Complex of Stone Tools of the Chalcolithic Igim Settlement

Author Name(s): Ekaterina N. Golubeva, Madina S. Galimova , Leonard F. Nedashkovsky*
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The article presents the results of a typological and a functional study of stone objects collection part (408 items) originating from trench 2 on a multi-layered Igim site situated in the Lower Kama reservoir zone at the confluence of the Ik and Kama rivers (Russian Federation, Republic of Tatarstan). The site was inhabited for three periods – during the Neolithic, the Eneolithic and the Late Bronze Age. In the course of research conducted by P.N. Starostin and R.S. Gabyashev, stone artifacts were discovered, probably related to the Eneolithic era. After their traceological research, it was possible to identify a number of stone tools categories by their functional purpose. The obtained data helped to identify the main tool complexes: woodworking one and the complex for the cutting and the processing of hunting production. On the territory of the studied dwelling, not only the cutting of the carcasses was carried out, but also the further hide-processing. At the same time, there are no such categories of tools as drills and axes. Also the inventory has a knife for grass cutting and a knife for cutting cereals; their presence, perhaps, indicates the appearance of the plant cultivation elements by the inhabitants. The obtained data will be supplemented in the course of further study of other items from the collection of the Igim settlement.


The study of the Stone Age monuments of the lower reaches of the river Kama there has the problem of stone inventory identification inherent to different and multicultural ceramic complexes, since the vast majority of known and studied monuments are multicultural and mixed ones. The absence of ‘clean’ etalon monuments of the Eneolithic epoch and a clearly distinguished complex of stone inventory inherent in this period complicates the cultural and chronological identification of monuments. For this reason, a detailed analysis of mixed assemblages of stone tools from the multi-cultural settlements has been given a little attention so far [2]. Using such informative research methods as experimental-traceological and morphological-functional ones it is necessary to study even complex assemblage of stone tools in detail. The results obtained during their application can not only expand the understanding of the everyday life and the activities of prehistoric people, but also, perhaps, to differentiate the complexes of stone inventory for different periods of time.

A striking example of such a mixed monument is the multi-layered settlement Igim, which is located on the high remnant of the terrace, at the confluence of the rivers Ik and Kama (now the Lower Kama reservoir). This large remnant restricts from the west a large lake-marshy massif, called Kulegash, located between the mouths of the largest influents of the Kama River ‑ Ik and Belaya.

The Igim complex includes a settlement and a cemetery. The settlement was inhabited by people during three historical periods: Neolithic, Eneolithic and Late Bronze Age. The burial ground belongs to a later time ‑ the early Middle Ages.

The settlement was discovered by the archaeological expedition of the Kazan branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences under the leadership of A.Kh. Khalikov in the summer of 1958. It was surveyed secondarily in 1964 by the exploring of the Kazan branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences headed by P.N. Starostin. In 1970-1971 the Tatar group of the Lower Kama expedition conducted significant excavations because of the planned flooding of this territory by the Lower Kama hydroelectric power station. During the field investigations 7 trenches were carried out in total, the leaders of them were R.S. Gabyashev and P.N. Starostin [1]. The research on the site revealed the cultural layer with the thickness of about 110 cm, however, the authors of the excavations could not clearly separate Neolithic, Eneolithic and Bronze Age layers. Later on, based on the analysis of pottery complexes, it was determined that the settlement was inhabited during three main periods [1; 5].

The artifacts complex of the earliest period includes pottery of the Kama Neolithic culture, represented by carefully smoothed potsherds, the dough of which has an impurity of fine sand, fine chamotte or beat stone. The vessels are egg-shaped, ornamented by the impressions of a comb stamp.

To the Eneolithic era the pottery fragments of Volosovo-Garino cultural identity and the pottery with undulation on the neck and an impurity of coarse-crushed shells or burnt plants in the dough are referred. The vessels are decorated with the impressions of various types of comb stamps, corrugated rims and mould undulation in shape of corrugated roller along the body are noteworthy; the shape of the pottery is usually can-like one.

The third period is represented by the fragments of Late Bronze Age pottery related to the Srubnaya, Lugovskaya, Abashevo and Maklasheevka cultures. They are represented by the fragments of vessels with the impurity of sand, chamotte or crushed shells. Srubnaya pottery is characterized by the presence of dashed smoothing traces on the inside, the ornamentation in the form of drawn lines, the impressions of a large comb and large stick impresses, pot-can shapes of vessels. Abashevo pottery is characterized by the ornamentation in the form of various compositions of impressions for a comb stamp. The fragments of Lugovskaya pottery are characterized by simple geometric patterns: horizontal lines, inclined short segments, ‘lattices’, ‘fur-trees’. Maklasheevka culture is characterized by ornamentation in the form of drawn oblique or vertical lines, the impressions of a comb stamp and a rope, triple pits along the neck; the shape of the vessels is can-like or pot-like.

The collection of the Igim complex is kept in the Museum of Archeology of the Institute of Archaeology named after A.Kh. Khalikov of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan. The study involved the materials from trench 2, the total area of which made 360 sq.m.


The conducted traceological analysis showed that the ancient people who lived in the Eneolithic era, whose dwelling was found on the territory of the trench 2 on the Igim settlement, had a diverse set of tools. First of all, these are the tools of the woodworking economic complex. This indicates an almost complete circle of this production. The absence of such categories as drills and axes should be noted. In view of the partial study of the Igim settlement stone inventory, the remainder of the collection, which will be studied in the near future, will complement the categories of tools we have identified. The complex, related to the processing of hunting products, fixed in the studied inventory, is also important. It says that the cutting of carcasses, and also the further hide-processing were carried out on the territory of the dwelling. Despite their small number, the tools for the harvesting of grasses and cereals are very indicative. Their presence, perhaps, speaks of the appearance of rudiments of cereals cultivation in the settlement.


The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.


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