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THE ADAPTATION OF THE SEIMA-TURBINO TRADITION TO THE BRONZE AGE CULTURES IN THE SOUTH OF THE WEST SIBERIAN PLAIN

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  • Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Siberian Branch Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia

Abstract and Figures

This article presents the results of a study of bronze-casting artifacts found at the Middle Bronze Age settlements of the Middle Irtysh region. Seima-Turbino-type clay bronze-casting molds from the sites of Chernoozerye VI, Abramovo-10, and Vengerovo-2 are described with regard to construction, composition of molding mixture, and types of cast. Special attention is paid to the archaeological context. At Abramovo-10, the casting area was located between the houses; at Vengerovo-2, in a special structure with furnaces and utility pits. Similar types of casting areas, furnaces, and reusable molds attest to the unifi cation of the casting process and a sophisticated tradition practiced by the indigenous Krotovo people, who, judging by the molds and casts, manufactured the Seima-Turbino-type bronze weapons themselves. The Irtysh, with its tributaries, was a transportation route along which the tradition spread. Initially, Seima-Turbino bronze artifacts were imported; but eventually they were replicated by local casters, who, in certain respects, adhered to their own metallurgical traditions.
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DOI: 10.17746/1563-0110.2018.46.3.049-058
V.I. Molodin, I.A. Durakov, L.N. Mylnikova, and M.S. Nesterova
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography,
Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
E-mail: Molodin@archaeology.nsc.ru; idurakov@yandex.ru; l.mylnikova@yandex.ru; msnesterova@gmail.com
The Adaptation of the Seima-Turbino Tradition
to the Bronze Age Cultures in the South
of the West Siberian Plain
This article presents the results of a study of bronze-casting artifacts found at the Middle Bronze Age settlements of the
Middle Irtysh region. Seima-Turbino-type clay bronze-casting molds from the sites of Chernoozerye VI, Abramovo-10,
and Vengerovo-2 are described with regard to construction, composition of molding mixture, and types of cast. Special
attention is paid to the archaeological context. At Abramovo-10, the casting area was located between the houses; at
Vengerovo-2, in a special structure with furnaces and utility pits. Similar types of casting areas, furnaces, and reusable
molds attest to the uni cation of the casting process and a sophisticated tradition practiced by the indigenous Krotovo
people, who, judging by the molds and casts, manufactured the Seima-Turbino-type bronze weapons themselves. The
Irtysh, with its tributaries, was a transportation route along which the tradition spread. Initially, Seima-Turbino bronze
artifacts were imported; but eventually they were replicated by local casters, who, in certain respects, adhered to their
own metallurgical traditions.
Keywords: Seima-Turbino bronzes, Krotovo culture, Irtysh region, settlements, molds.
Introduction
Despite a signi cant number of studies of the Seima-
Turbino bronzes, certain issues are still unclear. The
sites with the Seima-Turbino bronze artifacts have
been recorded from a vast region; but no distinct
archaeological culture has been identified, because
neither have any boundaries of their occurrence been
established, nor any settlements with traces of their
manufacturing been found, and every burial site shows
speci c features. E.N. Chernykh and S.V. Kuzminykh
(1989) proposed a term “Seima-Turbino transcultural
phenomenon” for the sites containing such artifacts.
Up to now, the dispersal of the Seima-Turbino objects
has been attributed to migrants who moved from
east to west, in the direction opposite to that of the
representatives of the Andronovo timber-grave tradition
(Chernykh, Navarrete, 2011: 20–21).
During the last decade, the total number of the Seima-
Turbino objects has grown, as new artifacts have been
found in the Irtysh basin. In this region, the cemeteries
of the Odinovo and Krotovo cultures (Preobrazhenka-6
(Molodin, 2013), Sopka-2/4B, C (Molodin, Grishin, 2016:
81–82, g. 137, 139, 1, 25), Tartas-1 (Molodin et al.,
2009), and Rostovka (Matyushchenko, Sinitsyna, 1988))
have revealed ve burials containing not only standard
Seima-Turbino objects, but also casting molds. However,
local manufacture of the Seima-Turbino bronzes was not
con rmed until the traces of such manufacture were found
at the settlements.
Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 46/3 (2018) 49–58 E-mail: Eurasia@archaeology.nsc.ru
© 2018 Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
© 2018 Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
© 2018 V.I. Molodin, I.A. Durakov, L.N. Mylnikova, M.S. Nesterova
49
THE METAL AGES AND MEDIEVAL PERIOD
V.I. Molodin et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 46/3 (2018) 49–58
50
0240 km
Casting molds and manufacturing areas
at Krotovo settlements
Castin g molds were found at several settlements of the
Krotovo culture: Chernoozerye VI (Kondratiev, 1974:
18; Stefanova, 1988: Fig. 6, 3), Vengerovo-2 (Molodin,
Mylnikova, Durakov et al., 2015: 323–324, g. 1, 2),
and Abramovo-10 (Fig. 1). These nds are signi cant
for establishing reliable correlations between the Seima-
Turbino bronzes and particular areas and cultures.
The settlement of Chernoozerye VI is situated on a
uvial terrace on the left bank of the Irtysh River, 1 km
to the northeast from the village of Chernoozerye in the
Sargatsky District, Omsk Region. The site yielded a spear
mold-fragment: a part of a ceramic mold with a cavity and
parting. The fragment was found in the casting workshop’s
waste, at the edge of the terrace (Kondratiev, 1974: 18).
Since the site is multilayered (Stefanova, Stefanov, 2007),
the mold can be attributed to the Krotovo culture.
The settlement of Abramovo-10 yielded two fragments
of clay celt-casting molds. The site is located on the
second uvial terrace on the left bank of the Om River,
5 km southwest of Kuibyshev, in the Kuibyshevsky District
of the Novosibirsk Region (Molodin, 1985: 35) (Fig. 1).
One of the nds is a fragment of the middle portion of
a mold retaining the cavity side-wall and the parting
(Fig. 2, 1). The mold was made of a mixture of clay with
well-calibrated medium-sized sand. The mold was made
using a bottom board, which left an impression on the
surface of the parting of the mold. Judging by the mold
cavity’s shape, the celt had a hexagonal cross-section
in its middle part, and was wedge-shaped in side view
(Fig. 2, 2). The mold also showed traces of stiffening ribs
at the line of convergence of the lateral and front faces
of the celt. Judging by the size and converging of walls
of the mold cavity and the parting of the mold, the celt’s
height did not exceed 8.7 cm. The external surface of the
mold showed two deeply cut oblique lines, adjoining the
parting, that served as guide-marks during the centering
of the mold when connecting the mold’s halves. Such
cuts were typical of the Krotovo molds. These were noted
on the molds from Tartas-1 and Sopka-2 (Ibid.: Fig. 28,
1, 5) and on the molds of other contemporaneous cultures
of Siberia (Koksharov, Chemyakin, 1991: 46–47, g. 2,
1, d; 3, 1, c, f).
Another fragment is a part of the upper mold-half with
a sprue and a cavity (Fig. 3, 1). The mold was made of
a mixture of clay with well-calibrated sand and crushed
calcined bones. The mold’s cavity retains a fragment of
the relief ornamentation: a band of oblique lines between
two horizontal lines forming a kind of staircase. This
ornamental pattern is typical of the Seima-Turbino celts
(Chernykh, Kuzminykh, 1989: 46).
The above-mentioned mold fragments were found
in the bronze-casting area between the houses at the
settlement of Abramovo-10. The area contained a hearth
(Fig. 3, 2) and a utility pit. The hearth (structure B) was
a rectangular pit 2.0 × 0.89 m in size and 0.47 m deep,
oriented with its long axis along the NW-SE line (Sobolev,
1984). The vertical walls and the bottom of the pit were
coated with a layer of red clay up to 0.14 m thick. The
lling consisted of dark gray loam with inclusions of
soot, ash, and pieces of calcined clay. In the immediate
vicinity of the hearth and in its lling, fragments of at least
seven crucibles were found (Fig. 3, 3, 4), one of which we
restored (Fig. 3, 3). The utility pit (No. 124) was located
0.8 m to the northeast from the hearth. It is ovoid, with
vertical walls and a plain bottom; the size is 1.7 × 0.9 m,
and the depth 0.24 m. The lling revealed fragments of
pottery and bones, and slagged fragments of crucible.
