Paleosols of the unique fortress of Arkaim located in the steppe zone of the southern Transural region (Chelyabinsk oblast) were investigated. The dating of the buried soils was performed using the radiocarbon method. The time of building this archeological monument is the Middle Bronze Age (the Sintashta culture; the calibrated dating with 1σ confidence is 3700–4000 years ago). Seven pits of paleosols and ten pits of background ordinary chernozems were studied. The soils are loamy and sandy-loamy. The morphological and chemical properties of the buried and background ordinary chernozems are similar; they differ by the lower content of readily soluble salts in the paleosols as compared to the background ones. The sporepollen spectrum of the Arkaim paleosol is transitional from the steppe to the forest-steppe type. During the existence of this settlement, pine forests with fern ground cover grew, and hygrophytic species (alder and spruce) that nowadays are not recorded in the plant cover occurred. The main feature of the paleosols is the presence of pollen of xerophytic and halophytic herbaceous plants there. The few pollen grains of broad-leaved species testify to a higher heat supply as compared to the current one. Judging by the results of the spore-pollen and microbiomorphic analyses, the climate during the time of building the walls of the settlement was somewhat moister and warmer (or less continental) than the present-day climate. The duration of this period appeared to be short; therefore, soil properties corresponding to the changed environment could not be formed. They reflect the situation of the preceding period with the climatic characteristics close to the present-day ones.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
A. L. Aleksandrovskii, “Evolution of the soil cover of the Russian Plain in the Holocene,” Pochvovedenie, No. 3, 290–297 (1995).
E. V. Arinushkina, Handbook on the Chemical Analysis of Soils (Izd. Mosk. Gos. Univ., Moscow, 1970) [in Russian].
N. S. Bolikhovskaya, “Evolution of climate and landscapes in the Lower Volga region in the Holocene,” Vestn. Mosk. Univ., Ser. 5: Geogr. No. 2, 13–27 (2011).
L. A. Vorob’eva, Chemical Analysis of Soils (Izd. Mosk. Gos. Univ., Moscow, 1998) [in Russian].
L. L. Gaiduchenko, “Biological remains from fortified settlements in the south Trans-Ural region,” in Arkaim-Sintashta: Ancient Heritage of the Southern Urals (Izd. Chelyab. Gos. Univ., Chelyabinsk, 2010), part 1, pp. 96–109 [in Russian].
N. P. Gerasimenko, Extended Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation in Geography (Kiev, 2004).
A. A. Gol’eva, V. P. Chichagov, and O. A. Chichagova, “Dynamics of the environment in the northwestern Kalmykia in the second half of the Holocene,” Izv. Akad. Nauk, Ser. Geogr. No. 2, 103–110 (2006).
A. A. Gol’eva and O. S. Khokhlova, “Reconstruction of stages of the construction of the Bol’shoi Sintashtinskii Kurgan (Chelyabinsk oblast) on the basis of paleogeographic data,” Izv. Akad. Nauk, Ser. Geogr. No. 6, 67–76 (2010).
V. A. Demkin, T. S. Demkina, A. V. Borisov, A. S. Yakimov, I. V. Sergatskov, “Transformation of soils and environmental conditions in the semidesert Low Volga region within the past 4000 years,” Eur. Soil Sci. 37(3), 230–241 (2004).
L. G. Dinesman, “The Holocene history of biogeocenoses of the Russian Plain in the Late Anthropogenic period,” in History of Bioogeocenoses of the USSR in the Holocene (Nauka, Moscow, 1976), pp. 122–132 [in Russian].
M. I. Dergacheva and D. I. Vasil’eva, “Paleosols, cultural horizons, and environmental conditions of the Bronze epoch in the steppe zone of Samara Trans-Volga region,” Vopr. Arkheol. Povolzh’ya, No. 4, 464–476 (2006).
A. M. Ermolaev, “Dynamics of human-modified herbaceous ecosystems of the Arkaim,” in Natural Systems of the Southern Urals (Chelyabinsk, 1999), pp. 164–183 [in Russian].
G. B. Zdanovich and I. V. Batanina, Arkaim: The Country of Cities. Space and Images (Krokus, Yuzh.-Ural. kn. izd-vo, Chelyabinsk, 2007) [in Russian].
I. V. Ivanov, I.V., Evolution of Soils of the Steppe Zone in the Holocene (Nauka, Moscow, 1992) [in Russian].
I. V. Ivanov and D. V. Manakhov, “The soil cover structure of chernozemic steppes in the Transural Plateau (the Arkaim Reserve),” Eur. Soil Sci. 32(8), 864–874 (1999).
I. V. Ivanov and S. S. Chernyanskii, “General regularities in the development of chernozems in Eurasia and evolution of chernozems in the Trans-Uralian region,” Eur. Soil Sci. 29(9), 973–983 (1996).
N. K. Kiseleva, The History of Biogeocenoses of the Soviet Union in the Holocene, (Nauka, Moscow, 1976), pp. 244–260 [in Russian].
Climate of Chelyabinks Oblast (Chelyabinsk Gidromettsentr) http://chelpogoda.ru/pages/490.php
K. V. Kremenetskii, “Natural environment in the Lower Don region and Kalmykia in the Holocence.” Tr. Gos. Istorich. Muz. No. 97, 30–45 (1997).
P. F. Kuznetsov, Forty Years to the Srednevolzskaya Archaeological Expedition, Ed. by L.V. Kuznetsov (Ofort, Samara, 2010) [in Russian].
Yu. A. Lavrushin and E. A. Spiridonova, “Major geological and paleoenvironmental events of the end of the Late Pleistocene and Holocene on the eastern slope of the Southern Urals,” in Natural Systems of the Southern Urals, Ed. by L.L. Gaiduchenko (Chelyab. Gos. Univ., Chelyabinsk, 1999) [in Russian].
Yu. A. Lavrushin and E. A. Spiridonova, “The results of paleogeomorphological studies of the Neolith and Bronze settlements in the Samara River basin,” in Neolith and Eneolith in the Southern Steppe of the Volga-Ural Interfluve, Ed. by N.L. Morgunova (Orenburg, 1995), pp. 177–200 [in Russian].
L. N. Plekhanova and V. A. Demkin, “Ancient soil disturbances in river valleys within the steppe zone of the southeastern Urals,” Eur. Soil Sci. 38(9), 973–982 (2005).
O. S. Khokhlova, A. M. Kuznetsova, A. A. Khokhlov, N. L. Morgunova, O. A. Chichagova, “Paleosols buried under kurgans of the pit-grave culture in the steppe zone of the Cis-Ural region,” Eur. Soil Sci. 41(5), 481–490 (2008).
O. A. Chichagova, Radiocarbon Dating of Soil Humus (Nauka, Moscow, 1985) [in Russian].
A. L. Alexandrovskiy, O. A. Chichagova, and N. I. Shishlina, “14C studies of burial mounds in the steppe zone: chronology and paleoenvironment,” in roc. 11th Intern. Workshop on Isotope-Geochemical Research in Baltic Region (Lohusalu, Estonia, 1996).
S. Bottema, “The interpretation of pollen spectra from prehistoric settlements (with special attention to Liguliflorae),” Paleohistoria 17, 18–35 (1975).
N. Gerasimenko, “Evironmental and climatic changes between 3 and 5 BP in southeastern Uraine, in Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse (Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, 1997).
B. Hanks, A. V. Epimakhov, and A. C. Renfrew, “Towards a refined chronology of the Bronze Age of the southern Urals,” Antiquity 81, 353–367 (2007).
V. Prikhodko, I. Ivanov, O. Khokhlova, and D. Manakhov, “Reconstruction of the ecological condition of Bronze age civilization to the border of Europe and Asia, Russia,” Proc. 19th World Congr. Soil Sci., Brisbane, Australia, 2010. Symp. 1.3.2.
N. I. Shishlina and F. T. Hiebert, “The steppe and the sown: interaction between Bronze age Eurasian nomads and agriculturalists,” in The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern Central Asia (Washington, DC, 1998), Vol. 1, 222–237.
G. B. Zdanovich and D. G. Zdanovich, “Arka¿m-Sintashta: experience de la mise en valeur des steppes a e’age du Bronze,” L’Anthropologie 114(4), 493–514 (2010).
Original Russian Text © V.E. Prikhod’ko, I.V. Ivanov, D.V. Manakhov, N.P. Gerasimenko, K. Inubushi, M. Kawahigashi, Kh. Nagano, S. Sugihara, 2013, published in Pochvovedenie, 2013, No. 9, pp. 1027–1036.
About this article
Cite this article
Prikhod’ko, V.E., Ivanov, I.V., Manakhov, D.V. et al. Soils, vegetation, and climate of the southern Transural region in the Middle Bronze Age (by the example of the Arkaim fortress). Eurasian Soil Sc. 46, 925–934 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1134/S1064229313090032