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To a question of a demographic situation in steppes of the Central Kazakhstan during an era of average bronze

k to a question of a demographic situation in steppes of the Central Kazakhstan during an era of average bronze

A.A. Tkachyov, N.A. Tkachyova

The article describes paleodemographic situation on the territory of Central Kazakhstan, to be one of the key distribution regions with respect to the sites representing the Andronovo cultural and historical entity. In the period of Middle Bronze Age, this was a development area of the Nurtajsky and Atasusky cultures to be genetically related with each other, and represented by numerous settlements and burial grounds. Basing on mature anthropological samples obtained from the Nurtajsky and Atasusky burial grounds, authors undertook reconstruction of paleodemographic situation in the Nurtajsky and Atasusky societies. Subject to identification being also major social and age groups within the Nurtajsky and Atasusky communities.

In the middle of the Eurasian continent the Kazakh uplands which central part is occupied by the eminence of the Balkhash-Irtysh watershed are located. This territory is allocated in a special geographical zone — the Central Kazakhstan which Kazakhs call Sara Arch (Yellow ridge). In the course of the research of this territory, numerous burial grounds of a bronze age which materials allowed to restore many parties of activity of the ancient population of the region are revealed and studied.

Unfortunately, the paleodemografichesky situation which developed during a bronze era in steppes of Eurasia is poorly reflected in scientific literature. Anthropological and kraniologichesky series of this period, with rare exception, are presented by small samples. At the same time numerous settlements and burial grounds testify to considerable population density as in nurtaysky (the 19-17th centuries BC), and in atasusky (the 16-14th centuries BC) time [Tkachyov, 2003. Page 18, 24-26].

The most representative series of osteological and kraniologichesky materials are received when studying nurtaysky burial grounds Bozengen and Nurtay. In the first monument 14 funeral designs containing 65 graves in the second — 16 funeral constructions including 33 graves are investigated. Under low embankments single fencings and fencings with extensions in which there were single, pair and group burials are met.

Distribution of the dead on age allows to allocate two groups: adults and children (fig. 1). On features of burials the children's age group can be divided into four subgroups, borders between which vary, conditionally. In view of the small number of the adults given on absolute age it is possible to allocate only subgroups on a floor — men and women.

The majority of burials of children were in group burials. Usually babies were buried with women, the burials supporting the woman, the baby and the child of the senior age groups meet less often. Sometimes children of advanced age became buried in the separate fencings attached to the main construction. The small percent of independent children's burials is noted in all burial grounds of nurtaysky type (14.3-39.1%). The closely related Petrovsky population had separate cemeteries where children's burials prevailed [G.B. Zdanovich, S.Ya. Zdanovich, 1980].

The close situation is tracked on the burial ground Ikpen of I. Here the site of the cemetery on which the number of buried first three age groups prevails (92%) is explored. Two pair burials of adults were allocated planigrafichesk, occupying hill top while burials of children were located below on a slope [Tkachyov, 2002 ampere-second. 259, fig. 103]. Emergence of certain cemeteries or sites for burial of children, perhaps, is connected with the fact that the child died before it was named, or to death he did not pass all steps of socialization and did not acquire the right for a construction of a separate funeral design [Kiryushin, 1995. Page 63-66].

The maximum level of mortality of children is necessary until 1 year (16.4-19.9%), the following age groups are approximately in equal situation (6.7-11.1%). Despite a small variation of mortality in the senior age groups of different monuments, the general tendency to reduction of mortality from infantile to teenage age is traced.


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Fig. 1. Nurtaysky culture. Distribution buried on gender and age:

1 — the burial ground Bozengen; 2 — the burial ground Nurtay

When determining age of buried men and women the terms "adult", "adult, not old", "adult, young" prevail. The absolute age, is in rare instances determined from 14-20 to 25-40 years. Average life expectancy of the nurtaysky population was ranging from 30 up to 40 years though it is impossible to exclude also a dozhivaniye of certain individuals to senile age.