One of the most impressive nds is a fragment of a
celt casting mold of the Seima-Turbino type, from the
settlement of Vengerovo-2 (Molodin et al., 2015: Fig. 1),
located at the edge of the second fluvial terrace on
the left bank of the Tartas River, in the Vengerovsky
District, Novosibirsk Region (Molodin, Polosmak, 1978;
Troitskaya, Molodin, Sobolev, 1980). This object was
found at oor level in dwelling 7 (Molodin et al., 2015:
323–324, g. 1, 2) (Fig. 4). It was a fragment of a stone
mold for celt-casting (Fig. 5). The mold was made of dark
gray soft marl (class 2 in the Mohs scale of hardness).
Only a part of the mold cavity and a parting of mold
halves survived. Judging by the traces on the mold, all its
main cavities were initially outlined on the leveled blank
surface, and were then cut with a knife with the technique
similar to wood carving. For example, the surfaces of
all depressions forming the relief ornamentation show
traces of bilateral trimming made with the tip of the
blade. The back of the mold half was rst given a rounded
shape with a knife, and then additionally fashioned
with a coarse-grained abrader. This technique of mold
Fig. 1. Krotovo settlements yielding Seima-Turbino bronze-
casting molds.
1 – Chernoozerye VI; 2 – Vengerovo-2; 3Abramovo-10; 4 – Stary
Tartas-1.
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Fig. 3. Fragment of a casting mold (1), plan and section of the hearth (structure B) (2), and crucibles (3, 4)
from Abramovo-10.
а – dark gray loam with ash and soot inclusions; b – calcined clay; c – fragment of a crucible; d – fragment of a casting mold.
Fig. 2. Fragment of a casting mold (1),
reconstruction of a celt (2) cast in it, from
Abramovo-10.
1
2
1
2
3
4
01 cm
01 cm
01 cm
01 cm
01 cm
040 cm
а
b
c
d
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52
manufacture is typical of the Seima-Turbino
casting tradition. Signs of its use were traced
on several objects made of soft stone; for
example, on a talc mold from burial No. 282
at Sopka-2/4B, C (Molodin, Grishin, 2016:
Fig. 397) and on a limestone mold from a
concentration of artifacts associated with
grave 21 at the cemetery of Rostovka, in Omsk
(Matyushchenko, Sinitsyna, 1988: 30–31,
g. 36, 37).
The negative of the casting chamber makes
it possible to reconstruct the object cast in
it (Fig. 6). The celt had a hexagonal cross-
section in its middle portion; its body was
wedge-shaped in side view; its cutting edge
was slightly wider than the main body; and the
socket was attened into an oval. Judging by
the inclination of the mold cavity wall relative
to the parting of the mold, the celt height did
not exceed 12.5–12.7 cm. The socket edge was
ornamented with a pair of thin relief llets and
a belt of shaded isosceles triangles. The lateral
side of the celt, which survived in the mold,
was ornamented with two deeply incised lines,
forming an isosceles triangle oriented with
its base towards the parting of the mold. The
front surface of the celt is separated from the
Fig. 4. General view (1) and plan (2) of dwelling
No. 7 at Vengerovo-2.
а – hearth; b – furnaces; c – bronze drop; d – ash storage
pit; e – utility pit; f – celt-casting stone mold; g – technical
ceramics dispersal areas.
1
2
01 m
аbcde f g
Fig. 5. Fragment of a casting mold from dwelling
No. 7 at Vengerovo-2.
01 cm
V.I. Molodin et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 46/3 (2018) 49–58 53
lateral surfaces with an incised line simulating a stiffening
rib, which feature is typical of the Seima-Turbino celts
(Chernykh, Kuzminykh, 1989). In terms of construction
and ornamentation, the Vengerovo-2 nd is close to the
celts of the Seima-Turbino-type (Kosarev, 1970: 124,
g. 1, 6, 7). According to the classi cation by Chernykh
and Kuzminykh (1989: 46–55, g. 10, 7, 8; 15, 1; 16, 4),
the object belongs to category K-12 or K-18.
