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Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)

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The radiocarbon dates obtained on materials from archaeological sites of the Low and Middle Povolzhye are presented in this article. The analysis of the complex of radiocarbon dates allowed a determination of the most appropriate dates for forming chronological schemes of cultural development in this region. The chronological frameworks of the Early Neolithic in the Low Povolzhye were determined from 6600–5500 cal BC; in the Middle Povolzhye they are from 6500 to 4600 cal BC.
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Documenta Praehistorica XLIV (2017)
Introduction
Povolzhye is located in the Volga River basin. In the
south, this region borders the Caucasus and Middle
Asia, the Don River basin in the west, the Urals re-
gion in the east, and the Kama region in the north
(Fig. 1). The Povolzhye region has an important
meaning for investigations, because during the Neo-
lithic period strong cultural interconnections be-
tween people from these regions were established.
Thus, the chronology of these cultures has a priority
aspect for the study of Neolithisation of Eastern Eu-
rope. Russian archaeologists consider the Neolithic of
Eastern Europe as the period when pottery appear-
ed. The main problem of radiocarbon dating sites in
the steppe and forest-steppe zone is the lack of the
necessary quantities of organic material for dating,
which has not been preserved in the cultural layers.
Until 2007, there were less than 20 radiocarbon dates
for the numerous archaeological sites of this region,
most of which were doubtful. Therefore the radio-
carbon dating of organics from pottery was used, as
well as dating of other organic materials (charcoal,
bone, charred crusts). In the last ten years, 290 ra-
diocarbon dates have been obtained: 70 for the
Northern Caspian region; 41 for the Low Volga Ri-
ver region; 89 for the forest-steppe of the Middle
Volga region; 31 for the Sura region; 34 for the Pri-
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic
in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
Alexander Vybornov1, Marianna Kulkova2, Konstantin Andreev1and Eugeny Nesterov2
1 Samara State University of Social Sciences and Education, Samara, RU
vibornov_kin@mail.ru
2 Russian State Pedagogical University, Sankt-Peterburg, RU
ABSTRACT – The radiocarbon dates obtained on materials from archaeological sites of the Low and
Middle Povolzhye are presented in this article. The analysis of the complex of radiocarbon dates
allowed a determination of the most appropriate dates for forming chronological schemes of cultur-
al development in this region. The chronological frameworks of the Early Neolithic in the Low
Povolzhye were determined from 6600–5500 cal BC; in the Middle Povolzhye they are from 6500
to 4600 cal BC.
IZVLE∞EK – V ≠lanku predstavljamo rezultate radiokarbonskih datacij zbirov iz arheolo∏kih najdi∏≠
na obmo≠ju spodnje in srednje Volge. Z analizo kompleksnih radiokarbonskih datumov smo lahko
dolo≠ili tiste datume, ki so najbolj ustrezni za oblikovanje ≠asovnega okvirja kulturnega razvoja v
regiji. V spodnjem toku reke Volge ga postavljamo v ≠as med 6600 in 5500 pr. n. ∏t., na obmo≠ju sred-
njega toka reke Volge pa med 6500 in 4600 pr. n. ∏t.
KEY WORDS – Neolithic; Lower Volga region; Forest-steppe Volga region; reservoir effect; absolute
chronology
KLJU∞NE BESEDE – neolitik; spodnji tok reke Volge; obmo≠je gozdne stepe; efekt rezervoarja; abso-
lutna kronologija
Radiokarbonska kronologija neolitika v pore;ju reke Volge
(vzhodni del ruske Evrope)
DOI> 10.4312\dp.44.14
Fig. 1. Map of the Po-
volzhye region: 1 Kair-
shak III; 2 Baibek; 3 Ten-
teksor; 4 Kugat IV; 5 Ku-
lagaysi; 6 Jangar; 7 Tu-
Buzgu-Huduk; 8 Orlovka;
9 Varfolomeevskaya; 10
Algay; 11 Ivanovskaya;
12 Vilovatovskaya; 13
Chekalino IV; 14 B. Ra-
kovka II; 15 Kalmykovka
I; 16 Krasniy Gorodok I;
17 Niznaya Orlyanka II;
18 Krasniy Yar; 19 Vju-
novo lake I; 20 Utuzh I;
21 Imerka VII; 22 II Sher-
betskaya; 23 Dubovskaya
III.
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
225
stry is closely analogous to the local Mesolithic stone
industry, which is characterised by artefacts such as
geometric microliths in the form of segments and
parallelograms. These features of material culture
are evidence of the local origin of this Neolithic cul-
ture (Kozin 2002.1–16).
In the north-western part of the Caspian Sea coast,
the earliest sites of the earliest stage of Jangar type
(Tubuzgukhuduk site) (Fig. 1.site 7) date to the first
part of the 7th millennium BC according to P. M.
Koltsov (Koltsov 2005). According to the features of
the flint tools and some pottery characteristics, the
Neolithisation of this territory began from the Cau-
casus; for example, the arrowheads and trapezes of
the north-western Caspian Sea and the Caucasus are
similar (Koltsov 2005). At the same time, some inno-
vations were linked to local populations. The main
innovation was the appearance of pottery-making
traditions. In the middle of the 7th millennium BC,
the populations which produced the Kairshak type
migrated from the northern Caspian Sea region to-
wards the steppe region of the Volga River basin and
the north-western coast of the Caspian. This process
was probably triggered by paleoclimatic changes.
The bearers of the Kairshak and Jangar cultures in-
fluenced the formation of the Orlovskaya culture in
the lower part of the Volga basin (Varfolomeevska-
ya site) (Fig. 1.site 9). Three cultural layers were
identified at the Varfolomeevskaya site: lower (3),
middle (2), and upper layer (1). Microliths (such as
mokshanie, and 24 for the forest zone of the Mid-
dle Volga region. This complex of radiocarbon dates
allows us to establish the validity of dates obtained,
especially the acceptability of dates on the organics
from pottery and to determine the chronological
frameworks of Neolithic cultures in the Povolzhye.
The dates presented in the Table 1 were obtained
for the most significance and etalon sites. They are
representative for these sites and have coincidence
on the base of different organic materials. The dates
which did not been included in the Table 1 were pub-
lished elsewhere earlier.
Neolithic cultures of the Povolzhye region
The detailed characteristics of artefacts, cultures and
cultural types of Neolithic complexes of Povolzhye
have been presented in numerous publications (e.g.,
Mamonov 2000.147–176; Morgunova 2004.214–
216; Vybornov 2008; Vybornov et al. 2009a.71–
80; 2009b.81–88; Grechkina et al. 2014.79–90; An-
dreev 2015.1–16; Andreev et al. 2016a.130–139;
Yudin et al. 2016.61–68).
