Arid Ecosystems

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 187–192 | Cite as

Anthropogenic Degradation of Soils on River Terraces in the Volga–Ural Region in the Bronze Age and Its Effect on the Modern Soil–Plant Cover

  • L. N. PlekhanovaEmail author


The anthropogenic activity in the Bronze Age caused significant transformations of soils and landscapes in the Volga-Ural steppes. The anthropogenic impact was especially strong near ancient settlements. Overgrazing and the vegetation degradation related to it, including subsequent soil erosion, resulted in the development of combinations of soil–plant cover and microrelief not typical for the steppe region. Examples of the development of solonchaks in microdepressions and zonal soils on microelevations have been only revealed in a 1-km-wide zone around numerous Late Bronze settlements in the steppes of Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, and Samara oblasts. It is proposed that the specific anthropogenic complexity of soil and plant cover start to form in the second millennium BC.


anthropogenic impact the Bronze Age ecosystems steppe zone settlements paleosoils inversions complexity overgrazing low floodplain terraces 



The author is grateful to D.G. Zdanovich for support with the organization of the excavations of archaeological monuments during the expeditions of the Arkaim Museum Reserve and to A.V. Borisov, Cand. Sci. (Biol.), for comprehensive assistance with the study object.


This work was performed according to the State Task no. АААА-А18-118013190175-5 (in Parus system no. 0191-2019-0046) “Soil Formation under Conditions of Changing Climate and Anthropogenic Impact.”


Conflict of interest. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Statement of the welfare of animals. This article does not contain any studies involving animals or human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science, Russian Academy of SciencesPushchinoRussia

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