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Bronze plaques of alakulsky culture

vestnik of archeology, anthropology and ethnography. 2010. No. 1 (12)


E.V. Flek

The main types of metal plaques of alakulsky culture of an era of late bronze are revealed. As a result of a spectral and atomic and issue research, technical characteristics on these products are found out. The possible territory of origin of jewelry and their area including Tobolo-Ishimye, the Central and Northern Kazakhstan is defined.

Alakulsky culture, typology, plaques, metalgraphic research, Tobolo-Ishimye.

The Alakulsky metallurgical center (or the centers) is among the most powerful in the Eurasian metallurgical province. It is possible to carry vtulchaty tips of arrows, bescherenkovy sickles, dvulez-viyny knives to specific forms of metal working of alakulsky culture. The most original things is jewelry — convexo-concave round plaques with the cross-shaped ornament, concentric circles entered each other; channeled bracelets with spiral zaversheniye, rings with spiral guards, cross-shaped pendants [Ryndina, Degtyareva, 2002, page 189]. In alakulsky burials nakosnik and their details in the form of listovidny plates often meet.

The most detailed typology of jewelry of andronovsky community was offered N.A. Avanesova [1991]. In its work as the differentiating indicator features of manufacturing techniques of objects from metal are used. However within the offered classification scheme not all types of jewelry were analyzed [Grushin, etc., 2009, page 58]. Besides, there was no binding of results of the spectral analysis to products.

Among important researches it should be noted work as E.V. Kupriyanova [2008] in which the women's suit of sintashtinsky, Petrovsky and alakulsky cultures is analyzed. The author pays considerable attention to typology and manufacturing techniques of jewelry. The main focus is placed on the products coming from monuments of the Urals and Kazakhstan, and the numerous materials Pritobolya are considered a little superficially that, unfortunately, deprives work of integrity.

Thus, the questions concerning bronze jewelry of alakulsky culture are not rather developed and demand a further research. The received data can be used not only for identification of peculiar features of alakulsky metalproduction, but also for assessment of the general level of technical development, reconstruction of sociocultural processes during a bronze era.

The funeral ceremony owing to his conservatism and traditional character has important kulturodiagnostiruyushchy signs [Semyonova, 2001, page 3]. The majority of alakulsky jewelry come from the burial grounds which are the closed complexes that provides a reliable cultural and chronological binding of products. Special attention should be paid to the most representative and widespread type of ornament in alakulsky monuments — to metal plaques.

Bronze plaques have the various form in this connection the following types are allocated.

I type. The rhombic plaques representing the plate slip forged in the form of a rhombus with through openings on the ends, ornamented with crosswise figures or rhombuses entered each other (could. Ikpen 1, Alekseevsky, Tasty-Butak, Alypkash, Lisakovsky) [Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 106, 13-21; Krivtsova-Grakova, 1948, fig. 35, 1-4; Sorokin, 1962, tab. XLI, 16, 17; Zdanovich, 1988, tab. 10, B, 12, 13; Usmanova, 2005, fig. 98, 32].

II type. The convex hemispherical plaques having the small sizes, no more than 1 cm in the diameter and most often not ornamented. They were supplied with through openings and used, perhaps, for dressing of footwear, bibs and also as buttons (could. Nurtay, Shapat, Balykta, Kulevchi 6, Alekseevsky, Top Alabuga, Lisakovsky) [-

Ceva, 2002, fig. 71, 19; 136, 17, 18; 187, 7; Vinogradov, 1984, fig. 9, 16-22; Krivtsova-Grakova, 1948, fig. 35, 5; Potemkina, 1985, fig. 80, 5; Usmanova, 2005, fig. 74, 16, 17].

The III type. Richly ornamented, round flat plaques widespread in monuments of alakulsky culture are especially interesting. In burials of burial grounds of the Trans-Ural region and Kazakhstan these products meet in women's (could. Nurtay, Lisakovsky, Bestamak, etc.), is more rare — children's burials (could. Top Alabuga), in a breast (Alekseevsky could.) or frame skulls (could. Balykta). They could serve for a covering or a facing of clothes (not on all copies there are openings for suspension) or to be a part of cervical and breast sets, the jewelry framing the lower part of the person, nakosnik. On figuration the bronze plaques differ in a big variety that allows to allocate within this type of the little final typological categories (FTC) to which characteristic the offered article is devoted.

