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Scythian-Iranian theory Ossetian Genetics Scythian language Etruscan Genetics  
Kurgan Culture Contents
Why Pazyryk? A look at Kurgans
1. Pazyryk mtDNA Genetics - M.I.Voevoda
2. Pazyryk mtDNA Genetics - I.V.Kulikov
Pazyryk Craniology - Tur S.S.
Pazyryk Timing - L.S. Marsadolov
14C Euroasian Timing 3,000 BC-50 AD - A.Yu.Alekseev et. al.
Modern Türks of Pazyryk Descend - Tur S.S.
L.S. Marsadolov, G.I.Zaitseva, L.M.Lebedeva
CORRELATION OF DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL AND RADIOCARBON MEASUREMENTS
FOR GREAT KURGANS OF SAYAN-ALTAI
RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
INSTITUTE OF THE HISTORY OF MATERIAL CULTURE THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM
PROJECT "SCYTHICA-SlBERICA"
Elite kurgans of Eurasian steppe region in Scythian and Sarmatian epoch
St.-PETERSBURG 1994

Foreword

 
L.S. Marsadolov, G.I.Zaitseva, L.M.Lebedeva

Correlation Of Dendrochronological And Radiocarbon Measurements For Great Kurgans Of Sayan-Altai


141

The history of study and dating of Sayan-Altai archeological monuments is more than 250 years old. In that time was made a way from excavation of kurgans, initial classification of objects, establishing archeological cultures to application of monument dating methods independent of archeology.

The large kurgans of Altai for the first time with the scientific purpose were excavated by V.V.Radlov in Katanda and Bereli in 1865. While studying the Shiba (1927) and 1-st Pazyryk (1929) kurgans, archeologists M.P.Gryaznov and S.I.Rudenko took samples of wood trunks with traces of human activity. S.I.Rudenko completed excavation of four large kurgans in Pazyryk in 1947-1949. In 1950 he investigated two kurgans in Badashar, and in 1954 - two kurgans near village Tuekta. In 1971 - 1974 M.P.Gryaznov and U.H.Mannai-ool excavated in Tuva "royal" kurgan Arjan. Dosens researchers stated their opinions about dating of the Sayan-Altai large kurgans. For example, different archeologists dated kurgan Arjan from 11th up to 6th cc. BC, mostly 8th - 7th centuries cc. BC.

From the beginning of 1950es for absolute and relative chronology of the large kurgans started to be used natural sciences methods: Hyppology (V.O.Vitt 1952), dendrochronology (I.M.Zamotorin 1959, 1963; E.I.Zaharieva 1974, 1976; L.S.Marsadolov 1981 - 1994), radiocarbon dating (S.V.Butomo 1963; G.I.Zaitseva, J.N.Markov, L.S.Marsadolov 1987), etc. Attempts to correlate Sayan-Altai radiocarbon and dendrochronological results were undertaken earlier by S.I.Rudenko, E.I.Zaharieva, Ya.A.Sher and L.S.Marsadolov.
141

After first post-WWII war S.I.Rudenko's publications about Pazyryk and S.V.Kiselev's monography "Ancient history of Southern Siberia", unwrapped a live discussion about Pazyryk kurgans dating. Moscow archeologists L.A.Evtühova, L.R.Kyzlasov, K.F.Smirnov, and also K.Iettmar supported S.V.Kiselev opinion about "Hunno-Sarmatian time" of the large kurgans in Pazyryk. B.A.Raev repeatedly compared separate art objects from Pazyryk and kurgan Khokhlach he dated by the end of the 1 c. BC, suggesting to "reconsider dating of Pazyryk kurgans toward younger dates".

After detailed comparative analysis of the Sauromat and Pazyryk materials, K.F.Smirnov came to a conviction that first researchers of Pazyryk, S.I.Rudenko and M.P.Gryaznov are closer to the trueth. The Pazyryk kurgans belong not to the Hunno-Sarmatian, but to Sauromat time, i.e 5th - 4th centuries BC.

