Archaeological Cultures in the Basins of the Dnieper, Don and the Dniester in the 17-15 Cen. BC
Ukrainian scholars consider as the proven the belonging of the Srubna culture to the Iranian culture ethnicity. However, this culture existed between the XVI and XII centuries BC. Whereas the Turks, the first settlers in the southern part of this region, began to relocate in search of new pastures at the end of III millennium BC, that is still half a millennium someone had to live before the Iranians on these lands. When the Phrygians, Armenians, Thracians immediately moved to the right bank of the Dnieper, the left bank would occupy only the Iranians. Then, the spread of the Catacomb culture can be attributed with their arrival. The problem of the origin of this culture has not yet been solved by scientists. Based on the Pit culture, the group of related cultures of the Catacomb cultural-historical community began to form under the influence of settlers from the north on the remains of the Turkic people at the turn of the 3rd and 2nd mill BC. These cultures covered the Pontic region from the Volga and the Caucasus to the lower Danube. The overgrowing of the Pit culture to the Catacomb one has been shown by some archaeological finds, such as the Vlasov cemetery (the village of Vlasovka in the Gribanovsky district of Voronezh region):
… As the Pit burial, and the burial of the Catacomb type do not show the chronological gap, and determine the character of the burial place as a "working time" of the process of continuity and interaction (SINIUK A.T., 1969: 56.)
Catacomb cultural-historical community occuried steppe and forest-steppe zones of the Northern Pontic region from the For-Caucasus and the Volga till the lower Danube. Ukrainian experts share catacomb historical community on such culture:
The first four cultures may belong to the above mentioned Turkic ethnic groups, Poltavka culture could be created by the Nogais name which we have agreed to use for callung the ancestors actually Nogais and Kazakhs.
Since the beginning of the 16th c. BC Zrubna (Carcass) culture began to develop between the rivers Dnieper and Don. Previously, the prevailing view was that this culture had no local roots, and appeared on the territory of the Ukraine in a ready form. It was extended from the lower Volga to the Dnieper (the relics of the Zrubna culture on the right bank of the Dnieper are present only in the narrow bank strip), and a lot of remains is concentrated in the northern part of the Seversky Donets Basin. The carriers of this culture were sedentary farmers of the unusually high for that time level of economic development. Some scientists are looking for the roots of the Zrubna culture in the area of Poltavka culture in the catchment of the Volga and further to the east in the area of the Andronov culture (KUZ'MINA E.E. 1986: 188; BEREZANSKAYA S.S. 1986: 43. Arkheologiya Ukrainskoy SSR. Tom 1. Pervobytnaya arkheologiya., 1985: 474). Authoritatively about the origin of the Zrubna culture, wrote M. Artamonov:
The settling of the creators of the Zrubna culture on the steppe zone of Eastern Europe is regarded to the second half of the 2nd mill BC. Together with them, the tin Uralic bronze in the form, which appeared together with the Seyma culture of the Kama and Middle Volga basins, spread instead of the arsenical bronze of the North Caucasian origin. There is reason to believe that the Seyma culture has developed as the result of the migration of some populations from Siberia… The rapid spread of the Zrubna culture on Northern Black Sea Country, borrowed Siberian arms from the more advanced Seyma cultures, was accompanied by repression and by assimilation of the Catacomb culture with its version – the culture of the Many-Roller ware, ousted from the country between the Don and the Seversky Donets River to the lower currents of the Don and the Dnieper in the most early period . Around the 13th century BC the Zrubna culture is already on the Dniester (ARTAMONOV M.I. 1974.: 11)
Such Artamonov’s thinking, obviously, was based on the opinion which had a place among the other scientists about permanent migration movement from east to west, in particular the so-called “Altaic” and "Uralic" peoples. However, taking into account the location of the Urheimat of these peoples in Eastern Europe, they could not move from the east, on the contrary, the Turkic peoples of Europe were moving eastward. In addition, the origin of metal province in the Volga basin is connected by E. Chernykh with the movement to the Volga region of ethnic groups from the Balkan and the Carpathian region, who brought their cultural and technological traditions, what questioned the existence of metallurgy of higher level in the Urals than in the more western regions.
Obviously, starting from similar positions, other scientists, not excluding outside influences, believed that there were neither the Low nor the Middle Volga basins no sufficient genetic basis for the Zrubna culture and claim that the single centre of origin of the Zrubna culture did nor exist, and its uprising in each region should be explained in terms of local archaeological basis . It is important in this scientific dispute that the view of the coming creators of the Zrubna culture from the east is not certain, therefore it is possible to consider other options of its origin.
