G.Ye.Svistun (Kharkov, Ukraine)

Fortifications of Chuguiev hillfort

In the early Middle Ages fortifications of the Chuguiev hillfort the traditional designs characteristic of the building skills of the Saltov population combined with the construction methods developed during their residence in the Severskiy Donets valley were used. A synthesis of traditional methods and innovative approaches while fortifying the Chuguiev fortress was prompted by the nature of available building materials and the goals of their defence strategy which was to be anticipated during the expected enemy’s warfare. Defensive structures were made of stone and brick and looked like an unpaved rampart with stone blocks on its slopes and a brick parapet on top. Defence of the Chuguiev hillfort was organized by the fosse-rampart and escarp-rampart principle.

Most likely, the fortress had no towers, which made the flanking fire along the defensive barriers impossible. This feature permits a conclusion that the purpose of the fortress was to control crossing over water and serve as a shelter for people who lived in the nearby open settlements in case of an assault of hostile nomadic detachments.

It is noteworthy that the sites of the Saltov-Maiaki hillforts with ceramic parapets are spatially and geographically located close to cremation burial places. The paper offers a variant of reconstruction of the Chuguiev hillfort fortifications.

S.F.Tokarenko (Semikarakorsk, Russia)

Sites of Saltov period near Semikarakorsk fortress

The paper presents collected and summarized results of archaeological explorations that have been carried out recently on the territory adjoining the Semikarakorsk hillfort, a well-known archaeological site of the time of florescence of the Khazarian kaganate. The discovered artifacts permit to re-estimate the significance and role of the Semikarakorsk fortress as an administrative centre of the extensive settled colony of the Don and Sal river basins. The paper depicts the arrangement, topography and description of the sites and finds.

L.Yu.Ponomariov (Kerch, Ukraine)

Dwellings of Saltov-Maiaki settlements near Eltigen settlement (Kerch Peninsula)

The excavations of A.V.Gadlo and other researchers near Eltigen (Geroievsky) settlement located on the eastern coast of the Kerch Peninsula have revealed over 20 Saltov-Maiaki dwellings. According to their design, depth level, and layout, the dwellings can be divided into five types: type I ‒ single-chamber semidugouts with unstrengthened sides; type II ‒ single-chamber above-ground houses; type III ‒ single-chamber above-ground houses with utility extensions; type IV ‒ two-chamber above-ground five-wall houses; type V ‒ single-chamber and two-chamber above-ground houses with rounded premises attached to them. Most dwellings are well-known and have numerous analogies at other Saltov-Maiaki sites of the Crimea and beyond it. However, so far the dwellings of type V have only been found on the Kerch Peninsula.

The first stationary constructions at Saltov sites near the Eltigen settlement were semidugouts with unstrengthened sides of the foundation pit. The earliest of them probably were constructed in the mid or late 8th century. The single-chamber constructions, which combined the basic principles and techniques of the Byzantine stone constructions with those of the Saltov semidugouts with stone facing of the foundation pit, became the dominating type of dwellings in the 2nd half of the 8th ‒ 1st half of the 9th century. At about the same time, single-chamber dwellings with utility extensions appeared there. In the 2nd half of the 9th century they were replaced by two-chamber five-wall houses which are considered as an indication of the Byzantinization of the region. Both types have served as a basis for a new type of dwellings, i.e. two-chamber and single-chamber houses with rounded extensions. Thus, at Saltov sites near Eltigen settlement at different times there could be several types of dwellings, each of which served for everyday and utility needs of their inhabitants.

Kvitkovskiy V.I. (Kharkov, Ukraine)


Archaeological excavations of the settlement of Saltov-Maiaki culture within the period of 2003-2007 revealed the remains of 8 dwellings. The obtained data provided valuable information on the construction methods, inner layout and heating system of the population of the Saltov culture.

The dwellings were plunged into the ground at different depths and had dissimilar wall structures, i.e. the frame-pillared ones and those without pillars. Inside some buildings various elements of the interior: niches, shelves, steps, household and pillar pits were found. Stoves and hearths of different constructions were unearthed in the explored dwellings.

