International Scientific Conference "Archeology of the Arctic"
November 19-23, 2017

Trans-Ural populations spatial and cultural adaptation models during the Neolithic – Early iron age.

N.M. Chairkina

Institute of History and Archeology, Ural branch of RAS, Ekaterinburg



Tradition of settling in the areas with a particular type of topography, the strategic choice of which was not driven by the "condition" of a water basin developed in the Trans-Ural  during the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods.  People settled in the coastal, near shore areas and in places only in parts affected by marsh formation processes: in the boreal and most part of the Atlantic periods the presence of mires and peat formation in the area were not of a universal nature.

During the Eneolithic and in the Bronze Age as a result of the climate change and the subsequent intensification of marsh formation the strategy of encompassing landscape development by the population was gradually changing. Alongside with the river banks and coastal areas the population began settling in the peaty lakes bowls, where they built transport communications, production facilities and sacred sites.

In the Trans-Ural peat bogs there were isolated finds or aggregations of artifacts which, probably, got into a bog and/or water accidentally or were placed there intentionally and had a special semantic status.

During the Late Bronze and the early Iron Ages with the acceleration of marsh formation processes the water bodies' surface area shrunk significantly. Alongside with sticking to the traditional settlement patterns  the population began practicing transfer of the settlements to other coastal areas or to the shores of other water bodies with a more convenient development strategy [Chairkina, 2012. 42-49 p.]

Similar adaptation and living space development systems were observed in settlement patterns of ancient population of Eastern Europe; even more flexible systems based on the cultural traditions of pile-dwelling structures were registered in the adaptation patterns of Western Europe population [Living.., 2004]. Alongside with them in this area since the Neolithic there were other forms of colonization and bog worship (roads, sacrificial places, burials) which existed for thousands of years and were reflected in the mythology of many European peoples.

Spatial and cultural adaptation models of the population of Western and Eastern Europe and the Trans-Ural were driven by common general and regional Holocene period climate change.  They resulted in regressions, transgressions and marsh formation and, consequently, variations in the settlement and territory development systems of the ancient population. The encompassing landscape during all archaeological ages was, to a larger or lesser degree, an active element which determined the need for adaptation of the social groups to its transformations. Various models of such adaptation were developed by social systems and were, on the one hand, dependent on the cultural traditions, and, on the other hand were predetermined by the epoch-making climate changes and as such were universal.




  1. Chairkina N.M. Settlement models in a enclosing landscape in the Mesolithic – Early Iron Age in the Trans-Ural (on peat-bog sites materials) (in Russian)// Ural Historic Vestnik. 2012. №4 (37). PP. 42-49
  2. Living on the lake in prehistoric Europe: 150 years of lake-dwelling research. Edited by Francesco Menotti. New York, 2004.  238 p.

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