The Northern Caspian region
In Figure 1 we present the sites where the Kairshak
pottery type dated to c. 7th millennium BC was found
in the semi-desert northern coast of the Caspian Sea
(Fig. 1), This type of pottery is archaic in style. The
flat-bottomed vessels were made of organic-rich silt
and have geometric ornamentation. The stone indu-
Alexander Vybornov, Marianna Kulkova, Konstantin Andreev and Eugeny Nesterov
226
No. Site 14CAge (BP) Age, cal BC (2 σσ)δδ13C (‰) Lab index Material
1 Kairshak III 7775±42 6690–6490 –28,7 Ua-41359 Food crusts
2 Kairshak III 7700±100 6830–6370 n\d SPb_377 Food crusts
3 Kairshak III 7300±100 6505–5746 n\d SPb_422 Pottery
4 Kairshak III 7190±80 6230–5890 n\d Ki-14633 Animal bone
5 Kairshak III 7870±100 7050–6500 n\d Ki-16401 Carbonates from
pottery
6 Kairshak III 7290±190 6500–5750 n\d Ki-1600 Organics from
pottery
7 Baibek 7937± 48 7037–6684 –29,3 Ua-50262 Food crusts
8 Baibek 6827±100 5917–5604 n\d SPb-1712 Charcoal
9 Baibek 7350±50 6373–6070 n\d Poz-57060 Food crusts
10 Baibek 6955±80 6002–5708 n\d SPb-1709 Animal bone
11 Baibek 6948±120 6034–5634 n\d SPb-1713 Charcoal
12 Baibek 6986±44 5983–5759 –10 Ua-50260 Charcoal
13 Baibek 6925±120 6021–5626 n\d SPb-1716 Pottery
14 Tenteksor 6695±40 5680–5530 –27,7 Ua-35277 Food crusts
15 Tenteksor 6540±100 5640–5310 n\d SPb-315a Animal bone
16 Tenteksor 6640±80 5720–5470 n\d Ki-14101 Pottery
17 Tenteksor 6650±100 5740–5460 n\d SPb-423 Pottery
18 Kugat IV 7680±100 6690–6380 n\d Ki-14501 Pottery
19 Kugat IV 7560±90 6600–6220 n\d Ki-14500 Pottery
20 Kulagaysi 7380±120 6450–6027 n\d SPb-1725 Pottery
21 Jangar layer 3 7080±90 6090–5710 n\d Ki-14639 Pottery
22 Jangar layer 3 6990±90 6030–5710 n\d Ki-14640 Pottery
23 Jangar layer 2–3 6870±130 6010–5550 n\d IGAN-2819 Charcoal
24 Jangar 2 6100±70 5220–4840 n\d Le-2564 Charcoal
25 Jangar 2 6780±90 5840–5510 n\d Ki-14641 Pottery
26 Jangar 1 5890±70 4940–4580 n\d Le-2901 Charcoal
27 Jangar 1 6564±44 5575–5470 –27,5 Hela-3255 Crust
28 Varfolomeevskaya 3 layer 6980±200 6250–5500 n\d Gin 6546 Charcoal
29 Varfolomeevskaya 3 layer 7250±80 6250–5980 n\d Ki-14109 Pottery
30 Algay 7284±80 6271–6008 n\d SPb-2144 Humid acids
31 Varfolomeevskaya 2b layer 7100±110 6220–5740 n\d SPb-941 Food crusts
32 Varfolomeevskaya 2B layer 7034±41 6010–5830 –28,0 Ua-41360 Food crusts
33 Varfolomeevskaya 2 B layer 6850±40 5816–5659 n\d Poz-52697 Food crusts
34 Algay 6800±40 5741–5631 n\d Poz-65198 Food crusts
35 Algay 6820±80 5889–5614 n\d SPb-1510 Animal bone
36 Algay 6577±80 5641–5374 n\d SPb-1478 Animal bone
37 Orlovka 6647±150 5846–5315 n\d SPb-1727 Pottery
38 Varfolomeevskaya 2A layer 6544±38 5620–5580 –25,1 Ua-41361 Food crusts
39 Algay 6490±40 5527–5367 n\d Poz-76004 Charcoal
40 Varfolomeevskaya 2A layer 6363±150 5650–4950 n\d SPb-937 Food crusts
41 Varfolomeevskaya (upper) 5800±150 5050–4300 n\d SPb-939 Crust
42 Algay 5875±60 4856–4580 n\d SPb-1968 Animal bone
43 Varfolomeevskaya 5870± 90 4950–4490 n\d Ki-14614 Pottery
44 Ivanovskaya 7680±90 6733–6374 n\d Ki-14567 Pottery
45 Chekalino IV 7660±200 7047–6202 n\d SPb-424 Pottery
46 B. Rakovka II 7613±120 6750–6200 n\d SPb-1733 Pottery
47 Ivanovskaya 7560±70 6566–6248 n\d SPb-587 Pottery
48 Chekalino IV 7250±60 6229–6016 n\d Poz-42051 Carbon from
Pottery
49 Chekalino IV 7127±150 6400–5700 n\d SPb-1731 Pottery
50 Vjunovo lake I 7222±58 6220–6004 – 27 AA-96017.1 Pottery
51 Vjunovo lake I 7160±40 6092–5927 n\d Poz-47870 Pottery
Tab. 1. Radiocarbon dates for Neolithic sites in the Povolzhye region.
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
227
geometric microliths and trapezes) similar to the
Kairshak type were found in the lower part of the
third cultural layer at Varfolomeevskaya. Organic silt
(probably from the river floodplain) was the basic
raw material used in pottery making. The pottery is
flat-bottomed, with pinned and incised ornamenta-
tion. In this area, the Kairshak culture contributed to
the further development of the Varfolomeevskaya
and Jangar traditions. This can be traced in the pot-
tery, ornamentation technique and types of decora-
tion of ceramics.
The Volga River region
The earliest Neolithic sites on the border between
the steppe and forest steppe in the Volga River basin
are indicated by complexes of Elshanka-type pottery
(Fig. 1). Elshanian culture had two stages, an earlier
and later. The most important sites of the early cul-
tural stage are at Ivanovskaya in the Samara River
basin and Chekalino in the Sok River basin. The pot-
tery was made of silt clay; the bases are pointed and
decoration sparse, with pits and incised lines. The
14C dating of different materials (charred crusts,
bones, pottery) confirms the appearance of this pot-
tery as early as the beginning of the 7th millennium
BC (Tab. 1). The typology and technological charac-
teristics of the Elshanka pottery type show their non-
local origin. The closest analogues to this type can be
found on the eastern coast of the Caspian and the
Central Asian interfluves, at the Uchaschy, Daryasay,
and Dzhebel sites (Kholmatova 2012.106–110). Ra-
diocarbon dates on the earliest Neolithic materials
in Central Asia are of the same age (Brunet et al.
2012.118–124). Specific geometric microliths are also
evidence of Neolithiation. There are several reasons
for assuming frequent and diachronic impulses dur-
ing the Neolithisation process in this region. At the
end of the 7th millennium BC, some Elshanka tribes
directly influenced the process of pottery making in
the north-western Middle Volga region, in the Sura
River valley (e.g., Vyunovo Lake I and Utuzh sites)
and in the Moksha River basin (the Imerka VII site)
(Fig. 1). So, there are numerous Early Neolithic sites
in the Middle Volga basin with pottery similar to the
Elshanka type. They have common characteristics:
methods of vessel moulding; the shape of rims and
bases of vessels; near absence of ornamentation;
small pressed pits between incised decorations, and
ornamental elements and motifs. Elshanka culture
existed in the forest-steppes of the Volga and Sura
river basins probably until the 6th millennium BC.
