Potapovka culture

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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.

It was preceded by the Poltavka culture, and succeeded by the Srubna culture.


In a study published on 10 October 2015,[1] three indiduals of the Potapovka culture could be surveyed. Extractions from both of the males (from two different sites) were determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1. Extractions of mtDNA from two of the three individuals were determined to represent one sample of haplogroup U2e and one sample of haplogroup T1. The list of surveyed individuals:

  • Kurgan burials at Utyevka VI cemetery:
    • kurgan 7, grave 1, sample I0419, male - Y-DNA R1a1a1b2 and mtDNA U2e1h
  • Kurgan burials at Utyevka IV cemetery:
    • kurgan 6, grave 2, sample I0246, male - Y-DNA R1a1a1 (Y-SNP calls for I0246); originally reported as P1
    • kurgan 4, grave 1, sample I0418, female - mtDNA T1a1

In contrast, the male individuals of the preceding Poltavka culture (2900 - 2500 BCE) of this region exclusively carried haplogroup R1b-Z2103 with one outlier individual (I0432 from the Potapovka-I cemetery) carrying R1a- Z93. This has been interpreted as a population change in the Samara area after the Poltavka period as the populations which appear afterward possess an average of ~17% Anatolian Neolithic or European Farmer ancestry, present only sparingly in the Pit Grave populations.[2]


  1. ^ Supplementary Information. Archaeological context for 83 newly reported ancient samples. Pages 11–12 in Mathieson, Lazaridis; et al. (2015). "Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe". bioRxiv 016477.
  2. ^ Mathieson, Lazaridis; et al. (2015). "Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe". p. 11. bioRxiv 016477.