THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE SUBOTIV SETTLEMENT
VICTOR I. KLOCHKO,1 NIKOLAI N. KOVALIUKH,2 VADIM V. SKRIPKIN2 and
ABSTRACT. Samples collected at the Chornoliska culture site near the village of Subotiv, Cherkasy region during the 1994-
1995 Ukrainian-German expedition were radiocarbon dated in Kiev. The foundation of the Subotiv settlement dates to 1300-
1200 cal BC. A skeleton found in one of the buildings at this site is dated at the end of the early period (between 1120 and 1040
cal BC). In the youngest part (a small town) of the Subotiv settlement, we found the remains of a "building sacrifice"-the
skeleton of a teenager. The average calibrated date for this skeleton is 834-807 cal BC, whereas the timber from the rampart
dates between 902-810 cal BC. Thus, the rampart was apparently built between 834-807 cal BC. Among the objects found on
the site were Arzhan-type bone arrowheads. Such arrowheads, when found in Eastern Europe, are believed to indicate the mil-
itary expansion of Proto-Scythian nomads. The Sargary settlement in western Kazakhstan dates to 960-820 cal BC, the
Arzhan arrow in Siberia to 960-850 cal BC. We assume that the Chornogorivka complexes in eastern Eurasia date to the ear-
lier time period (960-820) than those in western Eurasia (834-807). The time of the Chornogorivka expansion on the territory
of Ukraine is therefore within the range 834 to 820 BC.
The Chornoliska culture, discovered by Ukrainian archaeologist A. I. Terenoghkin in the 1950s-
1960s (Terenoghkin 1961), was spread over a vast geographical area. The area included the for-
est-steppe zone between the Dniester and Dnieper Rivers, and the Vorskla River basin (a tributary
of the Dnieper River). This culture is contemporaneous with the monuments of the Ha A-B periods
in Central Europe, the Tracian Halstatt cultures, the Luzitanian culture in Poland, and, partially, the
Cimmerian period of the northern Black Sea area; this culture directly preceeds the Scythians. The
culture comprises two periods dated by traditional archaeological methods: the early period (Xth-
IXth centuries BC) and the later period (VIIIth century to the first half of the VIIth century BC) (Ter-
The artifacts of the Chornoliska culture are closer in general appearance to those of Urnenfeld and
Trakia Halstatt cultures than to monuments of Eastern cultures (Sroubnaia and Andronovskaia). By
now ca. 100 settlements of this culture are known, but detailed excavations were conducted only on
selected sites and, in addition, covered a very small area. The most thoroughly excavated Chorno-
liska culture sites are located at the Tiasmyn River basin. The best-studied site is Subotiv, located in
the Lower Tiasmyn area near the village of Subotiv, Cherkasy region, Ukraine. Terenoghkin exca-
vated this site many years ago, but the work was not finished and the materials were unpublished.
Some excavated materials are shown in Figures 1 and 2.
The goals of the recent joint Ukrainian-German research at Subotiv were to complete excavations
on the site, investigate the stratigraphy, and collect materials for metallurgical analysis and radiocar-
bon dating. 14C dating of this site is of great importance for both the Chornoliska culture and for
determining the exact dates of the end of this culture and the appearance of the Chornogorivka-type
sites-the first wave of the Eastern Proto-Scythian nomads in the northern Black Sea area. This will
allow us to determine the beginning of ethnic and cultural processes resulting in formation of the
Scythian culture in Eastern Europe.
' Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 12 Heroyev Stalingrada Ave., Kiev 254655 Ukraine
2State Scientific Center of Environmental Radiogeochemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 34 Palladin
Ave., Kiev 142, 252680 Ukraine
3Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Eurazien Abteilung, Postfach 330014, D-14191 Berlin, Germany
Proceedings of the 16th International 14C Conference, edited by W. G. Mook and J. van der Plicht
RADIOCARBON, Vol. 40, No. 2, 1998, P. 667-673 667
668 V. I. Klochko et al.
Fig. 1. Materials excavated at the Subotiv site: A) bronze Fig. 2. Bronze bracelet and bush ax found in 1955 at
dagger ("karasuk" type). B) iron sword with bronze hilt. Subotiv site
The Kiev laboratory has developed a new method for lithium carbide production from organic mate-
rials. This technique allows us to obtain lithium carbide from bone collagen without preliminary
extraction of the collagen. The bones are divided into small parts and after washing thoroughly with
trisodiumphosphate solution, and are treated with 2% hydrofluoric acid. This acid decomposes car-
bonates but fixes calcium. It gives the sample a porous and solid structure, which allows easy wash-
ing and cleaning. The sample treated in this way is mixed with manganese dioxide and placed into
the reactor for vacuum thermodestruction. The lithium carbide yield is ca. 95%. This method per-
forms well, especially for small samples (Skripkin and Kovalyukh 1998). The samples were mea-
sured with a QuantulusTM 1220 liquid scintillation counter (LSC), using 7.3 and 0.8-mL Teflon®
vials and 4 g L-1 PPO plus 0.1 g L-1 POPOP.
Chronology of the Subotiv Site
The main aim of the joint Ukrainian-German research at the Subotiv site was to obtain a series of
14C dates. The dating material consisted mainly of animal and human bones, taken from carefully
stratified layers representing all periods of the settlement (Fig. 3).
Table 1 shows the 14C dates. The results were calibrated using the Groningen Radiocarbon Calibra-
tion Program (van der Plicht 1993), employing the dataset from Stuiver and Pearson (1986), and
Subotiv Settlement Chronology 669
Fig. 3. Map showing the excavations at the Subotiv site
Pearson and Stuiver (1986). The earliest dates were obtained for the bottom of Building no. 4 (Ki-
5505, 5502 and 5504). The average result for these 3 dates is 3055 ± 35 BP. The calibrated result
(2 Q) is 1404-1254 and 1244-1210 cal BC. Taking into account the archaeological and historical
information available for the Chornoliska culture, the preferable interval for the construction of
Building no. 4 is 1244-1210 cal BC.
The period when the building ceased to be used as a living quarters is estimated from the dating of
a human skeleton buried inside: i.e., 1125-1028 cal BC (average date). Thus, the first horizon of the
settlement is traced to the time range (1244-210}-(1125-1028) cal BC. The life activity at the "quad-
rant 0-11" excavation site is dated between 1218 and 1006 (Ki-5863), and 1032 and 900 (Ki-5864)
cal BC. The youngest object of the site is the small town's rampart, built on the cultural layer of the
Chornoliska period. Under the rampart, human remains from a "building sacrifice" were found.
Table 2 shows the dates of the skeleton and the timber from the rampart.
As seen from Table 2, the rampart was constructed no later than 815-804 cal BC (1 Q) or 825-801
cal BC (2 0). We believe that this date marks end of human occupation of the site. Hence, the second
Chornoliska culture period of the Subotiv site can be dated to 1000-800 cal BC. The samples from
the excavations of the small town were 14C dated using different fragments of the skeleton. The frag-
ments were subjected to independent physical-chemical treatments followed by an independent
measurement of the 14C content in each one. We obtained a series of 14C dates with an average sta-
tistical error of 19 yr. This allows minimization of the age uncertainty after calibration (Table 2).
The age of some skeleton fragments differ from the average date, but within statistical scatter.
