Sredny Stog culture

The Sredny Stog culture (Russian: Среднестоговская культура) is a pre-Kurgan archaeological culture from the 5th millennium BC. It is named after the Russian term for the Dnieper river islet of today's Seredny Stih, Ukraine, where it was first located. It was situated across the Dnieper river on both its shores, with sporadic settlements to the west and east.[1] One of the best known sites associated with this culture is Dereivka, located on the right bank of the Omelnik, a tributary of the Dnieper, and is the most impressive site within the Sredny Stog culture complex, being about 2,000 square meters in area.

The Sredny Stog culture is known for initiating the domestication of horses.[2]

Sredny Stog culture
Srednjistog
Geographical rangeRussia, Ukraine
PeriodChalcolithic Europe
Datesc. 4500 BC – 3500 BC
Preceded byKhvalynsk culture
Followed byCernavodă culture, Yamnaya culture

Overview

The Sredny Stog culture seems to have had contact with the agricultural Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the west and was a contemporary of the Khvalynsk culture. However, they are distinguished from the other cultures found in the Balkans by the way they lived more mobile lives. This was seen in the their temporary settlements, particularly their dwellings, which were simple rectilinear structures.[3]

In its three largest cemeteries, Alexandria (39 individuals), Igren (17) and Dereivka (14), evidence of inhumation in flat graves (ground level pits) has been found.[4] This parallels the practise of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, and is in contrast with the later Yamna culture, which practiced tumuli burials, according to the Kurgan hypothesis. In Sredny Stog culture, the deceased were laid to rest on their backs with the legs flexed. The use of ochre in the burial was practiced, as with the kurgan cultures. For this and other reasons, Yuri Rassamakin suggests that the Sredny Stog culture should be considered as an areal term, with at least four distinct cultural elements co-existing inside the same geographical area.

The expert Dmytro Telegin has divided the chronology of Sredny Stog into two distinct phases. Phase II (ca. 4000–3500 BC) used corded ware pottery which may have originated there, and stone battle-axes of the type later associated with expanding Indo-European cultures to the West. Most notably, it has perhaps the earliest evidence of horse domestication (in phase II), with finds suggestive of cheek-pieces (psalia). Evidence revealed that around 6,000ya, the culture has domesticated the wild Przewalski's horse.[2] However, there is no conclusive proof that that horses were used for riding since they were mainly employed for gathering food.[5]

In the context of the modified Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, this pre-kurgan archaeological culture could represent the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language. The culture ended at around 3500 BC, when the Yamna culture expanded westward replacing Sredny Stog, and coming into direct contact with the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the western Ukraine.

Notes

  1. ^ J. P. Mallory, In the search of Indo-Europeans, 1989 p. 198, Distribution of the Sredny Stog and Novodanilovka sites
  2. ^ a b Herrera, Rene J.; Garcia-Bertrand, Ralph (2018). Ancestral DNA, Human Origins, and Migrations. London: Academic Press. p. 518. ISBN 9780128041246.
  3. ^ Bailey, Douglass (2002). Balkan Prehistory: Exclusion, Incorporation and Identity. London: Routledge. p. 258. ISBN 0415215978.
  4. ^ The Journal of Indo-European studies, Vol 18, p. 18
  5. ^ Fortson IV, Benjamin (2011). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, Second Edition. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons. p. 48. ISBN 9781405188951.

Sources

35th century BC

The 35th century BC in the Near East sees the gradual transition from the Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age. Proto-writing enters transitional stage, developing towards writing proper. Wheeled vehicles are now known beyond Mesopotamia, having spread north of the Caucasus and to Europe.

4th millennium BC

The 4th millennium BC spanned the years 4000 through 3001 BC. Some of the major changes in human culture during this time included the beginning of the Bronze Age and the invention of writing, which played a major role in starting recorded history.

The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia.

World population growth relaxes after the burst due to the Neolithic Revolution. World population is largely stable, at roughly 50 million, with a slow overall growth rate at roughly 0.03% p.a.

5th millennium BC

The 5th millennium BC spanned the years 5000 through 4001 BC. It saw the spread of agriculture from Western Asia throughout Southern and Central Europe.

Urban cultures in Mesopotamia and Anatolia flourished, developing the wheel. Copper ornaments became more common, marking the beginning of the Chalcolithic. Animal husbandry spread throughout Eurasia, reaching China.

World population growth relaxes after the burst due to the Neolithic Revolution. World population is largely stable, at roughly 40 million, with a slow overall growth rate at roughly 0.03% p.a.

