Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 46, No 1 (2018)
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3-15 480

The stratifi ed site of Obishir-5 is one of the most important Final Pleistocene to Early Holocene sites in western Central Asia. In the Early Holocene component (10,700–8200 cal BP) of this site (layers 2 and 3), we discovered one of the oldest and largest assemblages of soft stone ornaments known from the region. It includes 5 items: three oval, sub-triangular, and sub-rectangular pendants, one“labret”-like ornament, and one ornament blank. All specimens come from stratifi ed and well-dated contexts. As a result of the petrographic, experimental, use-wear, and technological analysis, we reconstructed the chaîne opératoire of these artifacts. To produce them, local raw materials (talcite and serpentinite) were transported from a source located 4.5 km away from the site. Small pebbles, shatters, and spalls split from nodules were used as blanks. The surface of the blank was fi rst prepared using grinders and burins, then biconical drilling and polishing were used to fi nish the artifact. Our results point to an established tradition of personal ornament production from soft stone in western Central Asia during the Early Holocene. Comparison of these nonutilitarian artifacts with those from other Final Pleistocene to Early Holocene archaeological complexes across Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Near East suggests that personal ornament manufacture may be an important hallmark of social developments across a broad geographic region.

16-26 258

This article outlines the results of a multidisciplinary study of a stratifi ed Middle Paleolithic site Hadjoh-2, northwestern Caucasus, situated at the outcrop of high-quality Shahan fl int. During fi ve fi eld seasons, more than 6-meter deep deposits were excavated over an area of ca 33 sq. m. Ten lithological strata and four habitation horizons were identifi ed. Excavations focused on the bottom layers 6 and 7. During their accumulation, the site occupied a fl oodplain terrace on the right bank of the Sredniy Hadjoh River, a right tributary of the Belaya. Because the terrace dates to the Middle/Late Pleistocene boundary, the site is no earlier than the beginning of Late Pleistocene, 130–120 ka BP. Results of pollen analysis suggest that the climate was cold and dry, and subalpine and alpine meadows prevailed around the site at that time. The study of lithic assemblages shows that the bottom layers accumulated when the site was a workshop near the fl int outcrops. In both layers, knapping debris such as cores, chips, and small fragments predominate. Most tools are unfi nished bifacial forms. These assemblages are paralleled by the Eastern Micoquian industries of Mezmaiskaya, Barakaevskaya, Monasheskaya, and Ilskaya.

27-33 160

Chalcolithic pottery from the eastern Volga area was subjected to a technological and typological analysis. Three types are described: Chekalino; Gundorovka; and vessels with an inner rib. Chekalino vessels have a gently curved profi le; are tempered with crushed shells; and decorated with short and moderately long comb imprints and pits. Gundorovka vessels are either pot-like or have a gently curved profi le; are tempered with feathers and decorated with moderately long comb imprints and those of a cord. Vessels with an inner rib are pots and jars tempered with crushed shells and feathers and decorated with imprints of a fi ne-tooth comb or a plain stamp; hatching; and pits. The Chekalino-type ceramics is paralleled by the Chalcolithic pottery of forest and forest-steppe Volga and Kama. The Gundorovka vessels reveal similarities with the collared Chalcolithic vessels of the forest-steppe and with the Volosovo ceramics of the Middle Volga forests. Vessels with the inner rib show some resemblance to those of Sredni Stog; Khvalynsk; and the Samara culture Ivanovka stage. The Late Chalcolithic ceramics dates to 4250–3500 BC. Chekalino is related to Late Neolithic combed ceramics of the Middle Volga. Gundorovka originates from the collared Chalcolithic pottery of the Lebyazhinka III type. Vessels with the inner rib derive from those of the forest-steppe Middle Chalcolithic.


