THE MAIN STAGES OF THE HISTORY OF POPULATION OF THE FOREST-STEPPE OF DNIEPER LEFT-BANK AREA IN THE MID-7th — EARLY 3rd CENTURY BC


Keywords: Dnieper Left-Bank forest-steppe, Scythian Age, periodization, ethnic and cultural history.

Abstract

The paper is devoted to the periodization of the ethnic and cultural history of population of the forest-steppe of Dnieper Left Bank area during the Scythian Age. The analysis of the whole set of data allows us to propose the following variant of reconstruction.

At the beginning of the Early Iron Age the great population movements took place at the territory of modern Ukraine resulting in a number transitions in the settlement pattern of both the steppe and forest-steppe regions. In the end of 9th century BC the peoples inhabited the Dnieper Left-bank region (Late Zrubna and Bondarikha cultures) left the area.

Before the invasion of «Zhabotyn» population from the Dnieper Right bank forest-steppe to the basin of the Middle Vorskla River in the last third of the 8th century BC here was extremely little population, probably represented by nomads of pre-Scythian period (the antiquities of Novocherkassk type). Except the Vorskla basin, only the barrows of nomadic people are known in the Dnieper-Donets forest-steppe.

During the first period (the mid-7th — first third of the 6th centuries BC) the stable agricultural population inhabited only the Middle Vorskla River basin. At that time semi-nomads occupied the territory of Psel and Vorskla basins. Farmers and semi-nomads created military and political union under the auspices of semi-nomads on this area.

During the transition period (military and political crisis in the mid-6th century BC) there was no desolation of North Pontic region. The change of the cultures has not been rapidly but it was gradually during the second — third quarters of the 6th century BC. The emergence of new group of nomads ca. mid-6th century BC in North Pontic region could provoke the wandering of the part of semi-nomads which dominated in this region in Early Scythian period. The appearance of new groups of nomads coincided with the settlement of the Forest-Steppe zone between Dnieper and Don rivers about the mid-6th century BC or it could be the reason for this process. It was accompanied by the building of new fortifications and the transformation of some settlements into hillforts. According to available data, the semi-nomadic aristocracy legalized the power of new rulers and joined them or was defeated in the Early Scythian period.

During the second period (third quarter of the 6th — first third of the 5th centuries BC) the ethnic and cultural history of the tribes of Forest-Steppe of Dnieper Left Bank region was close to the situation described by Herodotus (IV. 102, 118, 119). It was characterized by the independence of the local tribes from the steppe inhabitants. Bilsk settlement was founded exactly at that time. We have reason to believe that its construction was connected with the return from the West campaign of some part of the nomads (semi-nomads?) after their arriving from the Ciscaucasia (the Geloni, the Melanchaeni, etc.). Such reconstruction doesn`t exclude the assumption of some researchers (B. A. Shramko and others) that Bilsk settlement truly is the city of Gelonus mentioned by Herodotus. The tribal units of semi-nomads in the Eastern European Forest-Steppe (the Geloni, the Melanchaeni and others) which conquered the local agricultural population were still independent, significant force in the region after the settlement of North Pontic region by the Scythians at the last quarter of the 6th century BC. It’s fully correlated with information of «The Father of History». The peak of the development of the settlement systems in the Forest-Steppe of Dnieper Left Bank and the exchange with the Hellenes is traced at the last quarter of 6th — the first third of 5th centuries BC. At this stage, the Steppes didn’t have a critical influence on the local tribes yet which were independent. The development of the ethnic and cultural situation in the Forest-Steppe zone was based on the changes that were the result of previous migrations. This period ended with the destabilization at the end of the first third of the 5th century BC.

The third period can be characterized as the existence of local tribes on the periphery of North Pontic Scythia (the end of the first third of the 5th — the beginning of the last quarter of the 4th centuries BC). The period since the acceptance of the power of the Royal Scythians till the final of the history of local tribes consists of two main stages in the context of Classical Scythia: 1) incorporation (the end of the first — second quarters of the 5th century BC) and mutually benefit relations (the second half of the 5th century BC — the turn of the 5th—4th centuries BC); 2) the beginning of the negativity and the crisis during the penetration of Steppe people into the Forest-Steppe (the turn of the 5th—4th centuries BC — the beginning of the last quarter of the 4th century BC). It was completed by the final of Scythia and termination of the funerals on all necropolises of the Forest-Steppe of Dnieper Left Bank area.

During the fourth period the settled population still lived on some sites after the disappearance of the barrow of local aristocracy and after the final of Scythia (the late 4th — first third of the 3rd centuries BC). Basivka and Hlynsk settlements on Sula River still used by the local population which remained after the crisis of the end of the first third of the 3rd century BC.

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2021-09-03
How to Cite
Grechko, D. S. (2021). THE MAIN STAGES OF THE HISTORY OF POPULATION OF THE FOREST-STEPPE OF DNIEPER LEFT-BANK AREA IN THE MID-7th — EARLY 3rd CENTURY BC. Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 41(4), 27-50. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2021.04.02