First, it should be borne in mind that Iranian ethnicity of Zrubna culture is widely accepted, and this view is confirmed by defined found Iranian Urheimat. However, connections between Zrubna culture and Middle Dnieper culture, which we believe to be Iranian origin, are not noted. Therefore, we need to look for some external cultural influences. While studying the Iranian and Finno-Ugric languages some their strange connection with the Greek were discovered, which appeared in numerous lexical matches. Here are some examples.
Greek εσχαρα "hearth, fire" has parallels in the Iranian words meaning "bright": Pers ašekar, Gil ešêker, Kurd. aşkere, Yagn oškoro etc. Greek τιμαρεω "to protect" corresponds to Pers timar, Gil timer, Kurd tîmar, Tal tümo "care". Greek σασ "a moth" can be connected with Pers, Kurd sas "a bug", Gil. ses "id". Afg lamba "flame" was borrowed from Gr λαμπη "torch", "light" and Afg julaf "barley" could originate from Gr αλφι borrowed from Turk arpa "barley". Tal külos "a ship", "a trough" is similar to Gr γαελοσ "a bucket", "a cargo ship". There is in Slavic languages a group of words of the same semantic content such as Ukr levada “meadow”. As if these words are borrowed from the Middle Greek λιβαδιον "meadow, watered plain" . But similar word of such meaning is present in Persian (rävad "meadow"). It is unlikely that the Persian word was borrowed from Middle Greek, likely the borrowing occurred much earlier.
Many words of Greek origin in the Ossetian are resulted by V. Abayev in hs etymological dictionary (ABAYEV V.I. 1958-1989), but most of them can occur from the Scythian time, so the examples can be wrong. However Greek loan-words in Moksha and Erzya languages can be notable. For example, contrary to B. Serebryanikov, Mok vatraksh "a frog" undoubtedly has Greek origin (Gr. βατραχοσ “a frog”). There are a few undeniable Mordvinic-Greek correspondences: Erz vis’ks "shame" – Gr αισχοσ "shame", Erz. nartemks "wormwood" – Gr ναρτεχ (some plant), Mok klek "good" – Gr γλυκυσ "sweet", Gr στειρα "sterile" – Mok stir' "a girl". J. Pokorny referred Gr Πινδοσ to PIE * kuei "to shine" ("leuchten"). This word has a parallel in the Moksha language – pindelf "to shine", an isolated word among all Finno-Ugric. Isolated words of Greek origin can be found in the Baltic-Finnish and Volga-Finnic languages. The Veps word poimen "a shepherd" is identical with the Greek ποιμην "a shepard" (a similar word is present also in Finnish), Mari kala "a mouse" corresponds Gr γαλη "a marten", "a weasel", "a ferret", Mari lake "a pit" is identical Gr λακη, Mari engyr "a rod" can be associated with Gr αγκυρα "a hook", Est. aur "steam" like Gr αηρ "air".
All these examples of Greek-Iranian and Greek-Western-Finnish relations give reason to assume that once some Greek tribes settled on the frontier of the Iranian and Finno-Ugric regions. Just these Greek immigrants could bring the germ of the Zrubna culture to this region. The warrant to connect the Greeks with the Zrubna culture is given by the similarity of burial structures of Mycenaean Greeks and the creators of the Zrubna cultur. The "zrub" that is framework or carcass was like to the Mycenaean tombs and this similarity was noticed by an Ukrainian scholar N. Cherednichenko: :
The similarity of the burial structures of the early Zrubna graves in large pits and shaft tombs at Mycenae have a certain interest. Shaft tombs were common ground pits within which boxes, covered with wooden beams, were been built. Flat stone slabs, or twigs, topped with a thin layer of waterproof clay were stacked on the boards (CHEREDNICHENKO N.N., 1986: 74).
For comparison, we can give a description of Zrubna burial structures:
A rectangular pit is under the burial mounds in the mainland. A wooden carcass, more precisely, a frame of oak, birch or pine trees was placed in it… on the bottom and top of log-rolling is found a layer of reeds or oak bark can be found on the bottom and the top of a log-ceiling (Arkheologiya Ukrainskoy SSR. Tom 1., 1985: 466).
