Biocultural diversity in holocene period hunter-fisher-gatherers of Cis-Baikal, Siberia: ancestry, activity, diet and health

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
What we eat, what we do, the illnesses we battle, and the populations with which we have genetic affinity, are identifiable by analyses of our skeletal and dental remains. The skeletal and dental remains examined in this dissertation are from five ancient cemeteries of hunter-fisher-gatherers who lived in the Cis-Baikal region of Siberia, Russia, from 9,000 to 3,000 years ago. Two biocultural populations lived during this time: the Early Neolithic Kitoi and the Late Neolithic-Bronze Age Isakovo-Serovo-Glaskovo (ISG). This dissertation contains four discrete bioarchaeological investigations. 1) Dental non­metric traits to assess the genetic affinity of populations; 2) Activity-induced dental modification to examine the production of material culture items such as cordage and fishing nets; 3) Stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes to reconstruct subadult diet and infant feeding practices, and; 4) Dental enamel hypoplasia frequency, periodicity, and age of formation, to assess levels of physiological stress. Biocultural diversity among cemeteries is primarily explored along temporal (Early Neolithic; Late Neolithic; Bronze Age) and spatial (lakeshore vs. riverine location) axes. Results reveal significant temporal differences. The Kitoi and ISG have statistically significant differences in dental non-metric trait frequencies. In the ISG sample several trait frequencies are similar to those of Western Eurasian populations, suggesting gene flow with groups that lived to the west or south of Lake Baikal. In terms of infant feeding practices, the Kitoi weaned their infants at a slightly later age and over a shorter amount of time than the ISG from the Ust' -Ida I cemetery. Differences between the Kitoi and ISG in the periodicity of linear enamel defects suggest that Early Neolithic peoples were more heavily affected by annual periods of food scarcity. Results also reveal significant regional variation. The cemeteries along the Angara River have similar dental non-metric trait frequencies, even between samples from different time-periods. Cemeteries along the river also have higher frequencies of activity-induced occlusal grooves, which may be related to different fishing practices. Overall, this dissertation adds new data to our understanding of the biocultural differences and similarities in Kitoi and ISG groups, while also considering the impact of regional variation. The biocultural diversity of these boreal forest groups illustrates the flexibility of human adaptation.
Bibliography: p. 192-231.
Includes a copy of Ethics Review form. Original with original copy of Partial Copyright Licence.
A few pages are in colour.
Waters, A. L. (2011). Biocultural diversity in holocene period hunter-fisher-gatherers of Cis-Baikal, Siberia: ancestry, activity, diet and health (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/4038