Potapovka culture

Potapovka culture

Potapovka culture, ca. 2500—2000 BC. A Bronze Age culture centered on the Samara bend in the middle Volga region, projecting well east into the Samara River valley.

It seems to be connected only in a material culture way with the earlier stage of the Andronovo culture (Sintashta and Petrovka period), but probably genetically to the Poltavka culture, with influences from the more northerly Abashevo culture. Loosely, it can be considered as descended from the earlier Khvalynsk culture and Samara culture, both of which occupied this same geographic extent.

The inhumations are in kurgans (tumuli). Smaller less important graves surround the original tumulus. Animals, either whole or in parts, were among the grave offerings (cattle, sheep, goats, dogs). One burial has the corpse's head replaced with that of a horse, :"reminiscent of the Vedic account of how the Asvíns replace the head of the priest Dadhyañc Artharvana with that of a horse so that he could reveal the secret of the sacred drink." —EIEC "Potapovka Culture"

The culture was clearly comfortable with horses. Wheels and wheeled vehicles are equivocally identified in the remains.

Mallory argues that the Potapovka culture's lack of a clear genetic relationship with the early Andronovo culture, and that the Andronovo lacks an immediate local ancestor, the "cultural trajectory" for the Indo-European societies of this region need to be seen as coming from the west.

This would probably put the Urheimat into the Yamna culture, and its predecessor, the Sredny Stog culture.


*J. P. Mallory, "Potapovka Culture", "Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture", Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.

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