A dating of the Pazyryk kurgans by the "Scythian time " in 1950-1990es asserted Leningrad (St.Petersburg) archeologists M.I. Artamonov, A.Ü. Alekseev, L.L.Barkova, N.A.Bokrovenko, L.K.Galanina, A.D.Grach, M.P.Gryaznov, L.N.Gumilev, M.L.Zavituhina, L.S.Marsadolov, V.M.Masson, S.I.Rudenko, G.I.Smirnova, S.S.Chernikov, J.A.Sher and others.

A summary of foreign research of the Pazyryk kurgans' dating was made in the USA in 1991. A main attention was given to the import objects in Pazyryk, and to the materials from new excavation in China. Woolen fabrics and a carpet from Pazyryk - 5 were dated by post-Achaemenid time; objects from the 1-st and 2-nd kurgans, made under influence of the Greek imports was dated by the 4th - beginning of the 3rd centuries BC, silk fabrics and art embroidery on silk from the 3rd and 5th kurgans was dated by the end of the 4th - 3rd centuries BC, images of fantastic animals on a tattoo of the man from the 2-nd kurgan was dated by the end of the 4th - 3rd centuries BC, etc. K.V.Chugunov in 1993 summarized the substantive provisions of that 1991 publication, and also dated large Pazyryk kurgans by the end of the 4th beginning of the 3rd centuries BC, and dated kurgan Arjan by the middle of the 7th century BC.
142

The disagreements in the absolute dates and relative construction sequences of the unique kurgans of a world class forced the authors to return again to the problem, because the chronological component is one of the key points in the historical-archeological reconstruction. The dating plays a special role for the model archeological monuments which are a base for chronological reconstructions. The large kurgans of the Sayan-Altai region belong to such types of monuments.

Sayan-Altai region kurgans contain perfect materials for the study: stumps, logs and rafters, well preserved in the frozen ground due to thick stone pile. Chemical analysis of samples of larch from kurgans Arjan and Pazyryk has shown that despite more than 2,000 years age, the wood contains 70-80 % of the initial quantity of cellulose, and practically not deconstructed lignin. The wood has clearly seen annual rings. These wood samples can be a valuable source for authentic radiocarbon and dendrochronological research. Dendrochronological  studies for various kurgans of Sayan-Altai were carried out earlier, and was composed a continuous scale for more than 600 years. However, the scale was "floating", without a "zero" point. To determine a position of "zero" in a calendar time scale by only by dendrochronology method is obviously impossible because of the lack of developed dendrochronological scales of continuous extent for the Russian territory, and lack of corresponding data to the foreign dendrochronological scales. Nevertheless, it is possible to apply a radiocarbon dating method for samples of the "floating" scale. Creation of calibrating curves for conversion of of radiocarbon age to calendar  allows to correct and verify the earlier conclusions and assumptions.
143

The results of the radiocarbon dating of samples from Sayan-Altai kurgans are shown in Table 1. The range of radiocarbon age is 2,300-2,800 radiocarbon years. Conversion of the radiocarbon dates to calendar time is with calibrating curves, because the correlation between radiocarbon dates and calendar time is equivocal. The ambiguity is caused by past fluctuations of radiocarbon concentration in the atmosphere, caused by solar activity and other phenomena of cosmic character, variability in the Earth magnetic field and other factors. The calibrating curve has radiocarbon concentration fluctuation cycles, global, about several thousand years, and local, 100, 200 years and less.
144

Scientific practice uses the global Stuiver curve (1986). The section of the Stuiver curve corresponding to the range applicable to our results, and applicable deviation is shown on Fig. 1. The correlation between radiocarbon age and calendar time in the study range is equivocal. The period of 2,360 - 2,460 a large calendar duration corresponds to the 100 radiocarbon years, whereas for the period of 2,700-2,800 calendar interval of about 130 calendar years corresponds to the 100 radiocarbon years, i.e. in the latter case exist direct ratio of radiocarbon and calendar age. Comparing radiocarbon dating of the wood sections with  the Stuiver curve allows associate the floating dendrochronological age with radiocarbon and calendar age
145

