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Encyclopedia > Samara culture
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The Samara culture was an aeneolithic or eneolithic (copper age) culture of the early 5th millenium BC at the Samara bend region of the middle Volga, discovered during archaeological excavations near the village of Syezzheye (Съезжее) in Russia. The valley of the Samara river contains sites from subsequent cultures as well, which are descriptively termed "Samara cultures" or "Samara valley cultures". Some of these sites are currently under excavation. "The Samara culture" as a proper name, however, is reserved for the early Eneolithic of the region. Jump to: navigation, search The Chalcolithic (Greek khalkos + lithos copper stone) period, also known as the Eneolithic (Aeneolithic) or Copper Age period, is a phase in the development of human culture in which the use of early metal tools appeared alongside the use of stone tools. ... The Chalcolithic (Greek khalkos + lithos copper stone) period, also known as the Eneolithic (Aeneolithic) or Copper Age period, is a phase in the development of human culture in which the use of early metal tools appeared alongside the use of stone tools. ... The Samara bend is a large, backwards-C-shaped bend in the middle Volga River at the confluence of the Samara River. ... For other meanings of the word Volga see Volga (disambiguation) Волга Length 3,690 km Elevation of the source 225 m Average discharge  ? m³/s Area watershed 1. ...


"Eneolithic" has a similar equivocal meaning. The Eneolithic culture of the region is a proper name, referring to the Samara culture, the subsequent Khvalynsk culture and the still later early Yamna culture. These are termed the early, middle (or developed) and late Eneolithic, respectively, with the substitution of period for culture; e.g., the Samara period. "Eneolithic" as a common name refers to any culture in the eneolithic stage of tool development. It does not refer to a time frame. Khvalynsk (Хвалынск in Russian) is a river port town by the Volga River in Saratov Oblast, Russia. ... Proto-Indo-European Indo-European studies The Yamna (from Russian яма pit) or pit grave culture is a prehistoric culture of the Bug/Dniester/Ural region, dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BC. The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hillforts. ...

Contents


Samara culture Sites

In addition to the name site mentioned above, other sites are Khvalynsk (between Saratov and Samara), Varfolomievka (on the Volga, actually part of the North Caspian culture) and Nikol'skoe (on the Dnieper. Khvalynsk II gives its name to the middle Eneolithic, but an early layer, Khvalynsk I, was found as well. It is radio-carbon dated to as early as 5200 BC, while Varfolomievka is as early as 5500 BC. Saratov flag Saratov (Сара́тов) is a major city in southern European Russia. ... For other meanings of the word Volga see Volga (disambiguation) Волга Length 3,690 km Elevation of the source 225 m Average discharge  ? m³/s Area watershed 1. ... This article is about the river. ...


Indo-European Urheimat

These three cultures have roughly the same range. Marija Gimbutas was the first to regard it as the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language and to hypothesize that the Eneolithic culture of the region was in fact Indoeuropean. If this model is true, then the Samara culture becomes overwhelmingly important for Indo-European studies. Marija Gimbutas (Vilnius, Lithuania January 23, 1921 – Los Angeles February 2, 1994) researched the Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of Old Europe, a term she introduced, in works published between 1946 and 1971, that opened new views by combining traditional spadework, linguistics and mythology. ... Urheimat (German: ur- original, ancient; Heimat home, homeland) is a linguistic term denoting the original homeland of the speakers of a proto-language. ... The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages. ...


Most Indo-europeanists before Gimbutas had hypothesized these stages of development:

  • formation in a homeland on the steppes.
  • diaspora into Europe, the middle east, and the central Asian subcontinent.
  • formation of daughter languages over the now far-flung range.

Gimbutas applied the term kurgan ("mound") to the cultures of the diaspora phase. Developed kurgans do not appear in the Eneolithic culture, but one can see them developing. Kurgan (кургáн) is the Russian word (of Turkic origin) for tumulus, a type of burial mound or barrow, heaped over a burial chamber, often of wood. ...