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Fig. 1. BK-1 plaques:

1-4 — could. Lisakovsky; 5-7 — could. Tasty-Butak; 8, 9 — could. Alekseevsky; 10 — could. Raskatikh; 11-13, 17 — could. Alakulsky; 14 — could. Hripunovsky; 15 — could. Top Alabuga; 16 — could. Kulevch 6

Category BK-1 — disk-shaped plaques with camber pearl in the center and a stamping ornament from the concentric circles entered each other (26 copies; fig. 1). Products are supplied in two or four couples of through openings for a stripe. Diameter fluctuates from

2 up to 5 cm. Became widespread in alakulsky time for territories Tobolo-Ishimya (could. Hripunovsky (4 copies), Alakulsky (3 copies), Raskatikh, Top Alabuga), the Southern Trans-Ural region (could. Kulevch 6 (6 copies)), the Central and Northern Kazakhstan (could. Lisakovsky (4 copies), Tasty-Butak (3 copies), Alekseevsky (2 copies), Alypkash) [Matveev, 1998, fig. 54, 2-5; Kupriyanova, 2008, fig. 6, 1, 2, 4; Potemkina, 1985, fig. 80, 6; fig. 87, 1; Vinogradov, 1984, fig. 4, 2; 7, 1-3, 8; 9, 15; Usmanova, 2005, fig. 74, 1-3, 7; Sorokin, 1962, tab. XII; Krivtsova-Grakova, 1948, fig. 41, 1, 2; Zdanovich, 1988, tab. 10, B, 11]. A little the product from the Alakulsky burial ground differs from other. It has a convex shishechku-pearl in the center and a stamped ornament in the form of the socket consisting of 20 petals framed with three concentric circles [Sealing glands, 1952, fig. 5, 7].

Plaques with a concentric ornament come also from Petrovsky monuments, such as could. Steppe 7 (7 copies), Bestamak (3 copies), Nurtay (2 copies) [Kupriyanova, 2008, fig. 46, 2, 4; Kaliye-va, 2008, fig. 16, 12; 18, 9, 16; Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 71, 32, 33].

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Fig. 2. BK-2 plaques (2a — 1-4; 2b — 5-8): 1 — could. Alekseevsky; 2, 3 — could. Balykta; 4 — could. Ayappergen; 5 — could. Alakulsky;

6 — could. Bestamak; 7, 8 — could. Lisakovsky; 9 — could. Bylkyldak 1

Category BK-2 includes roundish plaques in which central part the solar sign — a cross is entered (9 copies; fig. 2). It is allocated several types connected with various modification of an ornament.

2a — plaques with a circle in the center from which two or three couples of beam shoots forming a cross depart. At the edges of ornament are framed with several concentric circles of the large diameter (fig. 2, 1-4). These products are found in burials of burial grounds: Alekseevsky, Balykta (2 copies) and Ayappergen (2 copies) [Krivtsova-Grakova, 1948, fig. 41, 3; Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 137; 167, 8]. Analogies can be found him in Petrovsky could. Steppe 7 (2 copies) [Kupriyanova, 2008, fig. 16, 2, 4].
2b — plaques of rounded shape with a stamped crosswise ornament (fig. 2, 5-8). Difference of this look is the lack of a convex shishechki-pearl in the central part of a disk in the presence of the cross-shaped figure concluded in one or several district

sty. Similar jewelry is known in could. Alakulsk, Lisakovsky (2 copies), in Petrovsky could. Bestamak, Steppe 7 (4 copies) and also in fedorovsky could. Kuropatkino 2 [Kupriyanova, 2008, fig. 16, 6; 46, 2, 4; Usmanova, 2005, fig. 74, 4, 5; Usmanova, Logvin, 1998, fig. 17, 13; Avanesova, 1991, fig. 4, 57].

In a single copy the product is revealed (could. Bylkyldak 1), presenting itself a plaque with an ornament in the form of one or two convex concentric circles closely adjacent to each other. In the center there is a circle from which at an angle 90 ° four crosses (fig. 2, 9) to each other depart. In the middle and at the edges there are openings, it is probable for attachment to clothes [Margulan, Akishev, 1966, page 107].

