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

Upper Taz selkups archaeology and ethno-archaeology research perspectives.

О.Е. Poshekhonova1, S. V.  Berlina2, H. Piezonka3, W. Kirleis4, S. Lorenz5, Zh.V.  Marchenko6, A. A.  Rud7

1,2Institute of the North Development, SB RAS, Tyumen (; ,3,4Christian Albrechts University Kiel, Kiel, Germany(; of Geography and Geology, Greifswald University, Greifswald, Germany( 6Institute of archaeology and ethnography SB RAS, Novosibirsk ( 7Historical and cultural research-production center Barsova Gora, Surgut (



* The study was performed with the financial support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation,  Dusseldorf, Germany (project No AZ 13/V/17, "Nomaden der Taiga: Ethnoarchäologische Forschungen bei den Selkupen, einer der letzten mobilen Jäger-Fischer-Gemeinschaften in Sibirien»).


Up to this day the Taz river basin remains the archaeologically very poorly researched area. A reason for this was not at all the scarcity of the ancient  population, but the limited accessibility of the region.   Several Modern Time sites (settlements and burials) belonging to the Northern Selkups were recently discovered in the upper reaches of the river. Today there are several modern herders' camps in the neighborhood inhabited by groups of Selkup hunters, fishermen and herders maintaining many of the archaic characteristics of culture and everyday life. This opens a wide window of opportunity for correlation of the archaeological and the ethnographic data.

Bearing  in mind the significant variations in the material culture of the territorial-family groups of the Northern Selkups, a large number of specific characteristics originating from the long standing contacts with the neighboring peoples (the Kets,  the Khanty, the Evenks, the Nenets), a visible modification of traditions over the several centuries of residing in this territory the currently available  ethnographic data would have been clearly insufficient for a comprehensive ethno-archaeological analysis [Adaev, 2014. PP. 124-132.].

Some preliminary foundation for the potential ethno-archaeological study was laid by A.V. Kenig, an archaeologist who specialized in description and analysis of the Selkups' seasonal settlements patterns [Kenig, 2010] The existence of archaeological objects which could be associated with the Taz Selkups became known only in 1998 [Sumin, 2012]. In 2013 О.Е. Poshekhonova supervised a follow up ethno-archaeological study involving two parallel processes - the excavation of the archaeological sites and the collection of field ethnographic information from the local population. The combination of different information sources produced a strong complementary effect. As a result unique data on the funeral rites, the material and spiritual culture of the Upper Taz Selkups of the 17th-19th centuries were obtained [Poshekhonova,2015. PP. 200-202.; Poshekhonova et al, 2015. P. 165-174]. The excavations of the second field season of 2016 were performed under the framework of the joint Russian-German research project with the participation of German archaeologists, archeobotanists and geomorphologists. In addition to further excavations in the Kikki-Akki  area the archeologo-ethnographic teams traveled to the tributaries of the Taz river Koralka and Pokalka where they registered and described several dozen various ethnographic and archaeological objects.

In 2017 this promising international cooperation project received a research grant from the German multi-disciplinary research Gerda Henkel Foundation. Methodologically the project embraces the spheres of archeology, ethnography, physical anthropology, isotope analysis, archeobotanics, dendrochronology and AMC dating. The study is focused on the following issues: 1) organization of economy and the seasonal settlements system; 2) migration, ethnic identity and culture modification within the general interaction system; 3) the role of reindeer herding and forms of its organization in relation to the harvesting complex; 4) the problem of the possibility to trace the evolution of the type of economy, organization of settlements, dwellings, life support system, etc. of the Northern Selkups in antiquity on the basis of archaeological data.



  1. Adaev V.N. Upper Taz Selkups: intercultural connections and ways of communication with the population of the neighboring river basins in the 18th-20th centuries // Vestnik of archeology, anthropology and ethnography. – Tyumen: Institute of the North Development, SB RAS Press, 2014. – Issue 4. – PP. 124-132
  2. Kenig A.V. Ethnoarcheology as the archaeological reconstructions method (the Taz Selkups case study - Ekaterinburg-Khanty-Mansijsk, 2010. – 128 p.
  3. Poshekhonova O. E. New data on the Upper Taz Selkups in the 17th - 19th centuries // IV Northern Archaeological Congress: Papers. – Ekaterinburg, 2015. – PP. 200-202.
  4. Poshekhonova O. E., Afonon A.S., Kisagulov A. V., Gimranov D. O., Nekrasov A. E., Yakimov S. A., Yakimov A.S., Bazhenov A. I. Certain elements of funeral rites of the Northern Selkups according to the paleo-ecological studies data // Vestnik of archeology, anthropology and ethnography. – Tyumen: Institute of the North Development, SB RAS Press, 2015. – Issue 4 (31). – PP. 165-174.
  5. Sumin V. V. Archaeological excavations report, Krasnoselsky district, 1998. – Ekaterinburg, 2012.

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