Home    Number 3, 2015

Sovremennye "traditsionnye" kul'tury narodov Severa. Vvedenie

Type of publication: Research Article

About author(s)

Iurii Berezkin | berezkin1@gmail.com | Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), European University at St. Petersburg


alcor, peopling of america, cosmonуmy, ursa major, great bear, indo-european homeland


The earliest interpretation of the Great Bear was based on the identification of every main star with a particular person (“Seven brothers” and the like). In the end of the Late Paleolithic and possibly since about the Last Glacial Maximum this version spread across all the Eurasian belt to the south of the Ice Sheets and Arctic deserts. Not later than 12-14,000 B. P. it was brought to the North American Plains across Beringia and Mackensie corridor. The historic links between Eurasian and North American cases are proved by the identical interpretation of Alcor and by inclusion of a motif of “strong men with different abilities” into the corresponding texts both in Mongolia – Southern Siberia and in the Plains. In the Bronze Age the earlier cosmonyms for the Great Bear in Europe and in the Near East were largely replaced by interpretation of this constellation as a cart or wagon. The “sky wagon” was brought to Central (recent data on the Darkhats) and Eastern Asia (the data of Sima Qian) by the Tocharians (or other, not identified, Indo-European group). The Indo- Iranians are the only Indo-European branch to whom the “Sky wagon” remained unknown. It probably means that the “Sky wagon” never spread across southern part of East Europe, at least not before the Indo-Iranians split from other Indo-Europeans. This cosmonym either emerged in Central Europe or was adopted there from the Near East across the Balkans but not across the Caucasus.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Russian Foundation for Basic Research, grant no. 14-06-00247


Berezkin, Y.E. 2015. “Semero brat’iev”, “nebesnaia povozka” i prarodina indoyevropeirsev [“Seven Brothers”, “Sky Wagon” and the Indo-European Homeland]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 3-14

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