vézère Valley, 120 km away from the Atlantic coast, among a large cluster of rupestral art sites in caves and rock shelters. Today, the cave is closed for the public because intense tourist activities over many years from its discovery until 1963 have disrupted the microclimate of the cave and endangered the paintings.

41-47 522

The Abri du Poisson rock shelter is famous for a very realistic and detailed bas-relief of a fi sh (salmon). Representations of fi sh are quite rare in Paleolithic cave art. Another image present in this rock shelter is a negative of a hand, made in black pigment (manganese oxide). Also, the National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies de Tayac (Dordogne) owns several rock blocks, painted red, with relief representations belonging to the Aurignacian levels of Abri du Poisson. Since the early 1900s, studies at that site have mostly focused on the famous representations. The 2016 fi eld study was a preliminary stage in a new project. It focused on a detailed inspection, preceding the traceological analysis of engravings and bas-reliefs. During our examination, new drawings were discovered, and photogrammetry was used for their 3D visualization. As a result, we have demonstrated that the newly discovered elements are indeed representations rather than natural lines.

48-55 715

We present the results of a microscopic analysis of anthropomorphic fi gurines from Malta, southeastern Siberia. The bulk of the collection comprises “classical” specimens unearthed by M.M. Gerasimov in 1928–1958. Recent studies by G.I. Medvedev and others in Irkutsk focused on the chronology, microstratigraphy, and cultural subdivision of the deposits. The analysis of fi gurines excavated by Gerasimov has revealed the manufacturing sequence, as well as modeling and decoration techniques. The process included the primary processing of mammoth ivory, preparation of a blank with key elements being marked, fi nal modeling, and decoration. At each stage, specifi c tools were used. Especial attention is paid to decorative elements: patterns, engraving, rendition of clothing and accessories, and painting. Tools included planing knives, scrapers, cutters, burins, and hand-drills. The decoration process was subject to a certain canon that concerned key elements of design, their combination, and choice of the decorated area. One of the most intriguing facts about the decoration of fi gurines is that in certain instances traces of several pigments such as scarlet, green, and blue were revealed.

56-68 766

We have analyzed paintings on six stone slabs from Bronze Age burial sites of the Karakol culture in the Altai, Karakol and Ozernoye. Most represent anthropomorphous fi gures, depicted in a mixed technique including pecking, engraving, abrasion, and painting in various combinations. Paintings are superimposed on previously made petroglyphs, which had not initially been painted. Samples of paint were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with X-ray spectrometry, and synchrotron powdered X-ray diffraction. Results make it possible to differentiate, using the instrumental analysis, intentional painting from natural coloration. The composition of pigments suggests that both the images and the framing lines were made with one and the same red paint. However, while the pigment composition is homogeneous in each burial, it differs between the burials. Paint was found not only on slabs but on human bones as well, with its color varying from light red to black. Further analysis will hopefully shed light on the Karakol burial rite.

69-78 732

This article is based on the results of fi eld studies in Northeast China (Dongbei) in 2012–2014. We describe 18 petroglyphic sites, most of which were hitherto unknown or little known to Russian, European, or Chinese scholars. All petroglyphs are located on open rock surfaces, vertical or horizontal. Two techniques were used—painting and carving. The most common paint was ocher of different shades: from tawny or maroon to bright orange; in rare cases, black paint was used. The distribution areas of the two techniques largely coincide with those of ethno-cultural groups occupying various parts of the region: paintings were distributed mostly in areas of mountain taiga whereas most carvings were found in the mountain steppe. Figurative images and abstract signs are discussed in detail. Most figurative images are either anthropomorphic or zoomorphic. Abstract signs include dots, circles, crosses and other geometric figures. Petroglyphs of Dongbei show numerous parallels with those of Mongolia, Trans-Baikal, Korea, and the Amur region.

