Early polities in the steppes: Sintashta communities of southern Russia

Author(s): Denis Sharapov

Year: 2017


First polities in the Eurasian steppes are documented by the Greek and Chinese historical accounts of the Scythians (9th-3rd centuries BC) and the Xiongnu (3rd century BC – 1st century AD). Archaeologically, these entities manifested themselves in complex settlement networks, consisting of fortified sites, dispersed farmsteads, and mobile pastoral camps. Earlier roots of political organization in the Eurasian steppes are largely limited to funerary and ceremonial monuments, which presumably served as aggregation points for dispersed populations. In this context, more than twenty Middle Bronze Age (MBA) (2100-1700 BC) nucleated fortified settlements, concentrated in the Southern Ural steppes of Russia, commanded particular attention of archaeologists. Given that integration of settlements at a supra-local scale has been considered a hallmark in the emergence of complex societies, the isolated and completely centralized nature of MBA sites precluded viewing them as centers of early polities. However, a recent systematic regional survey recovered diagnostic MBA material from a number of unfortified settlements located some distance away from the fortified centers.

Cite this Record

Early polities in the steppes: Sintashta communities of southern Russia. Denis Sharapov. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430437)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14405