10. Identifying Hunter-Gatherer Mobility Patterns Using Strontium Isotopes
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Identifying Hunter-Gatherer Mobility Patterns Using Strontium Isotopes Caroline M. Haverkort, Vladimir I. Bazaliiskii, and Nikolai A. Savel’ev 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 annual range, lifetime range and residential or logistic mobility (cf. Binford 1980, 1983). Such patterns provide an indication of the general area where resources would or could have been procured, and tend to refer to grouplevel mobility patterns. The term mobility may also be used in the context of individual or group migration events (e.g., Ezzo et al. 1997; Ezzo and Price 2002; Grupe et al. 1997). Hunter-gatherers may shift their overall foraging range not only between the seasons, but from year to year, or over a longer time scale. Such territorial shifts may have environmental reasons, for example, when a main prey species has moved its range in response to resource stress, or sociocultural reasons , such as is described for the Nunamiut hunters during different stages of their life (Binford 1983). The historical development of theoretical models describing huntergatherer mobility strategies has been characterized by a shift in emphasis from group to individual. While the environment is still considered to be of fundamental importance, the role of individual agency has come to be recognized as an important evolutionary driving force for cultural change (e.g., Bettinger 1991; Kelly 1995; Mithen 1990; Smith and Winterhalder 1992). Thus, a method of resolving the nature of spatially and temporally aggregate ‹ 10 › 218 Caroline M. Haverkort, Vladimir I. Bazaliiskii, and Nikolai A. Savel’ev patterns, through identification of individual mobility patterns, would provide a significant contribution to hunter-gatherer studies. Strontium (Sr) isotope analysis of prehistoric human remains holds considerable potential in this regard (cf. Beard and Johnson 2000; Ericson 1985, 1989). Studies have primarily focused on identification of individual migration patterns between what are assumed to have been largely sedentary agricultural communities in continental Europe and England (Bentley et al. 2003, 2004; Grupe et al. 1997; Montgomery et al. 2000; Price et al. 1994a, 1998, 2001; Schweissing and Grupe 2003), the Americas (Ezzo et al. 1997; Ezzo and Price 2002; Hodell et al. 2004; Knudson et al. 2004; Price et al. 1994b, 2000), and more recently in a North African prehistoric pastoral population (Tafuri et al. 2006). The presence of large prehistoric cemeteries associated with hunter-gatherer cultures in the Cis-Baikal region offers the unique opportunity to investigate the feasibility of using the Sr-isotope method to study individual mobility patterns among foragers. Previous studies of Cis-Baikal foraging populations by the Baikal Archaeology Project have revealed that Early Neolithic Kitoi groups differed in their adaptations from Late Neolithic to Bronze Age Isakovo, Serovo, and Glazkovo groups. Research findings to date suggest that both Kitoi and the later Isakovo–Serovo–Glazkovo may have been relatively sedentary during at leastpartoftheyear,mostlikelythesummermonths,whenabundantandpredictable aquatic resources were available and a large number of people would have been needed to harvest and process fish. Evidence of social complexity with varying levels of social inequality, and some osteological indicators of intra-community violence among the Kitoi, point to a possibly much more complex pattern of availability and access to resources. These hypotheses are based on archaeological and osteological evidence from cemetery sites in the area, as well as ethnographic evidence for economically important resources. Initially,itappearedthatthetypesandabundanceofresourceswouldhave been relatively similar across the time span from Early Neolithic to Bronze Age times (Weber et al. 2002). Nonetheless, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data, which provide insight into dietary choices, indicate that the Kitoi and Isakovo–Serovo–Glazkovo peoples made a somewhat different selection from among those available resources (Katzenberg and Weber 1999). For example , the Baikal seal did not play a significant role in the subsistence system of the Kitoi, while it became an important resource for the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples. Does this merely reflect cultural preferences, or did access to the Baikal seal not fit into the seasonal or annual pattern of resource Identifying Hunter-Gatherer Mobility Patterns Using Strontium Isotopes 219 exploitation practiced by the Kitoi people? The Kitoi appear to have focused more strongly on fishing, with settlements more confined to restricted territories along major waterways...

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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