Seima-Turbino phenomenon

Seima-Turbino phenomenon refers to a pattern of burial sites dating around 1500 BC found across northern Eurasia, from Finland to Mongolia, which has suggested a common point of cultural origin, advanced metal working technology, and unexplained rapid migration. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, travelling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots. The name derives from the Seima (Sejma) cemetery at the confluence of the Oka River and Volga River, first excavated around 1914, and the Turbino cemetery in Perm, first excavated in 1924.[1]

These cultures are noted for being nomadic forest and steppe societies with metal working, sometimes without having first developed agricultural methods.[2] The development of this metalworking ability appears to have taken place quite quickly.[3]

The Altai Mountains in what is now southern Russia and central Mongolia have been identified as the point of origin of the cultural enigma of Seima-Turbino Phenomenon.[2][4] The culture spread from these mountains to the west.[3] Artefact types such as spearheads with hooks, single-bladed knives and socketed axes with geometric designs traveled west.[5]

Although they were the precursor to the much later Mongol invasions, these groups were not yet strong enough to attack the important social sites of the Bronze Age.[6]

It is conjectured that changes in climate in this region around 2000 BC and the ensuing ecological, economic and political changes triggered a rapid and massive migration westward into northeast Europe, eastward into China and southward into Vietnam and Thailand across a frontier of some 4,000 miles.[4] This migration took place in just five to six generations and led to peoples from Finland in the west to Thailand in the east employing the same metal working technology and, in some areas, horse breeding and riding.[4] However, further excavations and research in Ban Chiang and Ban Non Wat, Thailand argue the idea that Seima-Turbino brought metal workings into southeast Asia is based on inaccurate and unreliable radiocarbon dating, and remains a hotly debated theory among archaeologists.[7]

It is further conjectured that the same migrations spread the Uralic group of languages across Europe and Asia: some 39 languages of this group are still extant, including Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian and Sami.[4] However, recent genetic testings of sites in south Siberia and Kazakhstan (Andronovo horizon) would rather support a spreading of the bronze technology via Indo-European migrations eastwards, as this technology was well known for quite a while in western regions.[8][9] Although this more likely fact does not affect the possibly Uralic identity of the (Seima-Turbino) culture in question.

See also


  1. A Dictionary of Archaeology, edited by Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson, page 517
  2. 1 2 Anthony, David (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language.
  3. 1 2 Chernykh, E.N. (2008). "Formation of the Eurasian "Steppe Belt" of Stockbreeding cultures". Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. 35 (3): 36–53. doi:10.1016/j.aeae.2008.11.003.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Keys, David (January 2009). "Scholars crack the code of an ancient enigma". BBC History Magazine. 10 (1): 9.
  5. E. N. Chernykh, Ancient Metallurgy in the USSR, The Early Metal Age, 220-21, figs. 74, 75. As referenced in Steppe Weapons in Ancient China and the Role of Hand-to-hand Combat. Jessica Rawson. School of Archaeology. University of Oxford. Accessed 7 Feb 2016.
  6. Christian, David (1998). A history of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia. ISBN 0-631-20814-3.
  7. Higham, C., Higham, T., & Kijngam, A. (2011). Cutting a Gordian Knot: the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia: origins, timing and impact. Antiquity, 85(328).
  8. C. Lalueza-Fox et al. 2004. Unravelling migrations in the steppe: mitochondrial DNA sequences from ancient central Asians
  9. C. Keyser et al. 2009. Ancient DNA provides new insights into the history of south Siberian Kurgan people. Human Genetics.
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