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Археология Сперрингс

Герман К.Э. (г.Петрозаводск)
Sperrings ceramics and säräisniemi i ceramics in Russian Karelia Vkontakte@kizhi



For the first time pottery appears on the territory of Karelia about 6500 years ago. This process has been closely enough connected with general process of the wood Neolithic zone of Eastern Europe. The ceramics occurring on the territory of Karelia was perceived by the most archaeological cultures like a compass between the Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic. Consequently, there were cultural monuments of Sperrings ceramics instead of the Mesolithic culture of Obonezje and there were cultural monuments of Säräisniemi I ceramics instead of the Mesolithic of Northern Karelia

The settlements with Sperrings ceramics occupy the southern and the central part of Karelia and concentrate in the Onega Lake basin, and Säräisniemi I is typical for northern Karelia and is connected with the White Sea basin (Fig.1).

This article given characteristic the Early Neolithic ceramics on the territory of Karelia, discussed the question of the time of its origin, its ways of spreading and functions of ornamentation.


Sperrings ceramic

In total, on the settlements of southern and central Karelia more than 8 thousand fragments of Sperrings ceramics were found from which, according to individual differences of the rims’ and walls’ forms, and also to their ornaments were defined 1473 vessels. According to the form of the vessels they can be divided into four groups:

The first group: large vessels; the diameter at the vessel mouth is 30–50 cm, and the walls have average thickness of 0,8–1,3 cm, half egg–shaped form with a slanting or lightly sharped bottom, but can meet and a half egg–shaped vessels with a tapered bottom;

The second group: large vessels; the diameter at the vessel mouth is 20–30 cm, the wall’s thickness is 0,4–0,7 cm, with straight or slightly profiled (bent outside or bent inside) shapes with a slanting or lightly sharp bottom;

The thirst group: the small cup–like round–bottomed vessels, with the diameter at the vessel mouth is 20 cm, the walls have average thickness of 0,4–0,6 cm. The most part of them are the straight flat–carved rims, but also they can be rounded or canted in their side–views.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

The forth group: tiny saucer–like pots of a cupped and half egg–shaped form, the diameter at the vessel mouth is 12 cm., the walls have average thickness of 0,3–0,5 cm, but sometimes of 0,7 cm. Such kinds of vessels are met on the settlements seldom, at the average 1–5 specimens.

There is a prevalence of vessels with medium size with the diameter at the mouth of 30 cm, but also can be a diameter of 10–12 cm., the walls have thickness of 0,5–0,7 cm by 50–60% of the vessels. The flat–shaped and straight rounded rims are typical for the main part of vessels.

It is necessary to note, that on the settlements of the Onega basin we find pottery in the form of finished wares but not in the form of the first experiences. Small pieces of the burnt clay of 2×1,3×1,5 cm which are often being found during the excavation can testify about the manufacture technique of the vessels and can be interpreted as preparation forms for clay tapes by some researchers (Kriiska, 2002:175). The Sperrings vessels were made from the clay tapes of the width 4–6 cm connected in the way of laying on or sticking on end–to–end (Vitenkova, 1996:70; Andreeva, Gusentsova, 1996:226). According to the author’s observation, distribution had these both methods.

As an impurity to the paste of the earthenware vessels during the early stage of Sperrings culture, small and medium granitic subsoil or sometimes quartz were added in the most cases. The organic addition as poultry manure and down had started hardly later and was distinctively for ceramics from the southern Onega shore’s settlements (Vitenkova, 1996:70; Adel, 1995:61).

The impurity’s quantity to the paste was more by the large thick–walled vessels; the firing was poor and uneven about what testified the color of vessels (dark, grey–brown) and their poor capacity for survival (some fragments go to pieces in hands). The percent of an impurity to the paste decreases by the vessels of the small size, the quality of firing increases and the color of fragments are red or light brown.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

The experiments, which had been spent in the field conditions during the summer season in 1998, showed that in the vessels made with the impurity of granitic subsoil or sand, water began boiling in 4–12 minutes. Even in some pots the fish has been welded (Sizova, 2001:5).

