|Alternative names||Afansevo culture; Afanasevans|
|Geographical range||South Siberia|
|Dates||3300 BCE — 2500 BCE|
|Major sites||Minusinsk Basin|
|Followed by||Okunev culture, Andronovo culture|
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The Afanasievo culture, or Afanasevo culture (Russian Афанасьевская культура Afanas'yevskaya kul'tura; "[the] Afanasevan culture"), is the earliest known archaeological culture of south Siberia, occupying the Minusinsk Basin and the Altai Mountains during the eneolithic era, c. 3300 to 2500 BC. It is named after a nearby mountain, Gora Afanas'yeva (also known as Bateni).
David W. Anthony believes that the Afanasevans were descended from people who migrated c. 3700–3300 BCE across the Eurasian Steppe from the Repin culture of the Don-Volga region (and possibly members of the neighbouring Yamna culture). Because of its geographical location and dating, Anthony and earlier scholars such as Leo Klejn, J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair have linked the Afansevans to the Proto-Tocharian language.
Conventional archaeological understanding tended to date at around 2000–2500 BC. However radiocarbon gave dates as early as 3705 BC on wooden tools and 2874 BC on human remains. The earliest of these dates have now been rejected, giving a date of around 3300 BC for the start of the culture.
Mass graves were not usual for this culture. Afanasevo cemeteries include both single and small collective burials with the deceased usually flexed on his back in a pit. The burial pits are arranged in rectangular, sometimes circular, enclosures marked by stone walls. It has been argued that the burials represent family burial plots with four or five enclosures constituting the local social group.
The Afanasevo economy included cattle, sheep, and goat. Horse remains, either wild or domestic, have also been found. The Afanasevo people became the first food-producers in the area. Tools were manufactured from stone (axes, arrowheads), bone (fish-hooks, points) and antler. Among the antler pieces are objects that have been identified as possible cheek-pieces for horses. Artistic representations of wheeled vehicles found in the area has been attributed to the Afanasevo culture. Ornaments of copper, silver and gold have also been found.
At Afanasevo Gora, two strains of Yersinia pestis have been extracted from human teeth. One is dated 2909–2679 BCE; the other, 2887–2677 BCE. Both are from the same (mass) grave of seven people, and are presumed near-contemporary. This strain's genes express flagellin, which triggers the human immune response; so it was not a bubonic plague.
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Because of its numerous traits attributed to the early Indo-Europeans, like metal-use, horses and wheeled vehicles, and cultural relations with Kurgan steppe cultures, the Afanasevans are believed to have been Indo-European-speaking. According to Allentoft et al. (2015) and Haak et al. (2015), Afanasevo were genetically indistinguishable from Yamnaya people, putative Proto-Indo-Europeans under the Kurgan hypothesis. Only three Afanasevo male samples have had their paternal lineage results published, and all three, like most Yamna males, belong to haplogroup R1b, with two of them belonging to subclade M269, the most numerous among both the Yamna people and in modern Western Europe.
The Afanasevo culture was succeeded by the Okunev culture, which is considered as an extension of the local non-Indo-European forest culture into the region. The region was subsequently occupied by the Andronovo, Karasuk, Tagar and Tashtyk cultures, respectively.
Allentoft et al. (2015) study also confirms that Afanasevo culture was replaced by the second wave of Indo-European migrations from Andronovo culture during late Bronze Age and early Iron Age.[note 1] Tarim mummies were also found to be genetically closer to Andronovo culture than to Yamnaya culture or Afanasevo culture.
- Accoridng to Allentoft et al (2015): "Afanasievo culture persisted in central Asia and, perhaps, Mongolia and China until they themselves were replaced by fierce warriors in chariots called the Sintashta (also known as the Andronovo culture)".
- Allentoft 2015.
- Vadetskaya, E., Polyakov, A., and Stepanova, N. (2014). The set sites of the Afanasievo culture. Barnaul: Azbuka.
- Anthony 2010, p. 307-310.
- Mallory 1997, pp. 4–6
- Anthony 2010, pp. 264–265, 308
- Mallory & Mair 2000
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-  S. Svyatko et al. 2009. New Radiocarbon Dates and a Review of the Chronology of Prehistoric Populations from the Minusinsk Basin, Southern Siberia, Russia. Radiocarbon 2009.1, 243–273 & appendix I p.266
- D.W. Anthony, Two IE phylogenies, three PIE migrations, and four kinds of steppe pastoralism, The Journal of Language Relationship, vol. 9 (2013), pp. 1-21.
- Rasmussen, S15-16. These samples are marked "RISE509" and "RISE511".
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- Keay 2009
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- Anthony, David W. (July 26, 2010). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton University Press. ISBN 1400831105. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
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- Mallory, J. P. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1884964982. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
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