Seima-Turbino phenomenon

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Spearheads from Turbino cemetery
Bronze figurine
Various artefacts

The Seima-Turbino phenomenon is a pattern of burial sites with similar bronze artifacts dated from 2100 BCE to 1900 BCE[1] (originally dated to 1650 BCE onwards[2]) and recently re-dated to ca. 2300-1700 BCE[3] found across northern Eurasia, particularly Siberia and Central Asia,[1] from Finland to Mongolia.[4] The homeland is considered to be the Altai Mountains.[1] These findings have suggested a common point of cultural origin, possession of advanced metal working technology, and unexplained rapid migration. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, traveling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots.[5]

The name derives from the Seima (Sejma) cemetery at the confluence of the Oka River and Volga River, first excavated around 1914, and the Turbino cemetery in Perm, first excavated in 1924.[5]


ST weapons contain tin bronze ore originating from the Altai Mountains region (central Mongolia and southern Siberia), with further ST discoveries pointing more specifically to the southeastern portions of the Altai and Xinjiang, China.[1] These sites have been identified with the origin of the mysterious ST culture.[6]

Artifacts and weapons[edit]

The bronzes found were technologically advanced for the time, including lost wax casting, and showed high degree of artist input in their design.[7] Horses were the most common shapes for the hilts of blades.[1] Weapons such as spearheads with hooks, single-bladed knives and socketed axes with geometric designs traveled west and east from Xinjiang.[8]


The culture spread from these mountains to the west and to the east.[9]

These cultures are noted for being nomadic forest and steppe societies with metal working, sometimes without having first developed agricultural methods.[6] The development of this metalworking ability appears to have occurred quite quickly.[9]

Although they were the precursor to the much later Mongol invasions, these groups were not yet strong enough to attack the important social sites of the Bronze Age.[10]

ST bronzes have been discovered as far west as the Baltic Sea[1] and the Borodino treasure in Moldavia.[11][12]


Transmission into Southeast Asia[edit]

It has been conjectured that changes in climate in this region around 2000 BC and the ensuing ecological, economic and political changes triggered a rapid and massive migration westward into northeast Europe, eastward into China, and southward into Southeast Asia (Vietnam and Thailand) across a frontier of some 4,000 miles. Supposedly this migration took place in just five to six generations and enabled people from Finland in the west to Thailand in the east employing the same metal working technology and in some areas horse breeding and riding.[4]

However, further excavations and research in Ban Chiang and Ban Non Wat (both Thailand) argue the idea that Seima-Turbino brought metal workings into southeast Asia is based on inaccurate and unreliable radiocarbon dating at the site of Ban Chiang. It is now agreed by virtually every specialist in Southeast Asian prehistory, that the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia occurred too late to be related to ST, and the cast bronzes are quite different.[13]

Uralic urheimat[edit]

The same authors conjectured that the same migrations spread the Uralic languages across Europe and Asia.[4]

It must also be remembered, that the existence of aboriginal Samoyedic and Uralic groups like the Nenets, the Mansi people and the Khanty, anchor the Uralic languages in an ancient language group originating in Central Asia. These languages did not experience any real documentation, until Finnish native linguist Matthias Castrén encountered them on his journeys in the 1840s. Whether or not these languages belong to the Altaic languages is still unclear, but plenty of evidence suggest a connection with the Korean language. [14] [15] [16]

Notable is the similarity between the range of Haplogroup N3a3’6, especially in the western part of Eurasia and the distribution of the Seima-Turbino trans-cultural phenomenon during the interval of 4.2–3.7 kya.[17] Carriers of N3a1-B211, the early branch of N3a, could have migrated to the eastern fringes of Europe by the same Seima-Turbino groups. However earlier migrations cannot be ruled out either; a study of ancient DNA revealed a 7,500-year-old influx from Siberia to northeast Europe.[18][19]

Another subclade of Y-DNA Haplogroup N, which reaches some of its highest frequencies among the Finnic peoples, is N1b (F2930), the time and geographical range of which coincides with the time and geographic range of the migrations. Estimated to be 4000 years old, N1b spread north and westwards from its original locus in Southern Siberia, exactly as Seima-Turbino migration did.[citation needed]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Marchenko et al. 2017.
  2. ^ Anthony 2007, pp. 447.
  3. ^ Higham, F. G. Thomas, et al., (2020)."A New Chronology for a Prehistoric Copper Production Centre in Central Thailand Using Kernel Density Estimates", in Antiquity, preprint p. 4: "...tin-bronze-using metalworkers of the Seima-Turbino horizon (ca. 2300 – 1700 BC), whose origins lie in the Altaï Mountain district of western Mongolia and which spread west and east across northern Eurasia..."
  4. ^ a b c Keys, David (January 2009). "Scholars crack the code of an ancient enigma". BBC History Magazine. 10 (1): 9.
  5. ^ a b A Dictionary of Archaeology, edited by Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson, page 517
  6. ^ a b Anthony 2007.
  7. ^ Anthony 2007, pp. 443-4.
  8. ^ Chernykh 1992, p.220-21, figs. 74, 75.
  9. ^ a b Chernykh, E.N. (2008). "Formation of the Eurasian "Steppe Belt" of Stockbreeding cultures". Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. 35 (3): 36–53. doi:10.1016/j.aeae.2008.11.003.
  10. ^ Christian 1998.
  11. ^ Frachetti, Michael David, Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia, pp. 52–3
  12. ^ Anthony 2007, pp. 444-7.
  13. ^ Higham, C.; Higham, T.; Kijngam, A. (2011), "Cutting a Gordian Knot: the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia: origins, timing and impact", Antiquity, 85 (328): 583–598, doi:10.1017/S0003598X00067971
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ E. Chernykh The “Steppe Belt” of stockbreeding cultures in Eurasia during the Early Metal Age Trab. Prehist., 65 (2008), pp. 73-93, 10.3989/tp.2008.08004
  18. ^ C. Der Sarkissian, O. Balanovsky, G. Brandt, V. Khartanovich, A. Buzhilova, S. Koshel, V. Zaporozhchenko, D. Gronenborn, V. Moiseyev, E. Kolpakov, et al., "Genographic Consortium Ancient DNA reveals prehistoric gene-flow from siberia in the complex human population history of North East Europe" PLoS Genet., 9 (2013), p. e1003296
  19. ^ "The American Journal of Human Genetics: Volume 99, Issue 1: Human Y Chromosome Haplogroup N: A Non-trivial Time-Resolved Phylogeography that Cuts across Language Families", 7 July 2016, Pages 163-173

Further reading[edit]