670 V. I. Klochko et al.
TABLE 1. Radiocarbon Dating of the Samples from the Subotiv Site
Sample Lab no. 14C age
No. Sample location material BC
1 Building no. 4 Bones 55
2 Debris from building no. 4 Bones 50 1250-1248
3 Debris from building no.4 Bones 45
4 Debris from building no. 4 Bones 50 10
5 Debris from building no.4 Bones 60 1306-1284
6 Hole no. 1, building no. 4 Coal 60 1386-1342
7 Bottom, building no. 4 Coal 50
8 Bottom, building no. 4 Coal 40
9 Quadrant 0-11, sample no. 4/1 Bones ±40
10 Quadrant 0-11, sample no. 3/1 Bones 40 1198-1186
Subotiv Settlement Chronology 671
TABLE 1. Radiocarbon Dating of the Samples from the Subotiv Site (Continued)
Sample Lab no. 14C age
No. Sample location material cal BC
11 Quadrant 0-11 Coal 35
Northwestern square, eastern wall 20 1252-1246
Sample no. 3/2 1206-994
12 Quadrant 0-11 Bones 30
Sample no. 4/2 1074-1006
13 Quadrant 0-11 Bones ±30 1044-982
Sample no. 4/lA 966-932
14 Quadrant 0-11 Bones ±40
Southeastern square 1078-990
Sample no. 4/3 954-942
15 Quadrant 0-11 Bones 40
Southeastern square 1078-990
Sample no. 4/3A 954-942
16 Quadrant 0-11 Bones 35
Sample no. 3/lA 972-930
17 Quadrant 0-11 Bones 35 1020-928
Southwestern square 20 1115-1092
Sample no. 7 1076-908
18 Quadrant 0-11 Bones 50 1116-1090
Sample no. 3/iH 1080-984
19 Quadrant 0-11 Bones 30 992-950
Northwestern square, eastern wall 948-922
Sample no. 3/2/A 201032-900
20 Quadrant 0-11 Bones
Sample no. 4/2A 20 1115-1092
21 Small town timber from the rampart Timber 35 898-876
(average date) 850-814
22 Small town. Human skeleton from under the Bones 17 824,810
rampart (average date) 20 834,807
23 Settlement of Sargary Timber 900-568
672 V.1. Klochko et al.
TABLE 2. Dating Results for Skeleton Fragments Found Under the Rampart of Subotiv Village,
Sample Lab no. 14C age no. age
no. (Ki-) (yr BP) (Bc) BP) (BC)
1 5359 2610 ±40 6 900-872
2 5360 2640 ± 35 820-796 7
20 842-776 2o828-760
3 5361 2700 ± 40 896-876 8 842-802
850-808 to 900-866
20 908-804 860-800
4 5362 2730 ± 40 900-830 9
20 930-806 20 844-732
5 5363 2590 ±45
626-598 Average date 2657 19 815-804
568-566 20 825-801
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Among the Eurasian monuments contemporaneous with the second Chornoliska culture horizon of
the Subotiv site dated by the 14C method, the Tuva Arzhan burial mound is of particular interest. The
bone arrowheads from this burial mound are similar to the rhomboidal arrows of the Subotiv site.
We relate the appearance of those arrows in Subotiv with the termination of human activities at the
site. The latest 14C date of the burial mound is 810 cal BC (Marsadolov et a1.1996; Zaitseva et at.
1996). By correlating the dendrochronological and 14C dates of the burial mound, we obtained a date
of 800 BC (Zaitseva et a1.1996). 14C dates of the Arzhan site are contemporaneous with the those of
the termination of the Subotiv site. The 14C date for Building 5 (mud-hut) in the Sargary settlement
in Western Kazakhstan, where arrowheads of the Arzhan type were found, yields 2700 ± 60 BP (Le-
1183). The calibrated date is 938-792 cal BC (Avanesova 1991). Both archaeological materials
(arrows of the Arzhan type) and 14C dates allow us to view these three monuments within the frame-
work of one historic hypothesis concerning the Western expansion of "proto-Scythians" (Klochko
and Murzin 1987a,b,1989). Chochorowski proposed to date this event-which he called a "Cimme-
rian expansion to the territory of Central Europe"-between 950 and 880 BC (Chochorowski 1995).
In terms of our recent dates, we believe that this expansion of Eastern nomads-which caused the
emergence of the Chornogorivka culture in the Ukraine territory (Dubovskaya 1993)-occurred no
later than 820-800 BC.
Subotiv Settlement Chronology 673
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