The number of buried men is small (15.6-22.2%), their age is in most cases determined by the term "adult". Obviously, life expectancy of men was higher than average. The number of individual men's burials is insignificant. Pair burials in which the man is accompanied by the woman, usually in one grave meet more often, is more rare in separate, located in parallel each other. Quite often adult men are accompanied by young women aged from 14 up to 20 years, and sometimes and teenagers aged from 10 up to 14 years, judging by stock and a pose buried, female. The exception is made by fencings with extensions. In a fencing 4 burial grounds Nurtay in one case the man and the woman are buried in separate graves, but the woman was accompanied by two children of the second and third age groups, and in an additional extension the teenager is buried. In the funeral complex 22 of the same burial ground consisting of four extensions in two adult men, in the third — the woman and the child of 7-10 years in separate graves, in the fourth — the adult man and the woman are buried. In burial grounds Bozengen and Satan are met the group burials containing burials of adult men and women accompanied by the child.

Burials of women prevail (34.6-37.7%), being allocated with a variety of a funeral ceremony. The age of women is characterized by terms "adult", "adult, not old", "adult young". The absolute age varies ranging from 12-20 up to 25-40 years. In all cases when buried "young" or "not old", it is accompanied by 1-2 children, one of whom, as a rule, treats to infantile group.

Features of distribution buried on gender and age say that two main peaks of mortality are characteristic of the nurtaysky population: to the first risk group babies till 1 year, treated the second — young women of the genital period. The age of consent for female half of nurtaysky collectives came early — in 12-15 years. High mortality at the first labor which was often coming to an end with death both the woman in labor, and the child what confirms considerable

was result of early marriages

group of steam rooms burial of young and young women with babies.

Existence of the separate pristroyechny complexes containing burials of men, women and children of different age groups, which did not go through all stages of socialization yet and buried together with adults allows to assume allocation in nurtaysky groups of small family groups. It found reflection in formation of burial grounds family in character and emergence of rigid communication parents there are children.

the Analysis of gender and age characteristics buried shows that the paleodemografichesky structure of nurtaysky society was close to normal. The high natural female and child mortality exceeding men's was compensated by frequent childbirth and low death rate of the senior groups of a children's age class, providing thereby growth of nurtaysky populations and survival of collectives in adverse vital conditions.

The demographic situation similar to nurtaysky is traced also in Petrovsky communities of Northern Kazakhstan that sharply distinguishes them from the sintashtinsky paleopopulyation having the abnormal age structure which is characterized by low average life expectancy, high child and youthful mortality [G.B. Zdanovich, 2002. Page 29; D.G. Zdanovich, 1997. Page 29-34, fig. 5, 1].

A small amount of men's burials (15.6-22.2%) reflects the difficult demographic situation which developed in the first half of the II millennium BC of Aridization of climate, distribution and development of metallurgy of bronze promoted strengthening of migration processes in a steppe part of Eurasia. Development of new territories led to military collisions and a separation of men's groups from population bulk. Almost total absence of burials of men of "young" and "not old" age allows to assume that they perished on the party. Strengthening of influence of military operations on life of society is confirmed also by distribution of objects of arms in burials of men. A special social group of the persons owning chariots and heading military campaigns was at the head of society. Military leaders were buried in large barrows (Aktobe I, Satan), sometimes placing in graves the wooden chariot (Satan) or constructing its imitation (Nurtay). The horse cult, according to E.E. Kuzmina, for the first time developed at the Indo-Iranian people at the end of the IV millennium BC [Kuzmina, 1977. Page 42; 2001. Page 121].