In could. Bozengen, belonging to a circle of sintashtinsko-Petrovsky monuments, the plaque with an ornament in the form of the swastika framed with three concentric circles is found. The swastika is represented in the form of a cross with bent (at an angle or ovally, is more often — in the direction of an hour hand) the ends. Perhaps, it was a part of the breast ornament consisting of the triangular leather plate decorated with a beads on point duty, bronze pronizyam and pendants from canines of animals [Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 97]. In the New and Yabalaklinsky burial ground of srubny culture, plaques with a swastika of the "Mycenaean" type are also found. According to S.V. Kuzminykh, they are andronovsky import [1983, page 124].

Category BK-3 — plaques with a crosswise volyutoobraznym an ornament. On edge of products two or three concentric circles entered each other are put. In the center of a disk also two circles, the smaller diameter from which crosswisely located four pairs of semicircular curls volutes depart (8 copies; fig. 3). These plaques (6 copies) were a part of the difficult ornament framing the lower part of the person located on a skull of female frame in could. Balykta [Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 137]. These products are also found in could. Ayappergen (2 copies) and Petrovsky could. Bestamak, where the plaque was a part of a nakosnik [Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 167, 6, 9; Usmanova, Logvin, 1998, fig. 17, 15]. In the srubny New and Yabalaklinsky burial ground two plaques of this type are, most likely, andronovsky import [Kuzminykh, 1983, fig. 6, 1, 2].

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Fig. 3. BK-3 plaques: 1-6 — could. Balykta; 7, 8 — could. Ayappergen; 9 — could. Bestamak

Category BK-4 — plaques with an ornament from concentric circles in which 5-9-pointed stars are entered (5 copies; fig. 4). Such copies come from Balykta's burial grounds, Lisakovsky, Ayappergen also have the sizes from 3.5 to 5 cm (fig. 4, 1-3). Analogies are known to them in Petrovsky could. Nurtay and fedorovsky could. Kuropatkino [Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 71, 34; Avanesova, 1991, fig. 4, 54].

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Fig. 4. BK-4 plaques:

1 — could. Balykta; 2 — could. Lisakovsky; 3 — could. Ayappergen; 4 — could. Nurtay;
5 — could. Bylkyldak 3

On a product from alakulsky could. Bylkyldak 3 in the center there are no inscribed circles which are on other plaques [Margulan, 1979, fig. 228, 3] (fig. 4, 5). In could. Ayshrak remained only the plate fragment decorated with the gear socket framed with five circles skintight to each other [In the same place, fig. 228, 4].

Category BK-5 — plaques of oval and roundish forms of which ornament the quadrangle is the cornerstone (3 copies; fig. 5). Similar products, an oval form, 3.2 cm high, occur from could. Tasty-Butak (2 copies; fig. 5, 1, 2). They have the relief, squeezed-out from the inside image of a rhombus with the zigzag line crossing it from the party to the party and also two through openings for suspension in the top and lower parts of a product [Sorokin, 1962, tab. X1_1, 3, 7].

The plaque ornament from could. Bylkyldak 1 consists of one convex concentric circle in which the square with three beams departing from the middle of the parties is located [Margulan, 1966, the tab. XII].

On ornament from fedorovsky could. Kuropatkino in the circle consisting of points, four beams, leaving the different parties and being crossed at an angle 90 °, also form a quadrangle or a rhombus [Avanesova, 1991, fig. 50, b].

Category BK-6 — nashivny plaques with the vertical line on the center and the fir-tree or wavy ornament symmetrized rather dividing strip (2 copies; fig. 6). This ornament is entered in concentric circles and can represent a zigzag (a plaque from could. Shapat and Steppe 7) or the lines connecting in the form of a fir-tree (could. Lisakovsky). These products have diameter of 3-4 cm, are supplied in two couples of through openings for suspension [Tkachyov, 2002, fig. 187, 8; Kupriyanova, 2008, fig. 16, 1; Usmanova, 2005, fig. 74, 8].

Fig. 5. BK-5 plaques: 1, 2 — could. Tasty-Butak; 3 — could. Bylkyldak 1; 4 — could. Kuropatkino

Fig. 6. BK-6 plaques: 1 — could. Shapat; 2 — could. Steppe; 3 — could. Lisakovsky

Disk-shaped plaques (6 copies) were subjected to an analytical research. Due to their bad safety as often metal completely prokorrozirovan, carrying out the metalgraphic analysis appeared it is almost impossible.

For production of these products two compoundings of alloys were used. The pure copper which is obviously not alloyed by a little noticeable foreign impurity is noted in four cases. Applied the low-alloyed bronze with the content of tin of 1.1% in one case to two copies and 7.5% in another (tab. 1).

