Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia

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Vol 49, No 1 (2021)
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3-8 219

Archaeological data from stratified Early Pleistocene sites in Central Dagestan are arranged in a direct stratigraphic sequence, making it possible to reconstruct the changes in lithic industry over a span of 1.2 mln years, from ~2.0 to 0.8 Ma BP, and to separate the principal stages in the Early Paleolithic culture of the Caucasus. This study examines blanks found at sites of the Ainikab-Mukhkay group, such as Ainikab-1, and Mukhkay-1, -2, and -2a. Occurrences of large flake blanks (>10 cm) at the Oldowan and the Oldowan to Acheulean transitional stage are provided. Such blanks appear at the beginning of the Jaramillo paleomagnetic episode (~1.07 Ma BP). By the end of the Early Pleistocene, their share attains 25.77 % of the total number of blanks for morphologically distinct tools. They are absent in Oldowan deposits (~2 Ma BP). The totality of statistical data justifies the separation of the transitional Oldowan to Acheulean stage in the region, dating to 1.0–0.8 Ma BP.

9-20 280

This study focuses on the early human occupation of the arctic part of the West Siberian Plain and introduces the finds at the Paleolithic site Kushevat (Shuryshkarsky District, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug), discovered in 2020. Geological and geomorphological characteristics of the Lower Ob region are provided, the chronology of the key Middle and Late Neopleistocene sequences is assessed, and criteria underlying the search for Paleolithic sites in the area are outlined. We describe the discovery and excavations at Kushevat, its stratigraphy and its faunal remains. On the basis of correlation with neighboring key Late Neopleistocene sections with a representative series of absolute dates, the age of the site is estimated at cal 50–35 ka BP. Results of a traceological study of a possibly human-modified reindeer antler are provided. Findings at Kushevat and the available information on the early peopling of northern Eurasia suggest that the boundary of the inhabited part of that region must be shifted ~200 km to the north. The Ob, therefore, is one of the last major Siberian rivers where traces of the Early Upper Paleolithic culture have been found. The discovery of a stratified site in its lower stretch is a milestone in the Paleolithic studies in the region. A large area over which faunal remains are distributed, and the presence of lithics among the surface finds, suggest that Kushevat is a highly prospective site for future archaeological studies of the early stages in the human peopling of the region.

21-29 156

This study describes decorated bone artifacts from the Final Paleolithic or Epipaleolithic site of Cherno-Ozerye II in the Middle Irtysh area—a fragment of a bone dagger hilt found during the 1971 excavations, and fragments of bone “needle cases” found in 2019. An interpretation of the meaning of cruciform signs on the artifacts is suggested with reference to technology and form. Parallels from Ural and Eastern European sites are discussed. It is concluded that in terms of technology, morphology, and “syntax”, the signs are stable markers of certain hunter-gatherer groups. Their specificity and possible meaning suggest that the Middle Irtysh area was a contact zone between Western (Ural) and Eastern Siberian groups of Paleolithic foragers. As a result of their interaction, an original decorative style was formed.


30-38 169

The Novotemirsky mine was the first in the Southeastern Urals to have large areas of the site uncovered. This has yielded new information on the technologies practiced by the first metallurgists in the region and on the evolution of these practices in the second millennium BC. Cultural layers revealed evidence of all stages of Bronze Age metal production. Mining is documented by pits of various forms and adjoining waste dumps. This is the first time that shaft mining has been discovered in the Bronze Age of the Southern Trans-Urals. Metal smelting is evidenced by a copper- smelting furnace with slag. Metal tools were cast in bivalve molds, of which one, made of chloritolite, was used for casting pickaxes. Results of radiocarbon AMS dating indicate three stages of mine exploitation in the Bronze Age, correlating with the chronological sequence of regional cultures. The furnace was built during the Sintashta period (2100–1900 BC). The shaft mine and the adjacent dumps date to the Alakul period (1700–1500 BC). Features dating to the Final Bronze Age (1500–1200 BC) have yet to be identified. It has been demonstrated that the same mines were exploited by people associated with various archaeological cultures in the second millennium BC, implying that a metallurgical center functioned in the Trans-Urals over the entire Late Bronze Age. Given that indicators of metallurgy are quite rare at unfortified sites, and that the technology changed, it can be assumed that smelting and casting became more specialized during the Alakul period: certain operations were performed at mines and/or nearby settlements.

