Reconstruction of local environments of ancient population in a changeable river valley landscape (The Middle Vychegda River, Northern Russia)

Open access


In river valleys, both human occupation and subsequent preservation of archaeological sites are affected by active landscape transformation caused by river lateral migration, incision/aggradation cycles and changes of river hydrological regime. In the middle Vychegda River valley (Northern Russia), there are numerous traces of human presence since the Mesolithic. We exploit multi-disciplinary archaeological, geomorphological and geochronological approach to elucidate the environmental preferences of settlements positioning during different epochs of the Holocene. High resolution space image supplemented with data on alluvial stratigraphy derived from bank exposures and hand cores, as well as 51 radiocarbon dates were used to make the geomorphic map showing ages of floodplain/terrace segments and palaeochannels. Using this map together with sediment facial interpretation, position of archaeological sites was analysed in the context of local geomorphic and hydrologic situation. The majority of archaeological sites and modern settlements are found on terraces at river banks or at oxbow lakes which were well connected to the river. Few exceptions from this rule may be explained by seasonal character of dwelling functioning, ritual burial practice or specialization of settlements. Geomorphic situation was used as a background for planning further prospection of different-age archaeological objects.

[1] Brown AG, 2003. Time, space and casuality of floodplain palaeoecology. In: Howard AJ, Macklin MG and Passmore DG, eds., Alluvial Archaeology in Europe. Proceedings of the alluvial archaeology of North-West Europe and Mediteranian, 18–19 December 2000, Leeds, UK. Lisse: 15–24.

[2] Burov GM, 1967. Drevnij Sindor (Iz istorii plemen Evropeiskogo Severo-Vostoka v VII tysyacheletii do n.e. — I tysyacheletii n.e.). (Ancient Sindor. From history of European North-East tribes in VIIth m. BC — Ist m. AD). Moscow, Nauka: 210pp (in Russian).

[3] Burov GM, Romanova EN and Sementsov AD, 1972. Hronologiya derevyannyh sooruzhenij i veschej, naidennyh v Severodvinskom bassejne. Problemy absolyutnogo datirovaniya v arheologii (Chronology of wooden buildings and artifacts, found in North Dvina river basin. In: The problems of absolute dating in archaeology). Moscow, Nauka: 76–79 (in Russian).

[4] Dobrzanska G, Jerem E and Kalicki T, eds., 2004. The Geoarchaeology of River Valleys. Archaeolingua. Series Minor. Budapest: 7–8.

[5] Howard AJ, Macklin MG and Passmore DG, 2003. Preface. In: Howard AJ, Macklin MG and Passmore DG, eds., Alluvial Archaeology in Europe. Proceedings of the alluvial archaeology of North-West Europe and Mediteranian. 18–19 December 2000, Leeds, UK. Lisse: IX–X.

[6] Karmanov VN, 2008. Neolit evropeiskogo Severo-Vostoka (Neolithic of European North-East). Syktyvkar: 226pp (in Russian).

[7] Korolev KS, 1980. Pezmogskij mogil’nik. In: Drevnie pamyatniki Severnogo Priural’ya (Pezmog burial ground). In: Ancient sites of Northern Subural. Syktyvkar: 116–124 (in Russian).

[8] Korolev KS, 2005. Razvedochnye raboty na srednei Vychegde. In: Pamyatniki epohi kamnya, rannego metalla i srednevekov’ya evropeiskogo Severo-Vostoka (Prospection on Middle Vychegda). In: Savelieva EA, Karmanov VN, eds., The sites of Stone Age, Palaeometal and Medieval Ages of European North-East. Syktyvkar: 145–154 (in Russian).

[9] Reimer PJ, Baillie MGL, Bard E, Bayliss A, Beck JW, Blackwell PG, Bronk Ramsey C, Buck CE, Burr G, Edwards RL, Friedrich M, Grootes PM, Guilderson TP, Hajdas I, Heaton TJ, Hogg AG, Hughen KA, Kraiser KF, Kromer B, McCormac FG, Manning S, Reimer RW, Richards DA, Southon JR, Talamo S, Turney CSM, van der Plicht J, Weyhenmeyer CE, 2009. IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 51: 1111–1150.

[10] Volokitin AV and Tkachev YA, 2004. Reconstruction of environment of the Mesolithic population of Vychegda river. In: Archaeology, ethnology and anthropology of Eurasia, 2: 2–10.

[11] Volokitin AV, Zaretskaya NE and Karmanov VN, 2006. Novye dannye po hronologii kamskoi neoliticheskoi kul’tury (New data on the chronology of Kama Neolithic culture). In: Rossiiskaya arheologiya 1: 137–142 (in Russian).

[12] Zagainova GV, 2001. Plotnost’ naseleniya. (Density of population) In: Savelieva, eds., Atlas of Komi Republic. Moscow, DIK: 424–425 (in Russian).

[13] Zaretskaya NE, Volokitin AV, Karmanov VN and Uspenskaya ON, 2007. Novye dannye po radiouglerodnoi hronologii i palaeogeografii Sindorskogo geoarheologicheskogo mikroraiona (New data on the radiocarbon dating and palegeography of Sindor geoarchaeological region). In: Volokitin AV, Karmanov VN and Pavlov PY, eds., Stone age of European North. Syktyvkar: 148–160 (in Russian).

[14] Zaretskaya NE, Chernov AV, Karmanov VN, Panin AV, Buravskaya MN and Volokitin AV, 2009. Opyt rekonstruktsii istorii doliny srednej Vychegdy v pozdnelednikov’e i golotsene po rezul’tatam kompleksnyh issledovanij. V: Materialy VI Vserossiiskogo soveschaniya po izucheniyu chetvertichnogo perioda (Experience of Vychegda valley history reconstruction in the Late Glacial-Holocene on the results of inter-disciplinary research. In: Materials of VIth All-Russian conference on Quaternary studies. 18–23 October 2009, Novosibirsk). Novosibirsk: 223–226 (in Russian).

[15] Zherebtsov IL, 2001. Naselennye punkty Respubliki Komi. Istorikodemograficheskii spravochnik (Settlements of Komi Republic. Historical and demographic manual). Moscow, Nauka: 580pp (in Russian).

Journal Information

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.119
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.408

CiteScore 2017: 1.33

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.457
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.656

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 167 165 10
PDF Downloads 66 65 8