[Follows a detailed comparison of samples and  curve sections]

The congruity of the curve, with its irregularities, for the Northern and Southern hemispheres was proved convincingly, allowing us to determine the dependence of the radiocarbon age for dendrological samples in a "floating" scale, and to find a similar form of dependence on the calibrating curve. The dendritic scale for the Sayan-Altai kurgans is shown on Fig. 2b. On Fig. 2 radiocarbon are shown the corresponding resulting dates.A section of the calibrating curve is shown on Fig. 3. A section of the calibrating curve matching the interval of radiocarbon age is shown on Fig. 4. On Fig. 5 is shown a standard deviation of the calendar age, marked by dashed lines. In this example are calendar age intervals of 516-436 and 424-396 years BC for 68,3 % probability (1b) and 758-686 and 540-386 years BC for 95,4 % of probability {2b). 
146.
147

In most cases the dendritic age is within the limits of the calibrated calendar age. Comparing value of the dendritic age with the calibrated calendar interval makes it possible to reduce the calibrated calendar interval  to 20 - 40 years, and to find the age of the kurgans with missing dendritic studies.

The correlation 9of the dendritic  and radiocarbon scales allows to determine the absolute date intervals for the Sayan-Altai large kurgan structures (within the limits of the modern development level of radiocarbon dating, Tab. 2).

Table 2. Dating of Sayan-Altai large kurgans

Kurgan Floting Dendritic scale Complex Dating per C14
(years BC)
Pazyryk-5 0 440-360
Pazyryk- 1 48 490-410
Pazyryk- 2 49-50 490-410
  130  
Tuekta-1 180 620-540
  200  
Arjan 380+5 820-740
     
Bashadar-2 - close to Tuekta date
Shibe + 380-260
Katanda - 500-200

Generally, is visible a tendency to increase the absolute age of the large Sayan-Altai kurgans of the 1st millennium BC. This proved the suggestions about possible increase of the age for all these monuments (Marsadolov 1988, p. 78); for the Arjan kurgan (Trenojkin 1976, p. 210; Gryaznov 1983, etc.); kurgan Shibe (Rudenko 1960; Barkova 1978 - 80; Marsadolov 1985), etc.

The "newer" dates for the construction of the Pazyryk kurgans, suggested by a number of archeologists and art critics, is not supported by the produced evidence.
148

Legends for illustrations:
Fig. 1 Section of Stuiver and Pearon calibrating curve.
Fig. 2 Correlation of radiocarbon dates (b) and dendritic dates (a) for Sayan-Altai kurgans. See symbols to Fig. 6.
Fig. 3 General character of the Stuiver calibrating curve for intervals received by radiocarbon measurements.
Fig. 4 Section of calibrating curve corresponding to radiocarbon age 2390 40 .
Fig. 5. Distribution of intervals for calibrated radiocarbon age 2390 40 for 1b and 2b respectively.
Fig. 6 Calibrated calendar intervals and dendritic dates for tested samples from  Sayan-Altai kurgans:

1 - calendar interval of calibrated radiocarbon age;
2 - the total number of annual rings in dendritic sample;
3 - interval of annual rings in radiocarbon dating;
4 - year of cutting a tree, construction of a kurgan.

 

 

 

Fig. 1 Section of Stuiver and Pearon calibrating curve
Fig. 2 Correlation of radiocarbon dates (b) and dendritic dates (a) for Sayan-Altai kurgans.
See symbols for Fig. 6

149
Fig. 3. General character of the Stuiver calibrating curve for intervals received by radiocarbon measurements.
Fig. 4 Section of calibrating curve corresponding to radiocarbon age 2390 40

150
Fig. 5. Distribution of intervals for calibrated radiocarbon age 2390 40 for 1b and 2b respectively.
Fig. 6 Calibrated calendar intervals and dendritic dates for tested samples from  Sayan-Altai kurgans:

151

Table 1. Radiocarbon chronology of dendrological samples from Sayan-Altai kurgans

