Dnieper–Donets culture

gigatos | February 9, 2022


The Dnieper-Donets culture is an archaeological culture of the Mesolithic period which developed in the 5th millennium BC in the area north of the Black Sea

This culture is characterized by the presence of semi-sedentary fishing villages along the rivers, especially along the Dnieper Rapids. We note the presence of pottery, in a purely hunter-gatherer context, and also graves in the form of pits. All these material elements, which characterize this culture, are found over a period of time from -5000 to -4200 BC approximately.

The Dnieper-Donets culture was first neighbored to the west by the Bug-Dniestr culture, also a Mesolithic culture, which was replaced by the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture, a culture of Neolithic Europe. In the east, there is the Samara culture, a Mesolithic culture located on the middle course of the Volga, replaced by the Khvalynsk culture. The Dnieper-Donets culture is directly followed by the Sredny Stog culture.

The Dnieper-Donets culture is a hunter-gatherer culture that precedes the first forms of agriculture in the region. The most recent archaeological remains of this culture come almost exclusively from hunting and fishing.

Burial took place in pits, the deceased being covered with ochre. The burials were sometimes individual, but larger groupings are more frequent, the burials being carried out chronologically in the same grave.

The early use of a typical point-based pottery correlates with other Mesolithic cultures peripheral to Neolithic farmer cultures. The particular form of this pottery has been linked to dugout transport in wetlands. Particularly related to this type of pottery are the Swifterbant culture in the Netherlands, the Ellerbek and Ertebølle cultures in northern Germany and Scandinavia, the “Mesolithic ceramic” pottery of Belgium and northern France (including non-linear pottery such as La Hoguette, Bliquy, Villeneuve-Saint-Germain), the Roucadour culture in southwestern France, and in the river and lake regions of northern Poland and Russia.

The Mesolithic populations of the Dnieper, found especially around the Dnieper rapids, do not appear to be the ancestors of the populations of the Yamna culture, as they do not contain any Caucasian hunter-gatherer (CHG) component that has been found in the studied individuals of the Yamna culture. All of the studied examples were mixtures of primarily Eastern European hunter-gatherers (EHG) and Western European hunter-gatherers (WHG) in minor components. Among the 32 individuals analyzed from three Mesolithic cemeteries (Dereivka-1, Vil”nyaka, and Vovnigi) in the Dnieper Valley, dated to 5,100-4,400 B.C. and attributed to the Dnieper-Donets culture, there were no individuals with Caucasian ancestry.

Thus, steppe Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b1a was common at Dereivka-1, as at Yamna, but in the other two cemeteries in the Dnieper rapids, Vil”nyanka and Vovigni, all men had haplogroups I2a2a, a common West European hunter-gatherer haplogroup (WHG). In contrast, only one Yamna man from Kalmykia has so far been identified as I2a2.

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