Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-mwx4w Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-18T21:40:20.107Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chronology and Periodization of the Pit-Grave Culture in the Region Between the Volga and Ural Rivers Based on Radiocarbon Dating and Paleopedological Research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2016

N L Morgunova
Orenburg Pedagogical State University, Laboratory of Archaeology, Ulitsa Sovetskaya, 19, Orenburg 460014, Russia. Email:
O S Khokhlova
Institute of Physical, Chemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow region 142290, Russia. Email:


We studied the chronology and periodization of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture at the Volga and Ural interfluve. Establishing the chronology of the Pit-Grave culture by archaeological methods is difficult due to the lack of artifacts in the burials. Therefore, we excavated 3 kurgan groups in the Orenburg region of Russia during the last decade. Eighteen kurgans of the Pit-Grave culture were studied using archaeological and paleopedological methods and radiocarbon dating. The funeral complexes studied were divided into 3 stages. A variety of carbon-containing materials from the same complexes were dated by different laboratories to increase the accuracy of the obtained dates. In addition, from the excavations of the last years some monuments of the Repino stage, the earliest period of the Pit-Grave culture, were dated using ceramics. Together with archaeological and paleopedological data, 14C dating helped to clarify and, in general, to confirm the 3-stage periodization of the Pit-Grave culture in the Volga-Ural interfluve: the early (Repino) stage, 4000–3300 BC; the advanced (classical) stage, 3300–2600 BC, which is divided into substages A and B at 3300–2900 and 2900–2600 BC, respectively; and the late (Poltavkinsky) stage, 2600–2300 BC.

Archaeology of Eurasia and Africa
Copyright © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Barynkin, PN. 1992. Eneolit i ranjaja bronza Severnogo Prikaspija [Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age in the Northern Caspian region]. Abstract of PhD thesis. Moscow: Institute of Archaeology, Academy of Sciences of the USSR. 23 p.Google Scholar
Chernykh, EN, Orlovskaya, LB. 2004. Radiouglerodnaya khronologija drevneyamnoy obshchnosti i istoki kurgannyx kultur [Radiocarbon chronology of ancient Yamnaya community and origin of kurgan cultures]. Russian Archaeology 2:3947.Google Scholar
Chernykh, EN, Kuzminykh, SV, Lebedeva, EY, Lunjkov, VYu. 2000. Issledovanije kurgannogo mogilnika u s. Pershin [Investigation of the kurgan cemetery near Pershin village]. Archaeological Monuments in Orenburg Region 4. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. p 6384.Google Scholar
Gimbutas, M. 1980. The kurgan wave 2 into Europe and the following transformation of culture. Journal of Indo-European Studies 8:273317.Google Scholar
Ivanova, SV. 2006. Yamnaya kulturno-istoricheskaya obshchnost: problemy formirovanija v svete radiouglerodnykh datirovok [The Pit-Grave cultural-historical community: problems of formation in the light of radiocarbon dating]. Russian Archaeology 2:113–20.Google Scholar
Khokhlova, OS. 2006. Yamnaya kultura po dannym paleopochvennogo izucheniya kurganov v Orenburgskom Preduralye [The Pit-Grave culture according to paleopedological studying of kurgans in the Orenburg Cis-Urals]. In: Problems of Studying of the Pit-Grave Cultural and Historical Areas: The Collection of Proceedings. Orenburg: Orenburg State Pedagogical University Press. p 104–9.Google Scholar
Khokhlova, OS. 2010. Evolyutsiya pochv yuzhnogo Priuralya v yamnoye i srubnoye vremya, sravneniye rezultatov issledovaniya korotkikh pedokhronoryadov v raznykh kurgannykh mogilnikakh [Soil evolution in the Southern Cis-Ural during the Pit-Grave and Timber-Grave cultures development on the basis of comparison of short pedochronosequences investigation in different kurgan cemeteries]. In: Biospheric Functions of Soil Cover. Proceedings of All-Russian Conference dedicated to the 40th Anniversary of the Institute of Physical, Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science, RAS. Pushchino: ONTI PNC RAS. p 330–2.Google Scholar
