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Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 46, No 2 (2018)
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PALEOENVIRONMENT. THE STONE AGE

3-15 135
Abstract
This article outlines the results of multidisciplinary studies at Darvagchay-Zaliv-4—an Early Paleolithic site in northeastern Caucasus. We focus on lithics, which we compare with those from key Early Paleolithic sites in Dagestan and other regions of Caucasus. Based on the totality of typological and technological criteria, the industry is Acheulean and is characterized by the scarcity of distinct core-shaped forms and tools. The few functional types include side-scraper forms, becs, notched and combined pieces. The most salient specimens are pebble tools (choppers) and bifacial tools such as handaxes and picks. Technologically, all specimens are very uniform and may be viewed as representing several camps, whose inhabitants practiced one and the same tradition. This might have been a workshop that was visited several times. The analysis of malacofauna and paleomagnetic analysis suggest that the site dates to 0.4–0.3 Ma BP (MIS 11–9).
16-24 121
Abstract
This paper presents the results of X-ray fl uorescence and X-ray diffraction analyses of argillite artifacts from Kovrizhka I on the lower Vitim and Ust-Karenga XVI on the upper Vitim. The specimens from layer 2 of Kovrizhka I date to ca 6 radiocarbon ka BP and belong to a non-ceramic culture with microblades. Two ritual pits at Ust-Karenga XVI, dating to 7–6 radiocarbon ka BP and associated with the late stage of the Ust-Karenga Neolithic culture, contained clusters of artifacts made of dark-brown argillite, including prismatic cores, blades, inserts, and end-scrapers made on blades. At both sites, similar argillite end-scrapers made on large blade-like spalls were found in different years. Their chemical analysis suggests that the raw material was the same, attesting to cultural ties. The distance between the sites along the river is ca 700 km––the largest range of connections evidenced to date in the prehistoric Baikal area. It was previously demonstrated that the artifact from volcanic pumice, found at Ust-Karenga XVI, had been transported from the Udokan volcanic fi eld, which was also a source of a piece of volcanic pumice from Kovrizhka III layer 3.The same sources of raw material, then, were exploited by different populations over a long period. Our review favors the idea of episodic contacts rather than a single population dispersed across a territory between Ust-Karenga and Kovrizhka.

THE METAL AGES AND MEDIEVAL PERIOD

25-34 144
Abstract
We describe fi ve burials with casting molds from the Late Krotovo (Cherno-Ozerye) cemetery Tartas-1 in the Baraba foreststeppe. Three of them form a distinct group belonging to two parallel rows of graves. One of the reconstructed molds was destined for casting Seima-Turbino-type celts, the other, for manufacturing thin rods, round in section. One kernel was used for making a hollow in a tiny chisel-like tool. All molds are made of clay and bear traces of prolonged use. They were made using a bottom board; molding mixture was smoothed and tamped, excessive material was removed with a narrow-bladed cutting tool, and lines were drawn on the raw surface. Certain graves with molding tools were single, others were collective. All basic age and sex groups are represented: adults, adolescents, women and children, apparently suggesting that all were involved in manufacture, and the skills were transmitted from one generation to another. Because children were involved too, status was heritable. Emphasis on bronze casting in the funerary rite, virtually without traces of other specializations, indicates a separate social stratum, whose share was no higher than 4 %. Obviously, not all its members were professional casters; some may have participated occasionally.
35-42 126
Abstract
This article describes burials of women at a Middle Bronze Age cemetery of Maytan—the only completely excavated Andronovo burial ground in the steppes of central Kazakhstan. On the basis of the location of ornaments in burials, an attempt is made to reconstruct details of costume with regard to age groups. The composition and arrangement of the individual elements of the costume indicate several decoration areas such as head; neck and chest; hands and feet. Exceptional areas are accessories (bags and boxes), belt, and lap of dress. Most ornaments mark the age category of women. There are two age groups: girls and adult women. Though many graves have been looted, a tentative reconstruction of the costume with regard to these groups is possible. Such a reconstruction is relevant to cultural tradition, ideas of beauty, and social status.
43-51 107
Abstract
Certain researchers believe that designs composed of oblique triangles, meander-shaped fi gures and comb imprints on the Andronovo vessels reproduce those on woven, embroidered, and appliqué textiles. The article compares the Andronovo designs on pottery with the decoration used in textile manufacture. To reconstruct the making of geometric compositions, textile interlacing schemes were designed to produce samples using the weaving technique on plaques. Such tools had been used for producing the earliest textiles manufacture with an interwoven warp since the Early Neolithic. The sequence of patterns with vertical-horizontal, diagonal-horizontal, and diagonal-rhombic elements is described. Various types of schemes were created, and the most rational decoration methods were selected. The dependence of pattern on the sequence whereby colored threads are run through the holes was analyzed. To make complex patterns, rotation of plaque blocks in various directions was used. The results suggest that designs on the Andronovo vessels indeed reproduce woven prototypes.
