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Human Mobility and Community Organization among Early Bronze Age Hunter-Gatherers of the Lake Baikal Region, Siberia


This dissertation examines mobility practices among hunter-gatherer groups who inhabited the Cis-Baikal region of Siberia (Russia) during prehistory, using archaeological and geochemical data. I argue that new methods of assessing human mobility enable insights into other aspects of social organization, including political structure, and employ these data to test hypotheses about mobility and sociopolitical aspects of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age life ways. I also describe the results of a large-scale examination of jade (nephrite) ornaments from Early Bronze Age burials throughout the Cis-Baikal region and in neighboring areas of Eurasia. These objects provide a novel means of understanding status competition and macro-regional interaction through prestige goods exchange among hunter-gatherers, and illuminate previously unseen differences in dominant political strategies that local groups employed throughout the Cis-Baikal. I then present archaeological evidence from broader Eurasian contexts to assess the involvement of Cis-Baikal hunter-gatherer groups in the larger Bronze Age, and demonstrate that meaningful interconnections developed during this period. Finally, I present possible political economic mechanisms as well as specific venues that may have enabled local actors within the Cis-Baikal to produce sociopolitical changes documented here.

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