Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 48, No 2 (2020)
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3-13 303
We analyze new finds from a Neolithic dwelling 1 from excavation II at the Suchu Island, on the Amur River. We analyzed an assemblage of 3788 lithics and ceramics, along with field records housed at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of SB RAS. The article continues the series of publications in this journal, outlining the findings at Suchu—one of the key Neolithic sites in Northeast Asia. Dwelling 1 is a 0.8-meter-deep round semi-underground structure dug into the sandy loam. In its center, there was a hearth, and walls lacked ledges. On the floor, numerous pits from posts that had supported the roof were found. The stratigraphic and horizontal position of finds was registered; artifacts were analyzed through morphological typology, petrographic and X-ray analysis, and microscopy. Our analysis reveals hunting, fishing, and butchering tools, those for processing stone, wood, and bone, those for plant processing, and digging tools. Various sedimentary and igneous rocks were used as raw material. In terms of cultural chronology, standard pottery was mostly attributed to the Lower Amur cultures (Malyshevo and Voznesenovskoye), while some was apparently manufactured by immigrants. Principal technological, constructive, morphological, decorative, and functional characteristics of each ceramic type were assessed. Unusual artistic and ritual items clustered in dwelling 1 of the Malyshevo type (late 5th to early 4th millennia BC) are suggestive of a domestic shrine.
14-21 528
I describe a rare artifact—a staff with a zoomorphic finial, carved from the curved part of an elk antler. It was found in 1982 on a bank of the Tok River, in the western Orenburg region. The artifact was in a seated burial, discovered by chance. The archaeological context is described, and a cultural and chronological attribution is proposed. It is concluded that the burial is associated with the Early Neolithic Elshanka culture. Similar staffs were found mostly in Mesolithic and Neolithic burials in the forest zone of Eastern Europe. Radiocarbon analyses suggest that seated burials with zoomorphic antler staffs date to the interval from the 6th to the early 3rd millennium BC. The peculiar feature of the Pushkinsky specimen is that it likely depicts a horse rather than an elk, probably because the economy in the steppe and forest-steppe focused on horse hunting. Such artifacts were apparently ritual, and the practice could have originated in the steppe and forest-steppe from whence it spread to the forest zone.


22-28 550
This study focuses on the cultural attribution of a distinct category of Early Bronze Age burials in the eastern piedmont of the Lesser Caucasus, northwestern Azerbaijan, known as “tombs under kurgans” or “kurgans with collective burials in tombs”. There was an opinion that such burials belong to the early period of the Kura-Araxes (or proto-Kura-Araxes) culture. To test this idea, we analyzed ceramics from tombs under kurgans at Shadyly, Uzun-Rama, and Mentesh-Tepe, all of which have radiocarbon dates. Results suggest that the vessels are hand-made, their paste contains no organic temper, and they are a coarse imitation of the Uruk ceramics. This tradition is unrelated to the Kura-Araxes culture, marked by a handmade red-and-black burnished pottery. Also, at the highly developed stage of the Kura-Araxes in any of its local versions, collective burials in tombs were not practiced. Thus, before the emergence of the Kuro-Araxes culture in the Southern Caucasus, there was a population practicing the tradition of kurgans with collective burials in tombs. The origin of this tradition is a contentious matter. What we know only is that it emerged in the 34th century BC and disappeared around the 31st–30th centuries BC, following the Kura-Araxes expansion in the Southern Caucasus.
38-48 345
This study focuses on the analysis of structural elements of the Marfa kurgan in the Stavropol Territory. We list and examine terms referring to such elements, and suggest our own. A description of the kurgan, its natural environment, excavation techniques, sampling, and analytical methods is provided. The material of which the kurgan was made is assessed, and its advantages over other materials are demonstrated. We studied mud blocks (or “bricks”), their clay coatings, and a striped adobe element from the kurgan. Results of chemical and granulometric analyses are outlined, along with those of the micromorphological analysis of soils underlying the kurgan, of the material of which the “bricks” and the coatings were made. The blocks were molded by thoroughly kneading and compacting a moistened material consisting of loess with the addition of river silt, without plant admixture. Clay coatings were much denser, as it consisted of a coherent finely dispersed clay-carbonate material. Clay mortar, similar to coatings in composition and properties, was used to connect the blocks and the stones of the crepidoma. The same mortar was used for foundations of clay “bricks” buildings. The adobe element with thinnest variously colored stripes resulted from a destruction of an earlier structure.
