|Geographical range||Russia, Ukraine|
|Dates||c. 4500 BC – 3500 BC|
|Preceded by||Khvalynsk culture, Dnieper-Donets culture|
|Followed by||Cernavodă culture, Yamnaya culture, Suvorovo culture, Novodanilovka group|
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The Sredny Stog culture (Russian: Среднестоговская культура) is a pre-Kurgan archaeological culture from the 5th millennium BC. It is named after the Russian term for the Dnieper river islet of today's Seredny Stih, Ukraine, where it was first located.
The Sredny Stog culture was situated across the Dnieper river on both its shores, with sporadic settlements to the west and east.
One of the best known sites associated with this culture is Dereivka, located on the right bank of the Omelnik, a tributary of the Dnieper, and is the most impressive site within the Sredny Stog culture complex, being about 2,000 square meters in area.
The Sredny Stog culture is known for initiating the domestication of horses.
The Sredny Stog people are distinguished from the other cultures found in the Balkans by the way they lived more mobile lives. This was seen in their temporary settlements, particularly their dwellings, which were simple rectilinear structures.
The expert Dmytro Telegin has divided the chronology of Sredny Stog into two distinct phases. Phase II (ca. 4000–3500 BC) used corded ware pottery which may have originated there, and stone battle-axes of the type later associated with expanding Indo-European cultures to the West. Most notably, it has perhaps the earliest evidence of horse domestication (in phase II), with finds suggestive of cheek-pieces (psalia). Evidence revealed that around 6,000ya, the culture has domesticated the wild Przewalski's horse. However, there is no conclusive proof that that horses were used for riding since they were mainly employed for gathering food.
In its three largest cemeteries, Alexandria (39 individuals), Igren (17) and Dereivka (14), evidence of inhumation in flat graves (ground level pits) has been found. This parallels the practise of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, and is in contrast with the later Yamna culture, which practiced tumuli burials, according to the Kurgan hypothesis.
In Sredny Stog culture, the deceased were laid to rest on their backs with the legs flexed. The use of ochre in the burial was practiced, as with the kurgan cultures. For this and other reasons, Yuri Rassamakin suggests that the Sredny Stog culture should be considered as an areal term, with at least four distinct cultural elements co-existing inside the same geographical area.
Examination of physical remains of the Sredny Stog people has determined that they were Europoid. A similar physical type prevails among the Yamnaya, who were tall and powerfully built. People of the neighboring Khvalynsk culture were less powerfully built.[a] People of the preceding Dnieper-Donets culture were even more powerfully built than the Sredny Stog and Yamnaya.
A genetic study published in Nature in February 2018 included an analysis of a male buried at Alexandria, Ukraine ca. 4000 BC. This site is ascribed to the Sredny Stog culture. He was found to be carrying the paternal haplogroup R1a1a1 (R1a-Z93, probably one of its earliest known members) and the maternal haplogroup H2a1a. He carried about 80% Western Steppe Herder (WSH) ancestry and about 20% Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry.
The Sredny Stog male is the first steppe individual found to have been carrying EEF ancestry. As a carrier of the 13910 allelle, he is the earliest individual ever examined who has had a genetic adaption to lactase persistence. His R1a-Z93 paternal haplogroup is later found in the Sintashta culture and subsequent Indo-Iranians. The WHG genetic cluster was a result of mixing between Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs) and Caucasian Hunter-Gatherers (CHGs). This mixing appears to have happened on the eastern Pontic–Caspian steppe around 5,000 BC.
The WSH ancestry found in the Sredny Stog culture is similar to that of the Khvalynsk culture, among whom there was no EEF admixture. Males of the Khvalynsk culture carried primarily the paternal haplogroup R1b, although a few samples of R1a, I2a2, Q1a and J has been detected. Succeeding Yamnaya males however, have been found to be have only carried R1b and I2. This is similar to the males of the Dnieper-Donets culture, who carried R and I only and were exclusively EHGs with Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) admixture. The results suggest that the Yamnaya emerged through mixing between EHG and WHG males, and EEF and CHG females. This implies that the leading clans of the Yamnaya were of EHG and WHG origin. On this basis, David W. Anthony argues that the Indo-European languages were initially spoken by EHGs of Eastern Europe.
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