There is one more proof, that food could been cooked in the Early Neolithic pottery, facts of cooking and storage of guilder–rose berries in the Upper Volga vessels which time of functioning is dated on radiocarbon 6500–6400 BC* [1] (Engovatova, 2000a: c.211). However the scum’s trails on the outer walls were not observed on the Sperrings culture’s pottery, therefore proofs of their use for cooking are not presented.

Five primary and one additional ornamental element are totaled in the ornamentation of Sperrings ceramics. The first element of an ornament is a fish vertebra impression (Fig.2; Fig.3:1,2,6,7; Fig.4:4–8,10; Fig.5:5). More than 50% of all the vessels are ornamented with its help. The vertebra of pikes, bream, perch, small fry, coregonus were used as artifacts (Titov, 1972:36; Andreeva, Gusentsova, 1996:226). They put unary, double, threefold and even fourfold impressions of one or two sides of vertebra using the stamping technique with indenting; impressions of the top part of vertebra made in the pinning technique with indenting; the drawing and receding lines made in dragging technique and indenting, a lateral side of unary or double vertebra. In addition, a branchiate cartilage of humpback salmon (salmon, salvelius alpinus lepechini) and bones of a pikeperch taken from leading fin were used for stamping technique of comb impressions (Ivanichev, Ivanicheva, 2000:292).

The second and third elements of an ornament are vertical, horizontal, slanting drawn and indenting lines (Fig.3:3–5; Fig.4:1–3,9; Fig.5:1–4,6,7). About 35% of the vessels were ornamented with them. They were carried out partly with the use of vertebra, partly with the use of an artifact of artificial or natural origin, probably, with slate rods, rib’s bones with notches or other bone remains like animals’ tooth (Ivanichev, Ivanicheva, 2000:292). The width of the drawing and indenting lines are shaking from 0,1 up to 0,5 cm. Thus, the indenting and drawn elements of the ornament were made by the same artifacts, but in different technique. There are the vessels on which they are combined with each other.

The fourth element of an ornament is short and long band impressions (Fig.6). Approximately 6,5% of the vessels was ornamented with its help. They represent the impressions having very frequent cuttings and the original dual granular impressions not having a sharp frame.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

The drawing technique of similar impressions was not clarified, probably, it can be stamping, pinning and indenting although an artifact it is not certain, so the name «band» must been considered as conditional. I.V.Kalinina offers three hypotheses concerning the appearing of band impressions on the Neolithic ceramics: a band was observed on artifacts as a winding of instruments; a band was perceived as a part of an ornament and used in the ornamentation equally with hanging form; a band was the main part of artifacts (Kalinina, 2000:263–264).

The fifth element of an ornament is short and long comb impressions. About 16,5% of the vessels were ornamented with them. A part of them was put in stamping technique as it has been mentioned above, fish vertebra, by another part – an artifact is not established, although it could have an artificial (for example, a slate ring with notches) and a natural origin (for example, a jaw of a hare or a marten) (Kalinina, Gadzieva (Ustinova), 1995: fig.3,7).

The distinguish feature of Sperrings ceramics is those fact that the most part of the vessels are ornamented with an element, that is why band, comb and figured impressions make a rather small part in the decoration of the vessels, but they are put in one line with the first three.

The additional ornamental element is round tapering, oval–like, square–like and right–angled pit notches, which are fixed in the ornamentation by more than 60% of the vessels. They were put in pinning technique and, probably, drawing technique (right–angled notches), in the most cases using the same artifact as the first three elements of an ornament. In rare cases they could form the distinct motives of an ornament (about 0,8% of the vessels).

The leading elements of an ornament of Sperrings ceramics are vertebra impressions – 60–80% of the vessels, indenting lines are fixed by 20–30% of the vessels, drawing lines – 10% of the vessels, band lines – 5–6%, comb stamping – 2–4% of the vessels. The pit notches, as a additional ornament’s element is met by 60–70% of the vessels, and replacing them notches with use of one or two sides of vertebra by 1–5% of the vessels. The leading techniques are indenting and drawing – 70–80%, stamping and pinning by 20–30% of the vessels.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

Three types of simple compositions dominate in the ornamentation:

  1. Horizontal line of vertebra of straight or indenting impressions are by 75–85% of the vessels, decorated by ornamental compositions, which executed with vertebra impressions, comb stamping – 95–100% of the vessels. Horizontal indenting by 5–15% of the vessels, drawing lines by – 5–10% of the vessels and band lines by – 80–90% of the vessels;
  2. «Fir–tree», consisting of alternating belts of vertebra impressions put indenting to the right and to the left by – 1–5% of the vessels, comb stamping by – 1–5% of the vessels;
  3. The alternating belts consisting of vertical lines of vertebra impressions on –15–20% of the vessels, indenting – 85–95% of the vessels, drawing lines – 90–95% of the vessels and band lines – 10–15% of the vessels.

Säräisniemi I ceramics

In total on the settlements of Northern Karelia 797 fragments of Säräisniemi I ceramics were found from which, 117 vessels were distinguished according to their individual differences in the form of rims and walls, and also their ornamentation (German, 1997:61). They represent roughly braided pots of a poor or medium firing, with an impurity to the paste of small–crushed, granitic subsoil, in rare cases of organic chemistry and mica.

The walls by the larger pots have average thickness of 0,8–1,2 cm. and by less pots it is shaking from 0,5 up to 0,6 cm and increases from a rim to a shape. The outer surface of some vessels is almost regularly dyed red (with ochre). Only one vessel is partially reconstructed. It represents a type of a bowl with a rounded bottom. The rim is thin and straight, then gradually its walls are getting thicker and making 1,4 cm closer to the bottom of a vessel (Pesonen, 1986:19, fig.10, 11). It has the certain analogies in Säräisniemi I ceramics known from the settlements of Northern Finland which Finnish archeologist M. Torvinen divides into two groups: on rim’s diameter and its dimension. The pots form the first group with wall’s thickness of 0,1–0,5 cm and with diameter of 20–30 cm, the height up to 40 cm, the dimension of 8–10 liters.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

To the second group are defined the small vessels with wall’s thickness of 0,8–0,9 cm which could be used, as researcher considers, for drink (Torvinen, 2000:24).

The rims are straight flat–cut by the majority of the Karelian Säräisniemi I vessels, there are also straight rounded and indenting inside. 22 vessels with straight oblique inside rims and two vessels with direct flat–cut rim were ornamented.

Eight elements of an ornament are distinguished in the ornamentation of Säräisniemi I ceramics: 1) impressions of comb stamping (Fig.7:5–7; Fig.8:2,3,7); 2) impressions of trellised (figured) stamping (Fig.7:4; Fig.8:6); 3) impressions of a shell (cardium) (Fig.9:5); 4) impressions of rectangular and crescent notches (Fig.7:1; Fig.8:4,5; Fig.9:1,4); 5) indenting lines (Fig.7:2,3); 6) drawing lines (Fig.9:3); 7) pit notches (Fig.9:2).

The combinations on a vessel of the first six elements of an ornament among themselves are very rare. It is noted only two combinations: impressions of comb stamping and u–shape notches, the drawing lines and rectangular notches.

Round slanting or round poles with thickened bottom with diameter of 0,4–0,7 cm and with the depth of 0,5–0,7 cm serve as an additional element of an ornament. They were put on the basic ornament and served as dividing belts between horizontal indenting lines, horizontal rows of inclined prints of comb stamping or rectangular notches. As ornamental motives, which in Säräisniemi I ceramics of Northern Karelia never were made without any poles. The horizontal zig–zag lines were put with the use of band impressions, comb stamping and drawing lines. It is totaled 15% or 12,8% of the vessels with such motives from the general number of crockery. In rare cases pits notches are forming the distinct ornamental motives.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

All the Säräisniemi I vessels were completely ornamented, and there were no pots being decorated equally. In M. Torvinena's opinion, it shows that ornamental stamps were done specially for every vessel (Torvinen, 2000:24).

