Eneolithic pastoralism in the Lower Volga but maybe not at Dereivka

I’m reading a couple of papers on the Eneolithic in Eastern Europe. They’re relevant to the discussions we’ve been having recently in the comments about the origins of pastoralism on the Pontic-Caspian steppe. I wonder what the implications of the results in these papers might be for the Proto-Indo-European homeland debate?

New insights into the subsistence economy of the Eneolithic Dereivka culture of the Ukrainian North-Pontic region through lipid residues analysis of pottery vessels Simona Mileto, Elke Kaiser, Yuri Rassamakin, Richard P. Evershed DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.03.02 Abstract: The Dereivka site of the North-Pontic forest-steppe has been widely investigated because of its potential as a centre for horse domestication (Levine, 1990; Telegin, 1986). Despite the significant archaeological evidence available, Dereivka is considered a contradictory and complex site (Rassamakin, 1999: 143) due to a range of challenges connected with reconciling the various lines of available archaeological evidence. Consequently, a generally acceptable subsistence economic model has still to be developed, with contrasting theories remaining unresolved. This paper presents new results of organic residues analyses from the site. Forty potsherds were submitted to biomolecular and stable carbon and hydrogen isotope analyses and the results discussed in relation to previously published zooarchaeological evidence (Bibikova, 1986; Levine, 1999; Kaiser, 2010). The findings offer a further perspective on the overall subsistence economic strategies of the community, particularly in relation to the exploitation of the horse. Significantly, the biomolecular and stable carbon isotope results confirmed that Dereivka community consumed horse products predominantly, together with smaller proportions of ruminant and non-ruminant products. Interestingly, although ruminant adipose fats were recovered from some vessels, evidence of ruminant dairy product exploitation was insignificant, with only one residue displaying a possible ruminant dairy fat origin. Hydrogen isotope analysis of lipids was applied to investigate equine milk processing in pots (Outram et al., 2009) but these analyses did not offer significant new insights.

On the chronological aspect of productive economy origin in the Lower Volga region Aleksandr A. Vybornov, Markku Oinonen, Natalia S. Doga, Marianna A. Kulkova, Aleksandr S. Popov DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2016.3.1 Abstract: The Lower Volga region territory plays a large part in studying the origin of producing economy. It is particularly important to determine the time of this process commencement. The researchers assumed the coexistence of the late Neolithic and Early Eneolithic monuments in this area. On that basis they highlighted the Neo-Eneolithic period. The researchers dated it to the middle of the 5 millennium BC. They associated this period and the emergence of producing economy at the territory under discussion. The weak point of this hypothesis was a small number of radiocarbon dates on this issue. Obtained after 2007, the radiocarbon dates on the Neolithic and Eneolithic monuments in the Lower Volga region demonstrate a 500-year chronological gap between them. That is why the hypothesis of the Neo-Eneolithic period is not confirmed. At the same time there is a reason to believe that the Late Neolithic and the Caspian Sea region culture coexisted during 5800-5500 BC. However, the referring of the Caspian Sea region culture to the Eneolithic suffers from the lack of evidence that its carriers were familiar with metal. There is also no evidence that they had cattle breeding. The situation changed after studying the Oroshaemoye I archaeological site in the Lower Volga region in 2014-2015. Cultural layer with materials from only the Caspian Sea region culture was found there. This increases the significance of the monument. The bones of domestic sheep and goats were found in this cultural layer. This is the first significant evidence of producing economy existing among the population of the Lower Volga region. AMS radiocarbon dates 4800 and 4700 BC were obtained from domestic sheep bones from this site. Thus, it is possible to make a reasoned conclusion that producing economy had being formed in the Lower Volga region among the carriers of the Caspian Sea region culture. This process can be reliably dated to the beginning of the 5 millennium BC.

Source via Eurogenes Blog

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