Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 47, No 1 (2019)
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3-14 864

The loess-paleosol sequence of the Krasnogorskoye section in the low-altitude area of the northeastern Altai Mountains, can provide a yardstick for estimating the age of the Paleolithic sites and reconstructing environmental and climatic changes. Its correlation with the respective sequence of the southern part of the West Siberian Plain is evaluated. Five pedocomplexes are studied in detail, evidencing the evolution of the Middle and Late Pleistocene soil formation from the Shadrikha interglacial to the Karga interstadial. Buried soils of the Shadrikha, Shipunovo, Koinikha, and Kazantsevo warm stages formed under a climate that was warmer and more humid than today. After the Kazantsevo interglacial, both the range and the frequency of climatic oscillations show marked changes. It is demonstrated that the warm stages of this interval differ from the earlier ones by lesser warming and shorter duration by a cooler and more arid climate. Seven loess horizons dividing pedocomplexes are established. Nonmetric and metric analyses of quartz sand grains support the eolian origin of loess horizons under cryoarid conditions. The size of grains in the Late Pleistocene portion of the Krasnogorskoye section attests to the intensifi cation of the loess processes. Higher magnetic susceptibility during the cool stages and higher frequency-dependent susceptibility during the warm stages evidence marked climatic oscillations. After the Kazantsevo interglacial, the amplitude fades and the pattern of paleoclimatic signal recorded by the magnetic properties of loess and paleosol in the section are close to the “Alaskan” type.

15-22 442
AMS radiocarbon dating was applied to seven samples from Tartas-1, an Early Neolithic site in the Baraba forest-steppe, southwestern Siberia: four from pit 938, one from pit 990, and two from structure 6. Pits had been destined for fermenting fi sh, and contained offerings, such as corpses of animals (fox, hare, wolverine, dog), stone and bone artifacts, and fl at-bottomed clay vessels. On the basis of these fi nds, the Baraba culture was described. The results of the AMS radiocarbon analysis support the previous conclusion regarding the date of the complex — 7th millennium BC. A series of dates generated at the Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry in Mannheim, Germany, for the Neolithic materials from Tartas-1 mostly fall within the 7th millennium, and the same applies to the dates relating to the Neolithic site of Vengerovo-2. The dates for structure 6 from Tartas-1 were generated at the Institute of Nuclear Physics SB RAS in Novosibirsk as well, agreeing with those from the Mannheim Center (for two samples, the results being virtually identical). In sum, the data obtained confi rm the correctness of dating the Early Neolithic complex from Tartas-1 to the 7th millennium BC. The Baraba culture is also dated to this time.
23-32 423

This paper explores water and watery places as sacred elements among the cultures of the northern boreal zone during the Stone Age, and especially the Neolithic period, through materials deriving from Northwestern Russia and Fennoscandia. The peculiarity and importance of water and certain watery environments, like rivers, lakes, bogs, waterfalls, and rapids, are discussed through depositional practices of material culture, mainly lithic artifacts. Rock-art provides further tools for approaching the topic, not only through its locations in the landscape but also through its motifs, which allow parallels to be drawn to later ethnographical sources and folklore, too. Finally, the paper briefl y touches upon the rationality behind making a strict separation between “sacred” and “mundane” when interpreting prehistoric cultural phenomena. Water was integral to human life in many different ways, but bodies of water and watery places could also be threatening and unpredictable. Therefore water would have been an ambivalent element, probably invested with signifi cant cultural meanings in the Stone Age world.


33-41 269

This article discusses the pivotal points in horse domestication on the Eurasian steppes and the Near East in the 5th to 2nd millennia BC, from the initial time and place of the domestication of horses to the emergence of various types of horse harnesses. On the basis of 5th and 4th millennia BC Eurasian horse-headed scepters, the means for handling horses are reconstructed. Six types of head harnesses are described, and their evolution is traced from simple muzzles (type 1) and more complex ones (types 2 and 3) to those supplemented with drop nosebands (type 4) and snaffl e (type 5) and non-snaffl e bridles (type 6). A unique 3rd millennium BC document—an Elamite clay tablet from Susa, listing horse farms, has made it possible to assess the structure of each farm, and evaluate the size of the domestic horse population in Elam. Training techniques of chariot horses were described by the “master horse trainer Kikkuli of Mitanni”. These techniques were further developed by the proto-Indo-Aryans on the Eurasian steppes in the early 2nd millennium BC, and became known to the Hittites and Assyrians via the Mitanni horse breeders. On the basis of the Rigveda, the type and exterior of those swift horses with which the Indo-Aryans spread over Asia are characterized.