New sites have been excavated recently in this re-
gion. Their stratigraphy, archaeological finds and ra-
diocarbon dating provide new data for modelling a
detailed chronology of the Neolithic cultures in this
region.
Methods and materials
Radiocarbon dating of ancient ceramics is an impor-
tant research topic both for radiocarbon analysis
and for archaeology. Pottery is the most abundant
material found during excavations of Neolithic sites
in Eastern Europe. The various organic materials used
for radiocarbon dating, such as charcoal, bone, wood,
or soil, are sometimes not associated with the archa-
eological context of a settlement or cultural layer.
However, the radiocarbon dating of organics from
pottery has other problems. Firstly, the pottery can
No. Site 14CAge (BP) Age, cal BC (2 σσ)δδ13C (‰) Lab index Material
52 Imerka VII 7205±60 6220–5980 –28,4 Hela-3521 Food crusts
53 Krasniy Yar 6700±70 5730–5490 n\d SPb-755 Food crusts
54 Kalmykovka I 6643±110 5740–5370 n\d SPb-1415 Pottery
55 Utuzh I 6568±49 5620–5470 n\d Ua-44377 Food crusts
56 Utuzh I 6500±100 5640–5290 n\d SPb-834 Pottery
57 Dubovskaya III 7000±150 6250–5600 n\d SPb-1290 Pottery
58 Dubovskaya III 6892±40 5890–5700 –28,1 Ua-44724 Food crusts
59 II Sherbetskaya 6620±90 5720–5460 Ki-14134 Pottery
60 Imerka VII 6546±60 n\d Hela-3253 Food crusts
61 Vilovatovskaya 6320±90 5476–5061 n\d Ki-14090 pottery
62 Vilovatovskaya 6160±100 5322–4842 n\d Ki-14088 pottery
63 Vilovatovskaya 5960±80 5056–4618 n\d Ki-14089 pottery
64 Kalmykovka I 5950±120 5250–4500 n\d SPb-1759 pottery
65 Kalmykovka I 5989±70 5060–4710 n\d SPb-1876 bone
n\d – δ13C‰ was not determined. –25‰ was used for age calculation.
Tab. 1. Continue ...
Alexander Vybornov, Marianna Kulkova, Konstantin Andreev and Eugeny Nesterov
228
be contaminated by younger organics from the soil,
such as humic acids, during burial (Stott et al. 2001.
191–197). Sometimes secondary carbonates can be
formed inside pottery pores. Older carbonates can
be found in the clay composition or as a temper in
the form of shell, or carbonate minerals such as cal-
cite or dolomite, and sometimes they cannot be re-
moved by chemical pretreatment (Evin et al. 1989.
276). In other cases, these contaminations can be
removed by special chemical pretreatment methods
(Hedges et al. 1992.906–915; Anderson et al. 2005.
1–9).
The efficiency of this process depends on the cera-
mic types, methods and duration of pretreatment
(Hedges et al. 1992.906–915; Delquè Kolic 1995.
275–284; Stott et al. 2001.191–197; Anderson et al.
2005.1–9; Bonsall et al. 2002.47–59). The carbon in-
side a ceramic sherd whose age is comparable with
the time of pottery making or use can be tested after
older and younger carbon contaminants have been
removed (Kul’kova 2014.115–122). One of the orga-
nic residues connected with ancient cooking proces-
ses is carbon from charred food crusts on pottery
walls (Nakamura et al. 2001.1129–1138). The ra-
Fig. 3. The Northern Caspian Sea region. Pottery from the Baibek site.
Fig. 2. The Northern Caspian Sea region. Pottery from the Kugat IV (1) and Kairshak III sites (2–9).
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
229
diocarbon dating of charred food crusts gives good
results if freshwater, sea fish or seafood were not
used during cooking. Otherwise, the reservoir effects
lead to older radiocarbon ages of food crusts (Fi-
scher, Heinemeier 2003.449–466; Boudin et al.
2010.697–705; Kunikita et al. 2013.1334–1340).
The measurements of carbon and nitrogen stable
isotopes in food crusts may help to determine the
type of food in the pottery. Corrections for the reser-
voir effect on food crust age is done experimentally
(Hart et al. 2013.536–552; Philippsen 2013). Ano-
ther carbon component forming in the pottery dur-
ing use is soot on the outer walls of vessels. The ap-
plication of soot for radiocarbon dating has yielded
comparable results (Delquè Kolic 1995.275–284).
But only AMS dating can be applied for dating this
component because of the small amounts of carbon.
It should be noted that food crusts or soot are not al-
ways found on pottery walls. Sometimes the amounts
of food crusts and soot are too little for radiocarbon
dating. Therefore, some authors consider radiocar-
bon dating the organic material from the core of the
sherd (Hedges et al. 1992.905–915; Anderson et al.
2005.1–9; Messili et al. 2013.1391–1402). In this
case, there is still the problem of
reservoir effects if the pottery was
used to cook fish or contents with
aquatic organics. In this case, the
stable isotope analysis can give
additional information about the
reservoir effect. In addition, clay
with older organic inclusions from
ancient deposits could be used for
pottery making, and the radiocar-
bon age of such a sherd would be
older than expected. In the most
cases, the raw materials extracted
for early Neolithic pottery mak-
ing in Eastern Europe were cho-
sen from sources that were mo-
dern to ancient people (Vybor-
nov 2008.490). Early pottery was
fired at a temperature of 600–
800°C. The decomposition of or-
ganic components and the forma-
tion of coal and soot particles oc-
curs in these conditions. The co-
res of these sherds are grey or
black, depending on the amount
of unburned organic material.
Carbon from pottery can there-
fore correspond to the age of its
production and use, or it can be
older. Radiocarbon dating experiments on pottery
yield inconsistent results (Hedges et al. 1992.905–
915; Delquè Kolic 1995.275–284). Sometimes radio-
carbon dates of pottery carbon do not correspond to
radiocarbon dates on other organic materials from
the same archaeological sites. Some authors (Messili
et al. 2013.1391–1402) consider pottery carbon as
suitable material for radiocarbon dating. According
to Lamia Messili et al. (2013.1391–1402) the accu-
racy of pottery 14C dates is a direct function of the
temper/clay organic matter ratio: the higher it is, the
weaker the influence of the organic matter bound to
the clay and the more reliable the 14C dating. Jeanet-
te M. O’Malley et al. (1999.19–24) presented a step-
wise heating technique to extract only a temper car-
bon fraction from the interior and exterior parts of
potsherds, and obtained preliminary 14C ages for
pottery from the Russian Far East (Nakamura et al.
2001.1129–1138). Stepped-combustion dating of ear-
liest pottery from the Russian Far East is also pre-
sented by Yaroslav V. Kuzmin et al. (2001).
Samples were pretreated with diluted HCl acid (1.2N)
and NaOH (0.1N) to remove contaminants such as
Fig. 4. The Northern Caspian Sea region. Pottery from the Tenteksor
site.
