University of Oulu

Aleinikov, A., Lisitsyna, O. Archival Analysis of Slash-And-Burn Agriculture in the Northern Ural Mountains at the End of the Nineteenth Century. Hum Ecol 51, 671–683 (2023).

Archival analysis of slash-and-burn agriculture in the Northern Ural Mountains at the end of the nineteenth century

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Author: Aleinikov, Alexei1; Lisitsyna, Olga2,3
Organizations: 1Laboratory of Structural and Functional Organization and Resilience of Forest Ecosystems, Center for Forest Ecology and Productivity of the Russian Academy of Science, 84/32, Profsoyuznaya, Moscow, 117997, Russia
2Department of Geology, Tallinn University of Technology, Ehitajate tee 5, Tallinn, 19086, Estonia
3Archaeology department, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 1000, Oulu, 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-07


At the end of the nineteenth century, the northern territories of the Russian Plain and western piedmont of Northern Ural Mountains were under various land-use systems, including slash-and-burn (SAB) agriculture. Using archival materials for the years 1880–1910 as data sources, we analyse the the location and extent of SAB agriculture, it timing, and its impact on the landscapes at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and present a review of the historical and ethnographic literature. The study area is in the western piedmont of the Northern Ural Mountains, between the Kama and Pechora rivers in dark conifer dominated forests. The population is sparse (14 people per 100 km² in 1900) and settled along the rivers. In 1885 the practice of SAB agriculture was totally prohibited, but the unusually large crop harvest during the first years of the ban led people to risk breaking the law. Between the years 1885 and 1894 a total number of 175 SAB cases was recorded in the study area. The SAB sites were used only once before being abandoned. The recorded plots were usually cultivated by one family. They small (0.03 ha to 2.70 ha, with a median of 0.55 ha) and located within 7.5 km of the settlements. The practice SAB agriculture led to the formation of mosaics of multiple-aged pyrogenic forest associations near the settlements.

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Series: Human ecology
ISSN: 0300-7839
ISSN-E: 1572-9915
ISSN-L: 0300-7839
Volume: 51
Issue: 4
Pages: 671 - 683
DOI: 10.1007/s10745-023-00435-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: Alexei Aleinikov is supported by the assignment of the CEPF RAS (no. 121121600118-8). Olga Lisitsyna is supported by the Mobilitas Plus post-doctoral research grant of The Estonian Research Council MOBJD313, by ESF project number PRG323, and by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 756431).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit