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Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after
EIEC). The Andronovo,
BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated
with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC (Swat), Cemetery H,
and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with
Andronovo culture is a collection of similar local
cultures that flourished c. 2000–900 BC in western
Siberia and the
central Eurasian Steppe. It is probably better termed an
archaeological complex or archaeological horizon.
Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BC), formerly included within
the Andronovo culture, is now considered separately, but regarded as
its predecessor, and accepted as part of the wider Andronovo horizon.
Most researchers associate the Andronovo horizon with early
Indo-Iranian languages, though it may have overlapped the early
Uralic-speaking area at its northern fringe.
According to genetic study conducted by Allentoft et al. (2015), the
Andronovo culture and the preceding
Sintashta culture are partially
derived from the
Corded Ware culture, given the higher proportion of
ancestry matching the earlier farmers of Europe, similar to the
admixture found in the genomes of the
Corded Ware population.
3 Geographic extent
5 Ethnolinguistic affiliation
6 Genetics and physical anthropology
7 See also
9 External links
The name derives from the village of Andronovo, Krasnoyarsk Krai
(55°53′N 55°42′E / 55.883°N 55.700°E / 55.883;
55.700), where the Russian archaeologist Arkadi Tugarinov discovered
its first remains in 1914. Several graves were discovered, with
skeletons in crouched positions, buried with richly decorated pottery.
Andronovo culture was first identified by the Russian
Sergei Teploukhov in the 1920s.
At least four sub-cultures of the Andronovo horizon have been
distinguished, during which the culture expands towards the south and
Arkaim (Southern Urals, northern Kazakhstan,
Sintashta fortification of c. 1800 BC in Chelyabinsk Oblast
Petrovka settlement fortified settlement in Kazakhstan
Arkaim settlement dated to the 17th century BC
Alakul (2100–1400 BC) between
Oxus and Jaxartes, Kyzylkum desert
Alekseyevka (1300–1100 BC "final Bronze") in eastern Kazakhstan,
Namazga VI in Turkmenia
Ingala Valley in the south of the Tyumen Oblast
Fedorovo (1500–1300 BC) in southern
Siberia (earliest evidence of
cremation and fire cult)
Beshkent-Vakhsh (1000–800 BC)
The geographical extent of the culture is vast and difficult to
delineate exactly. On its western fringes, it overlaps with the
approximately contemporaneous, but distinct,
Srubna culture in the
Volga-Ural interfluvial. To the east, it reaches into the Minusinsk
depression, with some sites as far west as the southern Ural
Mountains, overlapping with the area of the earlier Afanasevo
culture. Additional sites are scattered as far south as the Koppet
Dag (Turkmenistan), the Pamir (Tajikistan) and the Tian Shan
(Kyrgyzstan). The northern boundary vaguely corresponds to the
beginning of the Taiga. In the
Volga basin, interaction with the
Srubna culture was the most intense and prolonged, and Federovo style
pottery is found as far west as Volgograd. Mallory notes that the
Tazabagyab culture south of Andronovo could be an offshoot of the
former (or Srubna), alternatively the result of an amalgamation of
steppe cultures and the Central Asian oasis cultures (Bishkent culture
and Vaksh culture).
In the initial Sintastha-Petrovka phase, the
Andronovo culture is
limited to the northern and western steppes in the southern
Urals-Kazakhstan. Towards the middle of the 2nd millennium in the
Alakul Phase (2100–1400 BC), the Fedorovo Phase (1400–1200 BC) and
the final Alekseyevka Phase (1400–1000 BC), the Andronovo cultures
begin to move intensively eastwards, expanding as far east as the
Upper Yenisei in the Altai Mountains, succeeding the non-Indo-European
Siberia and Kazakhstan, the
Andronovo culture was
succeeded by the
Karasuk culture (1500–800 BC). On its western
border, it is succeeded by the Srubna culture, which partly derives
from the Abashevo culture. The earliest historical peoples associated
with the area are the
Cimmerians and Saka/Scythians, appearing in
Assyrian records after the decline of the Alekseyevka culture,
Ukraine from ca. the 9th century BC (see also Ukrainian
stone stela), and across the
Assyria in the
late 8th century BC, and possibly also west into Europe as the
Thracians (see Thraco-Cimmerian), and the Sigynnae, located by
Herodotus beyond the Danube, north of the Thracians, and by Strabo
near the Caspian Sea. Both
Strabo identify them as
Andronovo culture consisted of both communities that were largely
mobile as well as those settled in small villages. Settlements are
especially pronounced in its Central Asian parts. Fortifications
include ditches, earthen banks as well as timber palisades, of which
an estimated twenty have been discovered. Andronovo villages typically
contain around two to twenty houses, but settlements containing as
much as a hundred houses have been discovered. Andronovo houses were
generally constructed from pine, cedar, or birch, and were usually
aligned overlooking the banks of rivers. Larger homes range in the
size from 80 to 300 sqm, and probably belonged to extended families, a
typical feature among early Indo-Iranians.
