Baikal Archaeology Project

Graduate Students

Graduate Student Contributions

Doctoral Students

Donatas Brandisauskas, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Vladimir Davydov, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Aline Ehrenfried, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Kate Faccia, Archaeology, Archaeology, University of Calgary, Canada
Shirley Johansen, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Joseph Long, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Alexei Gennad'evich Novikov, Archaeology, Irkutsk State University, Russia
Peter Hommel, Anthropology, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Veronika Simonova, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Andrea Waters-Rist, Anthropology, University of Calgary, Canada
Tatiana Nomokonova, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Ian Fraser-Shapiro, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada

Master's Students

Anastasia Antonova, Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, University of Calgary, Canada
Petr Kurzybov, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Nour Moussa, Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, University of Alberta, Canada

Graduated Students

Bradley Drouin, MA, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Angela Lieverse, PhD, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, USA
Hugh McKenzie, PhD, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Michael Metcalf, MA, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Karen Mooder, PhD, Lab. Medicine & Pathology, University of Alberta, Canada
Alexei Novikov, Archaeology & Ethnography, Irkutsk State University, Russia
Ana Nunes, Geography, University College London, United Kingdom
Cameron Robertson, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Misty Weitzel, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Dustin White, PhD, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada
Tia Thomson, Anthropology, Lab. Medicine & Pathology, University of Alberta, Canada
Samara Rubinstein, Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Elizabeth Gustafson, Lab. Medicine & Pathology, University of Alberta, Canada
Tatiana Nomokonova, Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada

Doctoral Students

Kate Faccia

For my doctoral research, I will be performing histological analyses of rib and femoral midshafts with two basic objectives:

1) I will be investigating the applicability of a new 3D histological method for producing more refined age-at-death estimates in damaged and/or incomplete skeletal remains, where traditional macroscopic analyses cannot be performed. In a sample of skeletons for whom sex and age-at-death can be determined by traditional methods, I will use micro-CT to reconstruct patterns of porosity in small samples of midshaft femoral bone. If age-at-death estimates derived from micro-CT analyses correlate well with those derived from traditional histomorphometric and gross morphological methods, the use of this technique for determining age-at-death in incomplete and damaged skeletal remains will be validated. If effective, this new method will allow for more comprehensive paleodemographic reconstructions and more informed analyses of cemetery use and population health in pre- and post-hiatus Lake Baikal hunter-gatherer groups. Additionally, it will introduce a new method of histological age-at-death determination to bioarchaeology.

2) Using rib and femoral midshaft sections, I will examine differences in activity levels within and between the pre- and post-hiatus groups. As remodeling rates are known to increase with loading (i.e., physical activity), patterns of significant differences in remodeling rates, within a defined skeletal maturity level, would indicate sex-based and/or population-based differences in activity levels (i.e., mobility, foraging behavior, etc.). I will analyze ribs (non-loaded element for skeletal maturity comparison) to determine a baseline for bone remodeling rates by sex and by population. Then, using the femora, I will investigate whether significant differences exist in femoral remodeling patterns between groups of comparable skeletal maturity. These data will also be compared with femoral midshaft shape, another indicator of physical activity. Differences or similarities in behaviorally-mediated remodeling patterns will then be used to complement other biological and archaeological analyses comparing social structure and adaptation in the Kitoi and Serovo-Glaskovo groups.

Andrea Waters-Rist
The main focus of my doctoral research is on infant feeding practices and their association with physiological (�weaning�) stress. I am also interested in the biological relatedness of prehistoric peoples from the Cis-Baikal region. Methodologies employed include the examination of dental non-metric traits, pathological dental defects (in particular, enamel hypoplasias) and stable nitrogen isotope analysis of subadults. The pre-hiatus Kitoi skeletons I will examine are from the Lokomotiv and Shamanka II cemeteries and the post-hiatus Serovo-Glaskovo skeletons I will examine are from the Kurma XI, Ust-Ida I and Khuzhir-Nuge XIV cemeteries.

