ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2006, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp. 437–439. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Original Russian Text © A.V. Tuganaev, V.V. Tuganaev, 2006, published in Ekologiya, 2006, No. 6, pp. 475–477.
The settlement Zolotarevskoe Gorodishche is an
archaeological landmark of the early 13th century
located in the Penza Volga region. Its history is con-
nected with the ﬁre that occurred during the Tatar–Mon-
gol conquest in 1236. Archaeologist Dr. G.N. Belory-
bkin, who conducted excavations at this site, uncovered
a layer containing plant fruits and seeds mixed with
soil. As such rare ﬁndings are a very valuable source of
information on the composition and structure of agro-
cenoses and speciﬁc features of arable soils, samples
taken from this layer were handed over to specialists for
further analysis. We also received one sample.
The aim of this study was to analyze the composi-
tion of cultivated and weed plants and to assess basic
characteristics of medieval arable soils in the study
The Penza Volga region is situated in the central part
of European Russia, occupying the northwestern slope
of the Volga Upland and the eastern part of the Oka–
Don Lowland (53–55
E). It has a temperate
continental climate. Gray forest soils characteristic of
continental broadleaf forests prevail in the northern
part, and chernozemic (podzolized and leached) forest–
steppe soils prevail in the southern part of the region.
Broadleaf and conifer forest approach its territory from
the north, and steppe areas penetrate from the south.
The mode of subsistence characteristic of the local
population in the Middle Ages involved both hunting–
gathering and husbandry (agriculture and livestock
raising), as natural conditions in the region were favor-
able for these occupations (Belorybkin, 2003).
The material for analysis, taken from excavation site
4 in the area of Zolotarevskoe Gorodishche in 2003,
consisted of a mixture of fruits and seeds with soil. It
was manually cleaned of extraneous matter (small
stones, plant fragments, etc.) and screened through geo-
logical sieves (mesh size 2 to 0.25 mm). Thereafter,
fruits and seeds of cultivated and weed plants were col-
lected for botanical analysis and soil samples for agro-
chemical analysis were taken.
Fruit and seed morphology was studied under an
MBS-9 binocular microscope. To determine plant spe-
cies by fruits and seeds, we used handbooks by
Len’kov (1932), Dobrokhotov (1961), Maisuryan and
Atabekova (1978), and Kats et al. (1965); monographs
, 1935–1937), as
well as drawings, photographs, and diagrams from
numerous publications of Soviet (Russian) and foreign
scientists. In addition, we used the collection of fruits
and seeds kept at the Department of Botany, Udmurt
State University, and our own collection.
The soil was analyzed for the contents of phospho-
rus, potassium, and humus. In addition, exchangeable
and hydrolytic acidity, exchangeable bases, and base
saturation were determined according to the procedure
recommended by the Central Institute of Agrochemical
Service (Kuznetsov, 1997).
The results of analysis of botani-
cal material (see table) show that grains (caryopses) of
Italian millet (
L.) were its main com-
ponent. This crop was common in medieval agriculture
(Pashkevich, 1991; Tuganaev and Tuganaev, 2001).
Arabian traveler A. Gardizi noted its prevalence in his
description of the land of Volga Bulgars in the 11th cen-
tury (Fakhrutdinov, 1984).
Grains of rye (
L.) were equally abun-
dant. As rye occurred only in a mixture with spring cul-
tures, it could only be of the spring form. Moreover, it
is known from the history of agriculture that cultivation
of winter rye in the middle Volga region began only
when the Russians came there, and this occurred after
the Russian conquest and annexation of the Kazan kha-
nate in the 16th century.
L.) were also represented by a
relatively large number of grains. Both rye and oats
already had the status of true cultivated crops in the
Cultivated Plants and Weeds in Fields of the Penza Volga Region
in the Middle Ages
A. V. Tuganaev and V. V. Tuganaev
Udmurt State University, ul. Universitetskaya 1, Izhevsk, 426034 Russia
Received August 2, 2004
: paleoethnobotany, agroecosystems, cultivated plants, weeds, polydominant agrocenoses, weedi-