52-59 111
Abstract
The Bronze Age pottery from the forest zone of Eastern Europe includes a category that is often described as “Fatyanovo-like”. It reveals a blend of predominantly Fatyanovo and other features. A morphological and technological analysis of 129 vessels from Nikolo-Perevoz I (a settlement with a collective burial) and II has revealed four groups––one Fatyanovo proper and three evidencing a mixture of Fatyanovo with local traditions of various origins. The Fatyanovo-Volosovo group appears to have been a result of local mixture, whereas that from the burial is close to the Fatyanovo-Osh-Pando tradition, which had been introduced from without. These fi ndings are relevant to the relationships between the Fatyanovo, Volosovo, and Osh-Pando people. Also, they demonstrate that the umbrella term “Fatyanovo-like” is meaningless.
60-67 80
Abstract
This article introduces new petroglyphs found in 2016 by the Russian-Indian expedition in Zanskar, India. For the fi rst time in this region, we discovered images unilaterally pecked out on small rectangular plates at abandoned Buddhist sanctuaries. Unlike tens of thousands of famous images from Ladakh and Zanskar, these are examples of mobile art, i.e., they could be moved from one place to another. They show scenes of fi ghting wild yaks, a hunter on horseback accompanied by a dog, and a Buddhist stupa. Especially interesting are several kindred scenes reproducing fi ghts between male yaks, which occur in the fall, during the rut. Images realistically and accurately convey a tense atmosphere of rivalry. The image of a horse is unusual. The animal is decorated with a breast tassel and a head plume or sheathed forelock, marking the horseman’s high rank and setting the representation apart from other known images of horses in the petroglyphic art of Ladakh and Zanskar. Very important is the archaic type of stupa, before which the yaks are fi ghting. It provides one of the clues for dating the whole composition, since such types of stupas were built from the 1st century BC onwards. It is proposed that the newly found petroglyphs represent a hitherto unknown tradition of using small specially prepared stone plates.
68-78 109
Abstract
In 2014–2015, nine enclosures built of stone slabs were excavated at Altynkazgan on the Mangyshlak Peninsula, Republic of Kazakhstan. Inside them, remains of offering ceremonies were found: vessels dug into the ground, altars made of limestone blocks, and pits for offerings. In one of these, we found a richly decorated bridle, in another, a belt set of inlaid golden plaques, and in the third, remains of a saddle (silver plates and other items). The entire assemblage has numerous parallels among the 5th and 6th century fi nds from the northern Black Sea area, North Caucasus, and the Volga basin. Ritual burial of a “golden” belt, a bridle, and a ceremonial saddle indicate an advanced cult that included offerings of prestigious belongings of a horseman. These rituals were introduced by Iranian-speaking nomads who had migrated to the eastern Caspian region during the Hunnic raids to Iran in the 5th century. At that time, owing to the regressive phase of the Caspian Sea, the semi-desert northern Caspian coast was connected with Mangyshlak by a land bridge. Our hypotheses are supported by both historical records and modern geomorphological studies of the Caspian Sea.
79-89 96
Abstract
This study outlines the results of excavations of fi ve Old Turkic stone enclosures (No. 1, 6, 9, 12, and 18) at a funerary and memorial complex Kyzyl-Shin, in the Kosh-Agachsky District of the Altai Republic. Due to soil conditions and to the presence of air in some offering chambers, unique artifacts were discovered––a wooden box, wooden dishes, armor plates, etc. These fi nds extend our knowledge of Old Turkic offerings and the Turkic ritualism in general. They enable us to reconstruct the stages in the construction of enclosures and of their separate elements. The presence of nonfunctional (votive) artifacts highlights a key feature of the Old Turkic funerary ritualism, supporting the idea that enclosures were ritual models of dwellings––abodes of the deceased persons’ spirits/ souls. Well-preserved larch trunks, dug into the ground in their centers, offered a possibility to cross-check the results of radiocarbon and dendrochronological analyses, suggesting that the enclosures date to late 6th and 7th century AD. Although the Kyzyl-Shin enclosures belong to the Yakonur type, they are contemporaneous with adjacent enclosures of the Kudyrge type, suggesting that the typology of archaeological structures does not always mirror their chronological and evolutionary relationship. Differences in the construction and arrangement of enclosures could be determined by other factors such as family or social structure.