Horses

The Samara period is not as well excavated or as well known as the other two. Gimbutas dated it to 5000 BC. The archaeological findings seem related to those of the Dnieper-Donets culture with this noteworthy exception: horses. The Dnieper-Donets culture (marked orange) in the context of early 4th millennium Europe. ... Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The Horse (Equus caballus) is a sizeable ungulate mammal, one of the seven modern species of the genus Equus. ...


Grave offerings included ornaments depicting horses. The graves also had an overburden of horse remains; it cannot yet be determined decisively if these horses were ridden or not, but they were certainly used as a meat-animal.


Whether they were domestic (kept rather than caught) depends to some degree on one's definition of "domestic." All horse populations retain the ability to revert to a feral state, and all feral horses are of domestic types; that is, they descend from ancestors that escaped from man. No genetic originals of native wild horses currently exist. The domestic horse is Equus caballus. Its feral ancestor was Equus ferus, none of which survive, except for one scant subspecies. horse, see Horse (disambiguation). ... Jump to: navigation, search Binomial name Equus ferus Boddaert, 1785 The Tarpan, Equus ferus, was the Eurasian wild horse. ...


The Ice Age featured a number of subspecies of Equus ferus, which were hunted en masse on the tundra and steppes by early modern men. Numerous kill sites exist and many cave paintings of the horses tell us what they looked like. The main problem for students of horse domestication is that all these horses disappeared by 8000 BC, long before the Eneolithic of Kazakhstan. No one doubts that they were hunted out by man. Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ...


Only two survived, Przewalski's horse and the tarpan. The latter disappeared in the 19th century and Przewalski's has been revived from only several remaining individuals. Gimbutas assumed that the horses of the Eneolithic were Przewalski's, but more recent genetic studies indicate that Przewalski's was not ancestral to modern breeds. Other subspecies of Equus ferus not known to us must have existed, which some scholars term "caballine"; i.e., not caballus but ancestral to it. Binomial name Equus przewalskii Poliakov, 1881 Przewalskis Horse (Equus przewalskii or ), pronounced (p)she-VAHL-skeez horse, also known as the Mongolian Wild Horse, or Takhi, is the closest living relative of the Domestic Horse and may in fact be the same species. ... Binomial name Equus ferus Boddaert, 1785 The Tarpan, Equus ferus, was the Eurasian wild horse. ...


How could those have possibly survived from 8000 BC? The most obvious answer is that man, having hunted out the feral herds, kept the horses as livestock. If that is true, one might speak of "domestic horses" dating from 8000 BC. Scholars are currently seeking other evidence than this circumstance.


Recent genetic studies by a team headed by C. Vila, using the DNA of frozen fossil horse feet, dating from 28,000 to 12,000 BP from the Alaskan permafrost, as a base, identified 77 ancestral mares to today's stock of Equus caballus, from different times and places. Vila concluded that horses were widely domesticated over Eurasia and that the horse taming technology passed between different cultures.


Such a view does not exclude origination of domestication with a single cuture, which would have passed the technique and the breeding stock around, no doubt "for a price" (such is the origin of commerce). The start of domestication is most likely to have been in the 8000 BC - 5000 BC window, before all that were left were Przewalski's and the tarpan. In other words, those two were left because all the others had been domesticated, being, perhaps, more suited to the purpose. Prezewalski's is untractable.


It remains for archaeology to find and excavate the sites that will tell us what happened. In historical times, the use of horses is nearly a diagnostic of Indo-european culture in the diaspora phase. It is the only way to account for the rapid spread of the kurgan culture and the ease with which it seems to have gotten the upper hand over Pre-Indo-European cultures. For the most part, the forest-steppe region and the plains of Asia remain archaeologically unexplored. No doubt future data will overturn many of our ideas and provide us with other answers. The Pre-Indo-European population of Europe included an unknown number of ethnic groups that dwelt on the continent before the coming of the speakers of Indo-European languages (though some scholars dispute the Indo-European invasion theory: see Paleolithic Continuity Theory). ...