There are almost no anthropological data on an atasusky era, despite more than semicentennial period of a research, also though, according to K.A. Akishev, the Central Kazakhstan was one of the leading centers of formation and development of andronovsky cultural and historical community [Akishev, Kushayev, 1963. Page 124-127]. The considerable number of the opened and explored burial grounds testifies to the big density of settling of the region during this period [Tkachyov, 2002b. Fig. 49]. Anthropological definitions on materials of a series of atasusky burial grounds from Northern Sara Arch allowed to plan ways of reconstruction of a paleodemografichesky situation and to approach reconstruction of social structure of atasusky communities [Tkachyov, Tkachyova, 1997. Page 49-52].

Materials of the atasusky burial ground Maitang are of special interest for clearing of a paleodemografichesky situation. For today it is the only monument within Sara Arch investigated completely. The burial ground united 113 fencings: 51 main and 62 extensions in which 214 sepulchral constructions are studied. Despite a big collection of anthropological material the volume of anthropological data is insufficient as a significant amount of graves is robbed. In the course of the paleodemografichesky analysis, data about 150 buried, having gender and age characteristics (fig. 2) are used.

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Fig. 2. Atasusky culture. Burial ground Maitang.

Distribution of the burials of children of younger age categories buried on gender and age the Majority is met in group burials. Often died babies were buried with women; less often the funeral cameras supporting the woman, the baby and the child of the senior age groups meet. Children of advanced age were buried with adults in

one fencing, but in different graves or independently, in the separate fencings attached to the main construction. The maximum level of child mortality is the share of age from 2 to 5 years (12%); shares of buried babies and children at the age of 6-9 years approximately equal (5.3 and 7.4%). The trend of reduction of mortality from early children's age to teenage is traced.

When determining age of buried men and women the terms "adult, young", "adult, not old", "adult" prevail. Average life expectancy of adult population of the burial ground of Maitang was ranging from 25 up to 35 years though certain individuals, perhaps, lived up to senile age.

The number of buried men is quite high (29.3%), their age in many cases is determined by the term "adult". It must be assumed that average life expectancy of male population could be slightly higher than average. A large number of traditionally buried men demonstrates that the population of the region lived in a peace and stable situation. Constant motions of the population and as result, military collisions between separate collectives (abashevsky, sintashtinsky, Petrovsky, nurtaysky, kanaysky) that led to the early mortality of men [Tkachyov, 1999 are characteristic of the previous novokumaksky chronological horizon. Page 149]. In atasusky time of the man did not perish on the party, participating in military campaigns, and died a natural death, living up to an average, and at times and old age. Burials of women prevail both over nurseries, and over men's burials (38.6%). Women's burials are allocated with a variety and richness of the accompanying stock. The age of women is determined by terms "adult, young", "adult, not old", "adult".

The calculations which are carried out totally on the burial ground show that average age of death at men is 37.56 years, women have 35.43 years that corresponds to average life expectancy of adults during a bronze era — 38.7 years [Romanova, 1989. Tab. 5] whereas stable average life expectancy of adult population in the ancient time is defined within 40 years [Alekseev,

1972. Page 20]. Thus, the gender and age structure of atasusky collectives is close to normal, natural female mortality exceeds men's that is characteristic also of alakulsky communities of the Trans-Ural region [Matveev, Anoshko, 1999. Page 164].

It is known that if length of generation is 17-24 years, then it testifies to direct link parents — children. In our case the difference between average age of the died children and adults makes quite impressive size that indicates not only communication parents — children, but also communication primogenitors — parents — children, and it speaks about bolshesemeyny structure of the collective which left the burial ground Maitang. Social living conditions at men in this collective were slightly better, than at women.

Follows from the analysis of gender and age structure of atasusky society that the peak of children's mortality is the share of the second age group of children, and distribution of peaks of mortality between gender and age groups confirms a thought of stability of life of the population of this region. At the same time the low mortality of teenagers (7.4%) allows to assume lack of practice of early marriages.