The reconstruction of ornamental compositions in the Säräisniemi I ceramics is difficult enough because of a fragmentariness and poor capacity for keeping of the vessels. However, it is possible to note, that the ornament does not differ composition’s complexity.

As V. J. Shumkin has fairly noted concerning the ornamentation of the Säräisniemi I ceramics of the Kola Peninsula «its riches and elegance reached not by quantity of elements and not complexity of patterns, and various ways of drawing of impressions: deeply, finely, scowl, at an angle, horizontally, vertically, etc., that turns out as a result of pressing various parts of artifacts» (Shumkin, 1996:69–70). The basic ornamental compositions are horizontal rows of impressions of comb and trellised stamping put inclined or straightly, sometimes in a combination with rare dividing belts of pits notches.

It is necessary to note comparing ceramics Säräisniemi I and Sperrings the similarity of vessels’ and rims’ forms, painting of a part of the vessels with ochre – these features are characterized for a lot of the Early Neolithic cultures. At the same time, the greater distinctions are observed in the structure of ornament’s elements and ornamental compositions.

There is no «figured» stamping in the form of a diagonal and a straight cells, impressions of a shell (cardium) in the Sperrings ceramics, of a Z–shaped and zig–zag stamping impressions and a stamp in the form of a comma which are typical for the Säräisniemi I ceramics of Northern Finland, Northern Norway and the Kola Peninsula (Simonsen, 1957:240; Gurina, 1997:47; Torvinen, 2000:4).[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

At the same time, there is not observed only one basic element of an ornament of the Sperrings – fish vertebra impression in Säräisniemi I ceramics of Northern Karelia. It is met only in the ornamentation of the single vessels of Säräisniemi I found on the settlements of Northern Finland in a contact zone with settling of carriers ceramics of group Ka I:1 (Sperrings) (Torvinen, 2000:6–7). Researchers consider the appearing of receded–drawing lines and a zone arrangement of an ornament on the ornamentation of the vessels as traces of influence of the Sperrings ceramics on Säräisniemi I. (Shumkin, 1991:134, 1996:71; Gurina, 1997:133–134). One more difference between Sperrings Säräisniemi I ceramics is the presence of a plenty of the various compositions in the first type ornamentation of crockery formed by impressions of comb stamping. 80% of all vessels were decorated in the Karelian Säräisniemi I ceramics.


In the Karelian archeological literature during the long period prevailed the opinion about the Sperrings culture occurring on the local Mesolithic basis (Titov, 1972:50; Filatova, 1972:30; Pankruchew, 1978:43; Pesonen, 1991:84; Vitenkova, 1996:76). As proofs is adduced the closeness of stone implements of the Sperrings and the Late Mesolithic culture that is expressed in the similarity of cutting (axes, adzes, chisels) and scraping–cutting (knifes, scrapers) kinds of instruments, and also the similar techniques of processing of the slate instruments.

More difficult is the question about the ways of occurring of the first pottery on the territory of Karelia. Now the majority of Karelian and Finnish archeologists coordinate Sperrings ceramics with found in the end of 70th years the Upper Volga Early Neolithic culture although the supposition of its appearing from the areas of Volgo–kamskoj and Dnepro–doneckoj cultures is not rejected (Europaeus, 1955:157; Pakrushew, 1978:40; Pesonen, 1991:69; Vitenkova, 1996:76). The hypothesis of its western occurring was earnest repudiated by Finnish researchers (Eurapaeus, 1955:157; Luho, 1957:159; Meinander, 1982:22).

M.Nunez and V.I.Timofeev has been stated the point of view about the diffusion character of the distribution of ceramic manufacture’s skills which not caused neither the change of the population, nor sharp changes in economy keeping the appropriating character (Nunez, 1990:32; Timofeew, 1997:20).[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

Concerning the origin of Säräisniemi I ceramics the Finnish researchers express their similar opinion on its autochthonism to the local Mesolithic. The place where it has appeared for the first time, called the area of Lake Oulujarvi (Huurre, 1983:142–143; Torvinen, 1997:26, 1998:40).

