restricted access Epilogue: Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal Hunter-Gatherers in Overview
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Epilogue: Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal Hunter-Gatherers in Overview Andrzej W. Weber and Robert Bettinger Alogical 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 significant contribution to our ongoing research. First, from the overview presented here, it is clear which descriptive aspects of the model are still valid and which are not. It is also clear that it is not the details of the model that have driven our current studies but its main pillars, which involve identification of three distinct patterns of hunter -gatherer adaptations, each related to a specific culture historical period: Early Neolithic, Middle Neolithic, and Late Neolithic and Bronze Age, or perhaps even four if we include the Mesolithic in our considerations. Second, while the model defined various parameters of these adaptations, the much more important matters related to causality were explicitly left out, due to insufficient data. While this situation has changed considerably, the new insights also emphasize the critical role of information from habitation sites— the status of which rarely goes beyond negative evidence. Third, admittedly the empirical data available today exceed substantially, in both quality and volume, the material on which we built our previous model. Moreover, these data have substantially changed the general timing and context of our research . The radiocarbon revolution necessitated a reassessment of the Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal prehistory, as well as the identification of current issues and the definition of a new research strategy to address them. The set of 258 Andrzej W. Weber and Robert Bettinger hypotheses regarding the nature of culture patterns and change presented by Weber, Link, and Katzenberg (2002) was designed specifically to meet these new goals. It also seems that the main tenets retain enough relevance to direct our research for some time. The new synthesis needs to focus on the forces driving hunter-gatherer cultural diversity, both in its spatial and temporal dimensions, rather than on the description of its cultural and environmental parameters. Examples of the most critical questions to address include: What are the processes behind the genetic and cultural discontinuity and diversity during the Middle Holocene ? Why did the local hunter-gatherers experience such a cycle of adaptive changes? What are the processes responsible for the documented patterns of spatiotemporal variability in these hunter-gatherer groups? What is the role of the environment in these processes? What are the reasons for the collapse of the intriguing Kitoi phenomenon? Equally important, however, is that the new synthesis stands firmly as much on theoretical as on empirical grounds. Consequently, this task is being left for separate treatment on a different occasion . Nevertheless, it is still useful to conclude this book with a few generalizations . The material presented here strongly suggests that the Early Neolithic and Late Neolithic–Bronze Age hunter-gatherer adaptations are characterized by two qualitatively and quantitatively different cultural patterns, while not much can be inferred about the Middle Neolithic pattern. The Early Neolithic pattern clearly appears to be that of cultural heterogeneity, while cultural homogeneity seems to prevail during the Late Neolithic–Bronze Age. During the former period, essentially every microregion in Cis-Baikal developed its own adaptive model, quite different from that in the remainder of the region, not only in economic but also in societal and cultural terms— the classic Kitoi pattern developing only on the upper section of the Angara and southwest Baikal. Therefore, the rise and collapse of the “classic” Kitoi culture were likely local events limited to this area, but perhaps resulting in a ripple effect elsewhere in Cis-Baikal, as suggested by the fact that formal cemeteries first appeared and then disappeared in the entire region roughly around the same time. It also seems that the development of the “classic” Kitoi is related to the use of the bow and arrow and riverine line fishing. Introduction of the bow and arrow would have greatly improved the efficiency of hunting terrestrial fauna, thus allowing more time to be allocated to the pursuit of the laborintensive fisheries of the large rivers flowing from and into Lake Baikal (An- Epilogue: Middle Holocene Cis-Baikal Hunter...


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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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