Andronovo livestock included cattle, horses, sheep, goats and
camels. The domestic pig is notably absent, which is typical of a
mobile economy. The percentage of cattle among Andronovo remains are
significantly higher than among their western Srubna neighbours.
The horse was represented on Andronovo sites and was used for both
riding and traction. Agriculture also played an important role in
the Andronovo economy. The
Andronovo culture is notable for
regional advances in metallurgy. They mined deposits of copper ore
Altai Mountains from around the 14th century BC. Bronze
objects were numerous, and workshops existed for working copper.
The Andronovo dead were buried in timber or stone chambers under both
round and rectangular kurgans (tumuli). Burials were accompanied by
livestock, wheeled vehicles, cheek-pieces for horses, and weapons,
ceramics and ornaments. Among the most notable remains are the burials
of chariots, dating from around 2000 BC and possibly earlier. The
chariots are found with paired horse-teams, and the ritual burial of
the horse in a "head and hooves" cult has also been found. Some
Andronovo dead were buried in pairs, of adults or adult and child.
At Kytmanovo in Russia between Mongolia and Kazakhstan, dated
1746–1626 BC, a strain of
Yersinia pestis was extracted from a dead
woman's tooth in a grave common to her and to two children. This
strain's genes express flagellin, which triggers the human immune
response. However, by contrast with other prehistoric Yersinia pestis
bacteria, the strain does so weakly; later, historic plague does not
express flagellin at all, accounting for its virulence. The Kytmanovo
strain was therefore under selection toward becoming a plague
(although it was not the plague). The three people in that grave
all died at the same time, and the researcher believes that this
para-plague is what killed them.
A large group of scholars associate the
Andronovo culture with the
Indo-Iranians; it is often credited[by whom?] with the invention of
the spoke-wheeled chariot around 2000 BC. The association
Andronovo culture and the
Indo-Iranians is corroborated by
the distribution of Iranian place-names across the Andronovo horizon
and by the historical evidence of dominance by various Iranian
Sarmatians and Alans, throughout
the Andronovo horizon during the 1st millennium BC.
Sintashta on the upper Ural River, noted for its chariot burials
and kurgans containing horse burials, is considered the type site of
Sintashta culture, and it is conjectured that the language spoken
was still in the Proto-Indo-Iranian stage.
Comparisons between the archaeological evidence of the Andronovo and
textual evidence of
Vedas and Avesta) are frequently
made to support the Indo-Iranian identity of the Andronovo. The modern
explanations for the Indo-Iranianization of
Greater Iran and the
Indian subcontinent rely heavily on the supposition that the Andronovo
expanded southwards into
Central Asia or at least achieved linguistic
dominance across the
Bronze Age urban centres of the region, such as
Margiana Archaeological Complex. While the earliest
phases of the
Andronovo culture are regarded as co-ordinate with the
late period of Indo-Iranian linguistic unity, it is likely that in the
later period they constituted a branch of the Iranians.
The identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian has been challenged by
scholars who point to the absence of the characteristic timber graves
of the steppe south of the
Oxus River. Sarianidi (as cited in
Bryant 2001:207) states that "direct archaeological data from Bactria
Margiana show without any shade of doubt that Andronovo tribes
penetrated to a minimum extent into Bactria and Margianian oases".
Based on its use by Indo-Aryans in
Mitanni and Vedic India, its prior
absence in the Near East and Harappan India, and its 16th–17th
century BC attestation at the Andronovo site of Sintashta, Kuzmina
(1994) argues that the chariot corroborates the identification of
Andronovo as Indo-Iranian. Klejn (1974) and Brentjes (1981) find the
Andronovo culture much too late for an Indo-Iranian identification
since chariot-using Aryans appear in
Mitanni by the 15th to 16th
century BC. However, Anthony & Vinogradov (1995) dated a chariot
Krivoye Lake to around 2000 BC.
