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N. I. Shishlina et al, Interpretations of Eurasian Archaeology, The Bronze Age

N. I. Shishlina et al, Interpretations of Eurasian Archaeology, The Bronze Age

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Part IIIInterpretations of Eurasian Archaeology The Bronze Age
 
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Kurgans, Ritual Sites, and Settlements: Eurasian Bronze and Iron Age
 
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Abstract
Textile goods played an important role in the culture of manyEurasian peoples. New methods and new data concerning an-cient textiles allow us to study the textile goods produced bythe Eurasia nomadic population of the Bronze Age (third–sec-ond millennium BC). The specific area of our study is theKalmyk steppe, and the general region is the Black Sea and theCaspian Sea maritime steppes, the Ural region, and the north-ern Caucasus region of the Eurasian steppe belt. We identifiedand classified sources that included 50 objects. This was fol-lowed by technological analyses that included identifying andstudying the textiles and their structure; determining the typeof fiber used for yarn; the type of twisting; the type of threadspinning; the structure of the sample; and the type of threadweave. The analysis of the raw materials base provided indis-putable evidence that plant and wool fibers both were usedduring the Bronze Age. A comparison of archaeological findswith the components found on historical and ethnographiclooms helped establish the types of weaving devices used inprehistoric times. Finally, it became possible to characterizethe significance of textiles within the context of steppe cul-tures, not only in the everyday life, but in ritual practices aswell.
Key Words
textiles, nomads, Bronze Age, Eurasian steppe
Introduction
The economies of the cultures of the west Eurasian steppe werestrongly affected by local ecological and natural conditions,particularly during the Bronze Age. The steppe changed eco-logically from the third millennium BC onwards, and aneconomy of mobile herders evolved. This shift in economy wasaccompanied by the gradual development of a new mode of life and new technologies, which were directly linked to theeconomy. Recent studies of bone and wood working, potterymanufacturing, and metallurgical production in this region hasallowed us to evaluate the skills which typify the Yamnaya (Pit-grave), Catacomb, Srubnaya (Timber-grave) and other Eurasiancultures that lived in the steppe (Remeslo 1994; Chernykh1997). Such studies present a new perspective on the develop-ment of the new type of economy, i.e. a system of mobile pas-toralism. This perspective reveals the relationships that existedbetween the individual elements of this system, and the identi-fication of these links increases the significance of all sources.In addition, in a number of cases it has been possible to iden-tify previously unknown aspects of these cultures. The textilesoriginating in sites located within the Eurasian steppe belt arean understudied economic commodity. Textile goods playedan important role in the culture of many Eurasian peoples (e.g
.
Tayzhanova
1995; Zhitetsky 1893). Historical studies have in-dicated that textiles had not only an everyday, but also a socialand religious role in these societies.While scholars became aware of the existence of Bronze Agetextiles as early as the beginning of this century (Gorodstov1910), an almost complete absence of textiles from either burialor settlement sites made their study (an organic material) diffi-cult. Very often the only evidence for the existence of variousweaving or plaiting types was the tools associated with textiletechnology, or imprints of textile goods on ceramics. This in-formation has contributed to our understanding of ancient weav-ing, but scholars limited their studies to the analysis of certaintypes of archaeological goods thereby linking the latter with aseries of technological operations (e.g. Glushkov and Glushkova1992). The current diversity of opinions which exists concern-ing the methods used by the Eurasian peoples to weave andplait their cloth is indicative of the active research in the field.The authors believe that each study conducted to achieve thisobjective has greatly contributed to the identification of theorigin of this ancient technology.New methods and new data concerning ancient textiles hasenabled us to return to the study of the textile goods producedby Eurasian groups. The region of our study is, in particular,the Kalmyk steppe, and in general the Black Sea and the CaspianSea maritime steppes, the Ural region and the northern Caucasus
Bronze Age Textiles of the Caspian Sea Maritime SteppesNatalia I. Shishlina
Archaeological Department, Moscow, State Historical Museum
Valery P. Golikov
Center of Historical and Traditional Technologies, Moscow
Olga V. Orfinskaya
Karachayevo-Cherkessky Museum of HistoryCherkessk, Karachayevo-Cherkesskaya Republicº

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