Volga–Oka Culture

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A collective name sometimes applied to pottery‐using hunter‐gatherer communities in the forest zone of the central Russian Plain, in the region enclosed by the Upper Volga, Oka, and Desna rivers, during the 4th and 3rd millennia bc. This area was the homeland of the pit‐comb ware cultures, direct descendants of the local Mesolithic groups. The earliest of the Volga–Oka cultures was the Lialovo Culture in the mid 4th millennium bc. Closely related was the Belev Culture, which developed in the later 4th millennium bc to the south of the Lialovo. Both had a settlement pattern that kept to the riverbanks, the shores of lakes, or sand‐dunes. The accumulated layers at excavated sites on lake margins point to a rather settled way of life, but sites on sand‐dunes appear to be transitory. No agriculture or animal husbandry was practised, subsistence economies being based on hunting and fishing. The pottery comprises characteristic baggy vessels with a pointed or rounded base, decorated with deeply impressed pits often arranged in horizontal zones divided by comb impressions. Regional and local variations in ceramic styles are evident. The Volga–Oka Culture was superseded by the Fatyanovo Culture around 2000 bc.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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