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

Taiga world of the Ural and Western Siberia within the Wes Asian metallurgical province system.

O.N. Korochkova

Ural State Federal University, Ekaterinburg





*The study was performed with the support of the RFRF  grant 16-06-00174 а.


In the 2nd millennium BC vast territories of the Ural and West Siberia became part of the Bronze Age extensive contacts network. The archaeological evidence of the beginning of a new era were the tin bronze alloy tools cast according to the Seimin-Turbino (ST) techniques standards.  The river routes which supported the colonization of the taiga territories contributed to the early migrations of the new tradition bearers to the remote northern areas. Another evidence of a foreign culture penetration were the Kuljegan type sites, e.g. the ST burial site Satyga XVI. At the same time the taiga population began to experiment with their own metal working practices, even though such experiments were often unsuccessful, since they involved a state-of-the-art bronze alloy casting techniques. Some time later the local cultures lost their "bronze" attributes and, in fact, recovered their original appearance. The taiga world with its by that time stable economy based on nonmigratory fishing was very selectively responding to changes, whereas certain innovations unsupported by local raw material resources, and even more importantly, lacking incentives since they did not contribute to any critical improvement in the existing life support system were altogether rejected. It was not the hunters' and fishermen' incapability to master the new technology but the lack of demand for it,  that influenced a conservative attitude of the subsistence harvesting population towards innovation. 

The situation in the Middle Trans-Ural followed a different scenario. The renewable resources in the area were limited as a result of climate change processes: mire formation in place of lakes on which the economic wealth of the population heavily depended. The fishing territories shrunk resulting in a significant decrease of population. It is possible that part of the Trans-Ural population migrated to the neighboring areas of the West-Siberian plain. However, it was in the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC when this very scarcely populated region became extremely attractive as a territory with significant porphyry copper manifestations with frequent suitable for smelting native copper  and oxidized ores outcrops.  This situation was used to the best advantage by the Seimin-Turbino and steppe craftsmen family clans under whose influence and with whose immediate participation the territory developed as a unique metallurgical center employing the state-of-the-art technologies of the time. The evidence of these achievements could be found, in the first place, in the metal complex of Shaitan Lake II sacred place. However the activities of the center were limited (the items circulated only in the taiga zone), and its existence gradually died out. This situation confirmed the general rule of the invariable link between the developed metal industry and the producing life support strategies. Another important factor was also the inclusion of the region into a system of information contacts between the metallurgical cultures.

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