Barbarian Smelters in Lower Buh Region in Archaic Times
The level of bronze casting development in the Northern Black Sea region in the 6th – 5th century BCE is analyzed in the paper. The author concludes that, contrary to the traditional view of the exclusive role of ancient colonies in the history of the local population, non-ferrous metalworking in the Greek colonies was inferior to Scythian in terms of volume and complexity of technological techniques.
Such point of view was formed as a result of a certain lacuna in the study of Scythian sites of settled life, which appeared in the mid-19th century, and was adhered to until the 50s of the 20th century when an extensive study of the Scythian ancient settlements in the forest-steppe zone began. At the site of almost every large ancient settlement, clear traces of local metalworking, significantly exceeding Olbia ones in terms of amount and quality of material, were detected. Stationary foundries with sets of tools, numerous products of barbarian smelters, and semi-finished produced items were found. The quantity of Scythian foundry molds, about which the researchers in the 40s of the 20th century wrote that only a few items had been known, today numbers a few dozen items, and their collection greatly exaggerates a similar assemblage from Olbia.
Analysis of the remains of metalworking from Olbia and the Lower Buh region as a whole makes it possible to state that at that time in Olbia and in the settlements of its chora, in Berezan and Yahorlyk settlements mostly worked strolling smelters, natives of the barbarian area – the Balkans and Carpathians basin, the forest-steppe zone of Ukraine, the North Caucasus and even the Volga-Urals region and Western Siberia. This is corroborated, first of all, by the nature of the produced items – barbaric adornments and arrowheads of various types, typical of certain areas of the Northern Black Sea region and the East.
Also, the raw material itself raises many questions, and one of the fundamental questions is where the Greek colonists took the metal on the unfamiliar territory. And the analysis of metal produced items showed the presence of metal not only from the Balkans and the Carpathians but also from the Volga-Urals and North Caucasus deposits, which the Greeks in the 6th century BCE hardly knew. We do not mention the mythical route from Olbia to the Volga region and the Urals since it did not exist. Greek merchants were frequent visitors to the Dnipro region Scythian ancient settlements, but they did not get beyond the Dnipro rapids. No Greek item is known in the areas of Ananin culture. On the other hand, Scythian weapons and metal adornments, made in the Scythian animal style, are often found at the sites of ancient settlements and necropolises.
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