29-37 273
We describe two unique fi nds from the 2018 excavations at the Maikop-Novosvobodnaya settlements of Pervomayskoye and Chekon in the Krasnodar Territory: a pendant and a clay figurine of a goddess, respectively. The parquet ornament on the pendant is paralleled by that on a cylindrical pendant-seal from Chekon. Such ornamentation is frequent on Near Eastern button-seals, and occurs on Anatolian artifacts symbolizing the fertility goddess and the magic related to her. Therefore, the Pervomayskoye and Chekon pendants, too, may be associated with the fertility cult. The figurine of a goddess from Chekon can be attributed to the Serezlievka type of the Late Tripolye culture. It testifies to ties between Maikop and Tripolye in the late 4th to early 3rd millennia BC. Both finds shed light on the vastly diverse beliefs of the Maikop-Novosvobodnaya tribes at the middle and late stage of that culture.
49-58 386
This study addresses the description, use-wear analysis, and date of three plate-formed cheekpieces from kurgan 5 at Novoilyinovskiy II, Kazakhstan. They were found in the same context with two sacrificed horses (a stallion and a mare), placed on the bottom of a ritual pit in the “flying gallop” posture. The emergence of horse riding, marking a new type of mobility and warfare, has been traditionally dated to ca 900 BC. However, cheekpieces suggest that this process spanned the entire 2nd millennium BC. They testify to the evolution of horsemanship and the search for the most efficient means of controlling draft and riding horses. Results of the use-wear analysis suggest that all three specimens likely belonged to riding horses’ harnesses. Two AMS radiocarbon measurements referring to kurgan 5 suggest that these cheekpieces are among the earliest used for controlling riding rather than draft horses, implying that horse riding emerged on the Eurasian steppes as early as the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.
59-68 794
Throughout the period from 300 BC to 700 AD, significant changes took place in the life of population of Japanese Archipelago and Korean Peninsula, which were reflected by the burial rite. Specifically, the practice of using wood in mounded burials became particularly common. Such numerous instances in both regions are analyzed, the placement and several elements of wooden structures, accompanying artifacts, sorts of wood etc. are described in this work. The changes in burial rite practiced in ancient Japan can be seen. During the Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD), jar burials gave way to those with wooden structures in Western Japan regions closest to the mainland. It’s established that traditions co-occurred with innovations, as seen from the fact that such structures were coated with clay. Further development took place during the Kofun period (300–538 AD), when first log coffins appeared, then composite coffins, and eventually stone coffins. Similar burial practice existed in Korea earlier than in Japan, the peak of this tradition coinciding with the period of Three Kingdoms (200–600 AD). The comparison of the ways the tradition evolved in both regions suggests that it had originated on the mainland, was introduced to Japan by successive immigration waves, and was then adapted to local conditions.
69-79 216
The expansion of the Bosporan Kingdom (the interior colonization of Bosporus) was caused by the need for commercial grain in the Greek markets of the Mediterranean. The steep rise in the Bosporan rulers’ incomes followed the annexation of Sindica—one of the most fertile lands of the Northern Pontic region, situated in the Lower Kuban basin. This study discusses the history of the vast chora of the Greek Gorhippia in the southeastern fringes of Sindica, focusing on findings from a Bosporan fort—the Raevskoye fortified settlement. We reconstruct the evolution of the anthropogenic landscape of the area over four centuries (Hellenistic and Early Roman period). The chronology is based on a collection of Bosporan coins from the fortified settlement. We analyze the factors due to which the habitation layers of the fortified settlement span a period from the Early Bronze Age to the High Middle Ages. We provide a new topography of the Early Iron Age aboriginal site, along with that of the fortified site existing during the three Bosporan stages. Special attention is paid to the fortification system, arranged in the Hellenistic period. Studies in recent decades have suggested that the fortifications were constructed according to the typical Bosporan technique of adobe-stone architecture. The fortified settlement evolved over a long period as an economic and political center of a large borderland zone between the Greek civilization and the archaic societies of the Caucasian piedmonta peculiar frontier of the classical era.
80-88 360
We describe artifacts from a burial from the period of Barbarian Invasions on the northeastern Caspian coast (Mangystau Region, Republic of Kazakhstan), near the contemporaneous settlement of Karakabak. The principal finds, representing the Shipovo horizon, suggest a date of late 5th to early 6th centuries. They reveal a mixture of Sarmatian and Late Sarmatian features with certain innovations. The origin of the latter is discussed. Metal artifacts belonging to the polychrome style (cloisonné work) make it possible, for the first time, to include the Mangystau Peninsula in the distribution range of the “Pontic fashion”. We propose that these artifacts are of local origin, and that the craftsman replicated certain standards without the appropriate tools. The technological characteristics of the pendant and rings had been observed by previous scholars in late Eastern European artifacts associated with the Byzantine school. Their dates (5th–6th centuries) correlate with those of the fifth stylistic group of polychrome artifacts described by I.P. Zasetskaya. Our findings suggest that Karakabak, a craft and trade center, was the place where Byzantine-style cloisonné artifacts were manufactured. These were supplied to nomadic tribes inhabiting the Aral-Caspian area during the Hun and post-Hun periods.