Alexander Vybornov, Marianna Kulkova, Konstantin Andreev and Eugeny Nesterov
230
carbonates and organic acids from the soil originat-
ing from decomposed organic matter. The CO2pro-
duced from samples is then graphitized before being
dated by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) at the
LMC14 (Cottereau et al. 2007.291–299).
For LSC dating, Zaitseva et al. (2009.796) describe
the extraction of carbon for LSC dating of pottery as
follows: pottery samples of 200– 400g with a carbon
content of 1– 3% were taken from vessel walls, and,
rarely, from the bottom. The ground
samples (10–22mm in diameter)
were treated with 0.5N hydrofluo-
ric acid in a Teflon® container for
2–5 hours at room temperature. In
the initial and final stages, the sam-
ples were subjected to 10 minutes
of ultrasonic exposure. The samples
were then finely ground, dried at
under 150–180°C, and mixed with
a calculated amount of manganese
dioxide; gaseous products were ab-
sorbed by lithium. Lithium carbide
was synthesised by vacuum pyroly-
sis. Benzene was synthesised in a
stainless steel reactor under 0.1–
2atm of pressure. When the tempe-
rature rises above 550°C, the man-
ganese dioxide disintegrates with a
uniform release of active oxygen in
a wide temperature range of 550–
940°C. The fine-dyspersated carbon
is oxidised, forming carbon oxide
and dioxide, which are absorbed by
the melted metallic lithium. The li-
thium carbide is subjected to hydro-
lysis, and the released acetylene is
turned into benzene with a vanadium catalyst (Skrip-
kin, Kovalukh 1998.211–214; Kovalukh, Skripkin
2007.120–126; Zaitseva et al. 2009.795–801; 2011.
383–385). The benzene cocktails were measured on
liquid scintillation counting Quantulus 1220.
In our investigations, the series of radiocarbon dates
on pottery carbon from the Early Neolithic sites of
Eastern European Russia correlate well with the ra-
diocarbon dates on other organic materials from the
Fig. 5. The North-Western Caspian Sea region. Pottery from the Jangar (1–2 upper layer; 3–5 middle la-
yer; 6–8 lower layer) and Tu-Buzgu-Huduk sites (9–12).
Fig. 6. The Lower Volga region. Pottery from the Algay (1–2) and
Varfolomeevskaya sites (3–6 from the upper part (2A) of the mid-
dle layer; 7–10 from the lower part (2B) of the middle layer; 11–14
from the lower layer).
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
231
same archaeological settlements and with the exist-
ing archaeological periodisation (Vybornov 2008.
490; Vybornov et al. 2012.795–799; 2013.13–20;
2014.242–248; Andreev et al. 2012.193–199; 2016.
155–163; Zaitseva et al. 2009.795–801; 2011.383–
385). For this reason, these pottery carbon dates were
compared to 14C values obtained from charred crusts
on the surface of pottery, organics inside vessel’s
walls, and from bones measured at different labora-
tories (at the universities of Arizona, St. Petersburg,
Uppsala, Poznan, Helsinki, and Aarhus). Similar va-
lues were received from these laboratories (Tab. 1).
The chronological phases of the different cultures
were calculated by means of Bayesian statistics with
the help of OxCal 4.2 (Bronk Ramsey 2009.337–
360) (Figs. 11–15).
Results and discussion
The Northern Caspian region
In the last ten years, 70 radiocarbon dates have been
obtained for 12 Neolithic sites in the Northern Cas-
pian region. There are 37 dates for organics from
pottery, 9 for charred crusts and 5 for charcoal; 9 of
these dates were obtained by the
AMS technique (Baratskov et al.
2012.200–204; Vybornov et al.
2014.242–248; Andreev et al.
2016a.130–139).
The pottery of Kairshak III type
(Fig. 2) from Early Neolithic sites
in this region was dated to 6505–
5746 cal BC (Tab. 1.3). Several
studies (Kuzmin et al. 2013)
have suggested that the geologi-
cal carbon from clay-silt deposits
is the reason for the older dates
obtained on the organics from
pottery. Kairshak pottery was
moulded from an organic silt
containing shell. The carbonate
fraction from pottery is a radio-
carbon dated to 7050–6500 cal
BC, while the organics from this
pottery date to 6500–5750 cal
BC (Tab. 1.5–6). A date of 6690–
6490 cal BC (Tab. 1.1) was ob-
tained on the charred crusts,
which can probably be explain-
ed by the reservoir effect (δ13C =
–28.7‰). This is supported by
the date on shell from pottery
(Fig. 11). A date of 6230–5890
cal BC (Tab. 1.1–4) was obtained on kulan bones
which were found together with pottery. So, the
most appropriate age for the Kairshak III cultural
tradition is 6500–5750 cal BC.
Late Neolithic period sites also exist in this region.
Tenteksor type sites (Fig. 1) are located near to Kair-
shak. Several radiocarbon dates for these sites have
been obtained in different laboratories and on diffe-
rent organic materials. The organics from the Ten-
teksor type pottery have dates of 5720–5470 cal BC
and 5740–5460 cal BC (Tab. 1.16–17). The radiocar-
bon date on the charred crusts is c. 5680–5530 cal
BC (Tab. 1.14). The radiocarbon date on bones is
5640–5310 cal BC (Tab. 1.15). All these dates cor-
relate well between each other. Typologically earli-
er sites of Tenteksor type have dates from 5900–
5700 cal BC (Vybornov 2008.490). The typology of
pottery and the chronological frameworks of sur-
rounding sites did not allow us to accept the youn-
ger dates c. 4500 cal BC (Zaitseva et al. 2009.795–
801) obtained earlier for the Late Neolithic layers at
the Tenteksor site. These dates were obtained on hu-
mid acids from soils and on bones calcinated by dia-
Fig. 7. The forest-steppe of the Volga region. Pottery from the Ivanov-
skaya (1), Chekalino IV (2, 6–7), B. Rakovka II (3) and Niznaya Orly-
anka II (4–5) sites.
Alexander Vybornov, Marianna Kulkova, Konstantin Andreev and Eugeny Nesterov
232
genetic carbonate, and are younger.
The date on the shell from pottery is
c. 6200 cal BC, and the last date is
older than the date on the organics
from this sherd (c. 5700 cal BC) (Zai-
tseva et al. 2009.795–801).
Materials from the Baibek site (Grech-
kina et al. 2014.79–90) complement
the chronology of the Early Neolithic
of the Northern Caspian region (Fig.
3). There are two dates on charred
crusts: 7037–6684 and 6373–6070
cal BC (Tab. 1.7, 9). These dates are
probably influenced by the reservoir
effect, because the date on the bones
is 6002–5708 cal BC (Tab. 1.10) and
the dates on charcoal from different
laboratories are 5917–5604 and
5983–5759 cal BC (Tab. 1.8, 12). The
date on the organics from pottery is
6021–5626 cal BC (Tab. 1.13), which
correlates well with dates on bones
and food crusts. These results fall in-
to the chronological gap between
ages of the Early Neolithic complex
of Kairshak type and the Late Neoli-
thic of the Tenteksor sites. Typologi-
cally earlier materials from Kairshak
III are dated to as early as 6200 cal
BC. The sites at Kugat IV (Fig. 2.1) and Kulgaisi with
typologically earlier materials are dated on the basis
of organics from pottery to 6600–6220 cal BC and
6450–6027 cal BC, respectively (Tab. 1.10, 20). The
mesolithic characteristics of flint tools found here
are good evidence for this earlier chronology (Vy-
bornov 2016.161–166).
