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Terrestrial vegetation and lake aquatic community diversity under climate change during the mid–late Holocene in the Altai Mountains

S. Karachurina, N. Rudaya, L. Frolova, O. Kuzmina, X. Cao, V. Chepinoga, K. Stoof-Leichsenring,
B. Biskaborn, U. Herzschuh, N. Nigmatullin,  Y. Vnukovskaya, I. Grekov, L. Pestryakova

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Volume 623, 1 August 2023, 111623


Using pollen analysis and metabarcoding of plant sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNa), we infer the floristic diversity in the vicinity of Lake Balyktukel, Ulagan Plateau, the Altai Mountains, over the last 7 kyr. The SedaDNA method identified 200% more taxa than found by morphological pollen analysis. In particular, it revealed that the dominant tree for the last 7 kyr was Larix rather than Pinus, which was less frequent in the vicinity of Lake Balyktukel. About 7 ka, larch forest mixed with dwarf birch was widespread on the Ulagan Plateau. The period between 5.3 and 3.4 kyr BP was characterized by the maximal spread of larch forest with an understorey cover of Vaccinium vitis-idaea. Pollen-based annual precipitation reconstruction indicates the most humid phase was between 6.95 and 4.3 ka, and generally coincides with maximal phytodiversity. The most bioproductive period of the lake was from 7 to 6 ka. After that, the trophicity of the lake decreased until 4.5 ka. The appearance of Hippuris vulgaris and increase in Ranunculus subgen. Batrachium at about 5.3–5 ka may indicate the extension of shallow-water ecotopes. Between 3.7 and 3.5 ka, the cyanobacterium Anabaena – an indicator of increased organic matter and algal blooms – was widespread. A planktic thermophilic cladoceran Bosmina longirostris appeared after 1.8 ka and colonized the lake, suggesting an increase in lake trophicity. The last 100 years have been characterized by dramatic changes in the cladoceran community reflecting significant warming of climate.


Irrigation Systems of the Altai:

Results and Prospects of Archaeological Studies

Konstantinov N.A., Beketova (Akimova) T.A., Soenov V.I., Zhilich S.V., Rudaya N.A. Irrigation Systems of the Altai: Results and Prospects of Archaeological Studies. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2023;51(2):93-101.


We present the fi ndings of studies concerning the irrigation systems of the Altai and outline the directions of their further exploration. Irrigation canals, widely distributed in alpine valleys and intermontane depressions, are streams of the drift type. Most are found in central Altai and in the Chulyshman River valley of eastern Altai. Complex irrigation systems were recorded in the Bilgebash and Sarduma river mouths in the Chuya valley, in the Chulcha River mouth in the Chulyshman valley, and in Tötö, the Kurai basin. Pilot excavations of the main canals showed that wooden troughs had been placed on their bottoms. Radiocarbon analysis of wood from those troughs (Cheba and Oroktoi) suggests that they date to the Late Middle Ages, and a soil sample from the bottom of the canal of the Tenga irrigation system indicates early medieval age. In the 1800s and early 1900s, canals were used by the natives mainly for watering small plots of barley, but also of wheat and rye. Agriculture has been practiced in the Altai at least since the Early Iron Age, having fl ourished, apparently, during the Early Middle Ages. The first irrigation systems must have appeared together with the fi rst farmers; however, taking into account the prolonged use and modifi cations of the main canals, assessing the time of their initial construction is diffi cult.

Keywords: Irrigation, irrigation systems, Altai, canals, agriculture, suvak, dating.

Katu-Yaryk-1 irrigation system. Eastern Altai, the Chulyshman River valley

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