Baikal Archaeology Project

Project News

Canadian Archaeological Association Meetings
Hamilton, Ontario
May 8-10

Baikal Archaeology Project Members Participating in Conference

Shamanka II: A new Neolithic cemetery on Lake Baikal.
Vladimir Bazaliiskii and Andrzej Weber

In the summer of 2002 the Baikal Archaeology Project concentrated its fieldwork on two new Middle Holocene cemeteries on the shores of Lake Baikal. One of them was Shamanka II located at the southwest tip of the lake in the town of Kultuk. Of the 24 graves excavated to date 19 represent the Early Neolithic Kitoi culture (c. 7000 - 6000 BP), four the Glazkovo culture of the Late Neolithic to Bronze Age (c. 5300 - 3300 BP), and one grave remains unidentified. The Kitoi graves, which contained 39 individuals, are quite similar architecturally and with regard to the artifactual inclusions and mortuary ritual to the Kitoi graves of the Angara valley. The assortment of grave goods typically includes shanks of composite fishhooks, antler bow plates, and zoomorphic figurines. The Shamanka II cemetery is important because it will redress the existing imbalance in the distribution of the known Kitoi graves which has been very strongly biased towards the Angara valley. Fieldwork will continue in 2003.

Temporal patterns of cemetery use among Middle Holocene hunter-gatherers of the Baikal region, Siberia.
Andrzej Weber, V.I. Bazaliiskii, O.I. Goruniova

Three large Middle Holocene hunter-gatherer cemeteries from the Lake Baikal region in Siberia have been extensively dated by radiocarbon: Lokomotiv (75 dates) representing the Early Neolithic Kitoi culture and Ust'-Ida (70) and Khuzhir-Nuge XIV (75), both associated with the Late Neolithic to Bronze Age Serovo-Glazkovo culture. This material indicates that many of the larger Serovo-Glazkovo cemeteries in the Cis-Baikal were used on rare occasions, but over a very long time, up to c. 2000 calibrated years, and with the most frequent use in the middle of that period. Consequently, many of these cemeteries were used concurrently. The spatial growth of these large cemeteries was quite complex. At Khuzhir Nuge rows of graves were established at different locations at about the same time and graves were added to them at variable frequencies, but many other graves were built outside of the rows. Similar spatial patterns have been observed elsewhere in the Cis-Baikal, for example at Ust'-Ida. The dates obtained for the Kitoi cemetery at Lokomotiv are quite different from Khuzhir-Nuge and Ust'-Ida. Lokomotiv was used very often, but over much shorter period. This suggests further significant differences between Kitoi and Serovo-Glazkovo groups.

Useful Archaeological Websites: Developing Web-based Tools and Databases for Archaeological Analysis
Darren Shaw
The web is an excellent medium to present archaeological information, but it is seldom used to its full potential. By integrating databases into Web sites, archaeological, photographic, GIS, and bibliographic data are tied into a coherent system that can be accessed at any time from anywhere in the world. With integrated online databases, a simple mouse click will carry you between data sets to analytical tools in order to answer research questions quickly and easily. In this discussion I will present the online databases and analytical tools developed for the Baikal Archaeology Project, and describe the tools and techniques used to create these online systems.

Disturbance Patterns at Mortuary Sites of Neolithic Hunter-Gatherers of the Lake Baikal Region, Siberia.
Cameron Robertson, Andrzej Weber, Olga Ivanovna Goriunova

A significant feature of mortuary behavior found at the Glazkovo cemeteries Kurma XI and Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, in Siberia, is extensive post-interment disturbance of the graves. It appears that prehistoric people routinely reopened the graves after burial and removed human remains and/or artifacts. Grave disturbance, often referred to as grave robbing, seems to be looked upon as a barrier to archaeological interpretation rather than as a genuine cultural process. Despite the frequency of grave disturbance in mortuary sites all over the world there is a striking lack of research and literature dedicated to the subject. This paper will emphasize that grave disturbance is an important cultural activity and will focus on documenting the range of variability in disturbance patterns within the archaeological record.