34-40 332

In this study, we analyze samples of a black substance that was used for restoring a Tym-type vessel at Yasnoye-8, Central Sakhalin. On the basis of similar fi nds from the Japanese archipelago, it was initially assumed to be natural bitumen. However, science-based methods have not been previously used to test this assumption. In addition to the identifi cation of natural bitumen, we sought to identify its source. The study was carried out independently at two laboratories, using geochemical and petrographic methods, so the results can be considered reliable. For the fi rst time in Russia, the method of pyrolysis gas chromatography – mass spectrometry was used, along with elemental and petrographic analysis, to identify hydrocarbon from an archaeological site. The results confi rm the use of natural bitumen during the Early Iron Age. It can be procured in suffi cient amounts on Sakhalin Island. Identifi cation of specifi c sources is complicated by the virtually complete lack of geological data (bitumen is not mined for industrial purposes). Available materials suggest that bitumen found at Yasnoye-8 originates from the northern Sakhalin petroleum zone or from adjacent areas. No relationship to bitumen deposits in northeastern Honshu was found. Nor is it likely that the sample is related to superfi cial hydrocarbons of Hokkaido.

41-50 152
We describe Early Bronze Age burial mounds at Inskoy Dol, in the lowland zone of western Altai. The cemetery includes two groups of mounds differing in funerary rite and burial goods. One of them reveals features typical of Afanasievo culture (round cairns made of 2–3 layers of small and medium-sized stones, stone enclosure, supine fl exed position of the buried, heads directed toward the west, ocher coloring, and egg-shaped sharp-bottomed vessels). The other group corresponds to the Kurota type (round cairns made of stones placed fl at in a single layer, supine fl exed position of the bodies, eastern orientation, ocher coloring, no grave goods or jar-shaped vessels). Afanasievo and Kurota cemeteries, then, are separate but close to one another. The radiocarbon date of Afanasievo mounds is 29th to 27th centuries BC. Excavations at Inskoy Dol make it possible to specify the boundaries of the Afanasievo culture, suggesting that it was distributed not only in highland central Altai but in more westerly lowland areas as well.
51-58 192
Birch-bark items from the Ust-Polui sanctuary are unusually well preserved thanks to permafrost and are richly decorated. We list the archaeological sites with birch-bark artifacts, decorated and otherwise, in the Lower Ob basin spanning the period from the Chalcolithic to the Late Middle Ages. At Ust-Polui, the vast majority of such artifacts were found during the last excavations, conducted by A.V. Gusev. Most were found in a ditch dug across the site. Special reference is made to their cut and decoration technique. Some high-quality specimens are intentionally damaged, possibly by way of sacrifi ce. The evolution of the northwestern Siberian decorative tradition is discussed.
59-65 185

We describe an unusual Old Turkic statue at Borili (Ulytau, Central Kazakhstan), distinguished by a peculiar position of hands and by an unusual object––a pickaxe held instead of a vessel. Stylistic features and possible prototypes among actual pickaxessuggest that the statue dates to 7th to early 8th centuries AD. The composition attests to the sculptor’s familiarity with Sogdian/ Iranian art and with that of China. Several interpretations of the statue are possible. The standard version regarding Old Turkic statues erected near stone enclosures is that they represent divine chiefs––patrons of the respective group. Certain details carved on the statue indicate an early origin of the image. It is also possible that such statues are semantically similar to those of guardians placed along the “path of the spirits” near tombs of Chinese royal elite members.

66-75 202

The Uvs Nuur Basin is one of the largest arid basins in southern Siberia and Central Asia. Local economy is based on pastoralism. Small-scale irrigation farming is practiced in river valleys. Satellite images of the basin reveal traces of ancient farming, which was much more extensive than that practiced at present. In the central part of the basin, in the Tes-Khem valley, dense irrigation networks are observed, along with numerous associated and hitherto unknown ancient settlements. Presumable remains of an ancient city surrounded by a network of irrigation canals were discovered on the west coast of Lake Uvs Nuur. Field studies confi rmed the results of image analysis. Parts of ancient irrigation systems, ruins of the city and separate settlements were documented on the ground. For the fi rst time, paleobotanical studies of buried soils and peatlands on ancient fi elds in the central Uvs Nuur Basin revealed seeds of Triticum sp. Remains of trees and grasses found in the same associations suggest that parts of the basin that are now desertedwere covered by forest-steppe landscapes, and the climate was milder at the time when agriculture was practiced. Tentative results of radiocarbon dating suggest that the city existed during the High Middle Ages. Our results point to a higher role of agriculture at that time as compared to the present.