90-99 179
Abstract
This paper presents the fi ndings relating to iron-smelting furnaces in the Kuektanar and Turgun valleys, which were part of the Chuya–Kurai metallurgical province in the Russian Altai, and are undergoing rapid erosion. On the Chuya, downstream of the Kuektanar mouth, hitherto unknown and completely eroded remains of furnaces were discovered. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal fragments from bloomeries at Kuektanar-1 and 2 and Turgun-1, using scintillation and AMS techniques, suggests the use of trees that grew in 5th–10th centuries AD as a fuel for metallurgical production. Dates of charcoal relating to the same iron-smelting event differ by over 300 years, probably because various parts of adult larches (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) were used. Samples of uncharred bark in bloomery 2 at Kuektanar-1 suggest that the last smelting occurred in AD 655–765. The totality of radiocarbon dates makes it possible to conclude that the bloomeries functioned during the Old Turkic period. The proximity of iron ore sources and the abundance of forest vegetation account for the wide use of iron-smelting by the nomads in the region. The erosion of the river bank where the furnaces are located allowed us to assess the erosion rate since their construction—ca 0.5 cm per year.
100-105 140
Abstract
Over 12 thousand glass beads have been excavated from medieval burials at Gnezdovo. Most fall in nine technological groups similar to those in a collection from the earthen ramparts of Staraya Ladoga. At Gnezdovo, however, hitherto unknown types were found, such as those represented by isolated specimens formed from lumps of molten glass. A few beads appear to have been made on a mold; those with transverse striation had been welded from several pieces. The latter resemble Greek and Roman era specimens from the Northern Pontic region. For the fi rst time in Old Rus, glass beads with a copper pipe are described. This is a rare technique, also practiced in Central Europe. Numerous specimens from Gnezdovo are two-layered, others are made from a pipe, from a rod, mosaic, or curled. Some experts argued that the use of pipe as a core is motivated by the economy of paste of which beads were made. Pipe cores in cobalt beads might facilitate shaping. Since cobalt-colored beads and bracelets were popular in AD 800–1100, economy cannot provide a universal explanation. The fact that other materials, such as copper and ceramics, were also used is another proof thereof. Generally, such beads are rare not only in Gnezdovo but elsewhere in Kievan Rus as well.
106-113 148
Abstract
We present an archaeological study of medieval burials of warriors in the Karasuyr cemetery in the northwestern Betpakdala desert, near the southern Ulytau range in central Kazakhstan. The region was an eastern province of the Golden Horde, a ritual center of Jochi’s clan and later Mongol rulers until the late 16th century. The excavated part of the cemetery includes fi ve burials. Four were those of males (three Mongoloid and one Caucasoid), and one was that of a female. Based on artifacts and the results of radiocarbon analysis, the burials date to the late 13th and early 14th century. Artifacts include birch-bark quivers, iron and bone arrowheads, fragments of laminar armor, and knives. The burial rite, the artifacts, and the physical type of the individuals suggest that three of them were Mongol warriors buried according to the Tibetan Buddhist rite, following an unknown military confl ict during the Jochi Ulus rule––the fi rst such burials to be excavated. Absence of weapons and the scarcity of other artifacts in the grave of the Caucasoid male indicate a subordinate position in the military group. The cemetery refl ects the early expansion of Buddhism beyond Tibet before the spread of Islam across the northern fringes of the Eurasian steppe.
114-122 133
Abstract
This article addresses one of the most informative archaeological sources for reconstructing medieval history––imported silverware, which is abundant in northwestern Siberia. Based on three newly described silver vessels of the Golden Horde Age from the Saigatino I sanctuary in the Surgut region of the Ob basin, the possible attribution of these and similar specimens from Siberia and Ural is discussed. Locating the places where such items had been made is difficult for reasons relating to the functioning of individual workshops and of the silversmiths’ schools in general. Nevertheless, a suggestion is made that the workshops were located in the Bulgar Ulus––a successor of the Volga Bulgaria, with its rich tradition of manufacturing jewelry and transporting it along the trade routes directed northward to western Ural and western Siberia. The time and the routes whereby the Golden Horde toreutics was brought to western Siberia are assessed. All finds in this region cluster within a small area in the Surgut region of the Ob basin, while the possible trade routes are marked by similar but isolated finds in the Perm area and in northern Ural. The question is raised whether the finds of imported silverware in western Siberia fall within the territory of medieval Ob principalities––Koda, Bardakov, and Kunovatsky. The appearance of personal hoards may indicate the emergence of new elite. Generally, the imported silverware of the Golden Horde age is highly relevant to social developments in medieval western Siberia.