79-89 538

This study focuses on traces of paint on stone stelae (“deer stones”) of Mongolia, dating to late second to mid-fi rst millennia BC. Painting was made in various shades of red. In all cases, remains of paint were found on facets which had been protected from weathering because the stelae had collapsed or been reused. An additional protection might have been provided by a calcite crust formed where the stelae contacted the ground. Based on the role of painting in visual imagery, two groups of paintings are described: supportive (filling in the engraved fi gures) and independent. The first group is the largest. In terms of composition, stelae fall into two types: those whose front is on the narrow vertical facet, carrying images of deer in a Mongolian-Transbaikalian style, and those whose front is on the wide vertical facet, where the upper tier is separated, and neither deer nor belts with weapons are represented. The relative chronology of the two types is established by the fact that in certain instances, stelae of the fi rst type were reshaped into those of the second type. The fi rst type is related to funerary and memorial sites of the Khereksur and Deer Stone culture of Central Mongolia; the second, to burials of the Slab Grave culture. The tradition of decorating engraved fi gures with red mineral paint had originated among eastern Eurasian steppe pastoralists in the Early Bronze Age.

90-95 419

Anthropomorphous stone statues, discovered near Taldy-Suu, the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan, are described with reference to the earlier (19th to early 21st century) scholarship, and are attributed to the Old Turkic tradition. One of them shows a male warrior. We focus on his costume, the belt, the weapons, and the vessel held in the right hand. The other statue is that of a woman. Chronology and cultural affi nities, specifi cally those with Old Turkic statues of other areas of Tian Shan, are assessed.


96-105 638

The article describes burials on the buried soil horizon in southern Ural, dating to 600–300 BC and associated with the culture of nomadic animal breeders. The database includes published data on 37 burial mounds. Instead of digging graves, the nomads built above-ground wooden or adobe structures. Sometimes bodies were placed on wooden fl oors or platforms. Weapons found in burials include swords, daggers, arrowheads, and items of horse harness. In female burials, small stone altars, ornaments, mirrors, and utensils are found. Clay vessels are common. In the late 6th and 5th centuries BC, the tradition of placing bodies on the buried soil level was common in the eastern part of the southern Ural steppes. By ca 400 BC, it had virtually disappeared.

106-114 745

This publication focuses on the origins and peculiarities of Neolithic and Bronze Age megaliths in the marginal areas of Eurasia, a topic infrequently addressed in Russian scholarship. The objective of this study is to describe the phenomenon of megalithism in Korea and the adjacent areas of Japan using archaeological evidence and science-based methods. In Korea, the megalithic sites, more than 30 thousand in number, concentrate in the west and south, along the estuaries of major rivers fl owing into the Yellow and East China Seas. Most dolmens in Korea date to the Bronze Age and served as burial structures. In Japan, the megaliths belong to two traditions of different origin. One is local, originating from the Middle Jomon, the other was introduced from Korea. Most specialists attribute dolmens with burials to the Yayoi culture (3d century BC to 3d century AD). They are distributed on Kyushu Island (prefectures of Fukuoka, Nagasaki, and Saga) and in the western and central parts of Honshu Island. The analysis of megaliths in both regions suggests that their appearance and spread were only partly related to farming economy. The principal factors were social changes such as the emergence of tribal elites and the redistribution of territories.

115-125 592

The techniques of manufacturing men’s and women’s shirts by late 19th to early 20th century Russian peasants in Southern Siberia are described in the context of ethno-confessional studies. Sewing various parts together, types of seams, and general modeling are analyzed using the descriptive and graphic system adopted in tailoring technology with a view of assessing similarities and differences between Southern Siberian peasant clothing and that common in other Eastern Slavic groups. Traditional terms are listed and interpreted on the basis of fi eld studies in the 1970s– 990s and the analysis of museum collections of traditional clothing. We describe shirts with rectangular inserts on shoulders (polik shirts) including those where the inserts are connected with sleeves (non-polik shirts). The technique was based on using straight pieces of fabric. Technological analysis suggests that such shirts were sewn by a group of Russian Old-Believers, known as “Polyaki”. Absence of parallels with another group of Old-Believers, known as “Semeyskie” and living in Trans-Baikal, suggests that the latter had begun to use store-bought clothing and sew oblique sleeves comparatively early. The clothing worn by Old-Believers (who had migrated from the Dnieper-Desna interfl uve), and by non-Old-Believers (migrants from Vetka near Gomel and the adjacent areas of Chernigov region) was generally similar.