Of course, it is unlikely Mycenaean Greeks came back to the Ukraine. Most likely, the similarity of Mycenaean shaft and carcass burial structures occurred due to their common prototype. Obviously, the ancestors of the Greeks has already made such similar mortuary structures on their Urheimat and this custom was brought by them to the Peloponnese later.
Certain time some Greek population still stayed on their Urheimat or somewhere nearby and later was supplanted by the Germanic tribes being forced to move eastward. Finding a comfortable place to settle into the Seversky Donets Basin, the Greeks settled here and later extended their rite of burial among the local Iranian culture of the Many-Roller ware. If this assumption is correct, similar but more ancient tombs of this type should be found somewhere near the Low Pripyat basin or, more likely, somewhere to the south, as the carriers of the Zrubna culture were farmers therefore had to populate tentatively at least not the forest zone. This assumption does not seem unlikely, since Herodotus mentioned in his History of agricultural tribe of the Callipidai. According to him, they were Hellenic Scythians and inhabited the territory along the Hypanis (Southern Bug) west of the Borysthenes (Dnieper). Obviously, the language of Callipidai gave the reason to believe Herodotus that Callipidai were “Hellenic”. Just the Callipidai could be the ancestors of those ancient Greeks, who remained close to his ancestral home. Hence, we can assume that not all Greeks moved to the Peloponnese from their Urheimat between the Dnieper and the Pripyat – some of them lingered somewhere in the basin of Ros’. This may give an explanation for the fact that the Albanian language of all Indo-European languages has most number of common words with Greek (167) – the Greeks and the Thracians (the ancestors of today's Albanian by the language) lived in the neighbourhood for a time, settling the Ros’ different banks.
The presence of Greek settlers in the area of the headwaters of the Seversky Donets can be confirmed by the existence somewhere in the area of the Greek city Gelonos described by Herodotus, who pointed out that it is located in the country of Budinoi, who were usually identified with the Mordvins. The inhabitants of this city were called by Herodotus Gelonians: "…the Gelonians are originally Hellenes, and they removed from the trading stations on the coast and settled among the Budinoi; and they use partly the Scythian language and partly the Hellenic" (HERODOTUS. 1993: IV, 109). Though, M. Artamonov, connecting Gelonos with the Bilsk hillfort in the Poltava Region, noted that the reason for the identification of people of Gelonos and the Greeks was only harmony "Gelonos – Hellenes" (ARTAMONOV M.I. 1974: 93) and considered the Gelonians as one of the Scythian tribes. However, it is striking that Iranian ethnonym "Gilaki" (the people living in the Province Gilan in Iran) is similar to the name and residents of the city Gelonos. We have seen that the area of the formation of the Gilaki language was located between the headwaters of the Seversky Donets and the Oskol, roughly in the same area where numerous relics of the Zrubna culture occurred. Obviously, some kind of separate Greek-Gilaki lexical parallels have to exist, one of which, for example, can be such: Gr κορη "a girl" – Gil kor "a girl". Mordvinic Urheimat was located something north of the Gilaki area, but at the time of Herodotus Mordvins expansed their settlements, what has evidence in the place names of the Ukraine. As we can see, some facts can support the hypothesis that the Zrubna culture was established among Iranian-speaking population by some Greek tribes.
It was stated above that the Turkic languages have common word čana “sled”. The Turks were the first who domesticated the horse and used it for riding and as draft power for primitive carts with disc wheels and a lattice body. Heavy and bulky things they transported using sleds. The Iranians have improved wheeled cart, putting wheels on a fixed axis, which allowed the wheels to rotate independently at different speeds. The carts became more maneuverable, it was technological revolution at the time. Thanks to this invention it was possible, on the one hand, to overcome long distances by large groups of people, on the other hand, to create new and effective tactic of chariot combat due which the Iranians have great advantage over many Asian nations. We have connected the Iranian territory with the spread of the Zrubna culture, but we have reason to believe that the population of the Andronovo culture in Western Kazakhstan and Western Siberia, too, was Iranian-lingual, although originally the creators of the Andronov culture had to be Turks. A significant number of Iranian languages could not be formed only on the territory between the Dnieper and the Don (and even the Volga). Some of them formed (or separately developed on the basis of European dialects) in Asia. According Archaeology, the Zrubna and Andronovo cultures are combined by these common features:
• using of chariots;
• the cult of wheel and chariots;
• the cult of fire;
• type of housing – large half-earth-house (KUZ'MINA E.E. 1986: 188).
