Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form


Sharapov, Denis V. (2017) BRONZE AGE SETTLEMENT PATTERNS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMPLEX SOCIETIES IN THE SOUTHERN URAL STEPPES (3500-1400 BC). Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (8MB) | Preview


The ethnohistorical record of the Eurasian steppes points to the long-term predominance of extensive herding economies, associated with low population densities and high levels of geographic mobility. Consequently, investigations of early forms of complex socio-political organization in this region have thus far been primarily focused on Bronze Age (ca. 3500 - 1000 BC) funerary and ceremonial monuments, which presumably served as aggregation points for dispersed populations. When it comes to settlement pattern evidence, researchers claim that traditional models of regional-scale demographic organization, developed in the context of settled societies, cannot be applied to the early complex communities of the steppes. In order to learn more about the underlying social forces that were behind the independent emergence of larger more complex social formations in different world regions, this research focuses on the Sintashta (2050 - 1700 BC) development of southern Russia, which commanded particular attention of archaeologists due to the identification of more than twenty nucleated fortified settlements. Chiefly communities associated with these settlements have been considered odd in comparison to other early complex societies due to their small demographic size, lack of supra-local organization, a fairly short chronological span, and an apparent lack of local antecedents. Regional-scale investigation of the demographic and spatial parameters of Bronze Age communities, conducted in the context of this dissertation, indicates that the fortified settlements were centers of larger districts and therefore represented regional organization that was typical of other chiefdoms. Moreover, supra-local settlement organization and demographic centralization prevailed in the study area for another 300 years after the presumed Sintashta ‘collapse’. Such continuity in material correlates of social complexity took place in the context of substantial demographic growth. These results counter some of the previously held notions about the unusualness of the Sintashta trajectory. The novelty of this research stems from the employment of a survey methodology that relied on systematic sub-surface testing, which has never been utilized in the region before. Perhaps more interestingly, by reaffirming the unusually small demographic scale of Sintashta societies, the results of this dissertation support the notion that small scale societies are capable of complex socio-political organization.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Sharapov, Denis V.des114@pitt.edudes1140000-0003-4749-7336
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDrennan, Robert D.drennan@pitt.edudrennan
Committee MemberBermann, Marc P.bermarc@pitt.edubermarc
Committee MemberBarton, Loukas W.loukas@pitt.eduloukas
Committee MemberAllard,
Date: 28 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 April 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 9 June 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 200
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Eurasian steppe, mobile pastoralism, kurgan, Russian prehistory, complex societies, Bronze Age
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 00:37
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2017 00:37


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item