The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Beyond the Bones of Baikal: 18 Years of Multidisciplinary Bioarchaeological Research in Siberia


1Department of Anthropology, MacEwan University, 2Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 4 Add to calendar

For almost 20 years, and with the support of over $7.5 million dollars in research funding, the large, multidisciplinary, and international Baikal-Hokkaido Archaeology Project or BHAP (formerly the Baikal Archaeology Project or BAP) has been conducting bioarchaeological research in eastern Siberia (BHAP: At the core of this project is an enormous collection of biological (osteological, bone chemistry, DNA, etc.) data representing over 500 individuals from over 20 cemetery sites, as well as a broad range of associated contextual (archaeological, paleoenvironmental, climate modeling, ethnographic, etc.) data. To date, however, successful integration of these data into truly synthetic accounts has been limited. In this poster, we survey the entire body of peer-reviewed literature produced by the BHAP/BAP project (100+ books, journal articles, and book chapters) along with corresponding organizational structure over the project's evolution (taken from internal project documents), to identify specific factors that have either facilitated or limited the integration of its disparate datasets. We conclude that many of the important limiting factors (e.g., varying temporal and spatial scales of the data, different intellectual traditions between international partners, language issues, etc.) can be managed through careful attention to the project's organizational structure. As a particularly enduring example, BHAP provides a valuable case study of the problems, limitations, and benefits of large, multidisciplinary and international projects in bioarchaeology.

The project analyzed in this study has been largely funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.