Early medieval settlements and land use in the Kislovodsk basin (North Caucasus)

D.S. Korobov

Abstract


In the context of searching for agricultural landscapes which have escaped recent anthropogenic disturbance, the evidence of the Kislovodsk basin (North Caucasus) has special importance. Its sheltered location and the fact that it is relatively well-studied, enable us to create, for the first time in Russia, an archaeological Geographic Information System (GIS) for the microregion, which currently includes data on over 920 archaeological sites, from the Aeneolithic to modern times. Preliminary analysis of the archaeological record of the Kislovodsk basin has revealed that the Early Medieval period dating to the fifth - eight centuries AD was characterised by the highest population density. The Site Catchment Analysis used in the framework of GIS revealed over 120 fortified and unfortified settlements of the early medieval Alanic tribes. The investigation consisted of several stages in the course of which potential ploughing areas were modelled for each settlement. It was based on the combined archaeological and soil field survey around fortified settlements in the different parts of the area. It appears that from the fifth to the eighth centuries AD relatively flat territories of 1 km round the site were the most valuable for agriculture. The rest of the economic area, simulated using Thiessen tessellation, could have been used for pasture and hay-making. Computer simulation of the potential economic territories gives the possibility to determine the area of proposed ploughing and pasture holdings and to estimate the quantity of settled population along with their cattle. As a result, a modelling thesis of a small dimension of the patronymic society of the Alans who occupied these early medieval settlements and the affirmation of self-sufficiency of their economy were confirmed.

Keywords


Early Middle Ages, North Caucasus, GIS, Spatial Analysis, Agriculture

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/lac.2014.2

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Copyright (c) 2016 D.S. Korobov

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LAC 2014 proceedings - ISBN 978-90-825296-0-9 - is an open access initiative supported by the University Library, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.