Dental non-metric trait data is useful for looking at morphological variation among individuals and populations, and can be used to examine biological distance between groups. This data may be informative in addressing the relatedness of pre- and post-hiatus groups.

Dental pathology research is useful in a) characterizing aspects of past diet, b) examining the use of teeth as �tools�, and c) characterizing patterns of prehistoric dental health. The average age of occurrence of enamel defects can indicate periods of non-specific physiological stress. Often an increased frequency of enamel hypoplasias is seen in subadults of weaning age.

Nursing infants have elevated stable nitrogen isotope values which begin to decline once weaning begins and this is recorded in their bone collagen. An intra-individual sampling strategy of nitrogen isotopes will permit an enhanced understanding of the breastfeeding/weaning status of each individual, and this data will be used in conjunction with enamel hypoplasia data to determine if, and to what extent, weaning was a physiologically stressful event for these populations.

Tanya Nomokonova

The goal of my PhD research is to examine hunting and fishing strategies among hunter-gatherers of the Lake Baikal region (Siberia, Russia) during the period of ~9,000–600 BP based on the zooarchaeological analyses of faunal remains from the archaeological sites.
The majority of my analyses is focused on the animal bones from Sagan-Zaba II, a multilayered habitation site, located on the west coast of the central part of Lake Baikal. This site was excavated by the Baikal Archaeological Project (Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta) in 2006–2007. My research involves faunal identification, quantification and determination of the skeletal element frequencies to examine the diachronic patterns of animal bone preservation, hunting, fishing, butchering, transport, and processing during the Holocene period.

Ian Fraser-Shapiro

Ian Fraser-Shapiro comes to us from California State University, Long Beach, California. Lithic sourcing and luminescence dating of lithics has been the focus of his past research. His thesis was a pilot study to see if rhyolite could be used for sourcing studies using LA-TOF-ICP-MS as the analytical tool. He used the results of this work to examine the interactions between past populations in the desert west. He is presently attending the University of Alberta in the Ph.D. programme in the Department of Anthropology. He has carried out research throughout California, including intensive work in the western Mojave Desert of California.

For my PhD research, I will be extending the sampling methodologies that I developed for my past research and applying them to a new medium. I will be systematically sampling teeth and sections of long bones recovered from the Cis-Baikal region and using stable isotope and trace element analysis to track mobility in pre-historic populations. The micro-sampling protocols should help to refine the precision with which we can track these hunter-gatherer groups as the
population moved and/or changed their resource procurement patterns, hopefully down to sub-annual shifts rather than broad scale migrations. If this additional precision proves possible, then such shifts could be correlated with pathological and environmental shifts impacting the population for a greater understanding of the
interactions between hunter-gatherers and the world in which they lived.

Master's Students

Anastasia Antonova

My MA project focuses on the adaptation strategy that prehistoric hunter-gatherers could have employed to adjust to environmental fluctuations during the Holocene epoch. Teeth of subadult individuals were chosen as apparatus in order to investigate that topic, given that dental remains are the most common, well-preserved type of archaeological evidence for past populations. Dental remains of children from Shamanka site (Early Neolithic period) and Ust’-Ida cemetery site (Late Neolithic period) will be used to elucidate either differences or similarities in adaptation tactics of these two chronologically different prehistoric communities. Specifically, I intend to apply dental microstructure method for two purposes of my research.

The first purpose is associated with age at death determination. Dental histology techniques provide more accurate data on age at death of subadult individuals than standard osteological methods. Why does age at death matter? It matters because age estimation enables a composition of demographic profiles of past populations. A more precise and reliable age determination method provides us with a more comprehensive insight into the paleodemography of the population.