Extracting Kinship and Social Relationships from Genetic Data: A study of Prehistoric Cis-Baikal Mortuary Populations
Mooder Karen, Schurr Theodore, Bamforth Fiona, Vladimir Bazaliiskii

No Abstract Available.

Microtemporal processes and the construction of a Holocene landscape at an Early Bronze Age Cemetery in the Lake Baikal Region, Siberia.
Hugh McKenzie, Andrzej Weber, Olga Ivanovna Goriunova

The Early Bronze Age cemetery Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, located on the northern coast of Lake Baikal, Russia, was used continuously for over 2000 years. Of the 90 individuals (from 79 graves), 75 have been radiocarbon dated providing a uniquely detailed record of site use through time. This presentation will explore the history of Khuzhir-Nuge XIV by reconstructing the cemetery grave by grave. With the addition of each grave, the character of Khuzhir-Nuge XIV as a place was altered, thus influencing how it was perceived and used for subsequent interments, which would themselves then change the character of the place. In this way it is possible to avoid the tendency to view cemeteries as static places and instead conceive of them as temporal processes.

Kurma XI: A new Bronze Age cemetery on Lake Baikal.
Olga I. Goriunova, Andrzej Weber

In the summer of 2002 the Baikal Archaeology project concentrated its fieldwork on two new Middle Holocene cemeteries on the shores of Lake Baikal. One of them was Kurma XI located in the Little Sea area representing the Glazkovo culture of the Late Neolithic to Bronze Age (c. 5300 - 3300 BP). The fifteen graves excavated produced archaeological material that is unique in the context of the entire Cis-Baikal Late Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary data. This uniqueness regards in particular a number of grave inclusions. Such objects as the copper/bronze medallion, fishhooks with copper/bronze barbs, silver ring, large nephrite rings, and fishhook shanks with anthropomorphic facial images are all first time ever discoveries. Fieldwork will continue in 2003.

A multidimensional approach to the analysis of variability in Grave Architecture at a Middle Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Cemetery site from Cis-Baikal, Siberia
Bradley Drouin, Andrzej Weber, Olga Ivanovna Goriunova

Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, a Middle Holocene Hunter-Gatherer cemetery is nestled in a small cove on the western shore of Lake Baikal, Siberia. It is one of the largest hunter-gatherer cemeteries in all of Siberia spanning about 1800 years of use and composed of 79 graves constructed from numerous stone slabs arranged into cairns covering grave pits. The graves are orientated in an east-west direction grouped into discernable rows and clusters. The differences in grave construction both in terms of stone arrangements and the number of stones used is thought to be related to age, sex, possible kin relations, status, and temporal and spatial variables. It is the purpose of this paper to address these issue and attempt to find meaningful patterns in grave architecture.

An Examination of Grave Disturbance as a Taphonomic Process
Misty Weitzel, Andrzej Weber, Olga Ivanovna Goriunova

Grave disturbance initiated by humans (often a presumption when referred to as looting or robbing) is a well-known occurrence in the archaeological record. However, it has not been examined specifically for what it is: a taphonomic process often having a direct impact on skeletal condition. Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, a Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age cemetery in Siberia, provides a unique opportunity to assess the taphonomic impact of many cultural processes including grave disturbance. At least 19 of the 79 burials at Khuzhir-Nuge XIV show evidence of grave disturbance seen through patterns in grave architecture and the absence of certain skeletal elements while other elements remain in articulation. Previous research (Lieverse 1999, 2000) revealed that skeletal completeness was significantly lower among disturbed graves than undisturbed graves. Examination of Khuzhir-Nuge XIV skeletal data in more detail have helped to determine the overall range of variability among disturbed graves and any meaningful patterns of cultural activity, which is the goal of a separate Master's thesis within the Baikal Archaeology Project. Additionally, experiments performed at a replicative cemetery site in Edmonton, Alberta have contributed to knowledge surrounding the effects of grave disturbance.

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