Eugene Helimski has suggested that the Andronovo people spoke a
separate branch of the Indo-Iranian group of languages. He claims that
borrowings in the
Finno-Ugric languages support this view.
Vladimir Napolskikh has proposed that borrowings in Finno-Ugric
indicate that the language was specifically of the Indo-Aryan
Since older forms of Indo-Iranian words have been taken over in Uralic
and Proto-Yeniseian, occupation by some other languages (also lost
ones) cannot be ruled out altogether, at least for part of the
Andronovo area: i.e., Uralic and Yeniseian.
Genetics and physical anthropology
The Andronovo have been described by archaeologists as exhibiting
pronounced Caucasoid features. A 2004 study also established that,
during the Bronze/
Iron Age period, the majority of the population of
Kazakhstan (part of the
Andronovo culture during
Bronze Age) was of
West Eurasian origin (with mtDNA haplogroups such as U, H, HV, T, I
and W), and that prior to the thirteenth to seventh century BC, all
Kazakh samples belonged to European lineages. Other studies
confirm that during
Bronze Age in areas to the north of present-day
China, the boundary between Caucasoid and Mongoloid populations was on
the eastern slopes of the Altai, in Western Mongolia. Some
Caucasoid influence extended also into Northeast Mongolia, and the
population of present-day
Kazakhstan was Caucasoid during the
Iron Age period. Archaeological investigations likewise
suggest that in the steppe region of
Central Asia and the Altai
Mountains, the first food production began towards the end of the 3rd
millennium BC and that the peoples who first entered this region were
Caucasoid of the
Afanasevo culture who came from the
Aral Sea area
In 2009, a genetic study of ancient Siberian cultures, the Andronovo
culture, the Karasuk culture, the
Tagar culture and the Tashtyk
culture, was published in Human Genetics. Ten individuals of the
Andronovo horizon in southern
Siberia from 1400 BC to 1000 BC were
surveyed. Extractions of mtDNA from nine individuals were determined
to represent two samples of haplogroup U4, one sample of Z1, one
sample T1, one sample of U2e, one sample of T4, one sample of H, one
sample of K2b and one sample of U5a1. Extractions of Y-DNA from one
individual was determined to belong to Y-DNA haplogroup C (but not
C3), while the other two extractions were determined to belong to
haplogroup R1a1a, which is thought to mark the eastward migration of
the early Indo-Europeans. Of the individuals surveyed, only two (or
22%) were determined to be Mongoloid, while seven (or 78%) were
determined to be Caucasoid, with the majority being light-eyed and
In June 2015, another genetic study surveyed one additional male
and three female individuals of Andronovo culture. Extraction of Y-DNA
from this individual was determined to belong to R1a1a1b2a2 (Z93-
clade: Z2121). Extractions of mtDNA were determined to represent
two samples of U4 and two samples of U2e.
Gandhara grave culture
Prehistory of Siberia
^ allentoft 2015.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Mallory 1997, pp. 20–21
^ Beckwith 2009, p. 49: "Archaeologists are now generally agreed
Andronovo culture of the Central Steppe region in the second
millennium bc is to be equated with the Indo-Iranians."
^ Allentoft, Morten; Sikora, Martin. "Population genomics of Bronze
Age Eurasia". Nature. 522: 167–172. doi:10.1038/nature14507.
^ Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, Article "Andronovo".
^ Diakonoff 1995:473
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delight an archaeologist seeking their remains in Iran or India."
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Bronze Age Britain
Bronze Age Europe
Ewart Park Phase
Indus Valley Civilisation
Mumun pottery period
South-Western Iberian Bronze
↓ Iron Age
Homo erectus georgicus
Paleolithic sites in China
Neolithic South Asia
Neolithic A (Mesopotamia)
Neolithic B (Mesopotamia)
Margiana Archaeological Complex
Bronze Age Anatolia
Bronze Age Caucasus
Bronze Age China
Bronze Age India
Bronze Age Korea
Bronze Age Levant
Bronze Age sites in China
List of archaeological periods