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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Societies of the southern Urals, Russian Federation, 2100 – 900 BC
by Johnson, James Alan, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2014, 213; 3690747
Abstract (Summary)

In the past ten years or more, social complexity has taken center stage as the focus of archaeologists working on the Eurasian steppe. The Middle Bronze Age Sintashta period, ca. 2100 - 1700 BC, is often assumed to represent the apex of social complexity for the Bronze Age in the southern Urals region. This assumption has been based on the appearance of twenty-two fortified settlements, chariot burials, and intensified metal production. Some of these studies have incorporated the emergence and subsequent development of mobile pastoralism as their primary foci, while others have concerned themselves primarily with early forms of metal production and their association with seemingly nascent social hierarchies. Such variables are useful indicators of more complex forms of social organization usually accompanied by strong degrees of demographic centralization and social differentiation.

This dissertation explores the relationship between demographic centralization and the balance between social differentiation and integration based on the data collected during archaeological survey of 142 square km around and between two Sintashta period settlements, Stepnoye and Chernorech'ye, located in the Ui River valley of the southern Urals region, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russian Federation. Because of the multi-component nature of archaeological survey, materials recovered date from the Mesolithic to the twentieth century. However, the focus was on Bronze Age materials to better identify and evaluate changes between demographic centralization and social differentiation.

Center-hinterland dynamics and the use of historical capital (materials, practices, and places re-used in identifiable ways) were evaluated from the Middle Bronze Age Sintashta period through to the end of the Final Bronze Age. Based on the results of the Sintashta Collaborative Archaeological Research Project (SCARP) project, the ongoing work of Russian scholars, and the results of this dissertation, there is considerable evidence that it was in the Late Bronze Age that social complexity may have become more pronounced, even as the demographically centralized Sintashta period communities dispersed. The results of the landscape and materials analyses indicate strong possibilities for land-use and craft traditions carried through to the end of the Final Bronze Age, with such traditions acting as historical capital for later communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hanks, Bryan
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 76/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Cultural anthropology, Geography, East European Studies
Keywords: Bronze age, Eurasian steppe, Historical capital, Landscape, Pastoralism, Russia, Social complexity
Publication Number: 3690747
ISBN: 978-1-321-61499-2
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