According J. Harmatta, the expansion of "Indo-Iranian" peoples from the steppes of Eastern Europe and Asia up to the Indian subcontinent and China took place in two waves. The first wave took place from the beginning of the 2nd mill BC and the second one – from the beginning of the 1st mill BC . It should be noted that the problem of the migration of the ancient Indians and Iranians confuse the notion of the Indo-Iranian (Aryan) language community. Some scientists believe that its separation occurred after one group of Aryans at the beginning of the 2nd mill BC from Central Asia through the Hindu Kush crossed into India, while some of them stayed on the old settlements, and hence in the 1st mill BC began its expansion in all four directions – in Afghanistan and Iran, to the Urals, Altai, and the Black Sea Steppe.
The close proximity of the Indic and Iranian languages can not raise doubts, however, certain dissociation of the Indo-Iranian languages from the rest of Indo-European would not look so expressive, if we were sufficiently known about of the Phrygian and Thracian languages, which should be close to ancient Indic and ancient Iranian. So, it should be noted that the first wave, which was mentioned by Harmatta, were Indo-Aryans and later Tocharians. The Iranians formed the second wave. The ways of these waves can be specified by using both linguistic and archaeological data. Here is the notion of the linguist about the first and the second waves.
If we pass toward the South-East, we can find very interesting linguistic data for the spread and migration of Proto-Iranians and perhaps Proto-Indians to the steppes stretching north of the Caucasus, as well as for their contacts with the North-Western and the South-Eastern groups of Caucasian tribes. The earliest trace of these contacts may be represented by Udi eќ ‘horse’, which could only be borrowed from Indo-Iranian eќwa before the first palatalisation… If we pass over to Siberia, looking for the spread toward the North-East of Proto-Iranians and Proto-Indians, we have to state that no clear linguistic traces of their direct contact with the Samoyeds can be recognised. The reason for this phenomenon may be that a belt of tribes speaking Ket, Kott, Arin, Assan and other relative languages separated Indo-Iranians from them. Unfortunatly, apart from the Kets, the overwhelming majority of these tribes together with their languages completely disappeared (HARMATTA J., 1981: 79-80).
As we can see, rather scanty evidence. The archaeological data are more detailed and, in particular, can be identified with a particular wave. According to E. Kuzmina, the migration to the south of the Volga and Ural region took place at a late stage of the Zrubna culture. The main flow of Proto-Iranians came from the left bank of the Urals along the northern and eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, where the chain of stands stretches southward near the wells, and then along the southern edge of the Karakum sands and along the river Murghab. The second wave from West-Andronovo areas passed along the river Emba to Mangghyshlaq Peninsula, where Andronovo wave megred with the Zrubna wave. And finally, the third wave from the Urals and Western Kazakhstan moved into the northern Aral Sea region and further in the Kyzyl kum and to Khwarezm. (KUZ'MINA E.E. 1986.: 203-204).
During the settlement of Iranians in the steppes of the Ukraine, the Lower Volga region and Western Kazakhstan, the Germanic tribes had occupied the basin of the Pripyat from the Vistula to the Dnieper. This region coincides almost exactly with the territory of the spread of the east variant of the Trzciniec culture which was subsisted in central Europe existed during XVI – XI century BC. (ISAYENKO V.F. 1976: 11; Arkheologiya Ukrainskoy SSR. Tom 1., 1985: 445). Ukrainian experts believe that the Trzciniec culture like the Komariv culture, which had been spread in the upper Dniester and existed in the XV – XII centuries BC, was formed on the basis of local more ancient cultures of the Corded Ware. They form together an unified cultural and ethnic region. However, there is no reason to say about the ethnic unity of the creators of the Trzciniec and Komarsv cultures. As will be shown below, including information on place names, the Komariv culture should have been created by the Ancient Bulgars (see map right).
The archaeological Cultures in the basins of the Dnieper, Don and the Dniester in the XV – XII centuries. BC.
The East-Trzciniec culture spread to the left bank of the Dnieper in the Iranian region north of the lower Desna and in the Sozh basin, ie in the areas of Pre-Ossets and Pre-Sogdians, where it was transformed into a so-called Sosnitsa variant. The same phenomenon occurred in the south-eastern part of the spreading of the East-Trzciniec, where it moves up to the river Ros' and then extends in a narrow strip along the Dnieper.