Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 833–842 | Cite as

Plant food subsistence in the human diet of the Bronze Age Caspian and Low Don steppe pastoralists: archaeobotanical, isotope and 14C data

  • N. I. ShishlinaEmail author
  • A. A. Bobrov
  • A. M. Simakova
  • A. A. Troshina
  • V. S. Sevastyanov
  • J. van der Plicht
Original Article


The paper presents the result of analysis of charred food on the interior part of the vessels from the graves of the East Manych and West Manych Catacomb archaeological cultures (2500–2350 cal bc). The phytolith and pollen analyses identified pollen of wild steppe plants and phytoliths of domesticated gramineous plants determined as barley phytoliths. Direct 14С dating of one of the samples demonstrates that barley spikelets and stems were used in funeral rites by local steppe communities. However, there are no data suggesting that steppe inhabitants of the Lower Don Region were engaged in agriculture in the mid-3000 bc. Supposedly, barley could have reached the steppes through seasonal migrations of mobile pastoralists to the south, use of North Caucasus grasslands in the economic system of seasonal moves and exchange with local people. Nevertheless, presence of carbonized barley seeds in the occupation layers at North Caucasus settlements of 4000–3000 bc requires confirmation by direct 14С dating of such samples.


Eurasian steppe Bronze Age Catacomb culture Crusts and pot residue Barley 



This work was supported by the Russian Scientific Fund, Grant no. 17-18-01399.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. I. Shishlina
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. A. Bobrov
    • 2
  • A. M. Simakova
    • 3
  • A. A. Troshina
    • 4
  • V. S. Sevastyanov
    • 5
  • J. van der Plicht
    • 6
  1. 1.State Historical MuseumMoscowRussia
  2. 2.State Moscow UniversityMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Institute of GeographyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  4. 4.Municipal Budget Organization “Kolomna Archaeology Centre”KolomnaRussia
  5. 5.Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical ChemistryRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  6. 6.Centre for Isotope ResearchGroningen UniversityGroningenThe Netherlands

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