Amur Neolithic Cultures

Amur Neolithic Cultures

 

Neolithic cultures and relics spread over the basin of the Amur River, dating from the fifth to the beginning of the first millennium B.C.

Two cultures existed in the middle Amur region in the area of Blagoveshchensk: (1) the Gromatukha (on the Gromatukha River, tributary of the Zeia), nomadic or seminomadic hunters living in hunting camps with chum-type, or teepee-like, dwellings, who left tools made from whole pebbles (adzes and scrapers), scraper cores, knife blades and tips worked on both sides, prismatic cores, and variously ornamented ceramics; (2) the Novopetrovsk, in which stone-splitting work predominates, created prismatic cores and platelets and smooth-walled ceramics with adhered beads. At a later stage (Osino Lake stage), arrow tips beaten on both sides and ornaments of white jade appear. Permanent settlements with partially underground dwellings are characteristic of these cultures.

On the lower Amur—at Malyshevo, Voznesenovka at the mouth of the Khungari River, and Kazakevichevo on the Ussuri River—the Neolithic is represented by flat-bottomed vessels, frequently glazed and coated with red ochre, and by forged ornaments. Meander patterns turn up later. At the next stage of development, the Neolithic is represented in this district by settled villages with partially underground dwellings (Suchu-1, Kondon); radiocarbon dating of the latter yields the figure 4,520 ± 20. In ceramic wares we find spiral ornamental patterns, the “Amur plait,” and occasionally black painting against a red glazed background. Vessels with anthropomorphic “masks” also appear. Large polished stone tools (adzes and axes) are plentiful, and silica and slate arrow tips turn up. The latest stage is represented by smooth-walled vessels with high necks and pronounced shoulders and by round tools made from beaten pebbles (adzes, axes), chips (scrapers), polished slate knives, white jade ornaments (rings), and so on. A layer exhibiting round-bottomed thin-walled ceramic wares with forged ornaments typical of the Lake Baikal region is found overlying remnants of a settlement with spiral ceramic wares, at the village of Sargol’ to the north of Komsomol’sk-na-Amure, on the shores of Lake Evoron. This appears to be evidence of the penetration of tribes of northerly origin to the lower Amur during the late Neolithic period.

REFERENCES

Okladnikov, A. P. “Neolit Nizhnego Amura.” In the collection Drevniaia Sibir’. Ulan-Ude, 1964.
Derevianko, A. P. “Neolit Nizhnego Amura.” Ibid.
Derevianko, A. P. “Novopetrovskaia kul’tura (kul’tura plastin) na Srednem Amure.” Sovetskaia arkheologiia, 1965, no. 3.
Okladnikov, A. P. “Arkheologiia doliny r. Zei i Srednego Amura.” Sovetskaia arkheologiia, 1966, no. 1.
Istoriia Sibiri s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1968.

A. P. OKLADNIKOV