The analysis of the dwellings permits to conclude that house-building traditions of the steppe-forest variant of the Saltov culture were influenced by the Alans, Bulgarians and Slavs.

V.V.Koloda, S.A.Gorbanenko (Kharkov, Kiev. Ukraine)


Many-years exploration of the Korobovy Khutora multilayer complex yielded a great number of finds that need to be analyzed and interpreted. The paper is devoted to a complex analysis of agriculture of the early medieval (the mid. 8th – mid. 10th cc.) population of the Saltov culture that lived at the hillfort and a vast neighbouring settlement. Examination of archaeological finds and the peculiarities of landscape, natural-climatic conditions, soil and paleobotany permitted the following conclusions.

The population of the site virtually had unlimited opportunities for agricultural development of the surrounding territory both for animal breeding and agriculture. To cultivate the land, progressive cultivation tools with iron coulter, ploughshare or tip were used; all-wood ards of the simplest types could also be used.

Paleobotanic finds of the site generally agree with those of the other Saltov sites explored. Noticeable differences become apparent in relatively high indices of rye and scarious barley which indicates that agriculture largely served the needs of animal breeding. Swivel sickles and rotary millstones, traditional tools for the population of the Khazarian khaganate, were used for cropping and harvest processing. A small number of grain bruisers can be due to the need to get only a little of the product to cook the meal for a small family. The absence of pit-storages for grain stock shows that the harvest was stored in amphorae, tare pithoi and cloth tare, and indirectly confirms a certain cattle-breeding orientation of agriculture. Special utility rooms were used to keep implements and to process grain. Generally, the analysis of soil cultivating tools and paleobotanic finds proves that not only a traditional agricultural system of fallow land, but also two- and three-field systems with winter crops were used.

Ye.Komatarova-Balinova (Sofia, Bulgaria)


The paper compares the elements of a funeral ceremony of two groups of the necropoleis located in the cultural areas which are a good distance off each other. Some necropoleis were left by the pagan population of the First Bulgarian kingdom, others by the population of the Saltov-Maiaki culture. A number of problems which were widely discussed in the past are on the agenda again. The most important of them is the question of whether there is a similarity between the archaeological cultures analysed by the data of a funeral ceremony. This subject is relevant again because of new sites which have been excavated within the latest decades. Hypotheses concerning the problems of biritual funeral ceremonialism on the Lower Danube and in the East European steppes have been proposed.

K.I.Krasilnikov, L.I.Krasilnikova (Lugansk, Ukraine)

Burials according to Zlivki rites on burial ground near Novodachnoie village at Lugan river

The paper presents the finds of excavations of 1992 and 2001 at a burial ground of the Saltov-Maiaki culture. The explored area was 1210 square meters where 24 burials were discovered, with 13 of them undamaged and 11 fully or partially exhumed. The constructions of burial graves, blocks, inhumation poses, grave goods (i.e. jewelry, plates and dishes, altars), orientation of the deceased and other features generally correspond to the burial system known as “Zlivki type” burials of the Proto-Bulgarians of the 9th century. The issues of funeral rites, orientation, ethnicity and social status of the deceased have been dicussed.

On the territory of the burial ground 38 pits were found and classified into 7 types according to their construction. It is believed that they cannot probably be considered as household pits, except the bell-shaped pits. Besides, it is difficult to trace ethno-cultural similarities to tare vessels found in the pits. Interpretation of these facts requires further research.

V.S.Aksionov (Kharkov, Ukraine)


This paper is devoted to the analysis of 26 burials recently excavated at the Netailovka burial ground of Saltov culture which is located opposite the Verkhnii Saltov catacomb necropolis. These burials should be considered as graves of warriors-horsemen. The excavated burials with a horse have initially been divided into five types.