Table 1

Results spectral and NPP of analyses of bronze plaques *

the analysis No. Mogilnik Si Bp R gp B1 Hell B AB Re 1\P With Ai

547 Hripunovsky Osn. 0.4 0.02 0.1 & lt; 0.0002 0.002 & lt; 0.01 & lt; 0.01 0.01 & lt; 0.0002 & lt; 0.008 & lt; 0.001
773 " Osn. 0.32 0.08 0.02 0.003 0.004 & lt; 0.01 0.08 0.04 & lt; 0.001 0.003 0.001
774 " Osn. 0.53 0.06 0.02 0.004 0.004 & lt; 0.01 0.1 0.02 & lt; 0.01 0.004 0.001
775 " Osn. 1.1 0.03 0.03 0.02 0.005 & lt; 0.01 0.1 0.06 & lt; 0.001 & lt; 0.001 0.001
309 Raskatikh Osn. 0.4 0.01 — & #43; & lt; 0.001 — — 0.6 & #43;
27865 Top. Alabuga Osn. 7.5 0.1 — 0.0015 0.002 0.025 0.06 0.03 0.01 ? 0.001

* Analyses No. 309, 27865 are executed in laboratory of natural science methods of RAS news Agency, No. 547, 773-775 — at Institute of inorganic chemistry of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science.

Bronze plaques are made of preparations by means of the forging which is followed by high extents of sinking of metal about 70-80%, carried out on a tiny anvil with the corresponding stamp. For drawing a convex ornament on plaques in advance prepared cliche was used. On a matrix with the cut-out relief of an ornament or a part of a pattern the thin plate which was pressed by stamping into cells and deepenings of a form was imposed.

Jewelry, except utilitarian, esthetic, performed also important oberegovy function, protecting owners from harmful effects, damage and a malefice. It was preferred as metal products as they had gloss and ability to create a certain sound effect. A ring and clanking of metals — the most widespread charms operating aurally evil spirits, deafening them [Zelenin, 1948, page 85].

Metal plaques have mainly rounded disk-shaped shape which, being a sphere projection, is recognized as ideal both mythogenic, and scientific and philosophical tradition [Myths of people of the world, 1994, page 18].

the Circle as a symbol appeared in an extreme antiquity and meets in many cultures almost everywhere though, perhaps, during the different historical periods its semantic value had various semantic fullness. Trypillian tribes used numerous circles, disks, sockets for decoration of female sculptural images, in figuration of ceramic ware and also disk-shaped amulets from clay and metal became widespread [Archeology the USSR, 1982, page 242, the tab. of XC11]. The numerous products occurring from yalangachsky monuments of the Central Asian tribes of an era of the eneolit are also decorated by double and unary circles with a point in the middle, and on one of female figurines 15 such circles are represented [In the same place, page 61].

During a bronze era the circle was a solar symbol that is caused not only by a form, but also the circular nature of the daily and annual movement of the sun [Rybakov, 1981, page 157]. In civilizations of the Ancient East (mainly in Egypt and Mesopotamia) god of the sun used honoring, and the sun was designated as it was represented to a look — in the form of a disk [Golan, 1993, page 22].

Patterns on plaques in the form of a cross, stars, sockets, a quadrangle repeat also in ornamental motives of ceramics that speaks about their functional identity and deep semantic loading [Avanesova, 1991, fig. 50b; Kuzmina, 1994, fig. 16].

Emergence of an image of a cross, perhaps, belongs to the Neolithic when this symbol appears in the traditions removed from each other different considerably. In the ancient time it was carried on a breast by Egyptians, Assyrians, Etruscans, Greeks; there was such custom and at the American Indians. This sign was known almost around the world: it appears in an ornament of the people of Africa, Oceania, pre-Columbian America. But most often the sign of a cross as a cult symbol or decorative motive meets in ancient monuments of Eastern Europe and Western Asia [Golan, 1993, page 97]. Examples from excavation of the Balkan or Central European eneo-lytic and early bronze monuments are indicative. It dishes with the sign of a cross and snake motive (to Tangyr, Romania, the IV millennium BC); four-membered signs on dishes of linear ceramics (Bee fallow deer, Czechoslovakia) [Myths of people of the world, 1994, page 12].

