The study area is located in the central part of the forest-steppe zone of European Russia, in the vicinity of Zadonsk, Lipetsk region.
It is a highly dissected hilly terrain at an elevation on 170-180 m a.s.l. Quaternary sediments are represented by glacial deposits - moraine with a predominance of loam sediments with gravel, pebbles and clay (Geological map of quaternary deposits of the Lipetsk region, 1998). The upper sediments are presented by a thick layer of loess (up to 26 m), either calcareous or non-calcareous, sometimes with gypsum (Sycheva, et. al, 2017, Tregub, 2014).
The main rivers are the Don River and its tributary the Snova river. The study area is characterized by the temperate continental climate, with mean temperature 23,5°C in July and -9,5°C in January, and mean annual precipitation of 548 mm (https://en.tutiempo.net/). Natural vegetation is variable because the territory is located in the forest-steppe ecotone and consist of mixed-grass steppe and linden and oak forest patches (Atlas of the Lipetsk region, 1994.). The soil cover is dominated by Luvic Phaeozems (IUSS Working Group WRB, 2015) that cover uplands and gentle slopes.
The fortification wall in the Ksizovo site is covered by forest vegetation with Ulmus L. as a dominant species. The parent material in the Ksizovo site differs from the other sites and is represented by decalcified loess.
The settlement represented hillforts of the Early Iron Age surrounded by defensive ramparts - an earth walls constructed from the soil excavated nearby. A defensive rampart of the Ksizovo site was built ~2500 years BP (Kb) and belongs to Scythian-like culture (Razuvaev, 2018). Scythian-like culture belongs to Scythian people who lived in the forest-steppe part of a Don region, rites of which were slightly different from Scythian culture (Medvedev, 1999).
The buried soil has the following sequence of the horizons: AhEb-AhBtb-Btb-Bgtb-BCgb-Cgb and classified as Greyzemic Stagnic Gleyic Luvic Phaeozem (Cutanic, Loamic). Greyzemic features, which are evidenced by a high amount of uncoated silt grains, are well expressed in the lower part of AhEb horizon. The Btb and Bgtb horizons are characterized by brown colour and clay-humus dark coatings on the ped faces. These horizons contain Fe-Mn concentrations appear at the depth of 35-46 cm and go down to the parent material. Olive matrix of the soil mass at the depth of 130 cm (Cgb horizon) point to gleyic properties.
Surface soil profile consists of Ah-AhE-AhBt-Btg-BCg horizons and was classified as Greyzemic Stagnic Luvic Phaeozem (Cutanic, Loamic). The AhE horizon is characterized by a greyish colour – 10 YR 5/1 (Table 3, Fig. 5, 12). Greyzemic and Luvic features are well expressed in this soil. The Fe-Mn concentrations start from 35-45 cm and reach a peak at the depth of 90-140 cm. The preserved thickness of the earth wall is 30 cm.
Soil profiles were not truncated during the construction of the walls, which is confirmed by a presence of phytoliths (fig. 13), the similarity of the grain size distribution of upper 10 cm (fig. 14) and the same thickness of the Ah horizons between soils of the one key site. All soils are Luvic Phaeozems (Cutanic, Loamic). Soils of the Ksizovo site not much differ from each other by analytical and morphological features. These soils are characterized by low values of CEC and similar particle size distribution. Clay cutans are thicker in buried soil than in the surface which points to the forest pedogenesis before the burial. The Kb soil contains lower proportions of the free iron compared to the Ks soil, ranging from 43 to 35 % and lower values of TOC due to the duration of soil formation. Using both pedological and microbiomorphs methods, it is possible to identify a few stages of soil formation during Late Holocene in the central part of the forest-steppe zone of the Russian plain. Based on the similarity between the major properties of the buried 2500 yrs BP and the surface soils, we conclude that the paleosol had being developed under open forest, similar to the modern one.
- Kurbanova, Fatima; Makeev, Alexander; Puzanova, Tatiana; Kust, Pavel; Chernov, Timofey. Soil indicators of Late Holocene forest-steppe landscape evolution on the Russian Plain International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference : SGEM Sofia, Том 18, Изд. 3.2, (2018). DOI:10.5593/sgem2018/3.2/S13.064
- Puzanova, Tatiana; Makeev, Alexander; Khokhlova, Olga; Aseeva, Elena; Kurbanova, Fatima. Holocene signals of climate dynamics in the profiles of soils buried under archaeological objects in the central part of the East European Plain International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference : SGEM; Sofia, Том 17, (2017). DOI:10.5593/sgem2017/32