42-53 217

We give a detailed description of burials 14 and 24, typical of the Khanghah Gilavan cemetery, discovered in 2006 near Khalkhal, in the Ardabil Province, northwestern Iran. Parallels to the fi nds are discussed, mostly suggesting the Middle Bronze Age, although similar handmade vessels, hairpins, and daggers had been common in the region since the Early Bronze Age. The most illustrative examples are Nakhchivan-type vessels, the two handles of which are decorated with buttons. The burials indicate cultural changes over the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, despite the continuity of the ceramic manufacturing tradition.

54-63 405

This article introduces a series of AMS radiocarbon dates for the Bronze Age Petrovka cemeteries in the Trans-Urals. The results of the AMS 14C-dating of animal and human bones indicate a very high degree of concordance in the 19th and 18th centuries cal BC time range. The previously obtained AMS datings clearly fi t into the same chronological interval. Specifi cally, 17 of 36 analyses of the Petrovka series yielded very similar results. In other cases, where dating was based on wood and charcoal, the results are highly inconsistent, even within the same burial. Before the verifi cation of these results, the short interval based on AMS dates should be preferred. Its comparison with intervals for other cultures of the Trans-Urals demonstrates marked similarity: in fact, complete coincidence of some of them. At the same time, stratigraphic and typological evidence suggests that the Sintashta, Petrovka, and Alakul traditions are stages of a sequence. Additional arguments are features of continuity in the material culture and the practice of using the burial mounds of a previous culture for new graves, without destroying the older ones. In our view, the only explanation is provided by a dynamic scenario of cultural change spanning two centuries, from the migration of the Sintashta people to Southern Urals until the formation of the Alakul culture. The resolution of the radiocarbon method does not suffi ce to detect such rapid changes. If this explanation is correct, the Petrovka sites should be considered an early stage of the Alakul culture, rather than a separate culture.

64-72 415

The earliest (Bronze Age) fortifi ed settlements in the Southern Urals are described with regard to their defensive function, as well as to manufacture and living quarters. Their parallels are discussed. We focus on the architecture of the earliest Indo-European forts and compare it to that of the later Eurasian counterparts. We reveal the relations between the layout of the Sintashta-Petrovka forts and the architecture of Central Asia and of the early Central Eastern states. Bronze Age settlements of Southern Urals, Northern Kazakhstan, and Central Asia are compared on a unifi ed scale with reference to their function. The results can be used in future research on ancient architecture.

73-82 275

Ditches encircling the Early Iron Age Sargatka kurgans in the Western Siberian forest-steppe are described. Most of them are nonagonal, decagonal, and dodecagonal, but hexagonal, heptagonal, octogonal and those with 14 angles occur as well. Kurgan shape does not correlate with size, platform diameter, or number of burials. The analysis of data regarding the micro-relief of the kurgan surface and of sources relevant to early nomadic religion enables us to interpret various types of ditches. Those of the hexaand heptagonal type encircled a wooden and earthen pyramid, presumably symbolizing the World Mountain. Those with 9, 12, and 14 angles result from a proportionally larger size of elite kurgans. Indeed, inside such kurgans, hexa- and heptagonal wooden platforms are found. Unclosed ditches likely indicate unfi nished kurgans, and those with 11 and 13 angles result from a distortion of the initial layout by secondary burials. Ditches are associated only with male burials and were apparently meant to protect the dead against evil forces and against the possible intrusion of potentially hostile ancestors, whose cult was reconstructed on the basis of offerings in elite burials. The architecture of the Sargatka kurgans evidences remnants of Indo-European myths transformed by inter-ethnic contacts and cultural innovations on the periphery of the Scytho-Siberian world.

