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

Ceramic production of the Iron age circumpolar population in the North Cis-Ural – traditions and innovations.

A.M. Murygin

Institute of language, literature and history, Komi RC, Ural branch of RAS, Syktyvkar



The territory of research covered predominantly the tundra and the forest-tundra zones of the far north-east of Europe, and administratively fell within the boundaries of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the neighboring in the south regions of the Komi Republic.

Summing up the data on ceramic materials of the 1st millennium AD originating from this vast area led to a conclusion of the cultural unity of the population within the unique high-latitude (conventionally speaking - sub-Arctic) archaeological culture [Murygin, 1992]. Its areal was geographically referred to­ the circumpolar North of the Pechora Cis-Ural and was limited by  the Yamal peninsula in the west. The pottery production tradition of its constituent related groups was significantly different from the neighboring contemporary cultures of the boreal belt of the Pechora basin, while at the same time it demonstrated noticeable similarities with the cultures which developed east of the Urals mountains.

However, the accumulation and revision of  sources on the Middle Age issues led to raising a question about the possible isolation from the common pool of the Malo- and Bolshezemelskaya tundra archaeological sites of a separate territorial group gravitating mostly to the Trans-Polar Pechora region. They formed the Lower Pechora areal of distribution of the Novoborsk type Middle Age sites of the second half of the  1st - first half of the  2nd millennium AD. -  hillforts Novy Bor I - IV, Ortinskoje, Kobylikha, hillfort and sacred site Gnilka, Kotkino I settlement; apparently, to the same group of the Trans-Polar sites belonged also the Eshmess sacred place and Neritsky burial site of the 10th-11th centuries AD containing uncharacteristic for the taiga Cis-Ural goods [Istomina, 1997,P.106-120; Murygin, 2011, P.94-103; Murygin, Klenov 2015, P. 119-131]. It would seem that Yugorskaya Sopka settlement dated as the 5th-7th centuries AD should also be included in the Novoborsk type group [Kagan, Pitulko, 1993, P. 103-109]. As the oldest in the group it had [Kagan, Pitulko, 1993, P.103-109, Fig. 4; Murygin, 2016, P.183-203, Fig.10] a lot in common in terms of ornamentation and the shape of the vessels with the materials of the first half of the 2nd millennium AD, and demonstrated the same significant differences from the pottery production traditions of the other known tundra zone (sub-Arctic type) sites. Presumably the complex from Yugorskaya Sopka settlement indicated the appearance in the European tundras of a new cultural tradition. Its materials should be viewed as a starting point for the coming innovations manifested in the formation of the local (Novoborsk) group of the Muddle Age population. Taken together the specific features of the Novoborsk pottery demonstrated similarities with the Ugra or the Samody group of related archaeological cultures of the West Siberian (Lower Ob) or the Cis-Ural-Pechora cultural areal.

Thus the currently available sources offer sufficient grounds for the isolation in the territory of the tundra zone of the north-east of Europe and the neighboring regions of the far north Pechora taiga of at least two ethnocultural formations. The life style of the first of them, archaeologically represented with the ceramics of the type More-Yu, Khutjyunkose, and Komatyvis [Murygin, 2016, P. 183-203, Fig. 2-7], was adapted to life not only predominantly in the continental parts of the Bolshezemelskaya and the Yamal tundra, but also in their coastal areas and on the islands  (the Vaigach island). The archaeological sites of the second type gravitated mostly towards the forested Lower Pechora valley and were documented with the Novoborsk type ceramics [Murygin, 2016, P. 183-203, Fig. 10; 11]. One of the most important problems in this connection remains, because of the poor and uneven coverage of the circumpolar-Trans-Ural regions with archaeological research, the problem of the cultural and chronological correlation of the sub-Arctic and the Novoborsk type Iron Age sites.




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