Keywords: the dispersal of agriculture, Sub-Neolithic, Buh-Dnister culture, impression in pottery.


The study of impressions of plants in ancient pottery is one of the traditional methods of archaeobotanical research. Twenty years ago, Halina Pashkevych identified traces of a few cultivated species on the potsherds of the Buh-Dnister culture (BDC) from the Southern Buh River basin based on naked-eye observations (Pashkevich 2000; Kotova 2002). In particular, impressions of grains of Triticum monococcum and Triticum dicoccum were found on the surface of some vessels from the Bazkiv Ostriv site, excavated by Valentyn Danylenko in 1959 (fig. 1).

The use of silicone rubber resin to obtain replicas — positive copies of impressions (fig. 2), as well as the use of a scanning electron microscope significantly improved the reliability of specific identifications of traces of plants in recent decades (Ushino, Tagawa 1991; Hisa, Katada 2005). This allows drawing conclusions based on not only grain size and shape but also its anatomically detailed fresh surface, which gets a more reliable result than even the study of charred remains from flotation. Re-identification of impressions on Neolithic vessels from Ukraine using the improved methodology was the goal of a joint Japan-Ukrainian archaeobotanical project, implemented in 2016—2019 (Endo et al. 2017; 2019). Among others, the materials of the Bazkiv Ostriv site were studied.

All ceramic finds from the site (701 fragments from 90 vessels including 668 potsherds from 81 BDC vessels and nine fragments from two vessels of the Linear Pottery Culture) were examined. In total, 24 traces identified now or were identified earlier as possible impressions of seeds of plants have been found. The research of them using Replica-SEM method (fig. 3) allowed making only two reliable species definitions. These are impressions of elderberry cf. Sambucus seeds (Bzk-003, Bzk-004) on the surface of vessel 22 of the Skybyntsy type (fig. 4). Another trace was interpreted as a possible impression of the chaff of probable cereal plant doesn’t indefinite for species (Bzk-006). It was recorded on the surface of vessel 1 of the Samchyntsi type (fig. 5). The majority of the rest samples could not be identified even for plants.

As a result, none of the observed potsherds from the site, including already published ones as having cereal impressions, contains traces of cultivated plants at present. This conclusion applies to other archaeobotanicaly examined pottery from the BDC monuments too. The absence of farming activity is indirectly evidenced by the complete lack of flint blades sections with characteristic gloss (so-called «sickle inserts») in the flint assemblages of the culture (Haskevych 2003). The absence of changes in the location of the sites in comparison with the previous Mesolithic ones in the region may indicate the preservation of a traditional hunter-fisher-gatherer way of life. So, the influence of neighbour farmer groups there can be traced only in sporadic exchange of prestigious goods, as well as in attempts to imitate the decoration and forms of pottery of the Kriş, Vinča, Szakбlhбt cultures. That is why it would be more correct to call the BDC not Neolithic but Para-Neolithic, or Sub-Neolithic.


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How to Cite
Haskevych, D. L., Endo, E., & Nasu, H. (2020). NEW ARCHAEOBOTANICAL STUDY OF POTTERY FROM THE SUB-NEOLITHIC SITE OF BAZKIV OSTRIV ON THE SOUTHERN BUH RIVER (using Replica-SEM method). Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 34(1), 181-191.