Thus, the earliest chronological boundary for the be-
ginning of the Neolithic in the Northern Caspian Sea
region will be about 6600 cal BC and the latest
around 5500 cal BC. Until recently, the accepted chro-
nological framework of the Early Neolithic stage for
this region was between 5900–4500 BC. The recent-
ly excavated archaeological materials and the radio-
carbon dates do not support this framework.
Material from the Jangar site (Koltsov 2004) in the
north-western Caspian region have also been dated
(Fig. 5). The date obtained for organics from pottery
in the bottom of layer 3 (Fig. 5.6–8) is 6090–5710
cal BC (Tab. 1.21–22), for upper layer 2 (Fig. 5.3–5)
the date is 5840–5510 cal BC (Tab. 1.25). The date
on the charcoal found between these layers is 6010–
5550 cal BC (Tab. 1.23), while the date on charred
crusts from pottery in the upper layer (Fig. 5.1–2) is
5575–5470 cal BC (Tab. 1.27).
Thus, the chronological frameworks of the Early
Neolithic of the north-western Caspian region are
from around 6000–5500 cal BC. Previous research
suggested that the Early Neolithic period was about
5500–4900 cal BC (Koltsov 2004). There are typolo-
gically earlier archaeological finds, and we can sug-
gest an earlier time from the beginning of the Early
Neolithic in the north-western Caspian. The earlier
age of artefacts is based on an analysis of the flint
tool typology; the flint artefacts are similar to Meso-
lithic examples, but this material has not been con-
firmed by radiocarbon dates yet.
The Volga River region
The steppe region of Low Povolzhye is located in the
north of the Caspian region, in the low Volga basin.
Until 2007, there were just 7 radiocarbon dates from
one site (Varfolomeevskaya); four of these dates con-
tradicted archaeological expectations. The time-frame
for the Orlovskaya Neolithic culture in the Low Po-
Fig. 8. The forest-steppe of the Volga region (1) and Sura region
(2–5). Pottery from the Krasniy Gorodok I (1), Vjunovo lake I
(2–3) and Utuzh I (4–5) sites.
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
233
volzhye was estimated to be around 5900–4200 cal
BC (Yudin 2004). In the last ten years, 41 dates have
been obtained for this culture: 19 dates on the total
organic carbon content of pottery, 12 dates on char-
red food crusts, 7 dates on bones, and 3 dates on
charcoal. Eleven dates were obtained by the AMS
technique (Vybornov et al. 2013.13–20; 2014.242–
248).
The bottom layer (3) of the Varfolomeevskaya site
(Fig. 6, 9–14) is dated to 6250–5500 cal BC (Tab.
1.28) on charcoal. Almost the same date was obtain-
ed on pottery from the same layer, which is 6250–
5980 cal BC (Tab. 1,29). In the bottom layer of the
Algay site, the artefacts belonged to the same culture
recently found at the Varfolomeevka site (Yudin et al.
2016.61–68). The age of the cultural layer is 6271–
6008 cal BC (Tab. 1.30). These results allow us to de-
termine the beginning of the Low Volga Neolithic to
the second half of the 7th millennium.
The middle layer (2B) at the Varfolomeevskaya site
(Fig. 6.6–8) was dated earlier, from c. 5750–5400
cal BC. Otherwise, the dates on the organics from
pottery are from c. 6080–6020 cal BC (Vybornov
2008.490). These dates are supported by dates ob-
tained recently on charred crusts (6220–5740 cal BC
and 6010–5830 cal BC; Tab. 1.31, 32). The upper la-
yer (2A) of this site (Fig. 6.3–5) relates to the period
from c. 5650–4950 to 5050–4300 cal BC (Tab. 1.38–
41). The material from the Algay site supports this
assumption. The date from charred crusts on pottery
from 2B layer at the Varfolomeevskaya site (5816–
5659 cal BC; Tab. 1.33) is close to the date on char-
red crusts from the lower layer of the Algay site
(5741–5631 cal BC; Tab. 1.34) (Fig. 6.1). The dates
on the organics from pottery and bones at the Algay
site correspond with each other (Tab. 1.34–36). The
upper layers of the Varfolomeevskaya and Algay
(Fig. 6.2) sites are dated to 5050–4300 and 4856–
4580 cal BC, respectively (Tab. 1.41–43).
These results allow us to determine more precisely
the time-frame for each stage of the Orlovskaya cul-
ture in this region. The Orlovskaya culture existed
from 6000–5500 cal BC, and it coincides with the
period of the Early Neolithic in the northern Caspian
region. Based on archaeological data, i.e. ceramic
typology, researchers supposed the simultaneous de-
Fig. 9. The forest-steppe of the Volga region. Pottery from the Vilovatovskaya (1–6) and Kalmykovka I (7–
13) sites.
Fig. 10. The forest zone of Volga region. Pottery
from the Dubovskaya III (1–5) and II Sherbetska-
ya (6–11) sites.
Alexander Vybornov, Marianna Kulkova, Konstantin Andreev and Eugeny Nesterov
234
Fig. 11. The distribution of radiocarbon dates (cal BC) for the Early Neolithic cultures of the Northern
Caspian Sea region. The grey tone denotes the most appropriate age.
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
235
velopment of these cultures in the northern and
north-western Caspian region and in the Lower Vol-
ga, especially for the last cultural stages. These sugge-
stions were supported recently by new radiocarbon
dates. For the eponymous site of the Orlovskaya cul-
ture (Orlovka) there is a date of 5846–5315 cal BC
(Tab. 1.37), which correlates well with the dates of
late complexes at the the Tenteksor site (Tab. 1.14),
from the upper layer of the Jangar site (Tab. 1.27)
and from the upper layer (2A) of the Varfolomeev-
skaya site (Tab. 1.38).
Ten radiocarbon dates were obtained from four Neo-
lithic sites of the forest-steppe Volga region. They
were determined in the interval from 7900–7000
cal BC, which is why they were interpreted as the
oldest sites in this region. However, nine of them
were obtained on shell and could be subject to re-
servoir effects. Beginning from 2007, 161 dates were
obtained from 30 sites of the Elshanian culture in
this region. Sixteen dates were obtained by AMS
dating. Elshanian culture sites extend from the Ural
River to the east to the Moksha River to the west
(Fig. 1). The date on the organics from pottery for
the most easterly site of the Ivanovskaya site (Fig.
7.1) is 6566–6248 cal BC (Tab. 1.47). For the most
westerly, from the Vjunovo Lake site (Fig. 8.2–3)
and the Imerka VII site, several dates obtained on
the organics from pottery are c. 6220–6004 and
6092–5927 cal BC according to the AMS technique
Fig. 12. The distribution of radiocarbon dates (cal BC) for the Jungar culture of the North-Western Caspian
Sea region. The grey tone denotes the most appropriate age.