Khokhlova, OS. 2012. Soil evolution and paleoclimatic reconstruction derived from the study of the short and long-term pedochronosequences of the Skvortsovsky burial ground on the south of the Cis-Ural Steppe region, Russia. In: Germanno, DM, editor. Steppe Ecosystems: Dynamics, Land Use and Conservation. Nova Science Publishers. p 81100.Google Scholar
Khokhlova, OS, Khokhlov, AA, Morgunova, NL. 2006. Paleopedological study of the Pit-Grave culture kurgans on the Southern Pre-Ural steppe of Russia. In: Smejda, L, editor. Archaeology of Burial Mounds. Plzen: Department of Archaeology. p 7882.Google Scholar
Khokhlova, OS, Khokhlov, AA. 2011. Short and long-term pedochronosequences of the Skvortsovsky burial ground in the Buzuluk River valley (Orenburg region, Russia). In: Peto, Á, Barczi, A, editors. Kurgan Studies: An Environmental and Archaeological Multiproxy Study of Burial Mounds in the Eurasian Steppe Zone. BAR International Series 2238. Oxford: Archaeopress. p 259–68.Google Scholar
Korenevsky, SN. 2004. Drevneishiye zemledeltsy i skotovody Predkavkazya. Majkopsko-Novosvobodnenskaya obschnost. Problemy vnutrenney tipologii [Ancient farmers and cattle breeders of the northern Caucasus Majkop culture. The problems of internal typology]. Moscow: Nauka. 243 p.Google Scholar
Kovalyukh, NN, Skripkin, VV. 2007. Radiouglerodnoye datirovaniye arkheologicheskoy keramiki zhidkostnym stsintillyatsionnym metodom [Radiocarbon dating of archaeological ceramics by liquid scintillation]. Radiocarbon in Archaeological and Paleoenvironmental Research. Saint Petersburg: Institute of Material Culture Press. p 120–7.Google Scholar
Kuznetsov, PF. 1996. Novyje radiouglerodnyje daty dlja khronologii kultur eneolita-bronzovogo veka juga lesostepnogo Povolzhja [New radiocarbon dates for the chronology of Eneolithic-Bronze Age cultures on the south of the Volga forest-steppe region]. Radiocarbon and Archaeology 1. Saint Petersburg: Institute of Material Culture Press. p 5060.Google Scholar
Kuznetsov, PF. 2007. Vremja novykh kulturnykh traditsii v bronzovom veke Volgo-Uralja [Time for new cultural practices in the Bronze Age of the Volga-Ural region]. Radiocarbon in Archaeological and Paleoenvironmental Research. Saint Petersburg: Institute of Material Culture Press. p 216–24.Google Scholar
Merpert, NY. 1974. Drevneishije skotovody volzhsko-ur-als-kogo mezhdurechja [The most ancient cattle-breeders in the Volga-Ural steppes]. Moscow: Nauka. 151 p.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL. 2006. Periodizatsija I khronologija yamnykh pamjatnikov Priuralja po dannym radiouglerodnogo datirovanija [Periodization and chronology of monuments of the Pit-Grave culture in Urals region according to radiocarbon dating]. Problems of the Study of Cultural-Historical Area of the Pit-Grave Culture. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. p 6771.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL. 2007. Ob absolutnoy khronologii razvitigo etapa yamnoy kultury (po dannym Yuzhnogo Priuralja [On the absolute chronology of the advanced stage of the Pit-Grave culture (according to data for the southern Urals)]. Radiocarbon in Archaeological and Paleoecological Studies. Saint Petersburg: Institute of Material Culture Press. p 210–5.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL. 2011. Pit-Grave culture of the south near the Ural Mountains. In: Peto, Á, Barczi, A, editors. Kurgan Studies: An Environmental and Archaeological Multiproxy Study of Burial Mounds in the Eurasian Steppe Zone. BAR International Series 2238. Oxford: Archaeopress. p 133–43.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL, Khokhlova, OS. 2006. Kurgans and nomads: new investigations of mound burials in the southern Ural. Antiquity 80(308):303–17.