Central Location

The range of the Samara culture is the forest-steppe terrain of the middle Volga, but the North Caspian culture of the lower Volga is early Eneolithic as well. In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, this range is regarded as a convenient place for speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language to have exchanged some lexical items with Uralic-language-speakers. As a cross-roads between east and west, north and south, it must have received influences and stimulation from many peoples. Moreover, such a location would require a value orientation toward war and defense, which we know the Indo-europeans had. They were a warrior culture. The invaded cultures were not. For other meanings of the word Volga see Volga (disambiguation) Волга Length 3,690 km Elevation of the source 225 m Average discharge  ? m³/s Area watershed 1. ... Kurgan (кургáн) is the Russian word (of Turkic origin) for tumulus, a type of burial mound or barrow, heaped over a burial chamber, often of wood. ... The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages. ... Geographical distribution of Finnic, Ugric, Samoyed and Yukaghir languages The Uralic languages form a language family of about 30 languages spoken by approximately 20 million people. ...


Artifacts

Pottery

Pottery consists mainly of egg-shaped beakers with pronounced rims. They were not able to stand on a flat surface, suggesting that some method of supporting or carrying must have been in use, perhaps basketry or slings, for which the rims would have been a useful point of support. The carrier slung the pots over the shoulder or onto an animal.


The material of the pots is clay tempered with crushed shells.


Decoration consists of circumferential motifs: lines, bands, zig-zags or wavy lines, incised, stabbed or impressed with a comb. These patterns are best understood when seen from the top. They appear then to be a solar motif, with the mouth of the pot as the sun. Later developments of this theme show that in fact the sun is being represented. The religion even from the outset worshipped the light.


Graves

Graves are shallow pits for single individuals, but two or three individuals might be placed there. Some of the graves are covered with a stone cairn or a low earthen mound, the very first predecessor of the kurgan. The later, fully developed kurgan was a hill on which the deceased chief might ascend to the sky god, but whether these early mounds had that significance is doubtful. A cairn to mark the way along a glacier A cairn is a manmade pile of stones. ...


Sacrificial Objects

The culture is characterized by the remains of animal sacrifice, which occur over most of the sites. Typically the head and hooves of cattle, sheep and horses are placed in shallow bowls over the human grave, smothered with ochre. Some have seen the beginning of the horse sacrifice in these remains, but such a view has not been more definitely substantiated. We know that the Indo-europeans sacrificed both animals and people, but so did many other cultures.


Weapons

Indo-europeans would not be themselves without some sign of weapons. The graves do yield well-made daggers of flint and bone, placed at the arm or head of the deceased, one in the grave of a small boy. Weapons in the graves of children are common later.


Other weapons are bone spearheads and flint arrowheads.


Other Grave Gifts

Other carved bone figurines and pendants were found in the graves. Most controversial are bone plaques of horses or double oxen heads. They are pierced. Were they pendants or harness parts, such as cheek pieces? A rare Dresden porcelain figurine Figurine is a diminutive form of the word figure, and generally refers to a small, human-made object that represents some sort of being. ... A pendant (from Old French) is a hanging object, generally attached to a necklace or an earring. ...


There is no indisputable evidence of riding. However, the large numbers of horse bones from later in the Eneolithic resemble a kill site, but the sites are settlement sites. If the horses had been hunted, why would they not have been butchered at the site of the kill? If the horses were kept, they raise the problem of herding. Of course, the poems of the Rig Veda are explicit about the value and use of dogs in herding. Horses, however, are swifter than sheep or cattle. It is logical to assume also that the population rode some animals in order to herd the others. The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ...


External Links

  • The Horse in Mortuary Symbolism...
  • Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse
  • Widespread Origins of Domestic Horse Lineages

Sources

  • James P. Mallory, "Samara Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
  • Marija Gimbutas, "The Civilization of the Goddess", HarperSanFrancisco, 1991, ISBN 0-06-250368-5 or ISBN 0-06-250337-5

  Results from FactBites:
 
Samara, Russia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (478 words)
Samara (Russian: Сама́ра), from 1935 to 1991—Kuybyshev (Ку́йбышев), is a major city situated on the Volga River in the southeastern part of European Russia, Volga Federal District, the administrative center of Samara Oblast.
Samara is also a model name of a Lada car made by the VAZ auto company in Togliatti, in Samara Oblast.
Samara is home of the FC Krylya Sovetov Samara, a football club in the Russian Premier League.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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