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Stratum plus. 2005-2009. №2

V. L. Rostunov (†)

The Turtle-Shaped Tumuli of Eneolithic – Beginning of Early Bronze Age in the North Caucasus and North Coast of the Black Sea

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Pages: 344-366

The article analyses one of the types of figured tumuli of Eneolithic – Early Bronze Age. Such tumuli, probably reflecting the cult of the Space Turtle, appear at the end of the V – early IV millennium B.C. in the south-west of the Ukraine and gradually spread eastwards, reaching the territory of the North Caucasus (Adygea) by the end of the first half of the IV millennium B.C. On turn of IV-III millennium B.C. they spread to the South Caucasus (North-Western Azerbaijan). The data based on mythology, linguistics and archaeology, accumulated by the author, make it possible to assume, that the Lower Danube lowland became one of the local areas of evolution of the Earth-Turtle cult. From these territories, bearers of the farming culture Gumelnita expanded this cult to the South-Western Ukraine (Odessa district). In interacting with the steppe cattle-breeding population, the cult of the Earth- Turtle transformed into the cult of the Space Turtle supporting the earth. Mechanisms of such transformation are defined in the works by I.V. Manzura (2005) and V.L. Rostunov (2006). In the socio-economic perspective, formation of the chiefdom cult and some peculiarities of the mythological thinking in a number of societies were the preconditions for evolution of the figured tumuli-sanctuaries. There was a special mechanism provided, ensuring reproduction of social links between agricultural and cattle-breeding tribes, which assisted an adequate adaptation to the unusual circumstances. As a result, there appeared the figured tumuli-sanctuaries, which served as important social centers, a sort of “temples”.


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