76-85 164

This article presents the results of interdisciplinary research at Kushmanskoye (Uchkakar) fortifi ed settlement dating to the 9th– 13th centuries. Using geophysical methods, such as resistivity and magnetometry surveys, ground penetrating radar, and electrical resistivity tomography, we were able to assess the total area of the site (over 26,000 sq. m), outline its boundaries, evaluate its structure, and reconstruct the layout of all the three lines of defensive constructions. Various types of features were identifi ed: dwellings, utility structures, a group of household and production related pits, and the inner fortifi cation line. Excavations, carried out at all parts of the site but covering less than 1 % of its area, supported our preliminary conclusions based on geophysical data. The earliest fortifi cation line, unidentifi able by visual inspection, separates the inner and the middle parts of the site. The prospection survey has revealed the housing plan of the middle and outer parts of the settlement and the deep features outside the fortifi ed area. The thickness of the occupation layer and its preservation were assessed throughout the area. For the fi rst time at the site associated with the Cheptsa culture, the habitation horizon was revealed outside the fortifi ed area.

86-99 233

We describe four unusual burials (No. 4, 8, 13, and 15) displaying features of the Pit-Grave rite under mound 1 at Levoyegorlyksky-3 in the Stavropol Territory, dating to mid-4th millennium BC. The mound had been constructed to mark the main burial (No. 15), which predates others. While the preservation of skeletons is poor, the position of the deceased was determined as fl exed supine. The mound was encircled by a stone curb (cromlech). Inside the mound and the cromlech, fragments of early Maikop vessels were found. The main burial, however, contained pottery typical of the steppe Chalcolithic cultures. In the intrusive burial No. 4, a Maikop-type dagger, a stone pick, a gold pendant, and a fl int fl ake were found. The dagger has early Maikop parallels, whereas the pick is similar to late Maikop (Dolinskoye) ones, found in the central piedmont of northern Caucasus. This burial presents a striking testimony to the impact of the funerary tradition of the Maikop military elite on the Pit-Grave rite. On the other hand, it suggests that Dolinskoye-type stone picks may evidence the infl uence of the Pit-Grave culture at the early stage of Maikop.

100-107 239

Stages in the evolution of the Srubnaya (Timber-Grave) culture in the Orenburg region, Western Urals, are reconstructed using a multidisciplinary approach. The morphology and composition of buried soils provide a clue to the relative chronology of burial moundswithin a cemetery. The earliest paleosols indicate arid conditions whereas the latest ones testify to greater humidity. The comparison of data from various analyses suggests that mounds contemporaneous in terms of 14C dates display resemblance in funerary rite, burial goods, and paleosol characteristics. The technological analysis of ceramics based on A.A. Bobrinsky approach showed that vessels from earlier mounds are more standardized, whereas those from later ones are more diverse. Based on the set of data, the evolution of Timber-Grave culture in the region falls into three stages.

108-116 196

In 2014, an expedition from the Tyumen State University excavated an underground dwelling on Karachinsky Island, in the fl oodplain of the Tobol, to check the chronicle data saying that Yermak and his Cossacks had spent a winter at that place during the Siberian campaign. The dwelling, measuring 10 m by 5 m by 2 m, consisted of two chambers. Three to four bottom tiers of logs were preserved. Remains of a cellar were found in the central part east of the oven. The building existed for a short time because the area around it was sterile. A lens of charred clay and coal, and traces of fi re on frame logs suggest that the structure had burnt down. Then it was repaired, but the amount of garbage and kitchen waste is small. All household effects had been carried out before the dwellers left. Finds include a wheel-thrown pot, a grindstone, a potter’s scraper, and pieces of slag and metal. An AMS date of wood, generated at Arizona University, falls within the 17th century. The chemical analysis of modern and old soils indicates intense use of the island for pasture and manufacture. In sum, our survey provides no evidence of Yermak’s stay on the island during his campaign. According to Skrynnikov, the Cossacks had marched from the Stroganov forts to the Siberian Khanate capital without wintering, which was tactically correct, since the Tatar forces were weak and fragmented because of Mametkul’s foray into the Uralian towns.