Wherefrom, in the completed form it has extended to the North until the coast of the Arctic Ocean. M.Huurre considers the process of Säräisniemi I ceramics occurring and its fast distribution as the beginning of an ethnic differentiation, which later has led to the forming of Sami ethnos (Huurre, 1991:61). M.Torvinen supposes, that the process of an ethnic isolation of the Northern Finland’s population could begin even during the late Mesolithic culture Suomusjarvi (Torvinen, 1998:44).

In N.N.Gurina and V.J.Shumkin's opinion, the ceramics appears on the territory of the Kola Peninsula for the first time among local Mesolithic communities whose material culture, as N.N.Gurina believes, is connected with the territory of Northern Karelia. According to the opinion of V.J.Shumkin the ceramics enters into a line of Late Mesolithic cultures of Northern Fennoskadia (Shumkin, 1993:35; Gurina, 1997:132–133).

In author’s opinion, a problem of an origin and ways of distribution of the first pottery can be considered from two aspects. How did ceramics appear if the Early Neolithic cultures had arisen on the local Mesolithic bases. On the one hand, probably, it was a local invention introduced by an innovation or borrowed from the small population groups spread near the Onega basin and already having experience of ceramic vessel’s manufacturing. On the other hand, with what changes in the stone industry or in housekeeping was it associated if the occurring of pottery was connected with the new population’s arrival.

In the southern direction, the Sperrings culture monuments of along the Gulf of Finland and Karelian Isthmus border upon the territory of distribution of the Early Neolithic cultural monuments of Narva. Until present days only one fact of an interaction the Sperrings ceramics and the Narva pottery has been fixed. There had been found the Sperrings vessel’s fragment with an impurity to the paste of a pounded shell the settlement called Berezje, located at the southern coast of Ladoga Lake has been found. On the territory of Estonia, the time of existence of the Narva culture based on radiocarbon definitions is estimated approximately 6023±95 – 5268±95 BP (Kriiska, 1996:382). At present, on the basis of the geological facts and radiocarbon dating the time of occurring of Ка I:1 ceramics (Sperrings) on the territory of Finland is defined: in southern Pochjanmaa – 6100 BP, in southern Finland – 6200 BP and in southeastern Finland – 6350 BP. (Salomaa and Matiskainen, 1985:153). Thus, the occurring of the Narva ceramics in Estonia and Ка I:1 (sperrings) pottery in Finland happens practically synchronously. It can allow assuming some contacts between carriers of these Early Neolithic cultures based on the occurrence of vegetative impurity in the paste of the both types of pottery. On the other hand, it is possible to join A. Krijski's opinion, that the Narva ceramics is an invention of the local Late Mesolithic communities (Kriiska, 1996:382).[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

On the territory of the Valdai Early Neolithic culture the ceramics of the early stage is presented by pottery and called «cotchisenskij type», whose time of occurring based on radiocarbon is fixed approximately nearby 7000 BP (Sinitsina and Zaitseva, 1995:36).

The succession of the Valdai culture is reliably proved based on analogues of stone implements and technique of instruments manufacturing, and planigraphical and stratigraphical facts. The similarities between ceramics Sperrings and Valdai are not present either in the ornamentation, or in an impurity to the paste of the vessels.

The greatest interest for many researchers of the Early Neolithic of the European part of Russia are the materials from the Upper Volga cultures for which the detailed chronological scheme is developed on the basis of which the occurrence of the first pottery concerns to 7200–6800 BP. (Engovatova, 2000b:94).

It is necessary to give a brief characteristic considering that fact that at present many researchers suggest the occurring of the first ceramics in Karelia from the territory of the Upper Volga. Three basic groups present the ceramics of the Upper Volga cultures: flat–bottomed and sharp–bottomed pots with sticked–pricked ornament or without any ornament. There are the sharp–bottomed vessels with the long–indented ornamentation and the flat–bottomed vessels with a bad band, drawn and small–indented ornament.

