June 27, 2013

Analysis of Maikop crania (Kazarnitsky 2010)

From the paper, first a survey of other studies:
The Maikop cranium from Mandzhikiny I in Kalmykia was measured by A.A. Khokhlov. In his view, it resembles the previously published Maikop and Novosvobodnaya specimens. Khokhlov pointed to certain features common to the Maikop and Novosvobodnaya people and opposing them to the Pit Grave people. He questioned the resemblance between the Maikop crania from Evdyk I and those from Syezzheye and Zadono-Avilovsky; and he believed the former to resemble crania from the Caucasus, the Near East, and Southwestern Central Asia, being closest to those from Samtavro, Georgia, and Ginchi, Dagestan (Khokhlov, 2002).   
In a brief note, M.M Gerasimova, D.V. Pezhemsky, and L.T. Yablonsky (2002) described several Maikop crania from burial grounds on the Kalaus River in the Stavropol Region. The series is diverse and, judging by the results of multivariate analysis, is closest to the Chalcolithic group from Khvalynsk in the Samara Region.    
T.I. Alekseyeva (2004) measured a male skull from mound 13 burial 5 at Nezhinskaya near Kislovodsk (the plastic reconstruction of this individual’s appearance was made by L.T. Yablonsky), as well as two crania (male and female) from mound 70 burial 1 at Zamankul in Northern Ossetia. All these crania came from “Maikop– Novosvobodnaya” burials and were attributed to the Mediterranean variety of the Southern Caucasoid type which was distributed in Armenia, Georgia, Iran, and Mesopotamia during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. The heterogeneity of the Maikop group in Alexeyeva’s opinion may be due to individual variability, but also to admixture with the natives of the southeastern European steppes (Alekseyeva, 2004). 
Later, Gerasimova, Pezhemsky, and Yablonsky (2007) published a large article where crania from burial grounds on the Kalaus River were described in detail. They noted that the Maikop series is heterogeneous but on average it represented the Eastern Mediterranean trait combination. The latter is quite dissimilar to the Cromagnoid combination typical of certain Bronze Age groups of the Eastern European steppes. The idea that at least some Maikop people were descendants of immigrants from the Near East was deemed probable; however the role of the steppe admixture, possibly accounting for a somewhat greater robustness of Maikop crania compared to Mediterranean ones, was not excluded either.
And the author's own conclusions:
In sum, the results of the multivariate analysis suggest that Maikop people are distinct from all the contemporary and later Eastern European groups of the steppe and forest-steppe zones. This provides an additional argument in favor of the hypothesis that Maikop burials in Kalmykia attest not merely to the cultural impact of the Maikop community on the steppe tribes (Munchaev, 1994: 168); rather, they were left by a separate group which was unrelated to the local Pit Grave population by origin. The Southern Caucasoid trait combination revealed by the Maikop series is somewhat similar to that shown by the contemporaneous groups of the Northern Caucasus and southern Turkmenia. Clearly, this does not imply a direct connection with any of these regions.  
The Near Eastern parallels are no less suggestive (Bunak, 1947: 77). Thus, a small series from Al-Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia, dating from the 4th millennium BC, is characterized by dolichocrany (cranial index, 72.6), a high face, medium wide, high and sharply protruding nose, and wide palate (Keith, 1931: 239–241). Regrettably, the number of measurements is too small to warrant a reliable comparison with the Maikop series. However, the isolated position of the Maikop group in Eastern Europe, its vague resemblance to the Southern Caucasoids of the Caucasus and Southwestern Central Asia, and the Near Eastern cultural affinities of Maikop and Novosvobodnaya (Munchaev, 1994: 170) indirectly point to Near Eastern provenance.

It would certainly be interesting to obtain DNA from some of these specimens.


Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia
Volume 38, Issue 1, March 2010, Pages 148–155


Abstract Measurements of crania of people associated with the Early Bronze Age Maikop culture of the Northern Caucasus are analyzed. Data on Maikop males, new and previously published, were compared with those concerning chronologically and geographically related people using the canonical variate analysis. The Maikop series turned out to be isolated and no close parallels to it were found among the Bronze Age groups, either from the steppe and forest-steppe zones of Eastern Europe or from the Caucasus and Southwestern Central Asia. While certain parallels seem to point to the Near East, they are too few to warrant definite conclusions.



Crimson Guard said...

You might be interested in these:


Page 44-45 missing

-Soviet Ethnology and Anthropology Today
edited by Yu. Bromley


Page 50 to 51 missing


Physiological and Morphological Adaptation and Evolution
edited by William A. Stini

Dienekes said...

Thanks, it looks very interesting. I may have even quoted from it myself in the past, but I don't remember where I had seen the whole thing (incl. the missing pages).

Va_Highlander said...

In light of recent archeology, these findings should surprise no one.

Arch Hades said...

So there some sort of Mediterranean/South Europid element out on the steppe?

Dienekes, you should check this out too.