83-94 610

This article presents the results of interdisciplinary studies of gold artifacts from the elite Xiongnu burials at Noin-Ula (Noyon Uul, Mongolia, early 1st millennium AD), excavated by the Russian-Mongolian expedition in 2006–2012. Using scanning electron microscopy, atomic absorption spectroscopy, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, 17 artifacts were analyzed. These include ornaments from coffi ns and clothes, made by Chinese artisans. Results suggest that they were all made of native gold, similar to that from the known deposits of Mongolia in terms of elemental composition (for comparison, we used an electronic database relating to 3338 samples of Mongolian native gold). Results of statistical tests suggest that placer deposits were the most probable source of the gold. The results do not contradict the idea that Chinese artisans used Mongolian gold. During the Han era, the Xiongnu could have been among their principal providers. The relationships between the two empires and peoples were always benefi cial for the Xiongnu. Enjoying the numerous achievements of the Han civilization, they offered too little in return. One of the ways the Han dynasty could have benefi ted from their tumultuous neighbors was to receive native gold from them. 

95-102 223

The results of prospection studies at the medieval site Horogoru, in the Gyeonggi-do Province of South Korea, are described. Using ground-penetrating radar, the defense wall, built of tamped earth and masonry, was reconstructed. The analyses of GPR images and 3D-models of the wall were confi rmed and supplemented by archaeological excavations. Prospection studies in the central part of the site have enabled us to assess tentatively the thickness of the habitation layer and its preservation. Structures associated with various archaeological cultures were analyzed. The results of excavations demonstrated a relative reliability of GPR, which had revealed anomalies at various depths. However, an accurate and complete assessment of the outlines of most structures proved impossible, owing to repeated medieval rebuilding, peculiar accumulation processes, and modern disruption. The GPR analysis of the anomalies indicated several stages of habitation. Early features, dating to the Koguryo period (400–700 AD), include a reservoir and a well, and next to these, heaps of roof tiles. Late features, dating to the Koryo stage (1000–1200 AD), include seven buildings, a stone pavement, and pits with roof tiles. Overall, the results demonstrate the effi ciency of geophysical methods for the assessment of the site’s structure and of the preservation of its cultural layers.

103-112 301

We describe 17 medieval kurgans at Murlinka, dating to the late 1st millennium AD and associated with archaeological sites at Aitkulovo, in the Tarsky District of the Omsk Region, on the right bank of the Irtysh, in the borderland between the forest-steppe and the taiga. The deceased were buried in a supine extended position. Some burials were made on the virgin soil, and some on the buried soil. Most kurgans accommodated one grave, but in some cases the number of graves was two and more. Inside the kurgans, at the buried soil level and above, limb bones of animals and small potsherds were found. In certain graves, traces of fi re, such as partly burned bones, charcoal, ash, or charred earth, were detected. We also found ditches and various structures inside the mounds. In eleven mounds, there were funerary offerings, such as vessels, arrowheads, celts, bits, and ornaments, similar to those found in the graves. We give a detailed description of bronze ornaments and pommels, tools, and belt sets made of white metal, as well as glass and ceramic beads, iron artifacts, details of horse harness, iron and bone weapons, and pottery. Parallels are found in the taiga regions of the Middle Ob, Ural, and the steppe zone of northern Altai. We discuss the chronology and cultural attribution of the fi nds in the context of the ethnic processes that occurred in the region.

113-118 240

We describe a richly decorated iron helmet owned by the Northern Kazakhstan Regional Museum in Petropavlovsk. It consists of a low solid hemispherical crown, a slightly convex plate, made of copper alloy, with an opening for a (missing) tube in which the plume was inserted, a wide iron hoop, and a bipartite visor of the box type. The two last-named elements are covered with Arabic inscriptions inlaid in gold. Those on the hoop are verses from the Quran 2, 255–257, Al-Baqarah — The Cow. That on the “shield” of the visor is a prayer for protection, known as the “message of peace” read before a long journey or a diffi cult and dangerous enterprise, such as a battle. Such helmets were common in Central Asia between the late 16th and the mid-18th centuries. This specimen was likely manufactured in Mawarannahr, Xinjiang, or some town on the Syr Darya, for a high-ranking Uzbek, Uyghur, or Kazakh warrior. This accounts for the combination of a solid crown and a hoop with Arabic inscriptions with a box-type visor typical of helmets worn by Mongolian and Turkic nomads during the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age. The closest parallels are found in the museums of Kazakhstan. Judging by the traces of repair and reconstruction, this helmet was used for a long time.

