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Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia

Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Life Ways

Edited by Andrzej Weber, M. Anne Katzenberg, and Theodore G. Schurr

Publication Year: 2010

Siberia's Lake Baikal region is an archaeologically unique and emerging area of hunter-gatherer research, offering insights into the complexity, variability, and dynamics of long-term culture change. The exceptional quality of archaeological materials recovered there facilitates interdisciplinary studies whose relevance extends far beyond the region. The Baikal Archaeology Project—one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted in the history of subarctic archaeology—is conducted by an international multidisciplinary team studying Middle Holocene (about 9,000 to 3,000 years B.P.) hunter-gatherers of the region. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the project includes scholars in archaeology, physical anthropology, ethnography, molecular biology, geophysics, geochemistry, and paleoenvironmental studies.

This book presents the current team's research findings on questions about long-term patterns of hunter-gatherer adaptive strategies. Grounded in interdisciplinary approaches to primary research questions of cultural change and continuity over 6,000 years, the project utilizes advanced research methods and integrates diverse lines of evidence in making fundamental and lasting contributions to hunter-gatherer archaeology.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xx

The primary purpose of this book is to share the findings of multidisciplinary research into the Middle Holocene (Neolithic and Bronze Age) hunter-gatherers of the Cis-Baikal region in Siberia conducted since the late 1990s by international scholars associated with the Baikal Archaeology Project (BAP). The book...

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1. Holocene Climate, Environmental Change, and Neolithic Biocultural Discontinuity in the Baikal Region

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pp. 1-26

The Neolithic–Bronze Age culture history of the Lake Baikal region of south-central Siberia has been a subject of scientific investigation for more than a century. Recent excavation and analysis of several large mortuary complexes and extensive radiocarbon dating of recovered human skeletal remains reported by the Baikal Archaeology Project (BAP) have significantly revised long-held cultural historical models for the area, in addition to...

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2. Radiocarbon Dating of Middle Holocene Culture History in Cis-Baikal

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pp. 27-49

Since the late 1980s, radiocarbon dating has played an increasingly important role in research on Middle Holocene culture history in Cis-Baikal. Previous efforts to develop a chronology for Cis-Baikal Neolithic hunter-gatherer mortuary traditions revealed the general antiquity of the Kitoi, a discontinuity between traditions in the Middle Holocene, and ambiguity with respect to the chronological relationship between the Isakovo-Serovo and ...

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3. Mesolithic and Neolithic Mortuary Complexes in the Baikal Region

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pp. 51-86

As many as 90 Mesolithic and Neolithic cemeteries or individual graves have been documented in the basins of the Angara and Upper Lena rivers, the lower reaches of the Selenga River, the Vitim River, and the coast of Lake Baikal in East Siberia (Fig. 3.1). Based on these materials numerous models of Middle Holocene culture history have been proposed for the Baikal region, although current research has demonstrated that a number of...

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4. Variability in Bronze Age Mortuary Practices in the Little Sea Microregion of Cis-Baikal

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pp. 87-106

The Little Sea (Ol’khon) region of Cis-Baikal contains the best record of Bronze Age hunter-gatherer adaptations in the entire Cis-Baikal. A recent analysis of the Bronze Age hunter-gatherer cemetery Khuzhir-Nuge XIV (KN XIV), located on the western shores of Lake Baikal’s Little Sea, revealed that the site was divided into three well-defined spatial clusters that were created and maintained through the reproduction of enduring social ...

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5. Uncovering the Genetic Landscape of Prehistoric Cis-Baikal

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pp. 107-119

Lake Baikal is an enigmatic part of the Siberian landscape. Situated about halfway between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Baikal and its surrounding river basins have likely been occupied since the Early Upper Paleolithic (i.e., about 40 kya; Goebel 1999; Chlachula 2001). Many of these Paleolithic sites have been found on the upper reaches of the Angara River, the sole outlet draining Lake Baikal. Thus, the population origins of the first ...

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6. Genetic Diversity in Native Siberians: Implications for the Prehistoric Settlement of the Cis-Baikal Region

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pp. 121-134

Since 1992 genetic research has greatly illuminated the history of and biological relationships among indigenous Siberian populations. Studies employing the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the paternally inherited Y-chromosome (NRY) have provided new information about the origins and patterns of dispersal of a variety of the native populations that inhabit this part of northern Eurasia (Fig. 6.1). By analyzing...

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7. Health and Behavior in Mid-Holocene Cis-Baikal: Biological Indicators of Adaptation and Culture Change

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pp. 135-173

Bioarchaeology—the study of archaeological human remains—has made significant contributions to the understanding of human adaptation and the biological history of past populations. Because skeletal and dental tissues are sensitive to environmental fluctuations, they reflect a wide variety of human behaviors and conditions including diet, nutrition, nonspecific stress, physical activity and mobility, environmental and occupational hazards ...

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8. Diet Reconstruction of Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers in the Lake Baikal Region

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pp. 175-191

An understanding of human diet and subsistence practices is central to understanding past human adaptations. In East Siberia the potential food resources are limited by the climate and topography. There is a rich and varied aquatic fauna in the Lake Baikal region, particularly in the lake but also in the numerous rivers flowing in and the Angara River flowing out of Lake ...

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9. Skeletal Morphology, Climatic Adaptation, and Habitual Behavior among Mid-Holocene Cis-Baikal Populations

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pp. 193-216

The well-preserved and numerous Middle Holocene human remains from Cis-Baikal provide a rare opportunity to investigate patterns of human adaptation and skeletal mechanics in hunting and gathering populations across a period of significant cultural change. Many of the best-preserved human remains are derived from the earliest cemeteries that date to the Early Neolithic (Kitoi Culture) at the sites of Lokomotiv and Shamanka ...

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10. Identifying Hunter-Gatherer Mobility Patterns Using Strontium Isotopes

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pp. 217-238

Mobility strategies are a fundamental aspect of hunter-gatherer adaptations, and they are strongly interconnected with numerous other social, cultural, and environmental variables (for excellent summaries, see, e.g., Bettinger 1991; Kelly 1995). When mobility is discussed in an archaeological context, it often refers to large scale patterns and strategies, both in a temporal and spatial sense, with these being described in terms such as ...

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11. The Bronze Age in Cis-Baikal: A Review of Research and Future Prospects

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pp. 239-256

The goal of this chapter is to review archaeological research on the Bronze Age in the Cis-Baikal region of East Siberia. There are two distinct characteristics of this work, the beginnings of which date back to second half of the 19th century. First, because the cultural developments during the Cis-Baikal Bronze Age display continuity with the preceding Neolithic, essentially all culture history models developed over the years typically cover both ...

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Epilogue: Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal Hunter-Gatherers in Overview

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pp. 257-260

A logical step to take at this point in our discussion would be an attempt to revise the model of hunter-gatherer culture change in the Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal upon which the current research has been predicated (Weber, Link, and Katzenberg 2002). Much of this work has been summarized in this volume and provides many new and useful insights. Meanwhile, a few reasons lead us to believe that it is too early for a new model to make a ...


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pp. 261-312


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pp. 313-319

E-ISBN-13: 9781934536391
Print-ISBN-13: 9781934536117

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Human remains (Archaeology) -- Russia (Federation) -- Baikal, Lake, Region.
  • Burial -- Russia (Federation) -- Baikal, Lake, Region.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Russia (Federation) -- Baikal, Lake, Region.
  • Baikal, Lake, Region (Russia) -- Antiquities.
  • Neolithic period -- Russia (Federation) -- Baikal, Lake, Region.
  • Hunting and gathering societies -- Russia (Federation) -- Baikal, Lake, Region.
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