39-52 131

This article summarizes the findings relating to a spatially localized group of graves at the Andronovo (Fedorovka) cemetery Tartas-1 in the Baraba forest-steppe. Several rows of graves combine with ash pits suggestive of ritual activity. In the infill of graves, there were ash lenses with mammal and fish bones, and potsherds with traces showing the signs of applied heat. Ash had been taken from nearby ash pits with similar infill and artifacts. Faunal remains from graves and ash pits (limb bones of cattle, sheep/goat, and horse) indicate sacrificial offerings. In the ash layer of grave No. 282, there was an incomplete human burial, also believed to be a sacrifice. Features such as the orientation of the graves, their alignment, the position of human remains, and the grave goods in that area are similar to the Andronovo (Fedorovka) burial practice and do not differ from those in other parts of the cemetery. No complete parallels to this rite have been revealed. Some similarities, such as the use of ash, and the presence of animal bones, sacrificial pits, etc. at other sites are listed. A reconstruction of the funerary sequence and possible interpretations are considered. It is concluded that those graves were left by a group of Andronovo migrants who maintained close ties with the native population. Unusual features of the burial rite, therefore, can reflect an attempt to consolidate the immigrant groups on the basis of traditional ritual practices, where the major role was played by fire and its symbols.

53-59 146

In recent decades, several new methods for studying archaeological artifacts, mostly based on digital technologies, have been developed. One of the most promising trends is 3D modeling, allowing researchers to deal with an exact virtual copy of the artifact, which can be manipulated in every way. We propose a new method for determining whether non-applicable fragments belong to one artifact, based on 3D modeling and mathematical statistics. After applying it to two (and possibly more) fragments, one gets an unambiguous answer as to whether the application is statistically reliable (i.e., falls within 95 % confidence limits). Precise computerized measurements on 3D models, following a single algorithm, allow us to verify the results. This method was tested on non-refitting fragments of figurines from the Bronze Age cemetery Tourist-2. Two anthropomorphic figurines from the same cemetery were used to verify the conclusions and elaborate the algorithm.

60-67 172

We introduce medieval silver dishes found near Peregrebnoye, Oktyabrsky District, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug–Yugra, Western Siberia. In our opinion, they are associated with the Peregrebnoye I fortified site, dating to the late first to early second millennia AD. They may also have belonged to an Ob Ugric sanctuary. A chronological and cultural attribution of the dishes is proposed. The dish likely representing an ibex is considered to be Sogdian, belonging to the second stage of School A, according to B.I. Marshak. It has several parallels among the medieval silver vessels from the Kama basin. The tripod dish, showing a lion clawing a deer against a background decorated with a circular stamp, is either Sogdian or eastern Iranian, dating to late 8th to 10th centuries. The one representing a king riding a horse and accompanied by two warriors is a somewhat simplified replica of Sasanian prototypes, and could have been manufactured in one of the trade centers of eastern Iran or Central Asia no earlier than the 8th century—likely in the 9th–10th centuries. The Peregrebnoye finds are analyzed with reference to the 8th–10th century Sogdian and eastern Iranian silver vessels from the Lower Ob region. Their distribution area includes the Severnaya Sosva and Synya Rivers, and the vicinity of Berezovo.

68-77 171

The study focuses on the Kushnarenkovo-type ceramics from sites in the Cis-Urals and those from sites of the Bakalskaya culture in Western Siberia (300–800 AD). This type was first described in the 1960s as an indicator of major migrations relating to Magyar origins. The analysis of forms, technology, and decoration makes it possible to identify imported ware from local replicas of the Aral ceramics. Certain vessels from the Dzhetyasar cemeteries Altynasar-4, Bedaikasar-2, Kosasar-2 and -3, and Tompakasar, owned by museums, can be attributed to the Bakalskaya culture, whereas others were prototypes for replicas manufactured in the forest-steppe zone. The statistical analysis of the burial rite of contemporaneous Uralian and Western Siberian cultures reveals no features correlating with Kushnarenkovo vessels. These facts, along with the analysis of decorated utensils, coins, prestigious ornaments, and belt sets, evidence intense caravan trade between the Urals, Western Siberia, and Kazakhstan. Rather than an indicator of a specific culture, then, the Kushnarenkovo ceramics indicate a subculture of upper social strata, served by itinerant craftsmen or by manufacturers at trade factories.

