The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Lower limb activity in the Cis-Baikal: musculoskeletal stress markers among middle Holocene Siberian foragers


1Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan, 2Department of Archaeology and Ethnography, Irkutsk State Universitiy, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta

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Lower limb musculoskeletal stress markers (MSM) are evaluated in order to reconstruct activity and more fully understand cultural and behavioral transition among the middle Holocene (ca. 9000-3000 years BP) foragers of Siberia’s Cis-Baikal region. Five cemetery populations are examined, together spanning a period of dramatic diachronic change characterized by an 800-1000 year hiatus in the region’s cultural continuity. Two of the cemetery samples represent the early Neolithic Kitoi culture, dating from 8000 to 7000/6800 cal. BP; the other three represent the late Neolithic-early Bronze Age Isakovo-Serovo-Glaskovo (ISG) cultural complex, dating from 6000/5800 to 4000 cal. BP. Findings suggest heterogeneity in overall lower limb use, but relative homogeneity in general activity patterns. Aggregate data reveal that Kitoi individuals and males engaged in more strenuous lower limb use than did ISG individuals and females, respectively. Furthermore, sexual disparity in MSM scores—being generally higher among males than females for both groups—appears to have increased with advancing age at death, emphasizing the influence of sex-related activities, rather than body size per se, on entheseal morphology. Rank patterning data, on the other hand, disclose remarkable similarities in the types of activities employed by the Kitoi and ISG alike. Hip extensors and abductors, pelvic and trunk stabilizers, and ankle plantarflexors and stabilizers all appear to have been heavily recruited, suggesting that activities such as walking and climbing, particularly while carrying heavy loads and traversing steep and uneven terrain, were frequently and/or intensively undertaken across the region.

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