Certain developments of funeral rites, such as laying of the remains of a horse and horse equipment into a tomb of the deceased, allows the horsemen burials of the Netailovka burial ground to be dated. In the last quarter of the 8th century the graves of the deceased with their heads oriented to the west appeared among the horsemen burials. This fact is accounted for by the presence of the natives of “Black Bulgaria” in the population of the Netailovka community ethnically related to them. The natives of “Black Bulgaria” lived next to the “Netailovtsians” as the subordinated/dependent population and were probably included in families as younger/poor relatives. In the early 9th century it was only the horsemen’s burials of I and III types that were buried at the burial ground. At that time, there were large stamped silver and cast bronze plaques of harness straps decorated with a complex vegetative ornament of lotus flowers in horsemen’s graves. This is characteristic of rich Alanian horsemen complexes during most of the 9th century.

Men buried at the Netailovka burial ground and accompanied by a horse skin, a whole horse or a horse harness should be considered as representatives of a rather privileged Turkic-Ugrian group of nomads, who represented the military and social top layer of the Saltov society of the Severskii Donets basin. This group of people used special niches made in the western end walls of graves, in which the remains of a horse with a horse harness or only the horse equipment were placed. The composition and placement of the horse remains in those graves have many similarities with the Ugrian findings of the Early Middle Ages and Hungarian burials of the period of the Hungarian Conquest.

A.V.Komar, V.M.Khardaiev (Kiev, Ukraine)

Zachepilovka (“Novosanzharskij”) complex of turn of 7th-8th cc.

This paper describes the history of collections from the Early Medieval nomad complex of the Pereschepina culture found in 1928 near Zachepilovka village (Poltava region). Published in 1968 as “Novosenzharskij”, this complex was supposed to be lost during the Second World War. At present, 7 Byzantine solidi and 9 gold artifacts from the Zachepilovka complex have been identified in the collections of the Poltava Museum and the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine (Kiev). A study of the archive materials, in particular A.A.Spitsyn’s archive, enriches our ideas about the lost part of the complex, due to which images of 50 artifacts from the Zachepylivka complex have been added to the 20 published by A.T.Smilenko.

The analyzed complex includes a group of gold ornaments and glass tableware of Byzantine origin, which have analogies in complexes of the middle and the second half of the 7th century. However, objects of the nomadic style tie closely the Zachepilovka complex with the Middle Avar horizon of Igar-Ozora (post 669 AD) and East European horizon of Voznesenka (the finale after 695 AD), which rules out the division of Pereschepina and Voznesenka complexes into two separate cultural groups.

V.S.Fliorov (Moscow, Russia)

Why Judaism was not spread in Khazarian kaganate (in search of answer)

Among the most challenging problems of the Khazar studies is the question of in how much Judaism was spread in Khazaria. The problem is that in spite of indisputable written evidence there is no archaeological proof of the presence of Jews and proselytes in the kaganate except for individual and rather dubitable finds. No burials by the Jewish rite were found.

The climate and especially the absence of towns impeded settling of Jews in the steppes and forest-steppes of Khazaria. The spread of Judaism was hampered by the fact that the basic concepts of Judaism were extremely complicated to be translated into the local languages. Judaism involved rules for behaviour in everyday life which were unacceptable for the population of the kaganate. The problem of marriages between Jews and pagans was inevitable. As a result proselytes came to be isolated.

There are no grounds for exaggerating the role of Jews in the foreign trade of the kaganate. The number of Jews was small; they lived mostly in the towns of the Northern Black Sea Littoral.

Thus, the general conclusion is as follows: the Khazarian kaganate was not ready to adopt any of the world monotheistic religions. The conditions for the conversion into Judaism were most unfavourable.

The only archaeological find that can be connected with Judaism in Khazaria is a pot with the image of a menorah from Mariupol (the Northeastern Azov Sea Coast).