The second purpose is to investigate microscopically the etiology of stress markers in children’s teeth. Enamel yields permanent records of both normal fluctuations and pathologic accentuations of mineral and general metabolism. Enamel is formed in a prismatic manner through the process of amelogenesis. If a person experienced health problems or suffered from undernutrition, these stress events most likely will have left tracks in enamel structure. Why is the study ofchildren’s teeth important? It is because subadult individuals that have not been buried, specifically infants, are preserved poorly and this makes it very difficult to analyze their skeletons. Dental histology gives valuable data related to dietary adaptations and the predisposition of children to environmental stress.

Petr Kurzybov

I am presently attending the University of Alberta in the M.A. programme in the Department of Anthropology, under the supervision of Dr. Weber.

I participated in the excavation of the Shamanka II cemetery site with Mr. Vladimir Bazaliiskii while an under-graduate student at Irkutsk State University. My past research centered on collective burials from cemeteries in the Cis-Baikal region of Siberia, mainly from Shamanka II, Lokomotiv, Ust'-belaia, Galashikha, Fofanovo, etc. My M.A. research at University of Alberta will focus on lithic technologies.

Graduated Students

Bradley Drouin
For my Master's research project I am looking at the variability in grave architecture from the Serovo-Glazkovo cemetery Khuzhir Nuge XIV. For the past year I have meticulously measured and documented the provenience, size, orientation, inclination, integrity and numerous other variables of each stone in more than 60 undisturbed graves in an attempt to find patterns in grave construction techniques. My results will be compared with radiocarbon dates and osteological information in an attempt to find meaningful patterns. Preliminary results show that many graves were constructed in a deliberate manner with liner stones placed on the inside of the grave walls and large “face” stones placed on the outside of the cairn. Additionally, flat stones were often intentionally placed directly on the skeleton (see photo). Changing grave design and construction techniques may give indications of changing mortuary practices and behaviour of the Serovo-Glazkovo people who used this cemetery for a millennia and a half.

Angela Lieverse

My doctoral research focuses on the examination of Neolithic human skeletal material from four cemetery sites in the Cis-Baikal region of Siberia. A previous study has suggested significant demographic and health differences between populations predating a proposed fifth millennium (BC) biocultural hiatus, and those postdating it (Link 1996, 1999). My research compares data collected from the two cemetery sites used in the earlier study (Lokomotiv and Ust'-Ida I) with data collected from two newly-excavated cemetery sites (Khuzhir-Nuge XIV and Shamanka II) in order to establish the significance of the original findings. While only preliminary analyses have been conducted, these suggest that the health and demographic differences between the pre- and post-hiatus populations may not be as straightforward as once thought.

Link, D.W. 1996 Hunter-Gatherer Demography and Health in the Cis-Baikal Neolithic. Ph.D. Dissertation, Chicago: University of Chicago.

Link, D.W. 1999. Boreal forest hunter-gatherer demography and health during the middle Holocene of the Cis-Baikal, Siberia. Arctic Anthropology 36:51-72.

Hugh McKenzie
For my dissertation research I am examining patterns of mortuary activity in order to derive information about the social and ritual life of Cis-Baikal hunter-gatherers. In particular, I am interested in exploring how the mortuary record can be used to explain the different diets and mobility patterns of Kitoi and Serovo-Glazkovo groups and individuals. Briefly, I argue that the different ways in which Cis-Baikal hunter-gatherers moved through and extracted resources from their environment depended on the different kinds of social relationships they had with human and non-human constituents of that environment. Many of these social relationships are also enacted in the context of mortuary activities. Choice of cemetery location, for example, may represent attitudes towards the social engagement of particular places (see photo); variation in mortuary treatment suggests differences in social and political relations; the interment of animals or animal products may reflect the social roles that such animals played. The very fact that formal cemeteries exist at all likely indicates the importance of ancestors in daily life. Overall, this research will contribute to the development of more complete models of Middle Holocene life in the Cis-Baikal by integrating traditional ecological and economic aspects of settlement and subsistence with social and ritual aspects derived from the mortuary record.