The mold seems to have disintegrated owing to
thermal effects. Its cavity has use-wear traces in the
form of a dark gray layer of copper-
scale. Experiments have shown that the
stone mold can withstand more than
100 castings (Beltikova, 1993: 65;
Coghlan, 1951: 73), which means that it
could have been used in serial production.
The bronze-casting workshop where
the object was found reveals traces of
long-lasting large-scale production. The
production area occupies a major part of
dwelling No. 7 (see Fig. 4, 2) and consists
of a multifunctional hearth (Fig. 7), two
specialized furnaces (Fig. 8, 9), and two
ash utility and bone storage pits (Fig. 10).
The hearth (structure No. 105) was a rectangular pit
located in the center of the dwelling, 1.65 × 0.87 m in
size and up to 0.21 m deep, lled with ash, burnt sandy
loam, pieces of calcined bones, fragments of pottery,
and pieces of burnt clay, containing a ake from some
working tool and an abrader on a potsherd (see Fig. 7).
Judging by the lling and the nds revealed from it, the
hearth was used for cooking, heating, and lighting, as
well as for production purposes. The hearth is shallower
as compared to the similar central hearths in other
Fig. 6. Reconstruction of a celt cast from dwelling No. 7, Vengerovo-2.
12
02 cm
Fig. 7. Plan (1) and section (2) of the hearth
(structure No. 105) at dwelling No. 7,
Vengerovo-2.
а – blackish-gray mixed sandy loam with inclusions
of burnt clay; b – grayish-black mixed sandy loam;
c – reddish-orange calcined sandy loam; d – light
gray sandy loam; e – yellowish-gray mixed sandy
loam; f – gray ashy sandy loam; g – virgin soil.
020 cm
1
2
аbcde f g
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54
Fig. 8. General view (1), plan (2), and section (3) of furnace
(structure No. 16) in dwelling No. 7 at Vengerovo-2, and a
bronze drop from the furnace (4).
а – grayish-yellow mixed sandy loam; b – dark gray sandy loam with
calcined inclusions; c – grayish-yellow mixed and dense sandy loam;
d – clay coating; e – bronze drop; f – virgin soil.
1
24
3
01 cm
а
b
c
d
e
f
Fig. 9. General view (1), plan (2), and section (3) of the furnace
(structure No. 23) in dwelling No. 7, Vengerovo-2.
а – grayish-black sandy loam; b – yellowish-gray mixed sandy loam;
c – ceramic fragment; d – virgin soil.
1
020 cm
2
3
аbcd
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dwellings, and yields a smaller number
of artifacts. According to stratigraphic
features, only the western part of the hearth
was used at the latest stage of its use.
1 m to the southwest of the central
hearth, a special furnace was located, with
the walls and oor coated with a clay layer
(structure No. 16) (see Fig. 8). The furnace
is a drop-shaped small pit (0.54 × 0.46 m,
0.16 m deep) oriented along the N-S line,
with a minor eastward deviation. The
northern, western, and eastern walls of the
pit are vertical, the southern wall is sloping,
the oor goes down gently from the south
to the north. Clay coating (up to 3 cm thick)
covers the walls and the floor except for
the southern wall, which expands beyond
a conventional circle (0.17 × 0.04 m). The
northern wall was burnt more heavily than
other wall portions. Near the southern
end of the pit, bellows seem to have been
mounted. These delivered the air stream,
which reached the opposite wall, creating
the area of highest temperature. The lling
of the furnace pit yielded pieces of burnt
clay and charcoal, as well as a bronze drop
(see Fig. 8, 3). The practice of arti cial air-
delivery in Krotovo metallurgy is con rmed
by the occurrence of nozzles in the graves
of the Sopka-2/4B, C (Molodin, Grishin,
2016: 247, g. 394). Furnaces of this sort
have been reported from Preobrazhenka-3
(Molodin, 1985: 75) and other Krotovo sites.
Another furnace (structure No. 23)
was located 1.5 m to the north of the
abovementioned structure (see Fig. 9). It
was a rounded pit, 0.4 × 0.38 m in size and
0.07 m deep. Its northern, western, and
eastern walls were almost vertical, while
the southern wall was sloping; the oor was
uneven and slightly dipping to 5 cm from
south to north. The floor and walls were
paved with potsherds. A small fragment of
a mold core for casting a socketed tool was
found in the furnace lling. This furnace
is almost identical to that described above.
