Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bronze Age Settlement Patterns and the Development of Complex Societies in the Southern Ural Steppes (3500-1400 BC)
by Sharapov, Denis V., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2017, 201; 10692473
Abstract (Summary)

The ethnohistorical record of the Eurasian steppes points to the long-term predominance of extensive herding economies, associated with low population densities and high levels of geographic mobility. Consequently, investigations of early forms of complex socio-political organization in this region have thus far been primarily focused on Bronze Age (ca. 3500 - 1000 BC) funerary and ceremonial monuments, which presumably served as aggregation points for dispersed populations. When it comes to settlement pattern evidence, researchers claim that traditional models of regional-scale demographic organization, developed in the context of settled societies, cannot be applied to the early complex communities of the steppes. In order to learn more about

In order to learn more about the underlying social forces that were behind the independent emergence of larger more complex social formations in different world regions, this research focuses on the Sintashta (2050 - 1700 BC) development of southern Russia, which commanded particular attention of archaeologists due to the identification of more than twenty nucleated fortified settlements. Chiefly communities associated with these settlements have been considered odd in comparison to other early complex societies due to their small demographic size, lack of supra-local organization, a fairly short chronological span, and an apparent lack of local antecedents.

Regional-scale investigation of the demographic and spatial parameters of Bronze Age communities, conducted in the context of this dissertation, indicates that the fortified settlements were centers of larger districts and therefore represented regional organization that was typical of other chiefdoms. Moreover, supra-local settlement organization and demographic centralization prevailed in the study area for another 300 years after the presumed Sintashta ‘collapse’. Such continuity in material correlates of social complexity took place in the context of substantial demographic growth. These results counter some of the previously held notions about the unusualness of the Sintashta trajectory. The novelty of this research stems from the employment of a survey methodology that relied on systematic sub-surface testing, which has never been utilized in the region before. Perhaps more interestingly, by reaffirming the unusually small demographic scale of Sintashta societies, the results of this dissertation support the notion that small scale societies are capable of complex socio-political organization.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Drennan, Robert D.
Commitee: Allard, Francis, Barton, Loukas, Bermann, Marc
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Eurasian steppe, Russian prehistory, kurgan
Publication Number: 10692473
ISBN: 9780355409468
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