September 05, 2014

Chernykh on Eurasian metallurgy

Bell Beaker blogger points me to this excellent new review of the Eurasian Metallurgical Provinces scheme of Yevgeny Chernykh. I also include an abstract from an earlier study by the author.

Of interest:
The metallurgical contacts and character of interrelations between eastern and western parts we can observe in the Xinjiang among the materials of eastern focuses of the Circumpontic metallurgical province and later in the rich metal collections of the West-Asian and East-Asian steppe provinces. In this sphere extreme interest presents so called Seima-Turbino transcultural phenomenon: their impressive metal forms of eastern sources spreaded from the Western China up to Baltic Sea at the turn of the III and II millennium and in the early centuries of the II mill. BCE.
I have argued before that the Seima-Turbino phenomenon is associated with the spread of Finno-Ugrians into Europe. It would certainly be in accord with a recent thesis about Finno-Ugrians arriving to the Baltic after Indo-European speakers.

Metallurgical Provinces of Eurasia in the Early Metal Age: Problems of Interrelation

General chronological frame of the Early Metal Age (EMA) in Eurasia limited from IX/VIII up to turn II/I mill. BCE. The chronological scale of this investigation founded on the systematized date base of more than 3.5 thousand calibrated 14C analyses. EMA can be subdivided into five unequal in chronological sense periods. The Early Metal Age was the epoch clear domination of the western metallurgical centers – particularly up to III mill. BCE. In all probabilities the apogee of the western predominance was incarnated in the immense of the famous Scythian world, in the limits of the first millennium BCE – i.e. beyond the EMA. The eastern centers take up the initiative of westward pressing after collapse of the Scythian world.

Link

The “Steppe Belt” of stockbreeding cultures in Eurasia during the Early Metal Age

The stock-breeding cultures of the Eurasian “steppe belt” covered approximately 7-8 million square km2 from the Lower Danube in the West to Manchuria in the East (a distance of more than 8000 km). The initial formation of the “steppe belt’cultures coincided with the flourishing of the Carpatho-Balkan metallurgical province (V millennium BC). These cultures developed during the span of the Circumpontic metallurgical province (IV-III millennium BC). Their maturation coincided with the activity of the various centers of the giant Eurasian and East-Asian metallurgical provinces (II millennium BC). The influence of these stock-breeding nomadic cultures on the historical processes of Eurasian peoples was extremely strong. The collapse of the “steppe belt” occurred as late as the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries AD.

Link

7 comments:

Dr Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Va_Highlander said...

I find it fascinating that such a seemingly comprehensive paper on ancient metallurgy would completely ignore the latest finds from Iran. Combined with his unexamined assumptions, I'm afraid Chernykh just isn't that impressive.

andrew said...

I would say that the better evidence these days is that the evidence for FU at 1800-1500 BCE is strong than evidence for an older date. So that would tend to confirm S-T.

Unknown said...

About “The ‘Steppe Belt’ of stockbreeding cultures in Eurasia during the Early Metal Age -- a bit of oversell.

Can’t wait to read Chernykh’s “Cleveland - Mighty Steppes Town of America.”

Just a few of many points of disagreement. It’s very possible that most of the “Eurasian Metallurgical Provinces” owe their existence to Iran and the Middle East, Anatolia and the Zagros mountains and the South Caucasus. It is highly probable that the domestic livestock that Chernykh talks about were all imported from the south. It is probable that the metal trades migrated into the steppes from the south and along with them the idea of metal weapons, at least.

The early Balkans metal culture is not represented by Tripolye. The “apogee” Scythian culture of course were major exporters of wheat to Athens, so somebody must have been growing it. Linguists say some Scythian spoke Iranian, which is a hint that they crossed the Caucasus to get to the steppes.

For a better introduction to the early metal age, especially in terms of how and how metal technology developed and spread, see:
Nissim Amzallag’s excellent
From Metallurgy to Bronze Age Civilizations: The Synthetic Theory

http://www.ajaonline.org/article/300

Va_Highlander said...

Unknown:

"For a better introduction to the early metal age, especially in terms of how and how metal technology developed and spread, see:
Nissim Amzallag’s excellent From Metallurgy to Bronze Age Civilizations: The Synthetic Theory"


I've read the paper. It's not as sound as it first appears, with too much misunderstanding of both the archeology and technology. See the excellent rebuttal by C P Thornton, et al:

"A Chalcolithic Error: Rebuttal to Amzallag 2009"

Unknown said...

Va_Highlander wrote:

See the excellent rebuttal by C P Thornton, et al:
"A Chalcolithic Error: Rebuttal to Amzallag 2009"

See an an even better reply by Amzallag:
http://www.ajaonline.org/forum-response/328

“A Return to the Dark Ages? Reply to Thornton et al. 2010”

The basic battle here I think is to defend the steppes from the Near East, and if possible from Anatolia and Iran. Localism of course has its own parochial justification. But this is mainly about keeping those pesky potential Indo-European speakers in the south on their side of the Caucasus.

To be more current - you’ll see Weeks doing the same thing as these guys. Arguing that the spread of copper and bronze was just an attitude change and not know-how. You know, let’s not overestimate this whole Uruk thing.

http://www.academia.edu/5396542/Iranian_metallurgy_of_the_4th_millennium_BC_in_its_wider_technological_and_cultural_contexts

I don’t think the Canaanites were the only ones who travelled the technology. But somebody must have. And these might be your “elite” IEs.

Weeks gives a lot of attention to “captured” metal workers. This is how the technology was transferred to the north apparently. And of course he wouldn’t consider that the metal workers and masons may have been the bosses. Industrialist hiring body guards and putting puppet leaders in charge of underdeveloped areas may have an old history. Call it the “Banana Republic” effect.

There is also good evidence for tying metallurgy to earlier developments in pottery technology. And this creates a totally different picture of how the technology moved and how it might have travelled over the Caucasus and to the steppes.

Va_Highlander said...

Unknown, many thanks for the links.

Amzallag's response seems to generate a lot of heat, but perhaps less light than he hoped. In the end, I still didn't understand the radical difference he sees between crucible smelting and furnace smelting. He failed to prove that crucibles were first used to melt native copper and simply ignores the fact that furnace and crucible smelting have been found used contemporaneously at a single site.

"But this is mainly about keeping those pesky potential Indo-European speakers in the south on their side of the Caucasus."

Good point. I get the impression that ship has already sailed, though. Maykop was connected, either technologically or through trade, to Iran and southern Central Asia and kurgan burials appear to have originated in Azerbaijan, spreading north through the Caucasus and beyond. The culture that raised the first kurgans seems to have been influenced by, or been a reaction to, the Northern Ubaid.

Thanks for Weeks. This is a very nice article.

"And of course he wouldn’t consider that the metal workers and masons may have been the bosses."

Is there any evidence that this might have been the case?