At the second stage of the development of the Upper Volga cultures the sharp–bottomed with prominent vessels’ walls of the average sizes appear. The outer surface of walls is sometimes painted with ochre. As an impurity served fire clay, occasionally there is an organic, shell, granitic subsoil. The basic elements of an ornament are a false cord, drawing lines and comb stamping.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

All the surface of a vessel was entirely covered with an ornament. Complex ornamental compositions are characteristic: interpenetrating rows of the inclined lines executed by the receding stick, which remind «platting», single–rowed and multi–rowed zigzag, rhombic lattice. The horizontal partitioning of an ornament is observed by the horizontal zones in which rows of small–notched stamping, sticked notches and cylindrical pits are used. The last elements of an ornament are usually present under a rim in the border zone.

The crockery of the second stage of the Upper Volga culture has the general features with Sperrings ceramics. This similarity is seen in the form of the vessels, painting of the vessels with ochre, elements of an ornament and ornamental compositions. On the settlements with the Upper Volga ceramics of the second stage, also as well as the monuments with Sperrings pottery the non–ornamented vessels in small amounts are met (Kostiljeva, 1994:55; Krainov, 1996:167, 169). Zonality and geometrization are characteristic of the ornamentation of ceramics of the second stage. The inclined drawing and receding lines, false band impressions and comb stamping impressions are building the horizontal belts divided with oval pricks and short impressions of comb stamping. Rare conic, even unformed pinholes are put over the basic ornament. According to radiocarbon the second stage of the Upper Volga culture is dated 6500–6000 BP and is synchronized with the early stage of the Sperrings culture. (Engovatova, 1998:242).

Actually, there are not many similar features between the Upper Volga pottery and Sperrings ceramics. In the ornamentation of the Upper Volga pottery, we will not observe vertebra impressions, receding–drawing lines are poorly presented. The forms and sizes of false cord and comb stamps differ from the analogous elements of Sperrings ceramics ornament (Kostiljeva, 1994:55; Engovatova, 1998:240). Ornamental composition’s construction of Sperrings ceramics is a little bit another, than in the Upper Volga pottery although there are also similar patterns (Kostiljeva, 1994:55, fig. 9, 11). V.I.Timofeev suggested not casually, that similar ornamental compositions are presented not only in the Upper Volga ceramics and in the Sperrings ceramics, but also in the ornamentation of pottery by some others Early Neolithic cultures, for example, Srednedonskaja, Volga–Kamskaja (Timoveev, 1997:20).

There had been allocated a layer of earlier pottery, ornamented with the use of impressions of comb and figured stamping on the settlement of Tudozero V which located at the southern coast of Onega under a Sperrings ceramics layer decorated with vertebra impressions and receding lines. It is known three phases of the development of ceramics on the of settlement of Tudozero V:

I – the prevalence of vessels with comb ornamentation;[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

II – the occurring the vertebra impressions in the ornamentation of the vessels with keeping prevalence of comb ornament. Receding technique appears at this stage;

III – the reduction of comb stamping impressions in the ornamentation of the vessels and the development of receding–drawing technique in the ornamentation with the use of natural artifacts. The complex patterns appear (inclined–diagonal lines, basketry–like) (Ivanishew and Ivanishewa, 2000:292).

Researchers connect the radiocarbon definition with the first phase of the development of the settlement of Tudozero V 7240±60 BP which puts this pottery in a number of the earliest types of ceramics on the territory of the European part of Russia. The ceramics of the second phase from the settlement of Tudozero V mostly concerns to Sperrings and its existence time is defined with four kinds of radiocarbon dating. (6110±100 BP, 6230±120 BP, 6250±50 BP and 6075±20 BP are in line with the earliest shape of Sperrings ceramics found on the settlement. Probably, during this period the carriers of Sperrings ceramics have started the developing of the southern coast of Onega.

The Sperrings ceramics of the third phase of the development on the settlement of Tudozero V with the prevalence of receding–drawing ornamentation corresponds well with crockery of the developed stage of Sperrings culture from Obonezje. The ceramics with comb ornamentation appears at this stage.

