One of the Greek colonies on the northern shore of the Black Sea, Olvia lies close to the Borysthenes, the main river that gave it commercial meaning by connecting the fertile Ukraine to the sea. The Scythians later called this waterway the Dānu apr, or the name it bears today, the Dnepr. Herodotus wrote of Olvia,and Strabo also mentioned it.
Discovered in 1873 when the industrialist S. I. Mamontov brought to Uvarov skulls found by an engineer at the Utkino station building the Iaroslavl-Vologda railroad line in the upper Don basin, this culture was named for the village close to the site. Uvarov considered it to be on the cusp between Stone and Bronze Ages, unclear whether or not the bronze items had simply been imported from another Asian group. Spitsyn and Gorodtsov, though, located it in the Bronze Age, late 3rd to mid- 2nd millennium. The people were Indo-European, a mixture of Baltic, Slavic, and German tribes. Noted for both battle axes and ceramics, it was one of the most influential cultures in the forest belt of Eastern Europe. Archeological evidence also shows them in battle with the Volosovo culture, which Uvarov had discovered near his family estate of Karacharovo and identified as a transitional point between Paleo- and Neolithic cultures. The Bronze Age Fatianovo tribe ultimately displaced the Volosovo when brought their cattle to graze on the latter’s lands, in the Volga-Kama region.
Found on the right bank of the Kama River, this is a unique culture, and one of the richest kurgans in Russian archeology, from the 9th-3rd centuries, BCE. Artefacts show evidence of at least some trade with Scythians. Because there are several burial styles, it is impossible to isolate a single culture here; some evidence suggests that this was an Ugro- tribe. At 1st Congress K. I. Nevostruev mentions that they burned their corpses.
Known today as two sites, distinguished by “right-bank” and “left-bank” of the Don River, near the Tsimlyanskoe settlement excavated in the 1880s was a right-bank Khazar fortress, built in the 840s, a line of defense along the Silk Road by the Khazar Khaganate. The left-bank fortification is referred to as Sarkel, also the name of a nearby village. Inside the walls were found Khazar dwellings, rich and poor alike. The dry sandy soil permitted the preservation of numerous iron objects as well as ceramics formed on a potter’s wheel, including amphoras. The fortress was attacked in the 9th century, attested to by the skeletal remains of women and children; where were the men? Religious identity is also problematic, as Khazaria had adopted Judaism. The fortress was built with technical assistance from the Byzantines, who had left behind sufficient remnants that V. B. Antonovich characterized it as “Christian” in 1884. Grand Prince of Rus’ Sviatoslav Igorevich conquered it in 965, and the white stones inspired the renaming it “White Vezha.” Prince Vladimir Monomakh used it as a garrison, but the Polovtsy ravaged it in 1117. The white-stone blocks of the fortress stood until 1744, after which the walls were dismantled and used in the construction of the Starocherkasskaya fortress.
Armavir was chosen as the capital of Armenia in 331 BC, when the Orontid Dynasty declared its independence from the Achaemenid Empire. Archeological inscriptions have been found in the Elamite language about Gilgamesh, in addition to Hesoid’s poetry and quotes from Euripides. Cleopatra also figures into this history; King Tigranes II sent an expedition to Palestine to attack, and brought many Jews back in captivity to settle in Armavir. Conquerors include the Seleucids, Parthians, Roman Empire, Sassanids and then Byzantine Empire before the Arabs claimed it in 645.
Bronze artefacts discovered by Ossetian peasants in the 1860s brought Koban culture to the attention of archeologists. G. D. Filimonov was the first to study it, and his studies sparked attention at the 5th congress in Tiflis. Western Europeans, including Rudolf Virchow, involved themselves in excavations, frustrating Praskovia Uvarova, who wanted to keep the Caucasus for Russian scientists. This site dates from the 13th to the 3rd centuries BCE.
The Maikop culture, ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Kuban region of Southern Russia, extending from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan.