The chronological position of the ancient Koryak culture and its ethnic affinities are discussed here with reference to three important archaeological investigations on the Okhotsk seacoast. In 1958 the Magadan Regional Museum excavated four previously unknown settlements on P'iagina Peninsula in Kip-Kich and Itkilan bays, on Cape Keitevan, and on Varganchik Spit. Several common traits, such as topography, dwelling types, and material elements, make it possible to speak of these settlements in terms of their relative chronological and ethnic positions. The economic base and permanent settlement patterns are generally similar to those of the ancient Eskimos. This similarity is due to influences from other cultures and to convergence. Material objects bear close resemblances to some found in the Punuk stage of the Bering Sea, the Neolithic and early Bronze Age cultures of eastern Siberia, and in the Neolithic of southeastern Asia. This evidence provides a basis for establishing the chronological position of the P'iagina material, which may be placed between the early Bronze Age sites of the Lena Basin and the Punuk stage of Eskimo culture. The settlements have been assigned a place in the Koryak culture complex as a new stage or a local variant. This placement is based upon dwelling types and material complex, for example, blubber lamps.
On the marine terraces of the IAma River on Cape Travianoi a settlement of two dwellings was discovered. The house remains are in the form of elongated knolls. There was good preservaiton of artifacts, which included many household utensils of wood and a few of bone and stone. The material complex shows that the inhabitants utilized metal instruments, and this indicates that the dwellings were constructed at a late date. It is concluded that they are protohistoric but preceding the arrival of the Russians.
The Atargan settlement excavated in 1959 has the largest number of dwellings of those now known on the Okhotsk coast. The report includes a detailed description of a Koryak dwelling structure. Examination of the Atargan excavations indicates that the local Koryak population knew the use of metal before the Russians arrived. Pottery types, bone artifacts, and decorated artifacts are very similar to materials from complexes of the first millennium A.D. in the Bering Sea area.
The material cited in this report introduces evidence which indicates that the diffusion of iron among people dwelling along the Okhotsk seacoast originated from the Yakutia districts, where the remains of the early Iron Age are known, and that during this time the local population of Koryaks was also receiving elements from the Bering Sea tribes of the Punuk stage.