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Stratum plus. 2001-2002. №2

G. B. Zdanovich, D. G. Zdanovich (Chelyabinsk, Russia)

«The Land of Cities» in the Southern Trans-Urals and some aspects of the steppe developing in the Bronze Age

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Pages: 486-502

The «Land of Cities » is a special name to designate a small territory of c. 70.000 km2 which is located east of the Southern Urals and has clear spatial and temporal boundaries (the first quarter of the II mill. BC). The «Land» has existed for about 150-200 years. It is characterized by large fortified settlement centers of the proto-urban type with complicated layout and original architectural style as well as by sophisticated burial rite and other elements of material and spiritual culture.
Three periods can be discerned in the development of the «The Land of Cities». It is in the first period that the culture appears on the multi-component basis which included local Trans-Urals traditions, penetration of Abashevo and Poltavka cultures as well as influence of southern agricultural civilizations. The period is distinguished by the emergence of the first oval fortified settlements, crystallization of main mortuary traits, introducing of complex agricultural-stockbreeding economy, developing of Trans-Urals copper ores, etc. The middle or classical period is characterized by large ring political centers and cemeteries with complex settlement and funeral architecture, formation of clearly outlined «territorial provinces», intensive exploitation of copper deposits and active military expansion. The third period demonstrates the simplification and degradation of leading cultural traits in settlement, funeral and religious domains.
According to its achievements the Southern Trans-Urals can be considered as a primeval center of cultural genesis in the Middle Bronze Age wherein original model of social structures and new forms of productive economy were developed. Advanced cultural, political and ethnical potential concentrated within the «The Land of Cities» provoked a broad colonization of the steppe territories and gave important impulse to the development of later Bronze Age cultures in Eurasia. 

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