Sample No Lab Index Dendrological sample No No of rings No of rings in analysis
(from center)
C14 age
(years BP)
Calibrated dendrological periods
years BC (cal BC)
            1b
(68.3% confidence)
2b
(95,4% confidence)
1 2 3   5 6 7 8
PAZYRYK-1
U-1 Le-1694 D-2 86 1-20 244040 754-698 762-628
            530-410 598-572
              562-402
U-2 Le-1695 D-2 86 21-40 ' 239040 516-436 758-688
            424-396 540-386
U-3 Le-2456 D-2 86 41-55 234040' 468-462 744-742
            412-366 522-356
            272-266 290-246
              228-210
 
PAZYRYK-2
U-4 RUL-120 unknown 2350140 760-680 800-100
            660-640  
            550-350  
            320-200  
U-5 Le-1692 D-9 108 1-30  ' 247040 762-672 764-616
            668-640 606-412
            596-576  
            558-508  
            442-418  
U-6 Le-1693 D-9 108 31-50 245040 756-688 762-626
            538-412 600-406
U-7 Le-2446 D-6 70 15-30 243040 752-730 762-672
            716-704 666-628
            530-406 596-576
              558-398
U-8 Le-2453 D-6 70 41-60 238040 512-440 754-692
            420-92 534-382
 
PAZYRYK-5
U-9 RUL-151 unknown 2360 50 516-436 760-680
            424-376 654-640
              548-356
              290-248
              228-210
U-11 Le-1697 D-16 108 1-20 238040 512-440 754-682
            420-392 534-382
U-12 Le-2457 D-16 108 21-30 241040 746-742 760-676
            524-400 660-634
              552-392
U-13 Le-2448 D-15 186 .61-186 236040 488-444 752-728
            418-380 720-702
              530-366
              274-266
U-14 Le-2455 D-17 102 81-102 229040 398-358 402-348
            286-252 318-204
            222-214  
U-15 Le-1700 D-19 120 1-40 241040 746-742 760-676
            524-400 660-634
              552-392
 
KURGAN SHIBE
U-16 RUL-293 unknown 2420100 760-670 800-360
            560-630 290-250
            590-580 230-2.1ft
            560-400  
U-17 Le-2451 D-34 76 5-25 223040 366-348 382-194
            318-276  
            264-202  
U-18 Le-2454 D-34 76 26-45 219040 358-288 372-154
            252-222 144-116
            212-184  
 
KURGAN KATANDA
U-19 RUL-130 unknown 2420130 760-630 810-340
            600-390 330-200
 
KURGAN TUEKTA-1
U-20 RUL-132 unknown 2450120 760-630 820-350
            600-570 300-240
            560-410 230-210
U-21 RUL-129 unknown 2450120 760-630 820-350
            600-570 300-240
            560-410 230-210
U-22 Le-2447 D-2 4 113 31-50 245040 756~688 762-626
            538-412 600-406
U-23 Le-2445 D-27 119 10-30 263040 820-790 896-878
              848-766
U-24 Le-2450 D-27 119 31-60 249040 764-752 778-478
            730-710 452-414
            708-618  
            606-528  
 
KURGAN BASHADAR-2
U-25 RUL-134 unknown 250050 770-752 792-478
            730-714 452-414
            706-530  
  RUL-467 unknown 2430110 760-630 810~350
            590-580 290-240
            560-400 230-210
 
KURGAN ARDJAN
U-26 Le-2310 center of log 280050 1000-900 1111-1110
            872-854 1052-822
U-27 Le-2311 middle of log 277050 980-966 l006-814
            932-836  
U-28 Le-2312 perepehery of log 275050 920-828 992-952
              946-810
U-29 Le-1698 D-36 126 1-25 277040 974-972 992-826
            930-840  
U-30 Le-2452 D-36 126 48-60 279040 990-954 1008-834
            942-898  
            874-852  
U-31 Le-2444 D-38 80 15-35 279040 990-954 1008-8:34
            942-898  
            874-852  
U-32 Le-2449 D-38 80 36-60 274040 904-834 982-966
              934-810
 

Foreword

Home
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