Perhaps, representing the sun, the cross came from the image of crossbeams, needles of "a solar wheel" (i.e. two diameters of a circle perpendicular each other) [Pokhlebkin, 2007,

page 210]. Also as ideograms of the sun connect origin of a cross with image of the flying bird [Cuckoo, 2007, page 137].

During a bronze era the cross in a circle (and sometimes and without circle) often is a symbol not only the sun, but also fire. In this quality it lives up to the Middle Ages and is reflected, for example, in many hundreds of Old Russian potter's brands which semantics is directly connected with fire of potter's horns [Rybakov, 1994, page 508].

The lyre-shaped figure with two spiral curls which is the simplified, schematic image of a blockhead was one of the most favourite decorative motives at the people of Western Asia, East Mediterranean and the Caucasus [Golan,

1993, page 62]. There are certificates reflecting communication of the sign of a ram (pair of curls) and the sign of the sun (circle, a spiral) on the majority of images of attendees together. The horse who is considered by one of forms of the solar deity is often combined with an ornament in the form of mutton horns that can confirm the idea about communication of a sacred ram with the sun.

The analysis of all above-mentioned symbols used by alakulets for ornament both products from bronze, and ceramics allows to assume existence of a solar cult. It is known that solar myths are characteristic of the societies having the authorities and technologies including processing of metals, use of wheel vehicles, etc. developed the device. Honoring of the sun is connected, on the one hand, with the sacred tsar-governor, and with another — with a cult of metals. At the Indians of North America familiar from hot malleable copper, emergence of the sun is described in connection with immersion of copper in fire fire [Myths of people of the world,

1994, page 461, 462]. It is known that the level of alakulsky masters was rather high, and hot forging of metals — one of the most often used technological schemes.

Plaques are a specific type of products of metalproduction of alakulsky tribes. On the basis of classification of an ornament six categories (KTR) of roundish bronze plaques from which BK-1-3 ornamented with solar symbols are most numerous are selected: concentric circles, crosses and volutes (tab. 2). Analogies to is scarlet-kulsky bronze plaques are found in burials of Petrovsky and fedorovsky burial grounds where similar products are widespread to a lesser extent.

Table 2

Distribution of bronze plaques of alakulsky culture on KTR

KTR Quantity/%

BK-1 26/49

BK-2 9/17

BK-3 8/15.1

BK-4 5/9.4

BK-5 3/5.7

BK-6 2/3.8

Only 53/100

An area of this jewelry Tobolo-Ishimya, the Southern Trans-Ural region and the Central Kazakhstan (fig. 7) includes the territory.

In Pritobolye plaques of Petrovsky culture are fixed that, perhaps, testifies to the initial area of formation of type. Alakulsky jewelry concentrates in the Central Kazakhstan from where there are rich the female cervical and breast, framing the lower part of the person attires consisting of the ornamented plaques which are in burials not in the single copy, and on 5-6 pieces and more. Perhaps, this fact indicates the place of the greatest congestion of the copper-ore sources providing alakulsky tribes with enough raw materials for metallurgical production.

A certain interrelation between a type of ornament, the chemical composition of its alloy and manufacturing techniques is traced. Use of tin bronze is characteristic of production of jewelry of alakulsky culture, at the same time in certain cases the content of tin could reach 20% [Flek, 2008, page 68]. In high-tin alloys the increased fragility is observed, and their malleability considerably decreases that causes their application only for the cast products which are not demanding completion (such as cross-shaped pendants, hryvnias) [Ravich, 1983, page 139]. Roundish plaques were produced mainly from pure copper,

0 1 O "About 9"11

About 2-3 About 6-8 About 12I5

Fig. 7. Distribution map of bronze plaques

more rare — from the low-alloyed bronze while high-tin bronze were not used absolutely. It is explained by inexpediency of use of high concentrations of tin as when forging, stamping, stamping with high extent of sinking of metal it is more logical to use the plastic copper or the bronze low-alloyed by tin which is easier giving in to processing by pressure.



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The article identifies basic types of metal plates of the Alakul culture dated by late Bronze Age. Resulting from spectral and atomic-emission investigation, it clarifies technological features of these articles. Subject to determination being a probable territory of the ornaments& origin and their spreading area, including the Tobol and Ishim basin, Central and North Kazakhstan.

The Alakul culture, typology, plates, metallographic investigation, Tobol and Ishim basin.

Vicki Brooks
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