Notes on Jewish tombstone found near erevolochnyi Yerik settlement in delta of Don river (to V.S.Fliorov’s paper)

In addition to V.S.Fliorov’s paper it should be noted that A.N.Maslovskii’s interpretation of the tombstone with Judaic religious symbols (an image of two menoroths and a lulab) and a fragment of an epitaph written in Hebrew requires additional clarification for two reasons. Firstly, judging by a number of explicit indications the image may be dated back to the Late Antiquity (the 4th-7th centuries CE). Secondly, like most Jewish artifacts of Antiquity and the Early Medieval Period from the Northern Black Sea Littoral the abovementioned tombstone was not found in situ. Therefore, an assumption about its connection with the settlement of the late 10th – the early 11th century, which was discovered at the same time, seems to be disputable.

Considering a number of specific features of the image, which have their similarities in the Jewish religious art of the Late Antiquity, it may well be assumed that this image is connected with Tanais. So far there has been no evidence of the presence of Jewish population in this town (and in the delta of the Don as well) at the time of Late Antiquity. The Jewish name Judah written on a dipinto from Tanais cannot be considered an unambiguous proof that its bearer was an inhabitant of Tanais. Another indirect evidence in favour of the Jewish presence in the delta of the Don during the period of the Late Antiquity is the epigraphic inscriptions indicative of the syncretic cult of “Supreme God”, which evolved partially under the influence of Judaism. Some adherents of this cult had Hebrew names, e.g. Sambathion and Azarion.

B.Totev, O.Pelevina (Dobrich, Varna, Bulgaria)

Treasure from Vrap (Albania) and aristocratic belts of Danube Bulgarians

This paper investigates the connection between one of the most important early medieval European treasures, the Vrap treasure, and application-set belts of the Old-Bulgarian aristocracy. For this purpose the content of the treasure has been briefly reviewed and its connection with another early medieval treasure from Erseke has been considered. The authors have arrived at a conclusion that some objects from both treasures were products of one workshop and were buried at the same time. Moreover, the objects from both treasures were most likely collected and hidden together. Despite the earlier date, undoubtedly determined by vessels from the treasure, the date of the treasure could be logically determined by the time of manufacturing of the belt fittings – the late 7th or rather the early 8th century. At this time, the objects and luxury goods from a workshop working at the “court yard” of the local nomadic governor were collected.

An analysis of grave goods from burials of the Danube Bulgarian aristocracy, which contain application-set belts with identical fittings, enables the authors to interpret the content of the Vrap treasure. These burials contain two belts, each of which performed a specific utilitarian or representative function. Reconstructions of the Bulgarian belts presented in the paper show the place of various details found in the Vrap treasure. These belts could reflect the division into boils and bagains in the Old-Bulgarian society.

It is remarkable that the belts made of precious metal were typical of aristocracy neither of the simultaneous states of the Avars and Khazars, nor the Byzantine empire. In spite of the fact that the Bulgarian belts were found in the opposite ends of the Balkan Peninsula, they have a similar structure (possibly due to their representative and utilitarian functions), almost identical decoration, and similar manufacture techniques. These signs permit to unite rank-indicative belts from the “Albanian” treasure and the Danube Bulgaria into a common aristocratic, Bulgarian type of application-set belts. Distinctive signs of this type are definitely not limited by artistic features of the “griffins-vegetative sprouts” style.

V.K.Grib, V.V.Davydenko (Donetsk. Kramatorsk, Donetsk province. Ukraine)


At present over 60 copies of anthropomorphous bronze figurines called “lususes” in the archaeological literature have been found. In this paper the authors describe six new figurines found on the Northern and Eastern Azov Sea Littoral, in the medium reaches of the Severskii Donets river, and in Western Siberia. Three of these objects (i.e. those found at Pristino, the Kuban river and in Western Siberia) are unique in their structural features.

For the first time in the history of studying this category of objects an attempt to graphically reconstruct the apt applicability of the figurines in family or tribal ceremonies of the early Turkic tribes nomadising throughout the vast territory of the Eurasian steppes in the 8th-11th centuries has been made.