The only distinct feature is the pavement of
the furnace inner surfaces with potsherds.
A similar method of wall- and floor-
pavement was noted in the furnace structure in dwelling
No. 10 (Molodin et al., 2017: 371). This technique was
typical of the Krotovo and Odinovo cultures (Molodin,
Nesterova, Mylnikova, 2014: Fig. 4).
The bronze-casting area also contained pits for
ash utilization and bone storage. One of these pits
(structure No. 18) was irregularly pentagonal in shape,
with uneven sloping walls and rounded corners. The
pit’s size was 1.55 × 1.25–1.4 m, its depth was 0.13–
0.17 m. The oor was uneven, with a raised central part
and a deepened western part. The pit was lled with
ashy, sandy loam.
Fig. 10. General view (1), plan (2), and section (3) of the utility pit (structure
No. 19) in dwelling No. 7, Vengerovo-2.
а – dark gray mixed sandy loam with inclusions of yellow loam; b – black calcined
sandy loam; c – stone; d – animal bone fragment; e sh bones and scales; f – ceramic
fragment; g – virgin soil.
020 cm
1
2
3
а
b
c
d
e
f
g
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56
The other pit (structure No. 19) was sub-rectangular
in shape, with a convex northern wall and a concave
southern wall (see Fig. 10). The size of the pit was
1.20 × 0.69–0.85 m, its depth 0.06–0.1 m. The lling of
the pit contained 57 pottery fragments: rims of at least
four vessels; animal-bones, including those from fox
(skulls, mandibles, and femurs) and horse (anterior splint
bone); an operculum, scales and bones of a sh; and a
pebble ake.
Traces of bronze-casting production were noted in
almost all of the ten studied dwellings at Vengerovo-2.
However, in terms of arrangement of the working areas,
the number of furnaces, and the features of the recovered
artifacts, dwelling No. 7 was the only specializing in
bronze-casting.
Conclusions
The currently available information on the Seima-Turbino
bronzes (Kuzminykh, 2011) suggests that the Middle
Irtysh basin is one of the regions most rich in such
artifacts. Evidence of secondary metal-working at the
Krotovo settlements of Vengerovo-2 and Abramovo-10,
located more than 100 km from each other, points to
the unification of the manufacturing process. These
sites revealed similar types of casting areas, furnaces,
and utility and waste pits, which were constructed
following the standard technical tradition inherited from
the preceding Odinovo culture of the Baraba forest-
steppe (Stary Tartas-5 contained a furnace with one of
the walls paved with large fragments of the ceramic
vessel’s body (Molodin, Nesterova, Mylnikova, 2014));
similar crucibles (Fig. 11) demonstrating local traditions
(Molodin, Durakov, Mylnikova et al., 2012; Durakov,
Kobeleva, 2017: 23–24); and clear features of serial
production (reusable molds designed for mass production,
exceeding the needs of the site’s population).
Traces of the well-developed bronze-casting production
at the Middle Irtysh settlements point to the conclusion
that the Seima-Turbino artifacts, which can be regarded
an epochal phenomenon in this region, were undoubtedly
manufactured by the indigenous Krotovo people, rather
than by migrants. This inference is supported by the Seima-
Turbino bronze artifacts discovered at the sites of the period
under study. For instance, at Stary Tartas-1, in the cultural
layer containing Odinovo and Krotovo ceramics (Molodin,
Mylnikova, Grishin, 2005), two bronze celts were found,
de nitely belonging to the Seima-Turbino tradition. One
of the celts, retaining a fragment of a wooden haft in the
socket (Fig. 12, 1, 2), was attributed to category K-4 or
Fig. 11. Crucible from dwelling No. 3 at Vengerovo-2.
02 cm
Fig. 12. Celts (1, 3) and fragment of a wooden haft (2) from Stary Tartas-1.
01 cm
1
2
3
V.I. Molodin et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 46/3 (2018) 49–58 57
K-6 according to Chernykh and Kuzminykh’s classi cation
(Molodin, Durakov, Sofeikov et al., 2012). The other celt,
found in 2017 (Fig. 12, 3), is attributable to the same
category. Unlike the first celt, this one is smaller, and
displays the marked stiffening ribs and a relief llet along
the upper edge.