Anatolian hypothesis

The Anatolian hypothesis, also known as the Anatolian theory or the sedentary farmer theory, first developed by British archaeologist Colin Renfrew in 1987, proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. It is the main competitor to the Kurgan hypothesis, or steppe theory, the more favoured view academically.

Cernavodă culture

The Cernavodă culture, ca. 4000–3200 BC, was a late Copper Age archaeological culture. It was along the lower Eastern Bug River and Danube and along the coast of the Black Sea and somewhat inland, generally in present-day Romania and Bulgaria. It is named after the Romanian town of Cernavodă.

It is a successor to and occupies much the same area as the earlier neolithic Karanovo culture, for which a destruction horizon seems to be evident. It is part of the "Balkan-Danubian complex" that stretches up the entire length of the river and into northern Germany via the Elbe and the Baden culture; its northeastern portion is thought to be ancestral to the Usatovo culture.

It is characterized by defensive hilltop settlements. The pottery shares traits with that found further east, in the Sredny Stog culture on the south-west Eurasian steppe; burials similarly bear a resemblance to those further east.

Together with Sredny Stog culture its spread from east resulted in development of the Anatolian language complex.

Chalcolithic Europe

Chalcolithic Europe, the Chalcolithic (also Aeneolithic, Copper Age) period of Prehistoric Europe, lasted roughly from 3500 to 1700 BC.

It was a period of Megalithic culture, the appearance of the first significant economic stratification, and probably the earliest presence of Indo-European speakers.

The economy of the Chalcolithic, even in the regions where copper was not yet used, was no longer that of peasant communities and tribes: some materials began to be produced in specific locations and distributed to wide regions. Mining of metal and stone was particularly developed in some areas, along with the processing of those materials into valuable goods.

Deriivka

Dereivka (Ukrainian: Деріївка, Russian: Дериевка) is an archaeological site located in the village of the same name in Kirovohrad Oblast, Ukraine, on the right bank of the Dneiper. The site dates to ca. 4500—3500 BC and is associated with the Sredny Stog culture.

This site is known primarily as a probable site of early horse domestication due to a high percentage of horse bones found at the site. A horse burial with bit wear and cheek pieces was long considered evidence for horseback-riding at an early date, but in 1997 radiocarbon dates showed that the burial was intrusive, the horse having died circa 700-200 BC, thereby re-opening the question of when horseback-riding was invented.Of interest is some apparently equivocal evidence for fenced houses. Two cemeteries are associated, one from the earlier (neolithic) Dnieper-Donets culture and one from the aforementioned Sredny Stog culture, of the Copper Age. The habitation site included three dwellings and six hearths, each containing hundreds of animal bones. Of all the bones, approximately 75% came from horses, possibly exploited by the inhabitants only as food staple.

As a part of the Sredny Stog complex, it is considered to be very early Indo-European, and probably, Proto-Indo-European, within the traditional context of the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, though Sredny Stog is itself pre-kurgan as to burial rite.

Indo-Iranians

Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were an ethno-linguistic group who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia.

Khortytsia

Khortytsia (Ukrainian: Хо́ртиця, Khortytsia, pronounced [ˈxɔrtɪtsʲa], Russian: Хо́ртица, Khortitsa, Polish: Chortyca) is the largest island in the River Dnieper, and is 12.5 kilometres (7.77 miles) long and up to 2.5 kilometres (1.55 miles) wide. The island forms part of the Khortytsya National Park. This historic site is located within the city limits of Zaporizhia, Ukraine.

The island has played an important role in the history of Ukraine, specially in the history of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. The island has unique flora and fauna, including oak groves, spruce woods, meadows, and steppe. The northern part of the island is very rocky and high (rising 30 m (98 ft) above the river bed) in comparison to the southern part, which is low, and often flooded by the waters of the Dnieper.

Kurgan hypothesis

The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland from which the Indo-European languages spread out throughout Europe, Eurasia and parts of Asia.

It postulates that the people of a Kurgan culture in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). The term is derived from the Russian kurgan (курга́н), meaning tumulus or burial mound.

The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas, who used the term to group various cultures, including the Yamnaya, or Pit Grave, culture and its predecessors. David Anthony instead uses the core Yamnaya culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference.

Marija Gimbutas defined the Kurgan culture as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the Dnieper–Volga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC). The people of these cultures were nomadic pastoralists, who, according to the model, by the early 3rd millennium BC had expanded throughout the Pontic–Caspian steppe and into Eastern Europe.Three genetic studies in 2015 gave partial support to Gimbutas's Kurgan theory regarding the Indo-European Urheimat. According to those studies, haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian and Ukrainian steppes, along with the Indo-European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo-European languages.

List of tribes and states in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine

The following is a list of tribes who lived on the territories of contemporary Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. The tribes were later replaced or consolidated by Slavs, starting with the formation of Kievan Rus', including the semi-autonomous principalities of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, that existed in the first half of the second millennium. The area was later expanded to become the Tsardom of Russia, followed by the Russian Empire, which became part of the Soviet Union.

Mariupol culture

The Mariupol culture also known as Mariupol-type cemeteries was a transitional culture of the Neolithic and Eneolithic (Copper Age), during the second half of the 5th millennium BCE at the Sea of Azov and neighbouring regions along the rivers Dnieper, Don, Oril', Chir and Crimean peninsula, reaching as far as North Caucasus and Kuban Region as well as river Volga. The final stages of this culture are described as the Post-Mariupol culture. The Post-Mariupol culture was superseded by Sredny Stog culture.

In older works, it is referred to as a part of wider Dnieper-Donetsk culture also known as the Mariupol type cultures.

D. Ya. Telegin, an expert on Neolithic and Eneolithic Eastern Europe, states that the Mariupol-type cemeteries seem to have had their origins in the late Mesolithic and endured into the Copper Age: a period of more than two thousand years (c. 6500–4000 cal BC). They were primarily fisher-hunter-gatheres familiar with livestock through exchange or pastoralism. In terms of biological anthropology, Mariupol remains appear to be Caucasoid and physically larger than their contemporaries.

Middle Dnieper culture

The Middle Dnieper culture is an eastern extension of the Corded Ware culture, ca. 3200—2300 BC, of northern Ukraine and Belarus. As the name indicates, it was centered on the middle reach of the Dnieper River and is contemporaneous with the latter phase and then a successor to the Indo-European Yamnaya culture, as well as to the latter phase of the Tripolye culture.

Geographically it is directly behind the area occupied by the Globular Amphora culture (south and east), and while commencing a little later and lasting a little longer, it is otherwise contemporaneous with it.

More than 200 sites are attested to, mostly as barrow inhumations under tumuli; some of these burials are secondary depositions into Yamnaya-era kurgans. Grave goods included pottery and stone battle-axes. There is some evidence of cremation in the northerly area. Settlements seem difficult to define; the economy was much like that of the Yamnaya and Corded Ware cultures, semi-to-fully-nomadic pastoralism.Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, this culture is a major center for migrations (or invasions, if one prefers) from the Yamnaya culture and its immediate successors into Northern and Central Europe.

It has been argued that the area where the Middle Dnieper culture is situated would have provided a better migration route for steppe tribes along the Pripyat tributary of the Dnieper and perhaps provided the cultural bridge between Yamnaya and Corded Ware cultures. This area has also been a classic invasion route as seen historically with the armies of the Mongol Golden Horde (moving east to west from the steppes) and Napoleon Bonaparte (moving west to east from Europe). On the other hand, the Middle-Dnieper culture has been viewed as a contact zone between Yamnaya steppe tribes and occupants of the forest steppe zone possibly signaling communications between pre-Indo-Iranian speakers and pre-Balto-Slavs as interpreted by an exchange of material goods evident in the archaeological record sans migration.The Fatyanovo–Balanovo culture is, in turn, considered an eastern extension of the Middle Dnieper culture.

Pontic–Caspian steppe

The Pontic–Caspian steppe, or Pontic steppe is the vast steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea (called Euxeinos Pontos [Εὔξεινος Πόντος] in antiquity) as far east as the Caspian Sea, from Moldova and eastern Ukraine across Russian Northern Caucasus, Southern and lower Volga regions to western Kazakhstan, forming part of the larger Eurasian steppe, adjacent to the Kazakh steppe to the east. It is a part of the Palearctic temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome.

The area corresponds to Cimmeria, Scythia, and Sarmatia of classical antiquity. Across several millennia the steppe was used by numerous tribes of nomadic horsemen, many of which went on to conquer lands in the settled regions of Europe and in western and southern Asia.