89-96 302
We describe artifacts from a medieval cemetery near the village of Lyulikary, in the Berezovsky District of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug–Yugra. The village was first mentioned in the 14th to 15th centuries, when it was a major trade center on the route from Russia to Siberia. The place adjoining the cemetery and horizons overlying it relate to a medieval sanctuary. Some artifacts were found apart from the burials, near the surface. These include silver and copper decorations, ceremonial ware, and weaponry (a helmet, chain mail, and sabers). We describe round silver pendants representing mounted falconers, and metal shields protecting the wrist. There are also arch-shaped dangle pendants with stone inserts. Because most decorations are gilded and nielloed, and show typical decorative elements, we propose that most were manufactured in the Kama area. On the basis of comparative analysis we conclude that certain decorations, including hinged bracelets, are replicas of late 12th to early 13th century Russian prototypes. The metal ware includes fragments of a 12th century Iranian dish, fragmented goblets, bowls, and dishes, which reveal parallels with Eastern and Western European toreutics. On the basis of these parallels and characteristic features of design, these artifacts are dated to the 13th century.


97-105 327
This study belongs to a new archaeological subdiscipline in Russian and Israeli research—the archaeology of Russian presence, addressing cultural, ethnic, and geopolitical contacts between the Russian Empire and the Near Eastern, specifically Syro-Palestinian, population in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. This was the time when a new sociocultural entity emerged, known as Russian Palestine. Many thousands of Orthodox Christians from Russia (including Siberia) traveled to the Holy Land each year. A prolonged Russian residence in the Ottoman part of Palestine, where Russia owned dozens of estates, had a profound impact on Palestinian culture. Important evidence thereof are archaeological sites relating to Russian estates and pilgrimage centers. This article provides information on newly discovered Russian estates in 19th century Jerusalem, remains of buildings with their infrastructure at the Russian and Benjamin’s estates, and the Russian Compound outside the Jaffa Gate. Evidence of the Russian presence include numerous 18th–19th century lapidary inscriptions, utensils left by the first Russian missionaries, small cemeteries, and separate burials (some of them very interesting, such as the burial of a Russian pilgrim at Aceldama, Jerusalem). One find is unusual—a family synodikon from Aceldama, printed in Moscow. Among the inscriptions are professional ones, made in the monumental style, and usual prayer graffiti. One inscription has allowed us to determine the date of the pilgrimage to Constantinople and Palestine by the Chernigov monks, described by Sylvester (Dikansky).
106-113 324
This study, based on ethnographic, linguistic, and folk materials, describes and interprets Buryat ideas of birds. The analysis of lexical data reveals the principal groups of birds according to the Buryat folk classification. The bat’s status is indistinct, since bats are not subordinate to the kings of the animal world. Diagnostic criteria underlying the classification of birds are outlined. The main criterion was whether a bird was beneficial or harmful. Ornithomorphic images in Buryat mythology, folklore, and ritual are described. Cult birds and bird totems are listed, and relics of local bird cults (those relating to swan, goose, duck, pigeon, and eagle) are revealed. Birds with positive connotations are the swan, crane, swallow, pigeon, eagle, and eagle-owl. Those with negative connotation are the kite, raven, crow, quail, cuckoo, and hoopoe). The attitude toward ducks, hawks, magpies, and jackdaws is ambivalent. Certain birds (ducks and ravens) were related to cosmogonic ideas; others (swan, goose, eagle, etc.) were endowed with a werewolf capability. The raven, the cuckoo, and the hoopoe symbolized natural cycles, whereas the magpie and the quail were associated with the soul. The role of bird images in the mytho-ritual practices is discussed. The Buryat mythological ideas reflected not only specific ethnic views of certain birds, but also universal ones.
114-121 267
This study presents a new interpretation of symbols of the bride-maiden, already known in the Eastern Slavic, specifically Don Cossack tradition. It is based on findings of ethnographic expeditions of the 1980s–2000s to areas where Don Cossacks are concentrated, and on 19th-century periodicals published in the Don Region. To interpret the essence and meaning of bridal symbols, ritual practices and folklore texts are integrated, viewing both in the context of two principal passages that the bride undergoes during the wedding: 1) transition from the state of maidenhood to that of a married woman; and 2) transition from one family clan to another. Both transitions are related to the ideas of “beauty” (krasota), supposed to be lost during the ceremony, and “lot” (dolya)—part of the life force and benefits allotted to the bride from her family/clan during the rite and added to the common lot of her new family. Material embodiments of “beauty” (the braid, ribbon, and wreath) can be interpreted as symbols of freedom and virginity. These qualities are lost during the rite, whereas their material symbols are either destroyed or passed on to others. Symbols such as a small tree and twig (referring to the folkloric image of the “garden”) can be related to the idea of “lot”, and rituals in which they feature can be interpreted as a gradual disruption of the braid’s ties with her family clan, deprivation of her familial “lot” (symbolic death), followed by rebirth manifested in the acquisition of a new “lot”—that of a married woman in a new family clan. Existing classifications of bridal symbols are revised, while new ones are revealed and interpreted.