D.V.Gerasimov who was based on the early Neolithic materials received from the settlements of Karelian Isthmus supposed the place of the Sperrings culture occurring (Gerasimov, 2003:20). In the researcher’s opinion, there was a formation a kernel of this early Neolithic culture on the local Mesolithic basis in this area with the assistance of external cultural impulse, which was brought probable from the Upper Volga region.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

It is specified also with two radiocarbon dating received from the Sperrings ceramics settlement Hepojarvi – 6480±80 BP and 6380±60 BP (Vereshagina, 2003:149). The disorder of radiocarbon dating, the small areas of excavating, the difference of ornamental elements of the Early Neolithic ceramics of Karelian Isthmus from Sperrings pottery of the early stage of the Onega basin makes to have some doubt about D.V.Gerasimov's hypothesis concerning the Sperrings culture occurring from the territory between the White Sea and Ladoga Lake. All these suggestions, at a sight of the author, require the additional proofs. Even more, the monuments of the Valdai culture are placing between the Sperrings ceramics and the Upper Volga ceramics, which are not having the general features with Sperrings.

Thus, summing up the considerations of a question about the occurring of Sperrings culture outside Karelia should be ascertained, that for today there are no well–grounded proofs of this historical process.


In conclusion, it is necessary to concern a question about the first pottery’s occurring on the territory of Karelia. It was represented in two publications by the author (German, 2000, 2002). The Sperrings ceramics, based on radiocarbon dating and a high–altitude arrangement of settlements appeared on the territory of Karelia for the first time in the Onega basin, more precisely, in area of northern and northwestern shoreline nearby 6500–6400 years ago. The settlements with «pure complexes « of Sperrings ceramics of the early stage settle down here and occupying the highest coastal marks above a modern sea level of Onega and having earliest radiocarbon dating (German, 2002:264–266). In this area, under the assumption of the author, there could be such element of an ornament, as prints of skeleton fish. Certainly, in the small enough Onega basin skill of manufacture of pottery could extend quickly enough. During short time Sperrings ceramics appears on the settlements near lakes Sjamozero and Vodlosero also possible on the eastern shore of Onega. That fact, that carriers of Sperrings get into this area earlier, than the population with pits–comb crockery is approved by ingrained fragments of Sperrings on a number of the settlements stratigraphically lower, than pit–combed ceramics. Diffusion of carriers of Sperrings ceramics out the Onega basin as it was already mentioned above, has been obstructed by the watersheds between the Baltic and the White Sea, and had a random incidental character.

The time of Sperring ceramics diffusion on the White Sea coast in area of the river’s lower Vyg, most likely, synchronously to carriers occuring of pit–combed crockery and also is defined approximately 5990±100 – 5460±80 BP (German, 2002:264).[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи": http://kizhi.karelia.ru]

According to Säräisniemi I ceramics the use of a radiocarbon method of dating for a food deposit from a surface of separated fragments of ceramics has allowed to receive exact enough definitions of its existence time on the different settlements of Northern Finland.

Being based on these facts, Finnish researcher M. Torvinen dates the occurrence of Säräisniemi I ceramics on the territory of Northern Finland in area of Oulujarvi Lake nearby 6100 BP, in area Kiiminkijoki – nearby 6000 BP and in area of Inari Lake – 5800 BP (Torvinen, 1998:40).

It is impossible to resume confidently about the chronology and periodization of Säräisniemi I monuments on the territory of Karelia. The smallest investigated area, the absence of informative collections of radiocarbon definitions, stirs it.

By analogy with the Finnish data, it is possible to assume, that the Säräisniemi I ceramics appears on the territory of Northern Karelia nearby 6200–6000 BP. During a short period, ceramics extends down to the coast of the White Sea. As a result, the first pottery, which has received the name Säräisniemi I, spread on the extensive territory from the Barentsev Sea up to Northern Karelia and Northern Finland and from the Gulf of Bothnia up to the White Sea nearby 5900–5800 BP.


// Sperrings ceramics and säräisniemi i ceramics in Russian Karelia
German Konstantin
Интернет-публикация kizhi.karelia.ru. 2007.

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