A Review of the Radiocarbon Dates for the Afanasyevo Culture (Central Asia): Shifting Towards the “Shorter” Chronology

Andrey V. Poliakov, Svetlana V. Svyatko*, Nadezhda F. Stepanova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
267 Downloads (Pure)


This article provides a summary and in-depth analysis of all existing radiocarbon ( 14 C) dates for the Afanasyevo Culture of the Paleometal period. The previous long chronology of the culture was widely criticized and contradicted many archaeological observations. The exceedingly wide ranges of the liquid scintillation counting (LSC) dates from bone samples produced in several laboratories and the systematically older ages for the wood/charcoal samples finally reveal the shortcomings of the conventional long chronology. From accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), the Afanasyevo burials of the Altai are dated to the 31st-29th century BC, whereas those of the Middle Yenisei Region to the 29th-25th century BC, which confirms the relatively earlier age of the Altai monuments. The short chronology removes the incompatibility of deriving the Afanasyevo Culture from the Yamnaya Culture, which previously appeared younger than the Afanasyevo, and also contradictions with the archaeological data. It also explains the small number of sites, the small size of the cemeteries and the lack of the internal periodization. We can now clearly move, from the earlier understanding that the Afanasyevo chronology is too broad, towards a different perception. The new AMS dates only represent a core for the Afanasyevo chronology, which cannot be narrowed down, but could be slightly expanded over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-263
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Early online date30 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2019


  • Afanasyevo Culture
  • Altai
  • Minusinsk Basin
  • old wood effect
  • Paleometal period
  • radiocarbon chronology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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