1067-4136/01/3201- $25.00 © 2001
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2001, pp. 12–16. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 1, 2001, pp. 14–19.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2001 by Makhonina, Korkina.
Soils have been disturbed or completely destroyed
throughout the history of human society, including the
present time, notwithstanding the close bonds between
man and soil. These phenomena have become espe-
cially widespread in the past few decades because of
rapid industrial development. Hence, it is very impor-
tant to know the course and rates of soil recovery in dis-
V.V. Dokuchaev was among the ﬁrst to regard time
as one of the most important factors of soil formation,
as all processes in nature develop in time. He also stud-
ied the soil formed on the limestone walls of Staro-
Ladozhskaya Fortress, which was 800 years old. Soils
are known to develop very slowly. However, concrete
data on the rate of soil development are scarce because
it is difﬁcult to ﬁnd exactly dated time sequences (chro-
nosequences) of soils. The analysis of chronosequences
of the soils formed on the surface of dated earthen
archaeological monuments is one of the possible ways
of studying soil dynamics.
The concepts of soil self-development to the mature
state, mature soils, and the evolution of mature soils
upon changes in the conditions of soil formation are
used in theoretical soil science. To characterize the rate
of soil formation, Targul’yan and Sokolov (1978) intro-
duced the concept of “characteristic time” (CT), i.e.,
the period of time during which the developing soils
reach the mature state with respect to their certain prop-
These authors showed that CT can change from
days to hundreds of thousands of years. However, the
data on CTs for different soil types are scarce. In this
respect, the book by Gennadiev (1990) is of interest. It
provides data that the rate of increase in the thickness
of humus horizons in different soil types generally var-
ies from 0.10 to 1.00 mm per year.
The purpose of our work was to study the character-
istics of two soils, 1500 and 2700 years old, formed on
fortiﬁcations of ancient settlements in Tyumen oblast
(archaeological landmarks Endyrskoe gorodishche IV
and Endyrskoe gorodishche III); to compare them with
the characteristics of background soils not exposed to
anthropogenic impact; and, on this basis, to determine
CTs for certain soil properties.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The aforementioned archaeological landmarks are
located in the central taiga subzone of Western Siberia
on the terraces of the Endyr River, a tributary of the Ob
River, 80 km southeast of the city of Nyagan’. Sands
and loamy sands are the main parent rocks in this area.
Podzols are the background soils in the watershed
areas. Coniferous (mainly pine) forests represent the
natural vegetation of the region. Cowberry, bilberry,
green mosses, and lichens dominate in the herbaceous–
dwarf shrub layer. A zonal section was made in a cow-
berry–moss–lichen pine forest.
It is known that soil properties depend on the cli-
mate, bedrocks, relief, fauna and ﬂora, and the time of
soil formation. The effect of a concrete factor is easier
to reveal when all other effects are the same or similar.
In this respect, the chosen landmarks of different
ages are convenient for studying the dynamics of soil
formation, as fortiﬁcations of the ancient settlements
were made of similar rocks (sands and sandy loams).
The vegetation on these fortiﬁcations corresponds to
the zonal vegetation (pine forests). A cowberry–moss–
lichen pine forest with the admixture of spruce grows
on the rampart of the 1500-year-old settlement, and a
cowberry–moss–lichen pine forest grows on the
2700-year-old rampart. Climatic conditions are identi-
The Rate of Soil Cover Recovery in Anthropogenically Disturbed
Areas: An Example of Western Siberian Archaeological
G. I. Makhonina and I. N. Korkina
Ural State University, pr. Lenina 51, Yekaterinburg, 620083 Russia
Received July 13, 2000
—The soils formed on fortiﬁcations around the sites of ancient settlements 1500 and 2700 years old
were studied in the Endyr archaeological landmarks (West Siberia, central taiga). It was shown that podzolic
soils with morphological characteristics identical to those of the background soils were formed during these
time periods. An attempt was made to estimate the “characteristic times” for some chemical characters. The
greatest values of this parameter were about 8000 years.
soil, time, soil formation rate, archaeological landmarks.