Fig. 13. The distribution of radiocarbon dates (cal BC) for the Early stage of Elshanian culture in the Po-
volzhye. The grey tone denotes the most appropriate age.
Alexander Vybornov, Marianna Kulkova, Konstantin Andreev and Eugeny Nesterov
236
(the Vjunovo Lake site; Tab. 1.50–51). The date on
the charred crusts from the Imerka VII site is 6220–
5980 cal BC (Tab. 1.52). Most of the Elshanian cul-
ture sites were excavated in the Samarskoe Povol-
zhye, in the region of Samara (Fig. 1). The dates on
the organics from pottery are 6750–6200 cal BC
(Bolshaya Rakovka II site; Fig. 7.3), 7047–6202, and
6400–5700 cal BC (Chekalino IV site; Fig. 7.2,6,7;
Tab. 1.46, 45, 49 respectively). Elshanian culture pot-
tery was moulded from clay with organics, without
shell inclusions. Therefore, the date on pottery of
7047–6202 cal BC (Tab. 1.45) seems to be older. The
most acceptable date for this site is 6229–6016 cal
BC (Tab. 1.48), obtained on charcoal from pottery by
the AMS technique.
The series of dates for typologically later sites of the
Elshanian culture fall into the interval of 6000–5700
cal BC. What is important is that the dates on the
organics from pottery correspond with the dates on
the charred crusts from the pottery of the same type,
taking into account the error of measurement and
reservoir effect (5730–5490 and 5740–5370 cal BC,
respectively, (Tab. 1.53–54).
The late stage of the Elshanian culture in the Lugo-
voe III site was dated in the 1980s to 3500 cal BC
(Vybornov 2008.490). However, these dates contra-
dict archaeological data and the chronology of the
forest-steppe Neolithic. At present the series of dates
obtained on the material from the late stage, inclu-
ding from the Lugovoe site, are in the interval 5700–
5500 calBC (Vybornov 2008.490). Material of the El-
shanian type from the Utuzh I site (Fig. 8.4–5) lo-
cated in the basin of the Sura River is dated on the
organics from the pottery to c. 5640–5290 cal BC
(Tab. 1.56). The date of 5620–5470 cal BC (Tab.
1.55) on charred crusts from the same fragment of
pottery was obtained by the AMS technique.
Thus the chronological period of the spread of Early
Neolithic Elshanian culture is from 6500–5500 cal
BC.
The Elshanian culture was replaced by the Sredne-
volzhskaya culture (Vybornov 2008.490) (Fig. 9). On
the base of a large series of radiocarbon dates, the pe-
riod of this culture’s development can be determined
from 5500–4700 cal BC (Tab. 1.59–63). There is a
good correlation between dates obtained on the or-
ganics from pottery and bones (Tab. 1.64– 65).
In the southern steppe region of Povolzhye, the Early
Neolithic period is dated between 6500–6000 cal BC
and the Late Neolithic period between 6000–5500
cal BC. In the forest-steppe zone, the Early Neolithic
is dated between 6500–5500 cal BC, but the Late
Neolithic lasted from 5500–4700 cal BC.
In the forest zone of
the Middle Volga re-
gion the Early Neoli-
thic has been dated to
c. 5000 cal BC. At pre-
sent, there are the 24
dates from the 8 sites.
Typologically the ear-
liest pottery from the
Dubovskaya III site
(Fig. 10.1–4) has the
date of 5925±325 cal
BC (Tab. 1.57). The
charred crusts from
this fragment of pot-
tery date to 5795 ± 95
cal BC (Tab. 1.58). Pot-
tery actually appeared
in the forest zone of
the Middle Volga re-
gion 1000 years earli-
er than it was thought
to have done several
years ago, and this pro-
Fig. 14. The distribution of radiocarbon dates (cal BC) for the Late stage of Sred-
nevolzhskaya culture in the Povolzhye. The grey tone denotes the most appro-
priate age.
Radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Povolzhye (Russian Eastern Europe)
237
cess occurred 200–500 years later than in the south-
ern forest-steppe zone.
Conclusion
An array of radiocarbon dates on different organic
material from almost all the Povolzhye Neolithic sites
has been obtained in the last 10 years. The analysis
of these dates has shown a good correlation between
most of the dates on the charcoal, food crusts, bone,
and organics from ceramics from different sites. The
correlation of these radiocarbon dates with stratigra-
phic successions of cultural layers at the sites and
the pottery typology allow us to correct the chrono-
logical frameworks of the Neolithic in the Low and
Middle Povolzhye region. This schema differs from
the schema accepted until 2007. The chronological
frameworks of the Neolithic in the steppe Povolzh-
ye date from 6500–5500 cal BC, In the forest-step-
pe zone of Middle Povolzhye, the Neolithic period is
dated from 6500–4700 cal BC, and in the forest zone
of the Middle Povolzhye, the Neolithic period lasted
from 6000–4300 cal BC.
Fig. 15. The distribution of radiocarbon dates (cal BC) for the Orlovskaya culture in the Lower Povolzhye.
The grey tone denotes the most appropriate age.
This article was supported by project 33.1907.2017
of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
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... The origin of pottery containers in Europe is often associated with the emergence of agriculture in the south-east of the continent. However, some of the earliest ceramics in Europe were produced by hunter-gatherers living in the temperate forest steppe covering the north-east of the continent (Fig. 1), with an occupation sequence suggested to date between the end of the 7th and first half of the 6th millennium cal BC (Dolukhanov et al., 2009;Piezonka, 2012;Vybornov et al., 2017). There is no adequate explanation of why forager groups adopted pottery at this time and whether, as is evident in early farming communities, this marked a major shift in sedentism, social complexity and/or subsistence economy. ...
... Here we consider some of the best known early ceramic traditions in this region, located in the Middle Volga basin -synonymous with the Middle Volga and Elshanskaya cultures (Dolukhanov et al., 2005;Vasilieva, 2011;Vybornov et al., 2013Vybornov et al., , 2017 and the Middle and Upper Don basin -synonymous with the Middle Don, Karamyshevo and Cherkassky 5 cultures (Smolyaninov, 2020;Smolyaninov et al., 2017). The aims were (i) to carry out organic residue analysis of pottery vessels across the study area and evaluate the results according to the palaeoenvironmental and cultural setting, (ii) undertake microscopic analysis of charred surface deposits to complement the organic residue analysis, and (iii) to refine the chronology of early pottery assemblages through direct dating, by AMS, of charred surface deposits or 'foodcrusts', associated animal bones and reconsidering 'legacy' dates from previous studies in the region. ...
