Construction history and timber use of the medieval settlement Nadymskiy Gorodok in the northwestern Siberian forest-tundra

Publication date: April 2020

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 116

Author(s): Gulzar T. Omurova, Andrea Seim, Valentin V. Barinov, Oleg V. Kardash, Vladimir S. Myglan


Archaeological investigations in the forest-tundra zone of western Siberia are highly important for understanding the material culture, social structure and ethnic history of the indigenous population. Extraordinary preservation conditions for organic material in the frozen cultural layers favour the preservation of wooden material suitable for dendrochronological studies. During archaeological surveys in 2011 and 2012 in the Nadymskiy Gorodok settlement, located in the forest-tundra zone in Yamalia, northwestern Siberia, 347 samples of construction timbers were taken and analyzed with dendroarchaeological methods. The main species are larch (Larix sibirica (Ledeb.)), spruce (Picea obovata (Ledeb.)) and pine (Pinus sibirica (Du Tour)). Methodical approaches that allow the determination of the source of the wood and correct dating of the time of the constructions are presented. The tree-ring dating of eleven buildings and parts of the palisade highlighting four periods of construction activity during the second half of the 15th century (i.e. at around 1466 AD and 1475 AD) and the first half of the 16th century (at the beginning of the 16th century and after 1530 AD). The results determine that only two wooden structures were built using wood from local forests. In all other cases, the distribution of the dendrochronological dates and timber provenance indicates the use of driftwood from forests further upstream of the Nadym River. Thus, for a precise determination of construction activity in the Nadymskiy Gorodok settlement, a long exposure time of the driftwood needs to be considered and previous presumptions about the settlement history revised.