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Поволжская археология

Determining the ratio of animal species in the herd of pre-class societies

Stegantsev M.A.

page 9–55

UDC 903.4:51-7


(1.07 Mb)

The article is devoted to the methodology of research of domestic animals herd composition in ancient societies, based on the materials of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age sites located in the Western part of forest-steppe and steppe of Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan. The theoretical portion of the article demonstrates that percentage composition of the ancient herd can be restored only by taking into account the early maturation of the domestic ungulates forming its component part. The values of their early maturation depend on the distribution of animals by age. The formulas, derived through herd models developed, make it possible to determine the required distribution, based on the number of animal units of different ages in osteological collections. They are not affected by the type of herd reproduction.

The application of the derived formulas in order to determine the early maturation of large and small cattle, and horses in the settlements of certain cultures in forest, forest-steppe and steppe zones, has confirmed the adequacy of the model in explaining the archaeological data. It has also been shown that economic specialization of successive Late Bronze and Early Iron Age cultures in the region was determined mainly by the horse.

The study of different methods of determining ancient herd composition has made it possible to come to the following conclusion. The method of transition from identifiable bones in the excavation to the number of animal units corresponding to them, and then, by determining early maturation of different species, to their ratio in the ancient herd, has an absolute priority as compared to the method of transition from the identifiable bones directly to herd composition.


archaeologyWestern SiberiaNorthern Kazakhstanthe Bronze Agethe Iron Agearcheozoologyresearch methodologyancient herd composition and reconstructionancient animal husbandry specialization

About the author(s)

Stegantsev Mark A. Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation;