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The ancient settlement of Arkaim. An aerial view. The scale is 1:5000. 

The ancient settlement of Arkaim. An aerial view. The scale is 1:5000. 

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Article
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Paleosols of the unique fortress of Arkaim located in the steppe zone of the southern Transural region (Chelyabinsk oblast) were investigated. The dating of the buried soils was performed using the radiocarbon method. The time of building this archeological monument is the Middle Bronze Age (the Sintashta culture; the calibrated dating with 1σ conf...

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... the height of the earth walls of the settlement was 0.7 and 1.4 m; presently, their height is approximately twice lower. The archeological site is located on a remnant (200 × 300 m 2 ) of the proluvial-alluvial surface at the confluence of the Utyaganka and Bol'shaya Karaganka Rivers (a tributary of the Ural River) at the altitude of 314.5 m (Fig. 1). This remnant is isolated and surrounded by river valleys and a depression-the former channel. The background recent soils occupy small areas and are represented by ordinary ...

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... Paleolimnological studies in this area are important for understanding the patterns of past continental climate oscillations and for predicting future climate. Paleoenvironmental study has also been applied in connection with ongoing archaeological research in the Southern Urals, given the large number of archaeological settlements (Prikhod'ko et al. 2013;Stobbe et al. 2016). Holocene environmental changes in the Southern Urals, however, are relatively poorly known and based solely on qualitative reconstructions. ...
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Despite a relatively large number of paleoenvironmental and archaeological studies in the Southern Urals, Russia, Holocene moisture dynamics in the region remain a subject of debate. Electrical conductivity (EC) of lake waters in the Southern Urals is climate-dependent and associated with effective moisture. I developed a transfer function using a 72-lake regional diatom dataset and inferred past EC using diatoms in sediment cores from three lakes. The diatom-inferred EC inferences were compared with pollen records to validate the climate interpretation and explore the possible influence of vegetation on lake hydrochemistry. Multivariate analysis showed a clear response of diatom communities to electrical conductivity across a range from 55 to 3780 μS cm⁻¹. The best electrical conductivity inference model (r²boot = 0.78, RMSEPboot = 0.21 log10 μS cm⁻¹), suitable for quantitative reconstructions, was developed using weighted averaging with classical deshrinking. Application of the transfer function to sediment cores from mountain lakes in the forest and forest-steppe regions of the Southern Urals revealed relations between EC and variations in pollen contents of herbs, pine (for the forest-steppe lake) and spruce (for the forest lakes). Although a decrease in EC may be attributable to coniferous forest spread in the watersheds, it is more likely that climate fluctuations caused the coincident shifts in vegetation and lake-water hydrochemistry. Forest lakes were marked by a declining trend in EC since the beginning of the Holocene (11.9–11.5 cal ka BP), which was independent of the larch and birch forest distribution (11.5–10.0 cal ka BP) and was interrupted by minor climate-driven EC increases. Electrical conductivity of lake water was higher than present in the period between 6.5 and 3.8 cal ka BP in all three study lakes. Forest lakes were characterized by gradual increases and decreases in EC, with maximum values occurring ca. 5.0–4.0 cal ka BP. Diatoms in the core from the forest-steppe lake record variations in EC through time. In particular, the record shows highest EC values at 5.3 cal ka BP, a decline in EC at 4.1–3.8 cal ka BP, a slight increase about 3.6 cal ka BP and a substantial decrease since 2.8 cal ka BP.
... Moreover, unlike the first three decades, from 2000 to present [15][16][17], there has been an accelerated growth in the number of scientific publications. These papers used new geoarchaeological methods in the research of soils and sediments at archaeological sites [18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25]. ...