The settlement number of the children falling on one woman makes about 1.08 children, but the figure has to be slightly higher as a significant amount of burials of children of the younger age which did not undergo anthropological definition is not considered. Proceeding from the full volume of the studied graves, the ratio of women and children makes about 1: 2. In a real ratio the share of children has to be even more (the total number of children's burials makes not less than 42% of total number of the studied graves). Possibly, some group of children of younger age could become buried at the certain cemeteries which did not get to the field of a research. This indicator is considered admissible for ancient necropolises [Alekseev, 1989. Page 87; Romanova, 1989. Tab. 2], slightly exceeding average, defined in 36-40% [Romanova, 1989. Page 70; D.G. Zdanovich, 1997. Page 30].

Gender and age characteristics of buried demonstrate that the demographic structure of atasusky society was close to normal. The high natural female and child mortality exceeding men's was compensated by low death rate of the senior age group of children's age.

Features of cultural historical development of tribes of the Central Kazakhstan upon transition to the making economy caused emergence of a peculiar type of funeral constructions — fencings from vertically driven or flatwise the laid plates, sometimes with embankments, existed during the bronze era. If in funeral monuments of nurtaysky culture the internal unity in planigrafichesky placement on the area is traced, then in atasusky the spatial placement considerably varies and there is no internal unity characteristic of the previous period.

Studying distribution of gender and age groups of atasusky burial grounds and features of their placement on the funeral field showed that age per se, and age social acted as structural criterion of allocation of these groups not just. On the main signs in atasusky communities there were two age classes: 1) children from the birth to age of consent which, according to most of experts, came approximately in 15 years; 2) adults from initiation to death.

Children's graves repeat burials of adults as as sepulchral constructions — a soil hole, the box coupled a box and on features of a ceremony of burial — on the left and right side, single, pair, cremation. Orientation of children's graves is not steady that is explained by less strict

regulation of children's funeral ceremonialism. On features of arrangement of graves it is possible to allocate several groups of children's burials: in a barrow embankment, together with adults in one fencing, behind a fencing, in a separate extension. An exception of the general rule is the fencing of the 18th burial ground Maitang having nine extensions and containing 19 nurseries and two adult graves (one contained burial of the woman, the second — a female cenotaph), and the last are secondary and located in the latest extensions.

The construction, close on the main features, with children's graves is studied in the burial ground Karakuduk [Maximova, 1961. Page 62-71, fig. 1]. The total number of children's burials in atasusky monuments varies from 5 to 42% that can speak both insufficient study of separate monuments, and existence of the separate cemeteries known not only at Petrovsky, but also at the alakulsky population. With establishment of strong conjugal ties and strengthening of individual biological relationship in an atasusky funeral ceremony there are numerous pristroyechny complexes where children were buried with adults in separate fencings and extensions. In the Trans-Ural region and Northern Kazakhstan in alakulsky communities bolshesemeyny tombs appear: around the central burials of adults of a podhoranivala on a circle in one-two rows of women, teenagers, children [Matveev, 1998. Fig. 9, 14, etc.; Potemkina, 1985. Page 199, fig. 58,


All this demonstrates the differentiated approach to the dead according to ideas of gradation of life cycle or age ranks. It is possible to assume that various andronovsky groups occupying huge spaces had also various age criteria when determining steps of socialization in a children's age class [Bobrov, Mikhaylov, 1999. Page 94-97].

Thus, on features of a funeral ceremony in atasusky society in the territory of the Central Kazakhstan it is possible to allocate the following funeral groups reflecting social stratification: the barrows differing in the sizes which were constructed for the ancestor ancestor who gave the sort on the place of residence; burials with a truposozhzheniye, perhaps priestly; separate fencings with the single graves which are containing prestigious stock and having several altars belonging to heads of bolshesemeyny groups; the burials with horses demonstrating existence of institute of military leaders; the burials of rank-and-file members of society which are in number prevailing in each funeral group with a standard set of ware stock.


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Tyumen, Tyumen State Oil and Gas University

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