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The Eastern European steppe and forest-steppe is a key region for understanding the emergence of pottery in Europe. The vast region encompasses the basins of two major waterways, the Don and the Volga rivers, and was occupied by hunter-gatherer-fisher communities attracted to highly productive forest/aquatic ecotones. The precise dates for the inception of pottery production in this region and the function of pottery is unknown, but such information is vital for charting the pan-Eurasian dispersal of pottery technology and whether there were common motivations for its adoption. To investigate, we conducted AMS dating, including a re-evaluation of legacy radiocarbon dates together with organic residue analysis and microscopy. The dating programme was able to clarify the sequence and show that hunter-gatherer pottery production was unlikely in this region before the 6th millennium BC. Regarding use, stable isotope and molecular analysis of 160 pottery samples from 35 sites across the region shows that terrestrial animal carcass fats were preferentially processed in pots at Middle Volga sites whereas aquatic resources dominate the residues in pottery from the Middle and Upper Don basin. This is supported by fragments of fish, legumes and grasses in the available charred deposits adhering to the inside of pottery from the Don basin. Since the sites from both river basins had similar environmental settings and were broadly contemporaneous, it is posited that pottery use was under strong cultural control, recognisable as separate sub-regional culinary traditions. The ‘aquatic hypothesis’, previously suggested to explain the emergence of Eurasian pottery, cannot be substantiated in this context.
... The Algay site and the Oroshaemoe settlement located in the Alexandrovsky district of Saratovskaya oblast', on the right bank of Bolshoy Uzen' River are currently being excavated (Fig. 1), and from 2014-2018 the multidisciplinary investigations were conducted on these sites (Vybornov et al. 2015a;2015b;2016a;2016b;2017a;2017b;2018a;2018b;2018c). The Oroshaemoe site has a special emphasis in the whole archaeological context, as here well-defined layers of archaeological and lithological stratigraphic succession were documented. ...
... This type includes the sharpening of microliths and segments from two sides. The chronological period of this cultural era is from 5900 to 5700 cal BC (Vybornov et al. 2017a;2017b;Yudin et al. 2016). Thereby this is the later stage of the Orlovskaya cultural development in comparison with the lower layer on the Oroshaemoe I site. ...
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The Neolithic and Eneolithic sites in the Low Volga River region have been poorly investigated in comparison with other territories due to a small number of excavated sites. On the Algay site and the Oroshaemoe I settlement there is evidence of the earliest appearance of Neolithic pottery and the first sign of domestication in the Eneolithic period within the Volgo-Ural territory. Archaeological, lithological, grain-size analyses, mineralogical-geochemical methods and radiocarbon dating of cultural deposits have been applied to reconstruct the palaeoenvironment in the Holocene in this area. The results show that the landscape-climatic conditions in the steppe area of the Lower Volga basin strongly affected the development and adaptation of ancient societies.
... The Algay site and the Oroshaemoe settlement located in the Alexandrovsky district of Saratovskaya oblast', on the right bank of Bolshoy Uzen' River are currently being excavated (Fig. 1), and from 2014-2018 the multidisciplinary investigations were conducted on these sites (Vybornov et al. 2015a;2015b;2016a;2016b;2017a;2017b;2018a;2018b;2018c). The Oroshaemoe site has a special emphasis in the whole archaeological context, as here well-defined layers of archaeological and lithological stratigraphic succession were documented. ...
... This type includes the sharpening of microliths and segments from two sides. The chronological period of this cultural era is from 5900 to 5700 cal BC (Vybornov et al. 2017a;2017b;Yudin et al. 2016). Thereby this is the later stage of the Orlovskaya cultural development in comparison with the lower layer on the Oroshaemoe I site. ...
Article
Full-text available
The Neolithic and Eneolithic sites in the Low Volga River region have been poorly investigated in comparison with other territories due to a small number of excavated sites. On the Algay site and the Oroshaemoe I settlement there is evidence of the earliest appearance of Neolithic pottery and the first sign of domestication in the Eneolithic period within the Volgo-Ural territory. Archaeological, lithological, grain-size analyses, mineralogical-geochemical methods and radiocarbon dating of cultural deposits have been applied to reconstruct the palaeoenvironment in the Holocene in this area. The results show that the landscape-climatic conditions in the steppe area of the Lower Volga basin strongly affected the development and adaptation of ancient societies.
... A large series of radiocarbon dates was obtained for early sites of the Elshanskaya culture; they are dated to ca. 6200 BC, both in the forest-steppe Volga region and in the Middle Sura basin (Vybornov, Andreev, Kul'kova, & Nesterov, 2016, pp. 74-96;Vybornov, Kulkova, Andreev, & Nesterov, 2017) (Table 1). Several dates lying within the beginning of the seventh millennium BC were also obtained for early Neolithic materials of the forest-steppe Volga region, which might suggest even earlier origin of the Elshanskaya culture. ...
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Early pottery on the territory from the Eastern Caspian Sea and Aral Sea to Denmark reveals a certain typological similarity. It is represented by egg-shaped vessels with an S-shaped profile of the upper part and a pointed bottom. The vessels are not ornamented or decorated with incised lines, organized often in a net. This type of pottery was spread within hunter-gatherer ancient groups. The forest-steppe Volga region is one of the earliest centers of pottery production in Eastern Europe. The first pottery is recorded here in the last quarter of the seventh millennium BC. Its appearance is associated with the bearers of the Elshanskaya cultural tradition. The most likely source of its formation is the territory of Central Asia. Later, due to aridization, these ceramic traditions distributed further westward to the forest-steppe Don region. During the first half of the sixth millennium BC, groups associated with the bearers of the Elshanskaya cultural tradition moved westward. Significant similarities with the ceramic complexes of the Elshanskaya culture are found in materials from a number of early pottery cultures of Central Europe and the Baltic (Narva, Neman, and Ertebølle).
... TOCC yields from early East European pottery are typically 1-3 % (Vybornov et al., 2017;Zaitseva et al., 2009). Case studies in other regions (Thailand: Higham et al., 2010;Mongolia: Janz et al., 2015;France: Delqué Količ 1995) using HCl-NaOH-HCl extraction reported much lower yields (<0.5 %). ...
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Археологическая хронология для некоторых археологических памятников Восточной Европы основана в основ- ном на прямом керамики. Даты по пищевому нагару на сосудах также были получены, если это было возможно, но гораздо больше 14C датировок было получено по общего содержания органического углерода (TOCC) в че- репках. В статье обсуждается, как интерпретировать возраст 14C TOCC, основываясь на том, как методы про- боподготовки, экстракции концентрируют или удаляют компоненты, которые смещают значения 14C возраста, а также проводится сравнение возраста 14C (TOCC) и дат, полученных по костной ткани.
Article
The article is devoted to the Neolithisation in the forest zone of the Middle Volga River basin. The different conceptions of the process are considered. The archaeological materials from different sites located on this territory and neighbouring regions have been compared. The question was raised regarding animal domestication and its attributes in the forest zone of the Volga region in the Neolithic period. The hypothesis that pottery spread in the forest zone of the Middle Volga region under the influence of cultures from a forest-steppe zone of the Volga region was examined, and the chronological frame of this process was determined. However, the process has been essentially one of migration and was not autochthonous. The mobile lifestyle of early Neolithic hunters played a major part in their movements and did not connect with a productive economy (i.e. domestication). An indicator of these changes is pottery style. For the forest zone of the Middle Volga region, the earliest Neolithic vessels are characterized by rare ornamental patterns that appeared earlier than other types.