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Engineering and geographic substantiation of the anti-erosion organization of agricultural landscapes requires not only differentiated estimations of erosion losses, but also commensurate (in terms of space-time scales) estimations of the soil loss tolerance. The main approaches for determining the participation of estimations of soil formation in the substantiation of erosion tolerance have been defined. This study is aimed at justifying the methods of incorporating the results of pedogenesis modeling into computational methods for organizing agricultural landscapes. This paper presents the results of a study of the process of formation of the humus horizon and the accumulation of organic carbon in soils, based on soils from archaeological sites in the Crimean Peninsula over a period from 25 to 2000 years ago, with differences in climate and parent rock, in a region with a thousand-year history of human activity. The patterns of variation in the thickness of the humus horizons over time and the accumulation of carbon were determined, and estimates for the rate of the pedogenesis were obtained. In connection with the slowing of the rate of pedogenesis over time, the chronofunction of the change in the thickness of soils (of both exponential and logistic types) may be applied and, on this basis, it is possible to calculate the rates of the formation of the humus horizon depending on the morphological status of the soils. During re-naturation of highly degraded soils, maximum renewal rates may take place only with a very high input of organic matter, which is crucial to take into account in the development and implementation of programs for the rehabilitation of degraded lands. Under the conditions of slope agriculture, the rationale for T-values should be linked to many factors of the input and consumption of organic carbon, which provides a logical mathematical model of the formation of soil quality. For soil quality management on agricultural lands, a formula for calculating T-values, using an equation where the rate of pedogenesis is associated with a variety of changes in soil organic carbon, is proposed in this article.
... The role of the contents of trace elements (Co, Ni, Mn, B, Zn, etc.) in the soil is just as important for growing high-quality grapes as is the content of the fundamental mineral elements-N, P, K, Ca, S, and Mg [4,5,[14][15][16][17]. However, the impact on the productivity of trace elements and in particular of heavy metals depends largely on the soil environment in specific bioclimatic conditions [18][19][20][21][22]. Furthermore, fine-dispersed minerals (silt and clay) appear to be the most relevant soil parameters controlling soil dynamics in the profile of soils and parent rock [23]. ...
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The ancient city of Chersonesos created an agricultural zone in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC (under the conditions of climate aridization); this zone was initially used for viticulture and the export of wine, and grain farming later developed at the distant chora (in NorthWestern (NW) Crimea). The purpose of our work was to verify whether the ampeloecological conditions, especially the geochemical features of the soil and rock, limited viticulture in NW Crimea. Fallow lands in 13 plots in the near and distant chora of Chersonesos were studied using ampelopedology; specifically, we compared agrochemical properties and the concentrations of macro-and trace elements in the renaturation soil horizon and in the parent rock. The main differences between the soils of the two regions were determined by the accumulation of cinnamonic soils of Chersonesos Si, K, Fe, Al, P 2 O 5 ; in the distant chora, there are specific elements, including V, Pb, Rb, Cr. The climate and the biogeochemical diversity of soils and rock could be significant factors causing the differences in wine quality in the two regions of western Crimea; these factors are still reflected in modern viticultural practices when using the concept of "terroir". These findings are consistent with the different roles of ancient viticulture in SW (South-Western) and NW (North-Western) Crimea (i.e., export and local consumption, respectively), which have been highlighted by historians.
... The spore-pollen analysis of the soil samples was also performed. Though such comprehensive studies are few in number, their importance is obvious, as they provide versatile data for the reconstruction of changes in the paleoenvironmental conditions in space and time [1,26,27,29,31,44]. The soils were classified according to the classification system of 1977 [18], as it had been used in previous studies. ...