117-122 199
This article presents the results of experiments aimed at testing the hypotheses that mummifi cation of human bodies in Joseon Dynasty burials was caused by an exothermic reaction and subsequent destruction of intestinal microfl ora. Well-preserved mummies of that period were discovered only in the Hoegwakmyo tombs, where the lime-soil-mixture barrier was present. Experiments were conducted using animal bodies placed in miniature grave models. Immediately after contact with moisture, the temperature inside the coffi n surrounded by a lime-soil-mixture increased to 130.8±23.5°C and remained stable for 141.0±64.7 minutes. The examination of bacterial cultures on MacConkey or blood agar plates showed that the entire fl ora normally existing in the rat intestine was completely sterilized by high temperature. We also demonstrate that the same mummifi cation can be reproduced regardless of the sizes of miniature graves.
123-132 183

This study explores the religious role of celestial bodies depicted on Ob Ugrian ritual artifacts from several Russian museums, with reference to ethnographic, folkloric, and artistic sources. While neither the sun nor the moon play a major role in Ugrian religion, they are personifi ed and feature in legends and myths. Khanty and Mansi rites refer to lunar phases (new moon) and the position of the sun. Solar signs are mostly present on ritual artifacts relating to the Celestial Horseman cult, possibly derived from early cosmogonic ideas. In western Siberia, the symbols of the sun and the moon appear no earlier than AD 800. In the 10th–12th centuries, such artifacts were cast in the eastern Ural. The 13th–14th-century silver plaques from western Siberia, showing a falconer, evidence the Vogul (Mansi) migration from western Ural to their current place of residence. The scene featuring a falconer surrounded by animals, the sun, and the moon is still being represented on cloth paraphernalia of Mir-Susne-Khum, the Ob Ugrian cultural hero. Solar signs have been used by the Mansi and Khanty to decorate the sacrifi cial offerings to the goddess Kaltas, the gables of ritual barns, and burial structures. Also, they stood for signatures on documents.

133-143 161

Complete trepanation with the removal of the inner bone plate was studied on a cranium of a male aged ca 35 from a Late Bronze Age burial at Anzhevka in the Krasnoyarsk-Kansk forest-steppe, dating to 1000–700 BC. Certain burials including that with a trephined cranium reveal traces of post-funerary rituals. The individual displays the Paleosiberian (Baikal) combination of craniometric and dental characteristics. Results of the macroand microscopic analysis of the affected area, along with multislice computed tomography (MSCT), suggest that the trepanation was performed to treat osteomyelitis of the parietal bone with an epidural abscess (empyema), caused by an open depressed fracture of the left parietal bone, infl icted with a tool having a small contact area. In modern forensic practice, such perforations are attributed to hammer blows. This would explain the absence of linear fractures of the parietal bone around the trepanation zone. Craniotomy with the removal of the osteomyelitiс focus and the emptying of the epidural abscess led to a prolonged preservation of the patient’s life. Results of a traceological analysis suggest that the aperture was made by scraping, and a thin tetrahedral tool was used to remove the bone fragment. Possibly the use of bronze instruments, known to have antiseptic properties, helped the ancient healer to cope with an advanced infectious process.

144-153 255

This study explores temporal and age-related variation of anthropometric, physiological, and radiographic data collected in 1986–1990 in fi ve rural Mongolian populations (four Khalkha and one Khoton) living in different natural environments and practicing a traditional lifestyle. The sample includes 970 adult men and women aged 18–80. In Khalkha Mongols, the impact of climate and other environmental characteristics on anthropometric traits is negligible. These groups demonstrate temporal stability of anthropometric traits over the last 40 years and, if published data are considered, since the late 1800s. Age changes in hand skeleton are low to moderate. Sexual maturation in females is slow, the average age at menarche is 15.8 years, and no secular trend has been detected. The respective age in Khoton females is even higher––16.8 years. Unlike Khalkha females, Khoton females show a secular trend in body size, whereas the tempo of sexual maturation and skeletal ageing is accelerating. The totality of biological parameters indicates successful environmental adaptation in Khalkha Mongols. The Khoton migrants tend toward the adaptive norm typical of the native population.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)