CHAPTER 4 - The Sintashta Genesis: The Roles of Climate Change, Warfare, and Long-Distance Trade  pp. 47-73

The Sintashta Genesis: The Roles of Climate Change, Warfare, and Long-Distance Trade

By David W. Anthony

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Recent studies by Di Cosmo (1999, 2002) and Vehik (2002) have emphasized the transformational political effects of intertribal warfare in arid grasslands on two continents. Intensified warfare in both places encouraged greater political complexity, hierarchy, and elite-centered, distance-trading activities. This chapter argues that intensified warfare and long-distance trade played powerful roles in the origins of the Sintashta culture. Sintashta is defined by a group of fortified settlements and cemeteries dated about 2100–1800 bce (calibrated) in the northern Eurasian steppe between the upper Ural and upper Tobol rivers southeast of the Ural Mountains. Outside the settlements were cemeteries that yielded whole-horse sacrifices, chariots, and many weapons. Inside the settlements, almost every excavated house yielded copper slag and remains of furnaces or intensely burned hearths. The metal was copper or arsenical bronze, usually in alloys of 1–2.5% arsenic. Pieces of crucibles were placed in two graves at Krivoe Ozero (Vinogradov 2003: 172), and broken casting molds were recovered from the Arkaim settlement. An estimated 6,000 tons of quartzitic rock bearing 2–3% copper was mined from the single documented mining site of Vorovskaya Yama east of the upper Ural River (Grigoriev 2002: 84; Zaikov, Zdanovich, and Yuminov 1995). The surprising evidence for metallurgical production inside every excavated structure suggests that the Sintashta settlements were the focus of intense metalworking activities, although the scale and organization of metal production is not well understood either within or between them (see Hanks, Chapter 9 in this volume).