The Frontier Theory and Bronze Age Archaeology in the Urals

Andrei Epimakhov

Abstract


This article is devoted to the interpretation of the Sintashta and Petrovka sites of the Bronze Age. The purpose of the study is to test a hypothesis regarding the appearance and functioning of a frontier in the Southern Urals between the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. This concept has undergone significant changes and is used for the analysis of not only states but also pre-state societies. A frontier should be considered as a multicultural territory, a zone of stereotypes differing from those of neighbouring groups and original traditions. The presence of conflicts is one of the most characteristic features of the phenomenon. In historical perspective, the system of cultural stereotypes can be reproduced long after the frontier itself ceases to function. The facts accumulated so far can help us reach a new level of understanding. Archaeological sources are represented by fortified settlements and burial grounds; their distribution is very compact. Various types of monuments illustrate very well the high degree of population concentration, the variability of cultural stereotypes, social heterogeneity, the development of the military sphere (including its manifestations in the ideological sphere), etc. Thus, the Sintashta sites can be viewed as a result of the functioning of a specific type of frontier, which determined the influence of traditions and their long-term reproduction. Their evolution was due to the peculiarities of adaptation; as a result, highly concentrated populations were rejected and the forms of social complexity changed.


Keywords


Urals; Bronze Age; Sintashta culture; frontier; adaptation; cattle breeding; fortification; warfare

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2018.1.291

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