78-84 127

Longstanding excavations at the Boyanovo and Rozhdestvenskoye medieval cemeteries in the Perm Territory revealed a new type of belt ornament—pendants with arch-shaped pieces carved from dorsal plates of bear claws. Each piece has two drilled holes in the central third, and they were strung on two cords in a “rope ladder” fashion. Pieces made of bear claws were interchanged with bronze beads or pipes. At the ends of strings, bells or pendants were attached. Such ornaments were worn exclusively by boys and men of all ages (from two to sixty). Silver artifacts and other “elite” items, suggesting that they were markers of high social status, accompanied the ornaments. The use of bear claws might indicate an apotropaic function. The available facts point to the use in funerary costume only, but the difficulty of manufacturing such ornaments obviates the possibility of a one-off use. Previously, such an ornament was found only at Zagarye, a cemetery dating to the final stage of the Lomovatovka culture. The pendants, then, were used during the late 9th to the late 11th centuries.

86-93 105

Unfortified rural settlements have traditionally been detected by the presence of surface finds in tilled soil or of a cultural layer in test pits, by the conformity of the area to known landscape features, and by the absence of salient signs of defensive structures. The totality of these parameters is not always an unambiguous indicator of an unfortified settlement. Owing to intense tillage in the late 20th century, affecting many sites in Central Russia and the western Urals, their outward features have been obliterated, and erosion has resulted in a gradual displacement of habitation deposits from watersheds and slopes to negative landforms. Given these destructions and the resulting unreliability of traditional archaeological criteria, the most efficient way of revealing unfortified settlements, delineating their boundaries, and tentatively reconstructing their layouts, is to use multidisciplinary approach. This study focuses on medieval unfortified settlements in northern Udmurtia—Nizhnebogatyrskoye I, and Kushmanskoye II and III. Their outward features are virtually identical. They were explored using geophysical prospection, soil drilling, and archaeological excavations. On the basis of the results, types of settlement were reliably determined and boundaries of cultural layer were delimited. In all cases, preliminary interpretations were rejected. Kushmanskoye III is shown to be a fortified settlement, and Kushmanskoye II is likely to have been a medieval economic development zone without any structures. In the case of Nizhnebogatyrskoye I, its previously determined boundaries, deduced from the distribution area of finds and landscape features, were substantially corrected.

94-100 104

This article describes identified sections of an early 18th century ditch at Fort Umrevinsky in the Upper Ob Basin. Such protective structures mark a certain stage in the evolution of military engineering in the era of Peter the Great (1694–1725) in southwestern Siberia. The design of the earliest parts of the preserved ditches allows us to address the influence of European fortification on Early Modern Russian defensive architecture. Several factors affecting the depth and profile of early 18th century ditches at Umrevinsky are discussed. They include seasonality of specialized trenching tools and the adoption and transformation of European fortification principles by 17th and early 18th Russian military engineers. At Umrevinsky, apart from the specific profile of the ditch, specialized tools were revealed, similar to those mentioned in documents on 18th century fortification. Also, specific features of the preserved parts of the ditch mirror the utmost irregularity in adoption of de Vauban’s fortification principles of the Tsardom of Muscovy, including Siberia. Our finds at Fort Umrevinsky supplement the scarce descriptions of Siberian forts in Russian documents.

101-107 153

This article outlines the results of analyses of footwear and other late medieval and recent leather items. Orthopedic diagnostics are used to assess an early 18th-century woman’s shoe from the historic center of Kaluga. The insole, made of tightly fitted cords, suggests that the shoe had a corrective function. Infrared spectroscopy and liquid chromatography were used to analyze the leather of which the quiver found during the excavations in Moscow was made, and to evaluate the technique whereby its surface was processed. Natural scientific methods were used to study the various types of leather and threads, and to reconstruct the decorative techniques. Leather footwear from the medieval town of Galich, near Kostroma, is compared to that from other Central Russian towns, revealing local variations in footwear and the distribution areas of its types. It is concluded that natural scientific methods are helpful in the study of such finds.


116-125 184

This study addresses, on the basis of ethnographic, folkloric, linguistic, and field data, the role of cattle in Buryat myths and rites, with reference to their economic significance. Buryat words relating to the exteriors of animals, sex differences, etc. are listed. The bull image features in traditional Buryat systems of time calculation and in the tradition of giving protective names homonymical to words denoting the bull are described. Mythological beliefs concerning the cattle are analyzed. The Bulagats, a major Buryat subgroup, practiced the tribal cult of Bukha-noyon, to whom the bull alluded. This practice was connected with the idea of shape-shifting, whereby the bull symbolized the male principle. In terms of cosmogony, the bull was part of habitation spheres such as sky, earth, and water, and their elements such as celestial bodies and mountains, and fire. The positive attitude to the bull and the cow was mirrored by views regarding supernatural properties of bull hair and urine, cow’s milk and placenta, and devices used for managing draft bulls (the yoke and the hair rope zele). At the same time, the cattle were associated with the Lower World and its inhabitants; they functioned as mediators and could symbolize death. A detailed description of the bull image in traditional Buryat ritualism is provided.


