Timber-Frame Culture

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Timber-Frame Culture


(in Russian, Srubnaia kul’tura), an archaeological culture of the late Bronze Age (late second and early first millennia B.C.) distributed in the steppe and forest-steppe zones of the European part of the USSR.

The Timber-Frame culture is represented by settlements, barrow burial grounds, treasures of metal objects, and ingots and instruments used in metalworking. It was identified by V. A. Go-rodtsov in 1901 and named after the characteristic timber-frame structures used in the graves. The culture developed in the Volga-Ural interfluve from a local variant of the Pit-Grave culture. The spread of the Timber-Frame culture resulted in the establishment of cultural uniformity from the Urals in the east to the Dnieper River in the west and from the Kama River and the right tributaries in the Oka River in the north to the Azov-Black Sea steppes in the south.

The settlements of the Timber-Frame culture were located on river banks. In the later stage of the culture, earthen banks were sometimes erected and ditches dug around the settlements for protection. The inhabitants lived in semisubterranean or surface dwellings made of logs or stone. Burial was in individual graves over which barrows were erected. Clay vessels constitute the majority of the finds. The early stage of the culture is characterized by hand-molded flat-bottomed vessels with geometric designs, and the later stage by simple pots that were more-poorly decorated than the earlier vessels and sometimes had ridges affixed to them. Rounded glazed vessels appeared at the end of the Timber-Frame culture. Implements, weapons, and decorations were primarily made of bronze; they included lugged axes, knives, daggers, celts, and bushed spears in the early stage and short swords, sickles, and riveted kettles in the later stage. Certain decorations were made of precious metals.

Huge hearths used in metalworking have been found in the Volga-Ural interfluve and the northwestern Black Sea region. Iron was apparently first used in the later stages of the Timber-Frame culture. In the steppe zone the tribes of the culture were primarily stock raisers who sometimes led a nomadic way of life. In the forest-steppe zone the tribes were farmers and sedentary stock raisers. Associations of the tribes of the Timber-Frame culture were important in the formation of the Cimmerians and later the Scythians.


Gorodtsov, V. A. “Rezul’taty arkheologicheskikh issledovanii v Iziumskom uezde Khar’kovskoi gubernii: 1901 g.” In Tr. XII ark-heologicheskogo s“ezda v Khar’kove, vol. 1. Moscow, 1905.
Krivtsova-Grakova, O. A. “Stepnoe Povolzh’e i Prichernomor’e v epokhu pozdnei bronzy.” Moscow, 1955. (Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, no. 46.)
Merpert, N. Ia. “Iz drevneishei istorii Srednego Povolzh’ia.” Moscow, 1958. (Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, no. 61.)
Sal’nikov, K. V. Ocherki drevnei istorii luzhnogo Urala. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.