People settled in the territory of the Chelyabinsk Region in the Palaeolithic era (about 70–80 thousand years ago). Scientists regularly find varied archaeological sites and artefacts from that time (ancient weapons, ritual objects, tools and jewellery). The sites of Bogdanovskaya and Troitskaya I as well as the traces of sites of ancient people in the Buranovskaya and Klyuchevskaya caves on the banks of the Yuryuzan river belong to the Middle Palaeolithic era. A collection of rock paintings have been found on the walls of the Ignatyevskaya Cave on the banks of the Sim river.
About 4 thousand years ago, Indo-Europeans founded Arkaim and other fortified settlements. Arkaim was discovered only in the late 1980s, and now there is a museum complex there that includes Stone Age sites, settlements and burial mounds from the Bronze Age, nomadic burial grounds and archaeological reconstructions.
In the 6th century Turkic peoples arrived in the territory of the Chelyabinsk Region. By the beginning of the 14th century mainly Bashkirs, Cheremis and Kazakhs lived here. The region was part of the Golden Horde but was then annexed by the Siberian Khanate.