Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Life Ways

Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Life Ways

Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Life Ways

Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Life Ways

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 provides a detailed account of the region’s Neolithic and Bronze Age prehistory, as well as descriptions of the approaches used to address questions about past hunter-gatherer life ways and boreal forest adaptations.

The multidisciplinary character of the bap was signaled by the first publication produced by this group (Weber, Konopatskii, and Goriunova 1993) and further expanded by a number of subsequent works (e.g., Lam 1994; Weber et al. 1998; Weber, Link, and Katzenberg 2002; Katzenberg and Weber 1999; Link 1999; Weber and McKenzie 2003). This inclusive approach has become the defining characteristic of the broad program of research supported by the Major Collaborative Research Initiative grant awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada first in 2000 and again in 2005, in addition to a number of other research grants secured by several bap scholars.

While the international archaeological community has long recognized the need for multidisciplinary research, implementation of this postulate is often limited by the nature of the archaeological material. This observation is also fully applicable to the archaeological exploration of the hunter-gathering aspect of the human past. Based on comparative ethnographic data, Robert Kelly’s The Foraging Spectrum (1995) and Lewis Binford’s Constructing Frames of Reference (2001) vividly demonstrate that a wide range of variability exists in practically all aspects of hunter-gatherer behavior. This work also shows distinct trends and relationships that link different behavioral components, such as technology, demography, mobility and subsistence, social and political relations, and world views.

From an archaeological perspective, two characteristics of hunter-gath-

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