Prestige Goods as Markers of Network Relations of the Volga-Don Élites (from the 3rd c. BC to the Mid-3rd c. AD)

In: Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
Valentina I. Mordvintseva HSE University Moscow Russia
Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow Russia
State Academic University for the Humanities Moscow Russia

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The article concerns the composition and the origin of prestige markers from burial contexts of the Volga-Don region in four chronological groups (3rd–2nd c. BC, 1st c. BC, 1st–mid-2nd c. AD, mid-2nd–mid-3rd c. AD). Certain ‘core features’ were noticed among male and female sets of prestige goods, which did not change with time, as well as other changing elements in each period. By the origin, the prestige goods are divided into intra-cultural, cross-cultural, and external-cultural ones. The use of prestige goods of different origins at the funerals of the social élite members reflects the inclusion of the societies in various contemporary networks. Thus, during the first period, there are noted connections of the élites of the Western Volga-Don subregion with the élites of the Northern Black Sea (mostly Lower Dnieper and Dniester regions) and Eastern Europe, while the élites of the Eastern subregion were focused on communication with nomadic communities of the Eurasian steppe belt (Siberia, Mongolia, Transbaikalia). In the second period, these interactions generally persisted, while the links with élites of the Iranian world markedly intensified, particularly in the Eastern subregion. In the third period, the Volga-Don élites were predominantly oriented in the direction of Parthian Iran. In the fourth period, the contacts of the barbarian élites of the region are noted mainly with the Bosporan kingdom.

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