A.N.Usachuk (Donetsk, Ukraine)


This paper is devoted to the use-wear analysis of three bronze figurines of “lususes” found recently. Manufacturing and applicability of the anthropomorphous figures is dwelt upon. Possible ways of fastening of the figurines have been discussed. The traces of use found on the figurines indicate that these objects had been used for a long time until they were partially destroyed. Application of the use-wear method has proved to be a valuable instrument for studying original bronze anthropomorphous figurines.

P.V.Popov (Astrakhan, Russia)

On ethnocultural components of material culture of Oghuzes and Pechenegs

As a result of the analysis of the funeral rite of Oghuz and Pecheneg burials and the grave goods and the objects found during the explorations at the Samosdelka hillfort and Sarkel – Belaia Vezha, ethnocultural components which composed the above tribe unions can be distinguished.

The analysis of sources indicates that steppe and forest-steppe areas of Western Siberia and Altai were an initial territory of migrations of the East European nomads. In those areas numerous artefacts were unearthed which are similar to the main categories of grave goods found in Oghuz-Pecheneg burials. The formation of the ceremony when the deceased is accompanied with a horse skin should be most likely connected with the influence of the West Siberian Ugrian communities on Turkic-speaking tribes. On the basis of examination of a complex of modelled cauldrons from the bottom layers of the Samosdelka hillfort and the evidence of written sources the Semirechie component can be pointed out. Judging by the finds of archaeological explorations in Semirechie, nomads of this region were closely connected with West Siberian Turkic-speaking nomads.

Apparently, the Pecheneg-Kangary consolidation was also formed with the participation of nomads of Western Siberia. This component influenced the funeral ceremony of inhumation with a horse skin located to the left of the deceased at the same level. Due to a series of mass moves the Pechenegs did not develop the elements typical only of this consolidation in their material culture.

Formation of the Oghuz tribe union in the steppes of the Volga reaches and the Northern Caspian Sea region can be divided into two stages. The first stage (the early 9th – mid 10th century) is characterised by the penetration of the Oghuzes into these territories and their reclamation. These processes proceeded under the patronage of administration of the Khazarian kaganate. After the downfall of Khazaria, the Oghuzes seize the political power in the region. In the 2nd half of the 10th century the Oghuz consolidation was finally formed, with a common funeral ceremony and unique style in manufacturing of metal fine arts as its specific features.

Ye.V.Kruglov, D.V.Maryksin (Volgograd, Russia; Uralsk, Kazakhstan)


The paper presents the unique Oghuz burial found in 2010 on the territory of the Northern Caspian Sea Littoral by an expedition of the Western Kazakhstan Regional Centre of History and Archaeology during routine archaeological investigations in Ryn-peski near Sor-Aidyn salty lake where the Malyi Uzen river flows into it, not far from Novaia Kazanka settlement (the West Kazakhstan region, Republic of Kazakhstan).

In spite of the fact that the Sor-Aidyn complex has not been completely preserved by now, the features of the funeral rite revealed during the clearing of the site, enable one to refer the site not only to a vast number of antiquities of the late nomads of the 9th – early 11th century, but definitely attribute it to the Oghuz monuments. This is indicated by the “vertical” correlation of the buried remains of the deceased and the horse.

The presence of belt and harness decorations and an iron sabre in Sor-Aidyn burial permits to put this complex apart from numerous antiquities of the ordinary Oghuz population and to link it to the elite and socially ranked burials of warriors-batyrs.

M.V.Tsybin (Voronezh, Russia)


The book of interdisciplinary collected works “The Khazars: Myth and History” continues the publication within the framework of the “Khazarian project”. The book under review was published by the “Interaction of Civilisations” Fund. The collection is addressed both to wide readership and to experts in the field of Khazaria history and archaeology, outlining the state-of-the-art in the field of the Khazarian kaganate studies and focusing on debatable problems.

The papers of the collection are grouped into four sections, with the first of them devoted to problems of Khazaria history, the second – to problems of Khazaria archaeology, the third – to history of Judaism in Khazaria, and the fourth – to Khazaria heritage in historical tradition, language, and modern literature. The review considers the papers on archaeology of Khazaria.