Matrilineal affinities and prehistoric Siberian mortuary practices: a case study from Neolithic Lake Baikal

Type de données: 
Groupes de filiation
Type de publication  Journal Article
Auteur(s)  Mooder, K.P.; Weber, A.W.; Bamforth, F.J.; Lieverse, A.R.; Schurr, T.G.; Bazaliiskiy, V. I; Savel'ev, N.A.
Volume  32
Titre de la revue  Journal of archaeological science
Lieu de publication  Londres
Année  2005
Fascicule  4
Pages  619-634

The ‘Lokomotiv’ cemetery in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia is considered to be the largest Neolithic cemetery in North Asia. A large degree of mortuary variability has been documented at Lokomotiv including striking differences in grave architecture, body treatment and grave good assemblages. The purpose of this study is to understand whether observed mortuary variability at Lokomotiv was used to indicate differential biological affinity for those buried in this cemetery. To answer this, we compared the distribution of matrilineally-inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers retrieved from Lokomotiv skeletal remains against various lines of archaeological evidence. Using a combined strategy of coding-region SNP and HVI sequence detection, we were able to produce mtDNA profiles for 31 of 37 Lokomotiv individuals. Our results to date suggest that while matrilineal affinities did not overtly shape the spatial organisation of Lokomotiv, they may have influenced the type of grave one was interred in and in certain cases, the type of mortuary treatment given to an individual. The most compelling differences in matrilineal affinity were found between group grave and single grave burials in one cluster of the cemetery and evoke a notion of intra-community power structure shaped by matrilineally-ascribed group membership. The findings from this study will be further explored with future enhancements to the archaeological and biological datasets for Lokomotiv as well as a contemporaneous Baikal region cemetery known as Shamanka II. In doing so, we hope to further illuminate the social complexities governing these prehistoric Siberian communities.