Mike Metcalf

My project will investigate the social variability of the Bronze Age Glazkovo hunter-gatherer group based on the archaeological material recovered from the Kurma XI cemetery. As the first comprehensive examination of Kurma XI, my research will integrate new archaeological, spatial, and demographic data with existing information from previously excavated sites to explain how the social structure of the Glazkovo group is represented in mortuary practices. To place the cemetery within a meaningful context, Kurma XI will be compared with the Khuzhir-Nuge XIV cemetery, excavated by the Baikal Archaeology Project during the 1997-2001 field seasons. Preliminary research has indicated that, despite their proximity to each other, Kurma XI and the Khuzhir-Nuge XIV cemetery exhibit a number of significant differences. First, Kurma XI was markedly smaller, containing 27 graves to Khuzhir-Nuge’s 86. Second, Kurma XI produced a far greater variety and quantity (per individual) of grave goods. Some of these unique artifacts have few or no analogies in Cis-Baikal archaeology. The two cemeteries are located in close proximity to each other spatially, but also co-existed temporally. Radiocarbon dates suggest that both cemeteries were in use during the same general period. The deliberate choice to inter individuals at Kurma XI, rather than at the larger Khuzhir-Nuge XIV cemetery, may indicate aspects of Glazkovo social organization that have been previously undocumented. Recent literature has described Glazkovo society as egalitarian (Link 1998), but more precise descriptions of social organization are absent from Western literature. The unique and abundant nature of Kurma XI grave assemblages, in contrast to the general homogeneity and paucity of grave accoutrements observed at Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, suggests some degree of social differentiation. My research will seek to provide a more accurate documentation of Glazkovo social organization, and obtain a more comprehensive understanding of how these social relationships are embodied within mortuary protocols.

Karen Mooder
My dissertation research focuses on the retrieval of DNA from two prehistoric cemetery populations in the Lake Baikal region. We are using mitochondrial DNA markers retrieved from bone samples to test the hypothesis that the variation observed between the Kitoi and Serovo-Glazkovo is representative of different population affinities rather than culture change over time. The excellent preservation of the skeletal material has allowed us to characterise mtDNA haplogroups through both restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis and DNA sequencing of the mtDNA hypervariable region I. The frequencies of the mtDNA haplogroups vary significantly between the Kitoi and Serovo-Glazkovo, lending support to the hypothesis that the two groups are biologically distinct. When compared with mtDNA haplogroup frequencies in contemporary Asian populations, the Serovo-Glazkovo cluster with contemporary Lake Baikal groups, while the Kitoi cluster with Tibetans and Koreans. We have also undertaken DNA sexing of subadult and ambiguous individuals through PCR amplification of the amelogenin locus. To date, we've extracted the sex of 10 subadults, allowing us to further characterize the demographic profile of these prehistoric groups. We intend to interpret the DNA data within its archaeological framework to further enhance statements regarding marriage patterns and elite status in the Kitoi and Serovo-Glazkovo.

Cameron Robertson
A significant feature of mortuary behavior found at the Serovo-Glazkovo cemeteries Kurma XI and Khuzhir-Nuge XIV is extensive post-interment disturbance of the graves. It appears that pre-historic people routinely reopened the graves after burial and removed human remains and/or artifacts. For example, a number of graves had the head and part of the upper torso removed when they were disturbed (see photo). Despite the commonality of grave disturbance in mortuary sites all over the world there is a striking lack of research and literature dedicated to the subject. 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. In fact, as work at Kurma XI and Khuzhir-Nuge XIV demonstrate, graves can be disturbed in numerous ways and for numerous purposes and should not be reduced to the generic category of "robbing." My project will emphasize that grave disturbance is an important cultural activity and will focus on documenting the range of variability in disturbances. This range will then be juxtaposed against other variables such as frequency of disturbed graves compared to undisturbed graves, time period between interment and disturbance, and social and biological characteristics of the inhabitants of these graves including age, sex, and rank.