119-126 211

This study describes three engravings in the book by Academician Johan Peter Falk, showing Udmurt women in traditional outfi ts. Falk headed one of the most important expeditions of the 18th century, sponsored by the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to the fi gure captions, the women are Votyak, Bashkir, and Mishar, respectively; but ethnographic data suggest that two of these attributions are wrong. On the basis of comparison of the women’s outfi ts to those drawn by members of other 18th-century expeditions and of late 19th to early 20th-century ethnographic sources, relating to the composition of outfi ts, their construction, decoration, and ornaments, all the three women are Udmurt. The “Votyak” outfi t matches that of the southern Udmurt, the allegedly Mishar woman is central Udmurt, and the one said to be Bashkir is northern Udmurt. The accuracy of detail allows us to specify not only the ethnicity of the women, but their social status as well. The so-called “Votyak” and “Bashkir” outfi ts are those worn by married women, and that of the alleged “Mishar” is a girl’s dress. Generally, accurate representations, such as those illustrating the proceedings of the 18th-century expeditions from the Academy of Sciences, are a valuable and underexplored source of information.

127-136 281

Wearing folk costumes was a mimicry practiced by certain mid-19th-century Russian ethnographers and folklorists. The most consistent of these was Pavel Yakushkin, who posed as a peddler when doing fi eld work in villages. In this he followed the instructions written by the famous writer, historian, and antiquary Mikhail Pogodin. The sources of Pogodin’s ideas on how a folklorist and ethnographer should look were the Slavophiles’ perception of the Russian costume, Alexander Pushkin’s habit of wearing a red shirt, as well as court jokes and folk legends about top-ranking persons wearing folk costumes. While the changing of clothes fi rst used by Yakushkin was later adopted by other ethnographers, such as Sergey Maksimov and Pavel Rybnikov, political reasons prevented it from spreading. Nevertheless, in the 1870s, at the peak of the movement of the Narodniki (Populists), using folk costumes re-emerged as a way of bringing the intelligentsia closer to the peasants and workers. The erosion and eventual disappearance of class boundaries in Soviet Russia made such ways of winning confi dence pragmatically irrelevant; however, wearing traditional folk costumes as a political gesture is meaningful even today.

137-146 251

Warm clothing was an important cultural adaptation, enabling the Russian pioneers to survive in the harsh climate of Siberia. The sources for the study are archival documents, including V.K. Multinov’s manuscript “Clothing of the Angara People” (1926), results of fi eld studies in the 1970s and 1980s by the present author, museum artifacts, and collection inventories compiled by A.N. Beloslyudov, S.P. Shvetsov, I.I. Baranova, and I.I. Shangina, as well as data collected by climatologists, technologists, and designers. Types of winter clothing, including outfi ts for hunting and fi shing, worn by the Russians living on the Angara, in the Altai, and Trans-Baikal, are described. These include cloth-covered and non-covered fur coats, short fur coats, those with the fur on the inside, robes, as well as warm pants, fur hats, boots, and mittens. Protection from the cold was ensured by the use of high-volume insulating materials, several layers, and by habits such as tucking one piece of clothing into another (the so-called “Siberian one-piece garment”). Specific features in Siberia are observed, including the use in winter hunting outfi ts of certain elements of native Siberian clothing (specifi cally that of the Tungus clothing on the Angara), and the women’s habit of wearing men’s garments with belts.

147-156 660

This article presents some results of the analysis of long-bone growth rate in the sub-adult skeletal population from Gonur-Depe — a Bronze Age proto-urban center in Turkmenistan, the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. The sample includes 130 skeletons of sub-adults (735 skeletal elements) from burials in the “ruins” of the palace-temple ensemble, excavated in 2010–2015. The results indicate a signifi cant retardation of long-bone growth relative to modern standards. The individual variation is considerable. The retardation is maximal in the leg bones (especially femur and fi bula), and minimal in the forearm bones. The latter fact is confi rmed by the sub-adult to adult bone length ratio. The smallest lag in growth rates is observed in children aged from birth to 2–3 years. This was apparently due not only to optimal nutrition (breast-feeding), but also to a more stable genetic determination of growth during this period. The lag is greater in age cohorts showing stress markers, such as porotic hyperostosis and enamel hypoplasia. Retardation of skeletal maturity in this group is interpreted not as a symptom of maladaptation, but as a result of a complex process of adapting to the totality of environmental factors. The comparison of the paleodemographic, paleopathological, and “paleoauxological” data confi rms that the ancient population of the Murghab oasis was well adapted to the environment.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)