123-130 118
Abstract
After Fort (Ostrog) Umrevinsky had lost its defensive and administrative function, a cemetery emerged on its place. Excavations were carried out near the northwestern and southern palisade and in the center of the fort. Eighty-three graves, located mainly in the southwestern and central parts of the cemetery, were excavated. Among them were three ritual graves of newborns––one under the southwestern corner tower on the river bank, and two others under a structure in the center of the fort. We have also excavated a collective grave of nine individuals––males and females of various ages. Based on several criteria, this grave is similar to those at Fort Albazin, where victims of the siege had been buried. Similar circumstances may have been involved at Umrevinsky. In the central part of the fort, a grave of a high-ranking uniformed teenager was found. Based on the totality of traits, two large spatially separated groups of burials are described, and their chronological sequence is assessed. Graves of the fi rst group date to 1740–1790; those of the second, to the early 1800s. Planigraphic analysis suggests that the structure in the center of the fort was likely the church of the Three Holy Hierarchs, known from written sources. The reasons why the cemetery was founded in the fort yard are discussed. The location of the place where the founders and pioneers are buried remains an open issue.
131-139 139
Abstract
Fossil remains of brown bear from Kaninskaya cave in the northern Ural are described. They were accumulated during the Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, and Late Iron Age as a result of human activity. We analyze the composition of skeletal elements and the nature of their fragmentation. Sex and age of individuals whose bones were apparently used in rituals are assessed, and the seasonality of these ceremonies is evaluated. The main object of ceremonial actions during all chronological periods was the head. Crania and mandibles were cracked into several parts according to one and the same fashion. Other skeletal parts were used much less often. Most postcranial bones were likewise broken into several pieces. Such practices differ from modern Ob Ugrian bear rituals. In the Bronze Age, heads of adult male and female bears were used, and the ceremonies were performed mainly in winter, less often in summer and autumn, and very rarely in spring. In the Iron Age, too, heads of adult animals, mostly males, were used, and ceremonies were held throughout the year but more often in summer and in winter. Seasonal bear rites were not practiced. Certain elements of rites, differing from those of modern Ob Ugrians, are reconstructed. Modern Ob Ugrian bear rituals were formed in the Late Iron Age.
140-148 90
Abstract
At Monkys Uriy, a late 16th–17th century fort on the Bolshoy Yugan River, in the taiga zone of the Ob basin, Western Siberia, bones of wild animals (reindeer, elks, brown bears, and wolves) and those of domestic dogs were found in residential areas together with artifacts. We describe ten ritual accumulations of bones, species composition, that of skeletal elements, fragmentation types, and the age of animals. Seven accumulations of bones were found at residential quarters. Six of them contained complete or partial skeletons of reindeer and cranial bones of an elk. These accumulations may indicate construction sacrifi ces and those marking childbirth. Three bone accumulations found outside the residence area include bones of a dog and a brown bear, evidently sacrifi ced during funerary rites. Ethnographic and folkloric evidence suggests that such sacrifi ces were practiced by the Yugan Khanty as late as the 19th and 20th centuries and had been rooted in ancient traditions of Ugrians and Samoyeds.
149-157 121
Abstract
Data on the areal distribution of motifs extracted from ca 25,000 traditional narratives were computed with the purpose of revealing a chronology of the emergence of particular mythological themes. The statistical processing of this material allowed selection of sets of motifs that probably correspond to the routes of major prehistoric migrations known thanks to archaeology and population genetics. Our conclusions are largely based on the comparison of similar sets of motifs in the Old and New Worlds, the time of the peopling of America and its particular episodes being more or less known (initial peopling by Pacifi c and then by continental Siberian groups). Thanks to the methods applied, the epochal dynamics of the development of mythology were for the fi rst time reconstructed by using systematized data, and not by proceeding from general assumptions. The earliest complex, which is related to the explanation of the mortal nature of man and the loss of the easy life, corresponds to the southern route by which humans of the modern type moved from Africa to the Indo-Pacifi c borderlands of Asia. These motifs are abundant in sub-Saharan Africa, the southern part of Eurasia, Oceania and America (especially South America), but rare in northern Eurasia and the American Arctic and Subarctic. Motifs relating to the origin of man, human anatomy, and relations between the sexes are most typical of the CircumPacifi c world. This theme probably fi rst developed in Southeast Asia among the people who came from Africa, but before the time when their earliest groups reached America. The geographic distribution of motifs relating to cosmogony and cosmology, and to the etiology of natural phenomena, plants, and animals suggests that many of the corresponding motifs initially appeared in southern Eurasia, were then brought to Siberia, and from there brought to the New World (this movement could be explained by the gradual northward displacement of population after the Late Glacial Maximum). The ideas relating to the interpretation of celestial objects were the last to develop. Corresponding motifs are only abundant in Northern Eurasia, from where many of them were brought to North America but not to South America. Interpretations of celestial objects in European cosmonymy mostly date to the Bronze Age, if not to Iron Age technology, while some are related to the spread of world religions.


ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)