Article
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Four Scythian kurgans of the burial site Beloe Lake-3 were studied in the Turan–Uyuk Depression in the Republic of Tyva. They were constructed about 2565–2390 calendar years ago (calibrated with deviation 1 σ). Soil formation after 2500 yrs of the construction of the kurgans was examined in the interkurgan area. The properties of the background surface and ancient buried soils have much in common, and the difference between the soils of the four kurgans is small. This attests to the fact that the paleoclimatic conditions in the period of the necropolis construction remained stable and were similar to the modern climatic conditions. According to palynological data, the climate at the stage of the construction of the first two kurgans was a little more humid in comparison with the modern climate; it became somewhat drier after 95 years, during the construction of the third kurgan (2425 cal. BP) and again tended to humidification at the final stage of the necropolis creation. These changes in the paleoclimatic conditions are indicated by variations in the structure and composition of associations of xerophytes, mesophytes, hydrophytes, and ruderal plants. At the Uyuk stage, the area was mainly occupied by steppe phytocenoses with a predominance of xerophytes over mesophytes, and hydrophilous vegetation was allocated to moistened habitats near water reservoirs. Larch forests grew near water bodies. The variable anthropogenic impact on the landscape was stronger at the initial and final stages of the construction of the Uyuk culture necropolis.
... Such a multidisciplinary study has been performed for Bashkortostan for the first time. In general, regional studies of Holocene objects with simultaneous application of pedological and palynological analyses are few in number [1,19,20,30,32]. ...
... Thus, during the construction of the walls of the Arkaim fortress in Chelyabinsk oblast 4.1-3.9 ka cal BP (1 σ), the climate was warmer and wetter than at present [19,20]. In the preceding period (4.17 ka cal BP), it was characterized by the increased aridity [16]. ...
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The reconstruction of soil, vegetation, and climatic conditions for the Srubnaya cultural epoch (3660 ± 40 (date wood), 3860 ± 120 (bones date) was performed on the basis of palynological and paleosol studies with radiocarbon dating of bones and wood fragments from two kurgans in the Cis-Ural forest-steppe of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Morphological features and chemical properties of the modern background soils, the soils formed on the surface of burial mounds (kurgans), and the soils buried under them were characterized. According to palynological data, the climate of this territory in the period of construction of these kurgans was more humid than the modern climate. The paleovegetation of the Srubnaya epoch was represented by mesophilic herbaceous steppes with a lower participation of xerophytic species as compared to the modern steppe and by small forest groves composed of birch and pine trees with some admixture of lime trees. The temperature conditions were close to those at present, or somewhat cooler, which is evidenced by the lower content of pollen of the broadleaved trees. The modern background soils and the soils buried under the kurgans are classified as thin light loamy typical calcareous chernozems; they have similar morphologies and physicochemical properties. However, the reconstructed organic matter content in the upper 50 cm of the buried paleosols is higher than that in the modern soils. This attests to more favorable climatic conditions during the Srubnaya epoch and is in agreement with palynological data.
... The paleosol was studied in the pit set under the ancient defensive wall of the Arkaim settlement (4000 years). It was described in [27,28]. ...
Article
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Carbon and nitrogen compounds and the emission of CO2, CH4, and N2O were studied in the ancient buried and modern background soils developed from different parent materials in the Arkaim Reserve of Chelyabinsk oblast. The studies were performed after an 18-year-long period of absence of anthropogenic loads on the local ecosystems. Element contents in the humus horizons of the chernozems of the former plowland and pastures and of the forest soil reach 28–45.6 g/kg for Corg, 2.5–4.5 g/kg for Ntot, 140–423 mg/kg for labile carbon (Cl), 32–73 mg/kg for labile nitrogen (Nl), 350–952 mg/kg for carbon of microbial biomass (Cmic), and 38–85 mg/kg for nitrogen of microbial biomass (Nmic). The contents of different forms of C and N depend on the soil type and texture and on the type of land use, including that before reservation of the territory. The emission of greenhouse gases was examined in this area for the first time. The production of CO2 by the soil buried about 4000 years ago is an order of magnitude lower than that by the modern soil. The emission and sink of N2O are small in both modern and ancient soils. The behavior of methane is clearly different in the automorphic and hydromorphic soils: the former serve as methane sinks, whereas the latter act as methane sources. The rate of the CO2 emission from the soils is controlled by many factors, including the soil type, texture, degree of hydromorphism, composition of parent materials, and type of land use.