126-135 545

Cross-sectional geometry of middle phalanges of hand digits 2–4 in fi ve European and Asian Neanderthals (La Ferrassie 1, Kiik-Koba 1, Okladnikov 2 and 5, and Chagyrskaya 16-3-12) and fi ve Cro-Magnons (Kostenki 14, Telmanovskaya TII 175 and TII 173, Sungir 1, and Abri Pataud 26227) was estimated by means of microtomography. Both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons reveal a wide range of individual variability in the inner robusticity indices. Both the most robust and the most gracile variants in Neanderthals were recorded in the Altai (Okladnikov and Chagyrskaya caves, respectively), confi rming previous observations about the high morphological diversity among Neanderthals in that area and the presence of at least two morphological variants among them. In European Upper Paleolithic Homo sapiens, inner phalangeal robusticity is generally higher than in Neanderthals, attaining medullary stenosis in the Kostenki 14 male. Neither sex nor age nor even mechanical stress appear to have affected robusticity. Hyperrobust variants were recognized in both Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals of supposedly hybrid origin. Genetic studies suggest that Kostenki 14 belonged to an ancestral European metapopulation, which had absorbed some Neanderthal admixture. The ancestors of the Altai Neanderthals, on the other hand, included not only Denisovans but also early anatomically modern humans before their migration to Siberia. Extreme phalangeal robusticity in Middle and Upper Paleolithic Eurasians, then, might be a legacy of early anatomically modern humans.

136-145 853

Human teeth found in layer 31a of Strashnaya Cave, northwestern Altai Mountains, in 1989, are described. The layer relates to the Upper Paleolithic and has been dated to 19,150 ± 80 BP. However, owing to the nature of sedimentation in the areas adjacent to the cave walls, where the teeth were found, these may be either earlier or later. The objective of this study is to examine the possible dental continuity between Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic populations of the Altai-Sayan highland because the teeth from Strashnaya may postdate the respective layer. Given the chronological ambiguity, we compared them with both the Paleolithic and Neolithic specimens from southwestern Siberia. Marked affi nities have been demonstrated between the Strashnaya teeth and those from the Upper Paleolithic sites of Malta, Listvenka, and Afontova Gora II in southern Siberia, suggesting that the Upper Paleolithic population of the Altai Mountains represented the same Southern Siberian dental complex. Certain features link the Strashnaya child with people associated with Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures of the Altai-Sayan region, such as Kuznetsk-Altai and Bolshoy Mys cultures, possibly evidencing evolutionary conservatism.

146-154 428

This study addresses caries prevalence in Ayaly and Kaurdak-Sargat groups of Siberian Tatars living in the Omsk Region of the Irtysh. Judging by dental remains from the Okunevo VII and Bergamak II cemeteries (17th–18th centuries), the caries frequency among those people was similar to that in the late medieval population of northwestern Siberia. The diet of both these populations apparently consisted mostly of meat. However, a somewhat higher caries frequency among Siberian Tatars indicates a greater amount of carbohydrates. Later (18th to early 20th century) Tatars of Chertaly I, Toksay I and II, Tyulchakovo, and Letniy Kaurdak) exhibit a caries frequency similar to that found in 18th–19th century Russian peasants of western Urals, possibly evidencing a similar proportion of refi ned carbohydrates in the diet. Difference between earlier and later Tatar groups attests to an increasing role of agriculture due to the immigration of Russians and, later, of Tatars from the Volga-Ural region.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)