116-125 168

On the basis of museum collections, field records, photographic and video recordings made in the 20th to early 21st centuries, a reindeer riding saddle with flaps, typical of the eastern Evenki, is analyzed. Its construction and types of fastening are described in detail. Manufacturing technologies are discussed in the context of modern theories of material culture as adaptations to changing natural and social environments under a mobile lifestyle. The key principles underlying mobility in the taiga include the use of a wide range of materials and techniques, modularity (assembled construction with mutually complementary and interchangeable parts), a technological cycle adapted to natural rhythms, adherence to traditional knowledge, the use of artificial materials along with products of nature (since the mid-1900s), etc. In the nomadic culture, the esthetics of an artifact are intrinsically related to function, harmony, and social significance. The manufacture of reindeer riding saddles has been affected by changes in the social structure of nomadic groups.

126-132 120

This study explores the ways the symbolic aspects of the consecration of altars are manifested in 17th–21st century Siberian Orthodox churches. I focus on altars of Sophia the Wisdom of the Word of God, and the Holy Great Martyr Barbara of Heliopolis. Sources include diocese registers published in the early 1900s, 17th century documents, works of Old Russian literature, church indexes, and the “Temples of Russia” ( database. On the basis of a neurosymbolic approach to completely record reference data, a conclusion is made that the consecrations of altars dedicated to Sophia Wisdom were elitist, whereas altars in the name Holy Great Martyr Barbara were rare, but were re- energized in the late 20th and early 21st century, after this saint had become the patroness of Russia’s strategic missile forces. Specific cults of saints have a chance to re-emerge when biographical or historical events of a local, regional, or state level come to be associated with episodes in the history of Christianity and hagiographic vitae. Everyday life is thereby linked to a religious context, and numerous repetitions account for the fact that consecrations of altars become traditional. Temples become material symbols, and memorial dates relating to saints turn into verbal symbols functioning as mental labels.


133-146 221

On the basis of statistical analysis of craniometric data relating to Mesolithic and Neolithic samples from northern Eurasia, we discuss the peopling of the Baraba forest-steppe in the Early Holocene. This region is represented by samples from Sopka-2/1 (early sixth millennium BC), Protoka (late fifth to early fourth millennia BC), Korchugan (early-mid sixth millennium BC), and Vengerovo-2A (late sixth millennium BC). The results of the principal component analysis are interpreted in the context of debates over the role of autochthonous traditions in the Neolithic. During the Preboreal period (10 ka BP), large parts of the Baraba forest-steppe were flooded by the transgression of lake systems during climatic warming. This may have caused depopulation, lasting for at least a millennium. The Early Holocene people of Baraba were an offshoot of Meso-Neolithic populations of the northwestern Russian Plain. On that basis, the Early Neolithic populations of Baraba were formed. Direct population continuity is traceable only through the Chalcolithic. Since the late sixth millennium BC, however, the local population had incorporated migrants from the Pit-Comb Ware area in the central Russian Plain and, indirectly (via the Neolithic Altai), from the Cis-Baikal area.

146-153 169

In 2014–2015, 13,477 Mongolian schoolchildren (5833 boys and 7644 girls from different regions of the country), aged 8–17, were subjected to a comprehensive biological study. The program included 50+ anthropometric and anthroposcopic traits. Out of this set, bodily dimensions and functional parameters were used for the present paper. Their analysis was carried out among residents of mountain-taiga, steppe, and desert zones, which are still the main ecological niches of Mongolia. The urban sample (the best known Mongolian population, which included only subjects born and living in Ulaanbaatar) was used as a control group. The urban children and adolescents, as well as those living in the mountain-taiga zone, are characterized by maximal average values of the parameters. In the capital, these parameters are mostly affected by the living conditions, which are the best, confirming the results of previous studies. At the same time, the stressful urban factors account for higher indicators of the hemodynamic system in urban schoolchildren. The resemblance of these characteristics in steppe and desert dwellers results from relatively similar climatic conditions and physical stress patterns.

ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)