... The Arkaim Reserve is a polygon for multiple stud ies by scientists of different specialties. Specific fea tures of paleosols, vegetation, and climate in this area during the Middle Bronze epoch have been recon structed [10,19,23]. Before the reservation of this ter ritory, detailed soil and biocenotic studies were con ducted on 16 plots [6]. ...
Article
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Soils of the Arkaim Reserve were studied before the establishment of the reserve and, then, 12 and 18 years after the reservation of this territory. Former pastures and hayfields occupy 70% of the reserve, and former plowlands occupy about 30%. Some of them have been converted into sown meadows. The soil cover of the reserve is composed of chernozems (about 50% of the area), solonetzes and salt-affected soils (32%), meadow-chernozemic soils (7%), and forest soils (1%). In eighteen years of reservation, the Corg content in the upper 20 cm has increased by 0.5–0.8%, or by 14–25% of the initial content with the average rate of 60–100 g C/m2 per year. The accumulation of Corg has been more intensive in the soils of former plowlands than in the soils of former pastures and in the chernozems than in the meadow-chernozemic soils. Self-restoration of most of the soils of the reserve is accompanied the rise in the content of the labile fraction of organic carbon. In some soils, the contents of the labile fraction (0.3%) and light-weight fraction (>25% of Corg) have reached optimum values. After 18 years of reservation, the biomass of microorganisms has reached 500–800 μg/g of soil (or 1.1–1.9% of Corg); the basal respiration has reached 0.7–1.5 μg C-CO2/g per hour. These characteristics are the highest for meadow-chernozemic soils under former pasture and the lowest for postagrogenic chernozems. The rise in the Corg content and changes in the particular forms of soil organic matter under the regime of a reserve greatly depend on the soil type and on the former land use. The role of parent materials is smaller. Many soils of the reserve require a long period of rehabilitation.
Article
In the last two decades, the Bronze Age chronology of the Great Urals was revolutionized by the first large-scale radiocarbon dating programs. Since then, the chronology of the Bronze Age in this area has been under discussion. In this paper, we present 23 new AMS dates from Late Bronze Age sites in the steppe and forest steppe areas of the southern Trans-Urals and northwestern Kazakhstan. This includes the first successful dating of cremated bone samples from this area. Bayesian modeling was conducted to date the Late Bronze Age into three chronological phases. The considerable number of outliers suggests previously undetected biases in the material. In addition, we found differences between the Bayesian models of the steppe and forest steppe areas that are not reflected in the archaeological record. This study emphasizes the value of Bayesian modeling for the prehistoric chronology of the Great Urals but also highlights its issues.
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The Transural steppe is a cultural contact zone between areas east and west of the Ural Mountains. Mobile pastoralism is the traditional way of life in the steppe, while sedentary cultures constitute an exception, probably as a result of climatic variations. A change of lifestyle together with other innovations is documented at the turn of the 3rd to the 2nd millennia BC and often believed to have been accompanied by a shift to agro-pastoralism. To examine the ecology and economy in the Bronze Age steppe, we employed a combination of methods. As proxy-data, plant macro-remains from archaeological excavations of Sintashta fortified settlements and pollen from off-site archives were used for a high-resolution palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Statistical comparisons of past and present pollen spectra show no significant differences in vegetation distribution. This allowed us to map the recent vegetation units by multispectral satellite imagery and to use them for modelling. Models further incorporate steppe productivity, carrying capacity and population figures to estimate herd sizes. Even if the climate was suitable for agriculture, evidence is missing from all botanical records. The economic mainstay was animal husbandry. Models consider autonomous activity zones of at least 4 km radius surrounding each Sintashta settlement where grazing resources could easily sustain the estimated population and their livestock. The river is seen as the determining factor to settle in this region as it provided constant access to water and valuable natural grazing areas. During dry years and winter, the productive meadow steppes functioned as reserve pastures.