About 2 km to N-E from Uylty village, Kasnogvardeysk raion Orenburg oblast, Russia. The ancient settlement is located at the Turganik River mouth, where the river joins the Tok R. (the Samara R. drainage basin). The Turganik R. enters an old channel of the Tok which remains flowing due to that fact.
The studied area is at the extreme east of the East European Platform, within the limits of Obshchiy Syrt Upland. The latter is a kind of stepped structural surface with some residual outliers of planation surface typical of the studied region (the central Orenburg Region). The soil parent rocks are the Quaternary covering loams and clays. Among the parent rocks, there are some admixtures of red rocks attributed to the Tatar Stage of the Permian System; that accounts for brownish or reddish hue of the soil horizons developed in the region. The studied region belongs to the subzone of northern herb and grass steppe with sheep’s fescue (Festuca sp.) and feather-grass (Stipa pennata) on Ordinary Chernozems (Erokhina, 1959) or on Calcic Chernozems (IUSS Working Group WRB, 2014). The proportion of ploughed area is high (more than 63%), while percentage of forested land area is very low and amounts to 0.7% at present. The climate is continental, with average long-term temperatures varying over a wide range (about 15° C). The mean July temperature amounts to +21° C, which of January – to -15° C. Mean annual precipitation is 360 to 410 mm. The snow cover lasts for 145–150 days; its depth at the end of winter comes to 30–40 mm. The frost-free period is 130 days long on average. The sum of temperatures above +10°С exceeds 2600° (Geographic atlas of Orenburg Region, 1999)
Eneolithic, the Samara culture; Early Bronze Age, the Early Yamnaya (Pit-Grave) culture Several chronological horizons are found in the settlement. The earliest chrono-interval falls within 4898 - 4440 cal BC, the latest - 3800–3360 cal BC
The excavations on the site were performed in two stages. The settlement was first excavated in 1981-1982, when cultural layers were identified as belonging to the Eneolithic, Bronze Age and to early Middle Ages. There was a dark-gray humus horizon with pottery described above the lower Eneolithic layer and tentatively assigned to
the Early Bronze Age; its cultural and chronological position was not determined conclusively due to its difference from already known cultures of that stage (Morgunova, 1984). Later on, after some ceramic fragments had been dated by radiocarbon, the cultural remains were attributed to the Early Bronze Age (Morgunova, 2014). Still a few problems as to the ceramics chronology and its cultural attribution remained unsolved. The most serious doubts were raised in connection with the radiocarbon ages being older than formerly accepted ages (Kuznetsov, 2013). Thus, in 2014-2015 the excavations of the settlement were resumed. About 800 m2 have been excavated altogether (including the area opened in 1982). The stratigraphy is uniform all over the area, so is the thickness of cultural and barren layers. There have been identified six paleosol horizons, the four upper ones up to 60 cm thick being completely devoid of artifacts. The only exception is the uppermost layer yielding some medieval pottery fragments. The lower part of the sedimentary sequence appears to include two cultural layers: the lower one contained predominantly Eneolithic ceramics, while the ceramic items recovered from the upper layer are confidently attributed to the Early Bronze Age. Judging from the morphological and technological characteristics of the Eneolithic ceramics, it was definitely related to the Samara culture (the 2nd stage in the evolution of the latter). That, together with the presence of some objects directly imported from the Khvalynian culture typical for the steppes in the Volga drainage basin, gave grounds to correlate the layer with the Khvalynian culture (Morgunova et al., 2016b). The data obtained from integrated studies of the early Bronze ceramics confirmed its attribution to the early (Repino) stage of the Pit-grave culture (Morgunova and Salugina, 2016; Morgunova et al., 2016a). A series of 32 radiocarbon dates obtained on animal bones and various ceramic fragments collected from all the excavated areas and taken from different depths permitted the cultural layers and related materials to be reliably dated (Morgunova et al., 2016b). The dates formed three groups, two of them falling within the Eneolithic epoch. The older of the two (4898–4440 cal yr ВС) corresponds chronologically to the Khvalynian burial grounds, the ceramics recovered from the latter closely resembling those from the Turganik cultural layer (Chernykh, Orlovskaya, 2010; Shishlina, 2007), as well as the materials of the Khvalynian type found at the settlements of the Samara region of the Volga drainage basin (Korolev and Shalapinin, 2014). The 2nd interval was dated by radiocarbon to 4237–3790 cal yr ВС on the samples of the Toksky type ceramics (the late stage of the
Samara culture). The same stage is distinguished by the presence of Surtandy and Novoilyinka types of ceramics typical of the Transuralian regions and the Kama drainage basin at that time. Both may be assigned to the late stage of the Eneolithic epoch. The cultural layer attributed to the Early Bronze Age was dated to the interval of 3800–3360 cal yr BC correlatable with the early (Repion) stage of the Pit-grave culture in the Cis-Ural steppe (Morgunova, 2014).
The studied column was designated in the field as Tr1b-15 and included 7 layers (Figure). The column was described from top downward. The boundary between the buried surface and the overlying dumped soil being taken as the initial point.
Ordinary Chernozems or Calcic Chernozems
The studies of the multi-layered settlement Turganik (Cis-Ural steppe region) permitted to develop a scheme of climatic fluctuations and changes in regional vegetation for the second half of the Holocene (beginning from the Atlantic); the scheme is based on the data on paleosols and phytolith analysis, some earlier publications on pollen assemblages being also widely used. The ancient people inhabited the place 5 to 4 ka BC (actually
throughout the Atlantic period), when the place was not subjected to flooding. At the time of human habitation the climate was mostly arid. Paleosols of that time are attributable to the Kastanozems (Endosalic Protosodic). They developed under grass (or herb and grass) steppes. The peak of aridity falls on the final Atlantic time. At the end of Eneolithic epoch (the 5th millennium BC) and in the Early Bronze Age (the 4th millennium BC) there were short-term but violent floods which forced people to leave the habitable place. During the Subboreal and Subatlantic periods (the Holocene) the climate gains in humidity, the floods become regular, the vegetation is dominated by meadow forbs and herbs growing on meadow-chernozem soils (Luvic Chernozem (Stagnic)), and the settlement is completely abandoned. In general, the sedimentary record studied at the Turganik archeological site reveals a traceable climate change towards lower temperatures and increasing humidity in the second part of the Holocene, with occasional episodes of aridity that did not affect the general trend.
Моргунова Н.Л., Васильева И.Н., Кулькова М.А., Рослякова Н.В., Салугина Н.П., Турецкий М.А., Файзуллин А.А., Хохлова О.С. Турганикское поселение в Оренбургской области. Оренбург: Издательский центр ОГАУ, 2017. 300 с. ISBN 978-5-88838-987-4
Хохлова О.С., Моргунова Н.Л., Хохлов А.А., Гольева А.А. Изменение климата и растительности за последние 7000 лет в степном Предуралье // Почвоведение. 2018. № 5. С. 538-550. DOI: 10.7868/S0032180X18050039
Khokhlova, O.S., Morgunova, N.L., Khokhlov, A.A., Gol’eva, A.A. Climate and Vegetation Changes over the Past 7000 Years in the Cis-Ural Steppe Eurasian Soil Science. 2018. V. 51. N5. P. 506-517. DOI: 10.1134/S106422931805006X
Khokhlova, O., Morgunova, N., Khokhlov, A., Golyeva, A. Dynamics of paleoenvironments in the Cis-Ural steppes during the mid- to late Holocene. Quaternary Research, (2019), 91, 96–110. doi:10.1017/qua.2018.23