Middle Volga region\Archeological Museum - Kazan (Volga region) Federal University
Middle Volga region

The Palaeolithic Age (Old Stone Age) comprises a huge time interval (over two million years) and embraces large part of last geologic period - Quaternary. Alternation of cold and warm climatic conditions took place during this epoch. The Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) took its rise in the last stage of Quaternary - Holocene which began about 10 thousand years ago. The Neolithic (New Stone Age) and further archaeologic stages mankind passed over for 7-8 millenia. During the Palaeolithic the most important changes in human and society formation were in process. Primitive communities adapted to the life in rigorose climate of glaciation.

The Palaeolitic Age

The oldest Palaeolithic site investigated within the territory of Tatarstan Republic is Krasnaya Glinka which was flooded in 1950th. It used to be situated on the Volga river right bank. These stone artefacts - scrapers made on massive flakes, pebble-choppers, amorphous cores - are supposed to have mousterian age. Analogous rough massive stone tools were found on the pebble-beaches in the Volga-Kama rivers interflew area. Unfortunately, fragmentary character of this finds does not allow to solve the problem of the first inhabitants of Tatarstan territory.

The Upper Palaeolithic period comprised the coldest last stage of the Pleistocene - Valdai Glaciation (35-40 thousand years ago). The Upper Palaeolithic sites are situated compactly on the Volga right bank not for from the mouth of the Kama - Kamskoye Oustye (lower layer), Lobatch, Dolgaya Polyana. These sites were excavated not long ago. Their collections consists of flint cores for blade knapping, large quantity of blades and flakes and small assemblages of tools (burins, ended scrapers, notched tools, blades with trunkated or oblique end, blades with retouched edges etc. The problem of cultural attribution and genesis of this sites still remains to be solved. Archaeological data ought to be extended.

The assemblages of the Final Palaeolithic/Early Mesolithic age are more informative than the Upper Palaeolithic ones. These are the collections of stone artefacts from the sites of Syukeevsky Vzvoz and Kamskoye Oustye (upper layer) situated on the Volga right bank as well as Begantchic and Semyonovskaya which have been studied on the remnants of the second terrace near the left bank. They include expressive types of cores, massive blades, burins, scrapers, notched tools, knives on blades, axes, massive scrapers and arrow-heads of trapezoid shape. The Final Palaeolithic complexes in the Kama mouth region represent the initial stage of the Oyst'-Kamskaya mesolithic culture.

The Mesolithic Age

In the end of the Pleistocene important changes took place in the life of human communities in periglacial zone of Europe. Dissappearance of glaciation and animals of Mammoth fauna forced hunters to change their game. Small human groops became more mobile and skillfull. Hunting with a dog and fishing were developed to a great extent. Concerning the material culture, the Mesolithic was characterised first of all by new technique of blade production - pressure.

During the Mesolithic the Middle Volga-Low Kama region used to be the area of coexistance of some archaeological cultures. The Oust'-Kamskaya culture sites (Tetyushskaya 3, Kosyakovskaya, Lyubavskaya) were studied on the second terrace remnants near the left bank. The stone inventory of these sites represent further development of technology and typology traditions of the Final Palaeolithic population of the Kama mouth region. These assemblages are supposed to be similar and related to the Mesolithic cultures with trapezoid arrow-heads in its tool-kit. These cultures (the Ienevo, the Pesotchny Rov and the Zimovniki) were studed in the Upper Volga and Dnieper basins.

The Kamskaya mesolithic culture is represented in the Low Kama basin by some sites (Tatarsky Azibei, Yurtovskaya, Komarovskaya etc). The lithic technology and inventory of this complexes are characterized by mycroblade production and typologically poor tool kit. The problem of the Kamskaya culture genesis is still under discussion. Some archaeologists suppose its origin from the South, another - from the West. It is interesting to note the earliest interments with stone arrow-heads of western types which were investigated in the Eastern part of Tatarstan Republic (Russky Shugan and Minniyarovo). These finds are dated by the Later Mesolithic. Antropological studies give the evidence of European image of people buried here.

The Neolithic Age

The Neolithic Age was a turning point in the development of mankind. People learned to product food and all things necessary for life by domestication of plants and animals. Thus, primitive productive economy appeared and the first step towards the civilization was made. During the 6-5 millenia B.C. complex hunting-fishing economy was formed in the Middle Volga - Low Kama region. Long-term settlement with fundamental dwellings were built. Considerable progress took place in lithic technology with the using of boring, grinding, sawing and polishing. The appearance of the first clay vessels was of great significance.

There are about 300 Neolithic settlements on the Tatarstan territory. This sites used to be situated on the terrace remnants and dunes near lakes. The most part of these sites is attributed to the Kamskaya. Neolithic culture (sites of Lebedinskaya,Balakhchinskaya, Igimskaya, Russko-Azibeyskaya etc.). Pottery of the Kamskaya culture is represented by big vessels with round bottom and combed ornamentation.

Another decorative tradition is represented in the pricked pottery. This tradition was characteristic feature of the Neolithic population of the Low Kama basin as a result of two migration waves from the Low Dnieper and Don basins. The first migration took place probably in the 5th millenium BC  and the second - at the end of the 4th millenium B.C. (Nizhnemaryanovskaya and Tatarsko-Azibeevskaya). The flat-bottom vessels with pricked decoration are supposed to be copied by population of the Low Kama basin from the pottery of their southern neighbours. The problems of origin, cultural attribution and chronology of the assemblages with pricked pottery are still under discussion.

Another type of pottery to be connected with the Balakhninskaya culture, is known in the Middle Volga basin. The round-bottom vessels with pit-comb decoration are its basic feature. Population of the Balakhninskaya culture came into our region from the West probably in the second half of the 3d millenium BC.

Thus, the Middle Volga and Low Kama region during the Neolithic became the contact zone for some peoples who had moved from the West, South and South-West.