The term Ponto-Caspian region is used in biogeography for plants and animals of these steppes, and animals from the Black, Caspian, and Azov seas. Genetic research has identified this region as the most probable place where horses were first domesticated.According to a theory, called Kurgan hypothesis in Indo-European studies, the Pontic–Caspian steppe was the homeland of the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, and these same speakers were the original domesticators of the horse.

Pre-modern human migration

This article focusses on prehistorical migration since the Neolithic period until AD 1800. See Early human migrations for migration prior to the Neolithic, History of human migration for modern history, and human migration for contemporary migration.Paleolithic migration prior to end of the Last Glacial Maximum

spread anatomically modern humans throughout Afro-Eurasia and to the Americas.

During the Holocene climatic optimum, formerly isolated populations began to move and merge, giving rise to the

pre-modern distribution of the world's major language families.

In the wake of the population movements of the Mesolithic came the Neolithic revolution,

followed by the Indo-European expansion in Eurasia and the Bantu expansion in Africa.

Population movements of the proto-historical or early historical period include the Migration period, followed by (or connected to) the Slavic, Magyar Norse, Turkic and Mongol expansions of the medieval period.

The last world regions to be permanently settled were the Pacific Islands and the Arctic, reached during the 1st millennium AD.

Since the beginning of the Age of Exploration and the beginning of the Early Modern period and its emerging colonial empires, an accelerated pace of migration on the intercontinental scale became possible.

Proto-Indo-European homeland

The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the prehistoric urheimat of the Indo-European languages – the region where their reconstructed common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), was originally spoken. From this region, its speakers migrated east and west, and went on to form the proto-communities of the different branches of the language family.

The most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland is the steppe hypothesis, which puts the PIE homeland in the Pontic–Caspian steppe around 4000 BC. A minority support the Anatolian hypothesis, which puts it in Anatolia around 8000 BC. A notable, though unlikely, third possibility is the Armenian hypothesis which situates the homeland south of the Caucasus. Several other explanations have been proposed, including the Neolithic creolisation hypothesis, the so-called Paleolithic Continuity Theory, and the "Indigenous Aryans" or "Out of India" hypothesis. These are not widely accepted, or are considered to be fringe theories.

The search for the homeland of the Indo-Europeans began in the late 18th century with the discovery of the Indo-European language family. The methods used to establish the homeland have been drawn from the disciplines of historical linguistics, archaeology, physical anthropology and, more recently, human population genetics.

Proto-Indo-Europeans

The Proto-Indo-Europeans were hypothetical prehistoric people of Eurasia who spoke Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of the Indo-European languages according to linguistic reconstruction.

Knowledge of them comes chiefly from that linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics. The Proto-Indo-Europeans likely lived during the late Neolithic, or roughly the 4th millennium BC. Mainstream scholarship places them in the Pontic–Caspian steppe zone in Eastern Europe (present day Ukraine and Russia). Some archaeologists would extend the time depth of PIE to the middle Neolithic (5500 to 4500 BC) or even the early Neolithic (7500 to 5500 BC), and suggest alternative location hypotheses.

By the early second millennium BC, offshoots of the Proto-Indo-Europeans had reached far and wide across Eurasia, including Anatolia (Hittites), the Aegean (the ancestors of Mycenaean Greece), the north of Europe (Corded Ware culture), the edges of Central Asia (Yamnaya culture), and southern Siberia (Afanasievo culture).

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World is a 2007 book by David W. Anthony, in which the author describes his "revised Kurgan theory." He explores the origins and spread of the Indo-European languages from the Pontic-Caspian steppes throughout Western Europe, and Central and South Asia. He shows how the domesticated horse and the invention of the wheel mobilized the steppe herding societies in the Eurasian Steppe, and combined with the introduction of bronze technology and new social structures of patron-client relationships gave an advantage to the Indo-European societies. The book won the Society for American Archaeology's 2010 Book Award.

Yamnaya culture

The Yamnaya culture (Russian: Ямная культура, romanized: Yamnaya kultura, lit. 'pit culture'), also known as the Yamna culture (Ukrainian: Ямна культура, romanized: Yamna kultura), Pit Grave culture, or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BC. Its name derives from its characteristic burial tradition: kurgans containing a simple pit chamber.

The people of the Yamnaya culture were likely the result of admixture between the descendants of Eastern European hunter-gatherers and people related to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus. Their material culture was very similar to the Afanasevo culture.

They are also closely connected to later Final Neolithic cultures, which spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people, but also the Bell Beaker culture as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubna cultures. In these groups, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture are present. Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.The Yamnaya culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the urheimat (original homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

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