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a term used to designate an assemblage of archaeological remains, dating from one period in time, which are distinguished by local peculiarities and are concentrated within a certain territory. An archaeological culture is generally named after some distinguishing feature—the shape of or designs on ceramics and ornaments (for example, the Funnel-beaker culture), burial rites (for example, the Catacomb culture), or after the locality where the most typical remains of a given culture were first discovered (for example, the Dneprodonets culture). Archaeological cultures often correspond to specific groups of an ancient people, including ethnic groups. It is sometimes possible to associate specific archaeological cultures with tribes known from written sources. However, the similarity among elements of a material culture does not always reflect an ethnic community or the community of origin. Similarities in the way of life and the material culture of different tribes may arise independently under similar social and geographical conditions. Individual cultural elements may also be borrowed as a result of the diffusion of ideas or the migration of people bearing this culture. The study of the origin, diffusion, and disappearance of archaeological cultures makes it possible to reconstruct the prehistory of tribes and peoples.
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A. L. MONGAIT