The Irtysh River and its tributaries apparently played
an important role in the penetration, dispersal, and
adaptation of the Seima-Turbino tradition. The tradition
seems to have originated in the Upper Irtysh region.
Indirect support for this assumption may be the discovery
of artifacts of the Seima-Turbino-type in Xingjian
(Molodin, 2017; Molodin, Komissarov, Wang Peng, 2017;
Mei, 2009: Fig. 3, 1–3).
The Seima-Turbino artifacts, representing the best
examples of the time’s advanced technologies, were
imported to the Middle Irtysh region and became available
to the local artisans of the Odinovo and Krotovo cultures.
Indigenous metallurgists, using their own metallurgical
traditions, began to produce similar items. Owing to the
absence of ore reserves in the region, the West Siberian
population imported raw materials from the deposits
of the modern Eastern Kazakhstan, Rudny Altai, and
possibly some southerner parts of Central Asia.
Acknowledgement
This study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic
Research (Project No. 18-09-00406).
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Article
Along with ordinary utilitarian things, Seymа-Turbinо casters made technically advanced products devoid of pragmatic functions. Miniature copies of full-size prestigious products were found in graves and shrines. Probably, communities of metalworkers treated these miniature tools as material symbols of their group identification. Numerous finds made in Petrovka, Sintashta, and Seymа-Turbino archeological sites mean that these metal miniatures were in high demand. Low-rank metal workers might have been buried with miniature samples of less technologically advanced tools. Full-size sophisticated tools, as well as their miniature copies in children's graves, could symbolize individual status. Miniature artistic castings that served as pommels on massive curved knives marked the prestigious status of this type of weapon and symbolically equated it with the Tools of the Creation . The figurines that adorned the Seyma-Turbino weapon not only emphasized its impressive size, but also gave the owners of these perfect products a higher social status. The miniature sculpture, which adorned only some of the Seyma-Turbino metal products, individualized serial samples. Thus, the microtechnics reflected not only the new possibilities of Seyma-Turbino metalworking, but also the regulatory requirements for the design of prestigious metal products. The renewal of the material ambiance was caused by the spread of serial products, the so-called quick things . It reflected the need to strengthen the connection between the owner and the possession, which was inherent to individual single-piece production
Article
Full-text available
The formation of the early bronze-casting production in Baraba and the appearance of products of the Seima-Turbino type were completed within the 3rd — early 2nd mil. BC — during the existence of the Krotovo Cul-ture. Plenty of work has been devoted to its characterization; the presence of bronze-casting on the sites has been noted, but special studies of this type of sources are extremely few. The purpose of this paper is to present the characteristics of the production areas associated with the processing of non-ferrous metals, based on mate-rials of the Vengerovo-2 settlement of the Krotovo Culture. Production sites were studied in six dwellings of the settlement. The uniformity of the workshops has been revealed in terms of site planning and principles of organi-zation of the production, although differences in scale have been noted. The use of two types of the forges has been recorded. In all these workshops and in other sites of the culture, a multifunctional sub-rectangular hearth buried in the ground with the walls and floor lined with fragments of ceramics or clay coating was found (with di-mensions of 1.65×0.87–2.3×0.9×0.21–0.52 m). The second type of the forges is less common — a small round or oval pit (0.4–0.5 m in diameter) with the bottom and walls lined with baked clay or fragments. The smelting was carried out with forced air supply. The casting of the metal was taking place next to the forge. Crushed bones were used as fuel. The production complex demonstrates extensive external economic and commercial ties. This is manifested by penetration of significant volumes of non-ferrous metal into the ore-barren areas of the Central Baraba, as well as by the presence of imported foundry equipment (molds made of marl and talc). The simultaneous presence inside the casters’ dwellings of bones of taiga-zone animals and those living in the southern, steppe regions indicates significant length of the supply routes. The specific features and unification of the production of the manufacturing equipment, nature of the work carried out, volume of heats, and a large number of similar-type forms suggest specialization of the village in the bronze casting production.
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