Misty Weitzel
Human taphonomic research defines, describes, and systematizes the nature and effects of processes that act on human remains after death. Previous research of this kind at the Serovo-Glazkovo cemetery Khuzhir-Nuge XIV (KN XIV) has determined that future studies should focus on explaining the effects of cultural (particularly mortuary) practices, likely observable as variation in grave attributes (Lieverse 1999). My dissertation research examines the impact that grave architecture, charring of human remains, and grave looting and/or disturbance have on the resulting skeletal condition. The research design for this project has two important components, analysis of data from KN XIV and data collected from experimental projects. Experimental research is currently being conducted at a replica cemetery site at the University of Alberta Ellerslie Biological Field Station. Experimental graves were constructed based on what is known of Serovo-Glazkovo graves, and domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) were used as human analogues in the experiments (see photo). This study introduces the important role that human activity plays on skeletal condition, which has long been overlooked in taphonomic studies. The methodology is also unique in that it entails a largely experimental approach to understanding cultural taphonomic factors. Finally, this research will expand the existing KN XIV dataset and will permit more comprehensive descriptions of Glazkovo mortuary activity and boreal forest hunter-gatherer lifestyles in general.

Lieverse, A.R. 1999. Human Taphonomy at Khuzhir-Nuge XIV, Siberia. MA Thesis. Edmonton: University of Alberta

Samara Rubinstein
For my Ph.D. research I am investigating Siberian prehistory through the genetic analysis of Neolithic populations from the Lake Baikal region. This analysis will involve the characterization of sequence variation in the non-recombining region of the Y chromosome (NRY) in two culturally distinct Neolithic hunter-gatherer populations from Lake Baikal. The data generated by this analysis will be used to examine (1) the broad phylogeographic connections between ancient and modern Siberians, (2) the genetic relationship between the Neolithic Siberian populations, and (3) the kinship and demography of individuals from these mortuary sites. The results of the project will illuminate the process of human settlement of Siberia, reveal the evolutionary and genetic influences on population diversity there, and expand our understanding prehistoric hunter-gatherer behavior..

Elizabeth Gustafson
My MSc project looks at the cemetery population of Khuzir-Nuge XIV. This is a cemetery in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia that was used by hunter-gatherers. DNA will be gathered form individuals from the cemetery and will be used for a genetic analysis of the population. The bones in the
cemetery have been previously shown to contain no DNA due to preservation problems. To allow genetic analysis a technique to extract DNA from teeth has been developed. Mitochondrial DNA will be analyzed because of its well
characterized nature and the presence of multiple copies. The hypervariable region I of mitochondrial DNA will be used to determine haplogroups. The haplogroups can be used to determine relationships between individuals and haplogroup frequencies can reveal the population history. Gathering biological data within an archaeological context increases the understanding of prehistoric hunter-gatherer behavior.

Tanya Nomokonova

The broad goal of my thesis is to gain a better understand of hunting and fishing practices among prehistoric culture groups of the Lake Baikal area during the Holocene (~10,000–800 BP). This will be accomplished through the zooarchaeological analyses of animal remains (mainly fish bones) from the multilayered stratified site of Ityrkhei. These remains can provide information about ancient diet, habitats exploited, procurement strategies and technologies, as well as local environmental change.

The methods that will be (and have been thus far) applied to this research include zooarchaeological laboratory procedures of animal species identification and bone specimen quantification. These analyses will be further used for addressing a number of site-specific taphonomic issues, such as the general state of preservation of faunal bones at site. The information produced by these analyses will be contained in a database of animal remains to aid in the interpretation of prehistoric subsistence strategies for this particular site, for the Little Sea area, and the Lake Baikal area in general.

Please Contact the if you have any questions/concerns about the website.