Afanesco and Andronovo cultures

Mamontovaya Kurya

In the far north, near the Arctic Circle, evidence of evidence of human habitation has been discovered recently at Mamontovaya Kurva and dated as early as 30,000BC, when the climate was more temperate. The site lies on a river that rises in the Ural Mountains.


Ural Mountains

The Urals stand between Europe from Asia. Towards their southern end, near the area marked by the white arrow,

Kapova Cave with painting of horse

a cave was found with paintings of horses and other animals.

The Kapova cave (Shulgan-Tash Cave) was mentioned in the mid-18th century, but not examined closely until the late 1950s, when more than fifty paintings of animals were found on its walls. Stone and bone implements and beads were also found, giving a date around 14,000 BC.

Afanasevo culture 3500-2500

This region, north and east of the Caspian and Aral Seas, is where an Afanasevo culture has been identified, from around 3500 to 2500, and an Andronovo, from 2300 to 1000.

The eastern Afanasevo has been linked by some to people speaking the Tocharian language, a predecessor of Indo-European, first known from accounts in 1st century BC Greek historians who associated it with people known to them as Scythians.

In the more northern and western Andronovo, the name site (55°53′N 55°42′E / 55.883°N 55.7°E / 55.883; 55.7), discovered in 1914, and Sintashta to the south, discovered more recently, have revealed the earliest known horse burials and spoke-wheels.

On this map the Andronovo-Sintashta-Petrovka culture is shown in darker red, the sites of earliest spoke-wheeled burials in purple.

Sintashta horse burial

In the five cemeteries excavated at Sintashta, dating from around 2000, sacrificed horses were found, quantities of metal weapons and implements that reveal exploitation of nearby copper mines and the development of bronze metal working. Sites with similar finds have been discovered at Arkaim and Ust'e.

Chariot diffusion

The spoke wheel technology spread from Sintashta (red), to the Andronovo culture (orange), then to central Asia (yellow), Mesopotamia, China (darker green), and Celtic Europe (blue). The chariot, development of metallurgy, and burials in mounds (kurgans) are distinguishing features of diverse Eurasian peoples classified by archaeologists into different 'cultures'.