The Zarubintsy culture was identified ca 1899 by the Czech-Ukrainian archaeologist V. V. Chvojka and is now attested by about 500 sites. The culture was named after finds cremated remains in the village of Zarubintsy, on the Dnieper.
The Zarubintsy culture was one of the major archaeological cultures which flourished in the area north of the Black Sea along the upper and middle Dnieper and Pripyat Rivers, stretching west towards the Bug River. Zarubintsy sites were particularly dense between the Rivers Desna and Ros as well as along the Pripyat river.
The Zarubintsy culture was of mixed origins. Valentin Sedov postulates that the culture arose when the eastern Pomeranian culture tribes (the "Podkloszove" or under a globe burials area) moved to the Pripyat and middle Dnieper basin and forged contacts with peoples of the Milograd zone and the Scythian nomads. The Scythian-Sarmatian influence is evident, especially in pottery, weaponry, domestic objects and personal. Others suggest that it developed from the Pomeranian group of the Lausitz culture, whilst Chernoles culture influences have also been postulated. Certainly, contacts with the La Tene (esp. fibulae) and Scythian (especially weapons) cultures further developed it. Toward later stages, Przeworsk influences appear in Zarubintsy western zones.
The bearers of the culture engaged in agriculture, documented by numerous finds of sickles. Pobol suggested that the culture experienced a transition from swidden ('slash-and-burn') to plough-type cultivation. In addition, they raised animals. Remains included sheep, goat, cattle, horses and swine. There is evidence they also traded wild animal skins with Black Sea towns.
Some sites were defended by ditches and banks, structures thought to have been built to defend against nomadic tribes from the steppe. Dwellings were either of surface or semi-subterranean types, with posts supporting the walls, a hearth in the iddle, and large conic pits located nearby.
Inhabitants practiced cremation. Cremated remains were eiher placed in large, hand-made ceramic urns, or were placed in a large pit and surounded by food and ornaments such as spiral bracelets and Middle to Late La-Tene type fibulae.
The disintegration of the Zarubintsy culture has been linked with the emigration of its population is several directions. Density of settlements in the central region decrease, as late Zarubintsy groups appear radially, especially southward into the forest-steppe regions of the middle Dnieper, Desna and southern Donets rivers. Influences upon local cultures in the east Carpathian/ Podolia region, as well as, to a lesser extent, north into the forest zone are also evident. The movement of Zarubintsy groups has been linked with to an increasingly arid climate, whereby the population left the hillforts on high promontories and moved to southward into river valleys. This mostly southern movement brought them closer to westward moving Saramtian groups (from the Don region) and Thracian-Celtic elements. By the 3rd century AD, central late Zarubintsy sites 're-arranged' into the so-called Kiev culture, whilst the westernmost areas were integrated into the Wielbark culture.
Scholars attempting to locate tribes mentioned by Graeco-Roman sources have often debated the ethnic identity of the bearers of the Zarubinec zone. Originally, the site founder ascribed the culture to early Slavs, an impression still shared by many Slavic scholars. Marija Gimbutas rather ascribed it to Balts. Linguistically, the zone lay within a larger area of Balto-Slavic continuity. Archaic Slavic hydroyms are predominantly found south of the Pripet river. Dolukhanov has advanced that the Zarubintsy culture was a poli-ethnic entity which increased cohesion due to two primary influences. Dolukhanov suggests, however, that the the inclusion of Zarubinec peoples within the 'Scythian network' and an increased utilisation of more advanced farming technologies were factors in differentiation of proto-Slavs from Baltic communities, thereby highlighting the Zarubinec culture's importance in the evolution of Slavic stock.
- ↑ Mallory. EIEC. Page 657
- J. P. Mallory, "Zarubintsy Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
- The Early Germans
- The Slavs in Antiquity
- The Early Slavs. Eastern Europe from the Initial Settlement to the Kievan Rus. Pavel M Dolukhanov. Longman. 1996. Pages 148-151.
- Andrew Villen Bell, Andrew Bell-Fialkoff. The role of migration in the history of the Eurasian steppe: sedentary civilization vs. "barbarian" and nomad . Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. ISBN 0312212070pl:Kultura zarubiniecka