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The flanks of the Caucasus Mountains and the steppe landscape to their north offered highly productive grasslands for Bronze Age herders and their flocks of sheep, goat, and cattle. While the archaeological evidence points to a largely pastoral lifestyle, knowledge regarding the general composition of human diets and their variation across landscapes and during the different phases of the Bronze Age is still restricted. Human and animal skeletal remains from the burial mounds that dominate the archaeological landscape and their stable isotope compositions are major sources of dietary information. Here, we present stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data of bone collagen of 105 human and 50 animal individuals from the 5th millennium BC to the Sarmatian period, with a strong focus on the Bronze Age and its cultural units including Maykop, Yamnaya, Novotitorovskaya, North Caucasian, Catacomb, post-Catacomb and late Bronze Age groups. The samples comprise all inhumations with sufficient bone preservation from five burial mound sites and a flat grave cemetery as well as subsamples from three further sites. They represent the Caucasus Mountains in the south, the piedmont zone and Kuban steppe with humid steppe and forest vegetation to its north, and more arid regions in the Caspian steppe. The stable isotope compositions of the bone collagen of humans and animals varied across the study area and reflect regional diversity in environmental conditions and diets. The data agree with meat, milk, and/or dairy products from domesticated herbivores, especially from sheep and goats having contributed substantially to human diets, as it is common for a largely pastoral economy. This observation is also in correspondence with the faunal remains observed in the graves and offerings of animals in the mound shells. In addition, foodstuffs with elevated carbon and nitrogen isotope values, such as meat of unweaned animals, fish, or plants, also contributed to human diets, especially among communities living in the more arid landscapes. The regional distinction of the animal and human data with few outliers points to mobility radii that were largely concentrated within the environmental zones in which the respective sites are located. In general, dietary variation among the cultural entities as well as regarding age, sex and archaeologically indicated social status is only weakly reflected. There is, however, some indication for a dietary shift during the Early Bronze Age Maykop period.
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This paper is an introduction to the discussion of radiocarbon chronology of Neolithic cul­­tures in Eastern Europe. It relates to a number of papers published in this volume.
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The new facility Artemis was installed in 2003 in Saclay, France. This 3MV NEC Pelletron is dedicated to high-precision radiocarbon measurements for French 14C laboratories. We will present information on Artemis along with our sample preparation methods. Results from measurements on some intercalibration samples will be given along with the values of measured blanks. Finally, we report on some problems we have encountered when measuring sputter cathodes with high CH-outputs. © 2007 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
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The main problem with dating pottery by radiocarbon is that many different carbon sources, of different radiocarbon age, may contribute to the potsherd carbon content. Also, the process of firing is liable to destroy information that might help separate possible sources. We describe several pottery dating projects in which we have dated separate fractions (such as humics, lipids and classes of residual carbon). Although in some cases consistency between results is sufficient to accept that this approach can give a credible date, in other cases, no date has been possible, and general conclusions are difficult to make.
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In order to verify the relative dating based on pot type morphology and decoration of the Swifterbant pottery collected at the Final Mesolithic site of Doel "Deurganckdok" (Belgium) and of the Late Iron Age pottery excavated at Grijpskerke (the Netherlands), direct radiocarbon dates were obtained on charred food residue preserved on the inner surface of numerous potsherds. In addition, a number of indirect 14C dates were obtained from samples of organic material. In the case of Doel, the results indicate an important incompatibility between the charred food residue dates and the other dates, the former being systematically older. This difference may be explained by a reservoir effect of the charred food residue, caused by the processing of (freshwater) fish. The 14C dates for the Grijpskerke site are in agreement between the charred food residue and the organic material. The stable isotopes of the charred food residue were analyzed to demonstrate fish processing in the pottery, but the results were inconclusive. © 2010 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
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Radiocarbon dates of food residue on pottery from northern European inland areas seem to be influenced significantly by the freshwater reservoir effect ("hardwater" effect) stemming from fish and mollusks cooked in the pots. Bones of freshwater fish from Stone Age Åmose, Denmark, are demonstrated to be 100 to 500 14C yr older than their archaeological context. Likewise, food residues on cooking pots, seemingly used for the preparation of freshwater fish, are shown to have 14C age excesses of up to 300 yr. It is probable that age excesses of similar or even larger magnitude are involved in food residue dates from other periods and regions. Since this effect cannot, so far, be quantified and corrected for, 14C dating of food residue, which may potentially include material from freshwater ecosystems, should be treated with reserve.
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The Lower and Middle Volga basin regions border the Caucasus and Central Asia in the South. These regions are important in the study of the neolithisation process in Europe and the chronology of Neolithic cultures is of great significance in this respect. New 14C dates of different organic materials from archaeological sites in these regions have been obtained in the last five years. According to these data, the beginning of neolithisation in North Caspian region can be dated to the beginning of the 5th millennium BC; but in the Povolzhye it happened at least a millennium earlier.
Article
This study reconstructs food habits through carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis, and C/N analysis of charred residues inside pottery from Amur River sites in Russia (Goncharka 1 site, Novotroitskoe 10 site, Kondon 1 site) and in Hokkaido, Japan (Taisho 3 site, Yachiyo A site). We obtained dates from 12,330 to 7920 BP for these sites. There are major differences in the carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios between the Taisho 3 site (δ ¹³ C: -21.7 to -24.1; δ ¹⁵ N: 11.9–14.7%) and the other sites (δ ¹³ C:-22.0 to -27.1%; δ ¹⁵ N: 7.1–13.1%), suggesting that the people of the Taisho 3 site made use of anadromous fish such as salmonids and some species of trout, as well as marine resources. The dates from the other sites except Taisho 3 were assumed to be from a mixture of marine foods, C 3 plants and terrestrial animals, and freshwater fish. The food boiled in the pots also indicated a high dependence on marine resources during the initial stages of the emergence of pottery.
Article
Steppe and forest-steppe areas of the Povolzhye area (Caucasus and central Asia) bear much interest for the Neolithic in connection with the productive economy of the region at the time. Recent data have allowed correction of the region's chronology. A number of 14C dates denote the existence of the Neolithic in this territory as early as the 5th to 6th millennium BP. However, some questions are still under debate and require further data to clarify. © 2012 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
Article
The direct measurement of organic matter included in archaeological pottery may yield a reliable assessment of age. The main problem consists in the identification of possible origins and assessment of distortion for the age of organic inclusions. Our experiments show that shells included in pottery fabrics are strongly influenced by the reservoir effect, which may reach 500 yr or more. Other organic inclusions, such as lake ooze, do not visibly distort the age. The obtained series of radiocarbon dates have been used for the assessing the age of the early stages of pottery manufacture in southern Russia. © 2009 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.
Article
I attempted to separate smoke-derived carbon from carbon derived from clay by variable-temperature burning. First, using liquid scintillation counting (LSC) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), I dated experimental potsherds containing these two sources of carbon. I used the same techniques to date archaeological samples. The results on archaeo-logical sherds confirm the difficulty of establishing a standard procedure for pottery dating. Nevertheless, reliable dates on smoke-blackened potsherds are potentially obtainable with AMS dating of thin lamellas in the sherd surface following ade-quate NaOH treatment.