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Samara culture

    The '''Samara culture''' was an aeneolithic or eneolithic (chalcolithic|copper age) culture of the early 5th millenium BC at the Samara bend region of the middle Volga discovered during archaeological excavations near the village of Syezzheye (Съезжее) in Russia The valley of the Samara river contains sites from subsequent cultures as well which are descriptively termed "Samara cultures" or "Samara valley cultures" Some of these sites are currently under excavation "The Samara culture" as a proper name however is reserved for the early Eneolithic of the region
    "Eneolithic" has a similar equivocal meaning "The Eneolithic culture" of the region is a proper name referring to the Samara culture the subsequent Khvalynsk culture and the still later early Yamna culture These are termed the early middle (or developed) and late Eneolithic respectively with the substitution of period for culture; eg the Samara period "Eneolithic" as a common name refers to any culture in the eneolithic stage of tool development
    These three cultures have roughly the same range Marija Gimbutas was the first to regard it as the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language and to hypothesize that the Eneolithic culture of the region was in fact Indoeuropean If this model is true then the Samara culture becomes overwhelmingly important for Indo-European studies
    Most Indo-europeanists before Gimbutas had hypothesized these stages of development:
    • formation in a homeland on the steppes
    • diaspora into Europe the middle east and the central Asian subcontinent
    • formation of daughter languages over the now far-flung range

    Gimbutas applied the term kurgan ("mound") to the cultures of the diaspora phase Developed kurgans do not appear in the Eneolithic culture but one can see them developing
    The Samara period is not as well excavated or as well known as the other two Gimbutas dated it to 5000 BC. The archaeological findings seem related to those of the Dnieper-Donets culture with this noteworthy exception: horses
    Grave offerings included ornaments depicting horses The graves also had an overburden of horse remains; it cannot yet be determined decisively if these horses were ridden or not but they were certainly used as a meat-animal Whether they were domestic (kept rather than caught) is no longer a question Truly wild native horses had disappeared from the zoological scene long before There are no wild horse fossils within thousands of years of the Samara culture Where all the horses came from is somewhat of a mystery but they had to have been kept
    The use of horses is nearly a diagnostic of Indo-european culture in the diaspora phase It is the only way to account for the rapid spread of the kurgan culture and the ease with which it seems to get the upper hand over Old European and other invaded cultures
    The range of the Samara culture is the forest-steppe terrain of the middle Volga but the North Caspian culture of the lower Volga is early Eneolithic as well In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis this range is regarded as a convenient place for speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language to have exchanged some lexical items with Uralic-language-speakers As a cross-roads between east and west north and south it must have received influences and stimulation from many peoples Moreover such a location would require a value orientation toward war and defense which we know the Indo-europeans had They were a warrior culture The invaded cultures were not (More to follow)
    Other carved bone figurines and pendants were found there


    • James P. Mallory "Samara Culture" Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture Fitzroy Dearborn 1997