122-129 448
Celebration of Nowruz across a vast territory from the Ottoman Empire to Xinjiang had both common features and differences. This study focuses on distinctions between the festive traditions of two major cities of the Zerafshan Valley (Bukhara and Samarkand) in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when, after Russia’s annexation of the region, the Nowruz ritual practices were transformed and subjected to critical discourses among theologians and enlighteners. On the basis of unpublished archival sources, memoirs, and studies of Imperial Russian history, I analyze two types of Nowruz: official and folk. In the Emirate of Bukhara, a broad official celebration of Nowruz was started by Emir Muzaffar, who sought to strengthen the image of the Manghit dynasty during the crisis of political legitimacy. This gave rise to disputes among Islamic intellectuals about the need for a large-scale and prolonged celebration of Nowruz, which they felt went beyond the borders of Islamic tradition. In Samarkand, closer contacts between the settled Tajiks and Uzbeks, on the one hand, and the semi-nomadic Turkic-speaking population, on the other, enhanced the synthesis of agricultural and pastoral elements in the ritual practice of Nowruz. The festival was legitimized by prayers at mosques, and visits to the mazars of Muslim saints and to sacred streams. In Samarkand, following its annexation by the Russian Empire, there was no official celebration of Nowruz, and the scale of popular celebration decreased.
130-139 191
In the 1950s, large-scale excavations were carried out under the Tobolsk Kremlin restoration project in order to examine its monuments of stone architecture. Published accounts of the findings are scarce. Valuable sources of information are the photographic archives of the Tobolsk Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve. Materials include photographs of excavations and photocopies of drafts and plans. Owing to these and certain other sources, it has become possible to say exactly where and how the excavations were conducted, which monuments were detected, and how the findings were used during the restoration of the kremlin. Several dozen test pits made possible to evaluate the condition of the foundations, their layout, and depth. The most important result of the work carried out under F.G. Dubrovin’s guidance, is the study of late 17th century fortifications. Owing to numerous reconstructions, they have survived to this day in a rather fragmented state. Large areas of the northern, southern, and eastern fortifications were revealed, including remains of walls and towers. Their foundations were cleared; their exact location and general layout were assessed.


140-148 299
We describe artificial openings in crania of the Early Iron Age nomads of the Lower Volga region, owned by the Moscow State University’s Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology. Such openings were found in two male specimens of the Sauromato-Sarmatian age from Bykovo (burial 4, kurgan 13) and Baranovka (burial 2, kurgan 21). Using macroscopic and X-ray examination, we attempt to identify the surgical techniques and the reasons behind the operations. The cranial vault of the Bykovo individual was trepanned by scraping and cutting, for medical purposes. The man survived the surgery, as evidenced by healing. In the case of Baranovka, the operation was performed postmortem or peri-mortem by drilling and cutting, possibly for ritual purposes. Collating these cases with others relating to the Early Iron Age nomadic (Sauromato-Sarmatian) culture of the Lower Volga region and adjacent territories and with written and archaeological sources suggests that the closest parallels come from Central Asia, and Southern and Western Siberia, where the custom of post-mortem ritual trepanations was very common. The surgical techniques practiced in the Lower Volga region were likely due to the penetration of Greek and Roman medical traditions in the mid-first millennium BC.
149-156 255
This study analyzes the earliest known case of surgical extraction of the lower third molars, observed in a cranial series from Pucará de Tilcara fortress (15th–16th centuries AD), northwestern Argentina, excavated in 1908–1910. Crania were transported to the Kunstkamera in 1910 under an exchange project. Traces of dental surgery were registered in the mandible of a male aged ~40. Both third molars had been extracted after the removal of soft tissues and parts of the alveoli. Teeth were extracted by scraping alveolar walls with semicircular movements. The results of scanning electron microscopy, X-ray fluorescence, and X-ray microanalysis suggest that a stone tool was used. The results of macroscopic and CT analysis suggest that the surgery was motivated by the exacerbation of chronic periodontal disease and probably by caries. The left third molar was extracted without complications 2–3 months before the individual’s death. On the right side, the pathological process continued, culminating in osteomyelitis and its complications. The surgeon’s skill notwithstanding, the extraction of the right third molar did not cure the patient, who died, apparently following the destructive stage of acute osteomyelitis complicated by orofacial phlegmon. Our findings suggest that the level of dental surgery practiced in the Inca Empire was ahead of the diagnostic expertise.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)