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL, Khokhlova, OS, Zaitseva, GI, Chichagova, OA, Golyeva, AA. 2003. Rezultaty radiouglerodnogo datirovaniya arkheologicheskikh pamyatnikov Yuzhnogo Priuralya [The results of radiocarbon dating of archaeological sites in the Southern Cis-Urals]. In: Shumaevo Kurgans. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. p 264–74.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL, Khokhlova, OS, Golyeva, AA, Zaitseva, GI, Chichagova, OA. 2005. Rezultaty radiouglerodnogo datirovaniya kurgannogo mogilnika Mustayevo V [Results of radiocarbon dating of the Mustaevo V kurgan cemetery]. Archaeological Monuments in Orenburg Region 5. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. p 96104.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL, Golyeva, AA, Degtyareva, AD, Evgeniev, AA, Kuptsova, LV, Salugina, NP, Khokhlova, OS, Khokhlov, AA. 2010a. Skvortsovskiy kurgannyy mogilnik [Skvortsovsky kurgan cemetery]. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. 160 p.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL, Vybornov, AA, Kovaljukx, NN, Skripkin, VV. 2010b. Khronologicheskoje sootnoshenije eneoliticheskikh kultur Volgo-Uralskogo regiona v svete radiouglerodnogo datirovanija [Chronological relationship for the Eneolithic cultures of the Volga-Ural region based on radiocarbon dating]. Russian Archaeology 4:1827.Google Scholar
Morgunova, NL, Zaitseva, GI, Kovaljukx, NN, Skripkin, VV. 2011. Novyje radiouglerodnyje daty pamjatnikov eneolita, rannego I srednego etapov bronzovogo veka Povolzja I Priuralja [New radiocarbon dates for monuments of Eneolithic, the early and middle stages of the Bronze Age in the Volga and Urals region]. Archaeological Monuments in the Orenburg Region 11. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. p 5375.Google Scholar
Nikolova, AV. 1999. Radiocarbon dates from the graves of the Yamnaya culture at the Ingulets river (the Kirovohrad region) In: Koko, A, editor. The Foundations of Radiocarbon Chronology of Cultures Between the Vistula and Dnieper: 3150–1850 BC. Baltic-Pontic Studies 7. p 81102.Google Scholar
Ovchinnikova, NV, Fadeev, VG. 2007. Itogi izuchenija kurgannogo mogilnika yamnoy kultury Orlovka I [Results of the study of the Orlovka I burial ground of the Pit-Grave culture]. Samara Region in Russian History 3. Samara: Regional Local History Museum. p 2434.Google Scholar
Salugina, NP. 2005. Tekhnologiya keramiki repinskogo tipa pogrebeniy drevneyamnoy kultury Volgo-Uralya [Ceramic technology of the Repino type burials within the Pit-Grave culture of the Volga-Ural]. Russian Archaeology 3:8592. In Russian.Google Scholar
Shishlina, NI. 2007. Severo-Zapadnyi Prikaspii v epokhu bronzy (V–III tysjacheletija do n.e.) [North-West Caspian Sea region in the Bronze Age (V–III millenia BC)]. Moscow: State Historical Museum. 400 p.Google Scholar
Telegin, DY. 1977. Ob absoljutnom vozraste yamnoy kultury i nekotoryje voprosy khronologii eneolita juga Ukrainy [On the absolute age of the Pit-Grave culture and some problems of chronology for Eneolithic in the southern Ukraine]. Soviet Archaeology 2:519.Google Scholar
Turetsky, MA. 2007. Problemy kulturogeneza v epokhu rannego-nachala srednego bronzovogo veka v stepnoy zone Volgo-Uralja [Problems of cultural processes in the Early-beginning Middle Bronze Age in the steppes of the Volga-Ural region]. Archaeological Monuments in Orenburg Region 8. Orenburg: Orenburg Pedagogical State University Press. p 116–29.Google Scholar
van der Plicht, J, Wijma, S, Aerts, AT, Pertuisot, MH, Meijer, HAJ. 2000. Status report: the Groningen AMS facility. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172(1–4):5865.Google Scholar
Vybornov, AA, Kovalyukh, NN, Skripkin, VV. 2008. K radiokarbonovoy khronologii neolita Srednego Povolzhya: zapadnyy region [By radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic in the Middle Povolzhye: the western region]. Russian Archaeology 4:6471.Google Scholar
Zaitseva, GI, Skripkin, VV, Kovalyukh, NN, Dolukhanov, PM, Vybornov, AA. 2009. Radiocarbon dating of Neolithic pottery. Radiocarbon 51(2):795801.Google Scholar