ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCES OF BOHAI PEOPLE’S PRESENCE
IN SITES OF LIAO NORTH-WEST BORDER
In the process of archaeological research of Liao frontier fortresses in the
valley of Tuul River in Mongolia (2004—2013, 2017—2019) Russian-Mongolian
archaeological expedition even in the fi rst year of excavation had made series
of fi ndings unknown in publications of Khitan archaeological materials. Th ey
were kangs in dwellings, round chips made of tiles and walls of ceramic vessels,
horizontal band handles of ceramic vessels. At the same time these fi ndings are
typical features of Bohai archaeological materials. A presence of Bohai people
in these fortresses is confi rmed by the data of “Liao shi” — an offi cial Chinese
“History of Liao Dynasty”. In this paper the author makes an attempt to analyze
the fi ndings mentioned above with the purpose to clear up how much reliable
they are as indicators of presence of Bohai people in Liao fortresses in the valley
of Tuul River. Th e analysis presented in this paper demonstrates that chips and
some details and shapes of vessels can really indicate with high probability a
presence of Bohai people here, and kangs in dwellings of Chintolgoi-balgas and
Khermen-denj by contrast refl ect a next, post-Bohai stage of evolution of construction
of this heating system. Recent publications expose that by the beginning
of XI c. kang was already wide spread in the territory of Liao, so it cannot
necessarily indicate the presence of Bohai people here. Similarly, a construction
of stone masonries in walls of Emgentyin-kherem fortress diff ers from those
in walls of Bohai towns, and their appearance here is not necessarily linked to
Bohai infl uence.
Keywords: Bohai people in Liao, Khitan towns in Mongolia, kangs of dwellings,
game chips, ceramics, fortifi cation.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF ARCHEOLOGY
Archaeology reconstructs the reality that is long gone, by analyzing material
evidence in order to discover interdependencies, contacts, data fl ows, and
eventually the past becomes a historical fact. Analytical approach permits differentiation
and description, but is insuffi cient for historical reconstruction due
to defi ciency of data. What we suggest is needed as a method, is synthesis, where
systemic arrangement can be recognized, and various facets of the past reality
coalesce. Oft entimes, objectively documented traits constitute nothing but informational
noise if they escape a possible all-embracing paradigm. Philosophy
is the sense of the world’s integrity, the attitude that permits to mentally grasp
a given data array in a productive way. When to arrange the factual data that
describe diff erent sides of the ancient reality in a systemic way becomes feasible,
the resulting picture always possesses outstanding credibility. Th e integral perception
of the ancient past permits us to speak about the philosophy of archaeology.
Culture as an object of scholarly inquiry usually is perceived as a triad of
material, spiritual, and cognitive aspects. Culture is the collective experience of
a societal unit during the course of its history. Th e circulation of information
creates the society. Th e routine task in archaeology is to discover societies with
distinct cultures, and to recognize their development trajectories and interdependences.
Archaeological inferences can be tested by data from ethnological,
sociological, culturological, anthropological, and linguistic research. Th e author
insists on the imperative of paying additional attention to detailed research into
the role of migration in cultural expansion, social stratifi cation, discord in term
usage and defi nitions for basic cultural traits, the importance of integral sources
for economy reconstructions, and so on.
Keywords: archaeology, philosophy, history of culture, society, archaeological
THE SAKHALIN TOUCH TO THE KAKORMA GROUP CERAMICS
CHARACTERISTICS IN NORTHEASTERN PRIAMURYE
In 2008, Sakhalin State University carried out excavations at the Kashkalebag-5
site located on the northeast coast of Sakhalin. Based on those excavations
the Kashkalebagsh archaeological culture had been allocated. Despite the
availability of radiocarbon analysis data, this culture was dated within a rather
wide timeframe spanning through the Late Neolithic, Final Neolithic, and the
Researchers believed that the so-called Kashkalebagsh culture represented
by settlements from semi-underground circular dwellings and a burial in one
of them. In addition, they pointed out that tool assemblages are typologically
uniform complexes, and ceramic vessels are made in a consistent pottery
This article attempts to rethink the results of excavations on the
Kashkalebagsh-5 site, namely the published data on the pit-house No.1 and the
burial. We have analyzed the data from radiocarbon analysis, planigraphy and
stratigraphy of these two objects, as well as part of the artifacts.
The repeat study of excavation materials revealed a number of inconsistencies
that permitted to pronounce diff erences in chronology and cultural attribution
of the semi-underground dwelling and the burial within. Th e bearers of the
Kashkalebagsh culture had built the dwelling in the timeframe from the middle
of 11th century to the beginning of 8th century BC. Th e solitary burial in the
abandoned semi-subterranean dwelling came to being more than 300 years
later, in the time limits of 5-4th centuries BC.
The presence of inscribed vessel fragments typologically diff erent from the
main body of attributed to Kashkalebagsh culture ceramics also confi rms the
temporal and cultural diff erences between the semi-subterranean dwelling
and the burial, in addition to radiocarbon dating and stratigraphy. Th e vessel
with horizontal rows of straight and wavy lines is identical to ceramics from
the Kakorma group of the Paleometal Age in North-Eastern Priamurye, which
existed in the 8-4 centuries BC. Th is vessel is fully consistent with the pottery
traditions of the Uril-Pol’tse population of Amur region and has nothing to do
with ceramic complexes of Sakhalin or Hokkaido.
For the fi rst time on Sakhalin, the archaeological site that dates from the
beginning of second half of 1st millennium BC yielded a uniquely recorded
object associated with the Amur population. Until now, a vague evidence of the
mainland population reaching out to Sakhalin in the Paleometal Age has been
dated to a later time than the burial in the Kashkalebag-5 site.
Keywords: North-Eastern Priamurye, North Sakhalin, Paleometal Age, Late
Neolithic, Final Neolithic, Epi-Jomon period, ceramics of Kakorma group,
Kashkalebagsh culture, burial, semi-subterranean dwelling.
NOVOLITOVSK 3: A BRONZE AGE SITE
IN THE VALLEY OF LITOVKA RIVER
Yu.E. Vostretsov, E.V. Astashenkova
This article deals with results from archaeological exploration of Novolitovsk-
3, a site on the bank of river Litovka in Partizanski district, Primorski
Krai, during a reconnaissance project preceding some big scale building development
in the district. Th e structure of the landscape on the site is determined
by spurs of eastern Sikhote-Alin slopes and a river fl owing down to Sea of Japan
with its estuary in the Vostok bay area. Th e authors claim to have determined
new borders of previously known site, and its cultural attribution by having analyzed
ceramic artifacts. One of the test pits yielded traces of a construction, presumably
a dwelling. Th e fact that the site is located in the maritime strip permits
the authors to infer marine-oriented economy of the site’s ancient population.
Th e authors focus on peculiarities of the time span under consideration in
the Sea of Japan maritime zone, in particular, attributing sites dated from the
end of Neolithic till the beginning of Bronze, with special attention to the ratio
between contemporaneous inland and coastal sites, in conjunction with topographic,
climatic, and environmental characteristics of the area.
The authors bring forward a reconstruction model of paleogeographic environment for the
last 10000 years around the estuary, lower reaches of river Litovka, and adjacent
portions of sea shore. Landscape outlines of the site environs endured signifi -
cant changes during the middle Holocene, being subject to climatic fl uctuations
as well as Sea of Japan’s level deviations. Paleo-lagoon was an alluring place to
settle down. Th e authors have attempted to delineate probable borders of economic
zone within the surrounding vicinity, and to assess future potential for
this site to provide valuable archaeological data.
Keywords: Primorye, Partizansky district, Neolithic period, Bronze epoch,
coastal zone, paleolagoon.
THE ANCIENT STARCH ANALYSIS METHOD
IN QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Th e article discusses the main problematic issues regarding the application
of the method of analysis of ancient starch. Th e method, which has recently
begun to spread in foreign archeology, as one of the means of reconstructing
the subsistence of an ancient people, remains insuffi ciently used in Russian
science. One of the reasons for this is the poor knowledge among archaeologists
about the basic processes of the starch “life” and the basis of the method. Th e
questions raised in the article are the most frequently asked by colleagues during
conferences and discussions.
Starch is a natural substance included in the carbon cycle together with other
sources of plant biomass. Its complex polymer molecule is formed on the basis
of glucose, one of the most common sources of energy in living organisms.
Th erefore, starch is an energy reserve for both short and long-term storage. Th e
structural features of this substance depend on plant genetics, and this allows
the starch of diff erent taxa to be separated using optical microscopy methods.
The article discusses the factors that aff ect the safety of starch in various
conditions in relation to archaeological contexts and time scales. Th e basic
characteristics of starch, on which the identifi cation of plant taxa is based, are
briefl y described. Of primary importance for reconstructions and interpretations
are the solidity and authenticity of the evidence. Th e paper discusses the main
doubt among skeptics: is ancient starch really related to human activities? Th e
problem of contamination of samples with modern starches is touched upon and
the principles of prevention and control are outlined. Th e specifi city of starch
allows us to collect samples for future research. Available recommendations on
the selection and storage of archaeological samples for the analysis of ancient
starch are off ered.
Keywords: archaeology, ancient starch analysis method, starch features, archaeological
starch preservation, starch degradation factors, starch sampling.
LATEST EXCAVATION RESULTS
AT THE CROSSROADS OF CULTURES
(ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE BIZHAN-4
IN THE JEWISH AUTONOMOUS REGION)
There are several reasons to explore blade complexes from the Jewish
Autonomous Oblast. Th e main reasons are: too small a number of documented
Neolithic occupations in the region; absence of valid data on regional Middle
Neolithic cultures (a certain data gap between cultures from Middle and
Lower Amur); defi cient understanding of ties and trajectories in cultural
interdependencies among ancient societal groups.
Here the author presents an overview of materials from a new complex
dated to the Middle Neolithic found on the Bizhan-4 archaeological site. Th e
site yielded stone industry specialized in pre-production of sub-prismatic
micronuclei, chipping of those, and producing knife-like blanks. Pottery
items from the settlement feature conspicuous individual aspects that, on the
one hand, separate them away from other known archaeological sites in the
southern Far East, and, on the other hand, exhibit some cultural indicators of
connection with an early Kondon culture of Lower Amur region. Th ose aspects
are decorative elements in the fi rst place, which resemble rhombic patterns as
well as less widespread but telltale elements of décor.
Ceramics from the Bizhan-4 site appears to be rather eclectic, and that was
the reason we divided it in “complexes” marked by mere numbers until future
investigations might permit us to be more specifi c. So far, the occupation site
hasn’t been explored as it deserves to be. Th e excavations covered only a small
fraction of the site area. Th is is why we don’t even try to speculate about proper
chronology and cultural attribution of each and every artifact just now. Despite
this obstacle the author has dared to off er a concept of possibility that the
Bizhan-4 complexes can be perceived as a transitional or missing link in the
sequence of Early Neolithic and Middle Neolithic cultures.
Keywords: Early Neolithic, Middle Neolithic, Middle and Lower Amur, Bijan
complex, blade technology, Early Condon culture.