Skip to main content Accessibility help

Radiocarbon Dating of Pottery from Bronze Age Sites in eastern European steppes (Russia)

  • P Kuznetsov (a1) and О Mochalov (a1)


In recent decades, the radiocarbon method has frequently been used for dating organic admixtures in pottery. This method is useful for dating the Late Stone Age cultures in eastern Europe due to the poor availability of other organic materials. On the contrary, Bronze Age sites offer a great variety of organic sources, including remains of wooden structures, charcoal, and human and animal bones. This paper analyzes the 14C dates obtained on bones and pottery from six Bronze Age sites in order to determine the feasibility of 14C pottery dating for this particular period. Bronze Age pottery is made of silty clay containing organic matter, which can comprise older material. Therefore, 14С dates obtained on bones, wood, or charcoal are more representative. This paper analyzes the 14C dates obtained on bones and pottery from six Bronze Age sites. Based on this limited study, the authors conclude that dating of pottery from the Bronze Age is controversial and can result in much older dates. We argue this method is acceptable only if no other organic materials are available.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All
Anthony, DW. 2007. The Horse, the Wheel and Language. How Bronze-Age Riders from the Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 553 p.
Bronk Ramsey, C, Lee, S. 2013. Recent and planned developments of the program OxCal. Radiocarbon 55(2–3):720730.
Chernykh, EN, Orlovskaya, LB. 2011. Keramika I radiouglerodnoe datirovanie v ramkakh yamnoy arkheologicheskoy obschnosti: probleminterpretatsii [Pottery and Radiocarbon Dating within the Frames of Yamnaya Archeological Community: the Issues of Interpretation]. In: Chernykh EN, Zavyalov VI, editors. Analytical Research of Natural Science Method Laboratory. Volume 2. Moscow: Taus. p 6478. In Russian.
Hedges, REM, Tiemei, C, Housley, RA. 1992. Results and methods in the radiocarbon dating of pottery. Radiocarbon 34(3):906915.
Kuzmin, YV. 2012. Review [Proceedings of the 5th International “14С and Archaeology” Symposium, Zürich, Switzerland, 26–28 March 2008]. Rossiiskaya Arkheologiya 1:123128. In Russian with English summary.
Kuznetsov, PF. 2013. The dating of the site at Repin Khutor and the chronology of related cultural materials from the East European Steppe Zone of the Early Bronze Age. Rossiiskaya Arkheologiya 1:1324. In Russian with English summary.
Morgunova, NL. 2014. Priuralskaya Gruppa pamyatnikov v sisteme volzhsko-uralskogo varianta yamnoy kulturno-istoricheskoy oblasti [South Ural Group of the Volga-Ural variant of the Yamnaya cultural and historical community]. Orenburg: Orenburgsky Gosudarstvennyi Pedagogichesky Universitet. 347 р. In Russian.
Morgunova, NL, Khokhlova, OS. 2013. Сhronology and Periodization of the Pit-Grave culture in the region between the Volga and Ural rivers based on radiocarbon dating and paleopedological research. Radiocarbon 55(2–3):12861296.
O’Malley, JM, Kuzmin, YV, Burr, GS, Donahue, DJ, Jull, AJT. 1999. Direct radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometric dating of the Russia Far East and Transbaikal. Memories de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise XXVI:1924.
Reimer, PJ, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, JW, Blackwell, PG, Bronk Ramsey, C, Grootes, PM, Guilderson, TP, Haflidason, H, Hajdas, I, Hatté, C, Heaton, TJ, Hoffmann, DL, Hogg, AG, Hughen, KA, Kaiser, KF, Kromer, B, Manning, SW, Niu, M, Reimer, RW, Richards, DA, Scott, EM, Southon, JR, Staff, RA, Turney, CSM, van der Plicht, J. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55(4):18691887.
Salugina, NP. 2011. The technology of the Yamnaya (Pit Grave) ceramic production and its relevance to the population history of the Volga-Ural region in the Early Bronze Age. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 46(2):8294.
Shcherbakov, N, Shuteleva, I, Golyeva, A, Lunkov, V, Kraeva, L. 2013. The archaeological artifacts complex as reflection of intercultural exchange of the Late Bronze Age tribes of the Southern Urals. Abstracts of 19th Annual Meeting of European Association of Archaeologists. Pilzen. p 319.
Skripkin, VV, Kovalyukh, NN. 1998. Recent developments in the procedures used at the SSCER Laboratory for the routine preparation of lithium carbide. Radiocarbon 40(1):211214.
Vasilieva, IN. 2011. The Early Neolithic pottery of the Volga-Ural region (based on the materials of the Elshanka culture). Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 46(2):7081.
Vybornov, A, Zaitseva, G, Kovaliukh, N, Kulkova, M, Possnert, G, Skripkin, V. 2012. Chronological problems with Neolithization of the Northern Caspian Sea Area and the forest-steppe Povolzhye region. Radiocarbon 54(3–4):795799.
Zaitseva, G, Skripkin, V, Kovaliukh, N, Possnert, G, Dolukhanov, P, Vybornov, A. 2009. Radiocarbon dating of Neolithic pottery. Radiocarbon 51(2):795801.


Radiocarbon Dating of Pottery from Bronze Age Sites in eastern European steppes (Russia)

  • P Kuznetsov (a1) and О Mochalov (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed