Unfortifi ed Settlements of the Cheptsa Culture (9th–13th Centuries): Ambiguity of Interpretation and Delimitation of Boundaries
Unfortified Settlements of the Cheptsa Culture (9th–13th Centuries): Ambiguity of Interpretation and Delimitation of Boundaries
Udmurt Federal Research Center, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, T. Baramzinoy 34, Izhevsk, 426067, Russia
Unfortified rural settlements have traditionally been detected by thepresence of surface finds in tilled soil or of a cultural layer in test pits, by the conformity of the area to known landscape features, and by the absence of salient signs of defensive structures. The totality of these parameters is not always an unambiguous indicator of an unfortified settlement. Owing to intense tillage in the late 20th century, affecting many sites in Central Russia and the western Urals, their outward features have been obliterated, and erosion has resulted in a gradual displacement of habitation deposits from watersheds and slopes to negative landforms. Given these destructions and the resulting unreliability of traditional archaeological criteria, the most efficient way of revealing unfortified settlements, delineating their boundaries, and tentatively reconstructing their layouts, is to use multidisciplinary approach. This study focuses on medieval unfortified settlements in northern Udmurtia—Nizhnebogatyrskoye I, and Kushmanskoye II and III. Their outward features are virtually identical. They were explored using geophysical prospection, soil drilling, and archaeological excavations. On the basis of the results, types of settlement were reliably determined and boundaries of cultural layer were delimited. In all cases, preliminary interpretations were rejected. Kushmanskoye III is shown to be a fortified settlement, and Kushmanskoye II is likely to have been a medieval economic development zone without any structures. In the case of Nizhnebogatyrskoye I, its previously determined boundaries, deduced from the distribution area of finds and landscape features, were substantially corrected.