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Laboratory for Geoarchaeology of Baikal Siberia

Contract number
074-02-2018-334, 075-15-2019-866, 075-15-2021-631
Time span of the project

As of 01.11.2022

Number of staff members
scientific publications
General information

Name of the project: Baikal Siberia in the Stone Age: on the junction of the worlds

Goals and objectives

Research directions: General archaeology and archaeology of separate countries, geology, geoarchaeology and archaeology of anthropogenesis, human paleoecology, databases and database management systems (DBMS)

Project objective: Developing a system to process big amounts of interdisciplinary data and usage of digital technologies for solving problems of cultural transformations of paleosocieties of the Stone age (the Upper Pleistocene, the Early and the mid-Holocene) of Baikal Siberia based on substantiated explanatory models of dynamics of natural environment changes, determining their role in formation and development of cultures of Europe and North America

The practical value of the study

Scientific results:

The results obtained during the implementation of the project allowed:

  • To collect, process and analyze a large amount of information from various sources for more than 400 geoarchaeological objects of Baikal Siberia from the interval MIS 3 - the first half of MIS 1.
  • To obtain large volumes of new interdisciplinary geoarchaeological data through field expeditions, which significantly expanded the understanding of both changes in the paleoenvironment and the dynamics of paleocultures. Prepare and conduct comprehensive analytical studies in the field of radiocarbon dating, analysis of stable isotopes, paleogenetics, study of the lithological and geochemical composition of deposits.
  • To analyze the technique of stone knapping in the chaîne opératoire system for a number of geoarchaeological objects in the interval MIS 3 - the first half of MIS 1, which made it possible to trace the evolution of knappimg strategies and their features.
  • To analyze, systematize and transfer to digital archives available and new data obtained as a result of comprehensive research of objects and materials; to develop standards for information description systems as the basis for creating a digital archive in the form of a single system for processing large amounts of data "Virtual geoarchaeological depository of Baikal Siberia", which is considered as interconnected sets of flexible databases, provided with reliable backup storage and high-speed multi-user access.
  • To create a concept for a system for processing large amounts of data, develop a set of database applications and a geoportal to support geoarchaeological research, start the process of filling the database.
  • To develop a number of explanatory models of cultural transformations of paleocommunities of the Stone Age in the dynamics of natural changes in Baikal Siberia,
  • To create a basic cultural and chronological concept of the development of the cultures of the Late Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic of Baikal Siberia.
  • To develop a concept of a system for the geoarchaeological assessment of collected data and to demonstrate the procedure of its actualization.
  • To conduct an analysis of the existing systems for spatio-temporal modeling in archaeology, assess their capabilities, complexity, their multi-component composition, the notion and terminology apparatus, productivity; to determine the choice of preferred models.
  • To develop a concept of paleocultural consolidations as determined systems of groups of geoarcheological objects and paleosocieties. To conduct its actualization in cultural and chronological aspects on the example of Sartan (MIS 2 – early MIS 1) cultures; in the territorial aspect on the example of the cultures of early and middle Holocene (MIS 1) on the coast of Lake Baikal.
  • To formulate the main provisions of the concept of the geoarcheological space and geoarcheological zoning of the territory of Baikal Siberia.
  • To form maps and schemes of the geoarcheological zoning of the coast of Lake Baikal and the Belsk geoarcheological region.
  • To complement and expand analytical reports on natural conditions of Baikal Siberia in the period from MIS 3 to first half of MIS 1 from data of multi-proxy records of ground sections;
  • To prepare an analytical report on the spatial-temporal modeling systems existing in the international practice that are aimed at determining the forms and methods of the reclamation of territorial formations of various ranks  – from archaeological landscapes to various territories and  habitation or their parts –  by ancient people; to determine the choice of the most preferable developments and models;
  • To start developing a forecasting concept for determining geoarcheological objects of the Stone Age on the territory of Baikal Siberia.

Implemented results of research:

  • We have developed an information system for the processing of large volumes of data with a set of applications and databases and a geoportal to support geoarcheological research «Virtual geoarcheological repository of Baikal Siberia» which is equipped with reserve storage is currently tested on the basis of practical surveys by the Laboratory of the Geoarcheology of Baikal Siberia. The process of working with the repository suggests two main access modes: full-featured access (closed) only for the employees of the project and common (presentational) for a wide range of researchers. The Laboratory has submitted an application for a Certificate of State Registration of an Information System for wide implementation into the practice of geoarcheological interdisciplinary research on the grounds of academic organizations and universities.
  • With the developments and produced new materials and data on the project, we have updated programs of training disciplines in archaeology taught at the Faculty of History of Irkutsk State University. The process of implementation of the research project ensures an increase in the quality of professional training of young participants of the project.
  • The produced new materials and data have been recorded and are used in the practical work of the Service for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Objects of the Irkutsk region (for preserving objects of archaeological heritage). When forming expositions and exhibitions of the department «Window to Asia» of the Irkutsk Local History Museum.

Education and career development:

The members of the research team include 8 people from among the professors from ISU, who participate in the training of scientific and pedagogical personnel and in the educational activities of the institution. During the research work on the project among the members of the research team, it was prepared: 21 certified specialists with the defense of final qualification works on the project's topic (13 works on completing the educational program for a bachelor's degree; 6 works on completing an educational program in a magistracy); 2 people successfully completed postgraduate studies with the submission of a dissertation manuscript for the defense of a candidate dissertation. The defense of the thesis for the degree of candidate of sciences in the direction of project research took place.

Within the framework of the Scientific Weekends event of the ISU, a lecture “Hunter-gatherers of Eurasia based on materials from archaeological sites of Baikal Siberia” was delivered to the leading scientists.

One of the key executors of the project, Cand. biol. Vorobyeva G.A. prepared and delivered a course of lectures "Morphogenetic analysis of loose sediments and soils (for archaeologists)" for undergraduates, senior bachelor students specializing in archeology and for young researchers (project participants).

During the implementation of the project, two Field Geoarchaeological Schools were held at the multilayer geoarchaeological site Ust-Belaya (Usolsky District, Irkutsk Region). The organizers were the employees of the Research Center Baikal Region - the Laboratory of Geoarcheology of Baikal Siberia and the Student Archaeological Club of ISU. The school programs consisted of two large thematic blocks: theoretical - the methodology of geoarchaeological research and experimental - experiment in archeology. The participants of the school were students and post-graduate students of ISU, employees of the Research Center "Baikal Region" - Laboratory of Geoarcheology of Baikal Siberia.

The research team organized and conducted 4 annual scientific seminars "Geoarchaeological research and information technology: development prospects"; two international scientific conferences “Eurasia in the Cenozoic. Stratigraphy, paleoecology, cultures”. The conference is an annual scientific event. Conference materials are available in the RSCI database. This conference is a good platform for the operational presentation of scientific results, for the formation of broad scientific cooperation. Organizational work on the preparation of the LX Russian (with international participation) archaeological and ethnographic conference of students and young scientists.

Opportunities were organized for students and young researchers working on the subject of the project to undergo educational training and advanced training courses, internships: Novosibirsk National Research State University (Interdisciplinary workshop. Application of methods of natural sciences in archeology - 7 people; 5 people received certificates participants of educational courses; 2 people - certificates of advanced training); Irkutsk State University (course "Academic English" - 6 people received a certificate of advanced training). Internships: Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Yekaterinburg) - 1 person, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology named after N.N. Miklukho-Maclay RAS (Moscow) - 1 person.


  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong (agreement of August 31, 2017 г. Ref. № TI1711947, the name of the project " Nephritis Technologies and Raw Materials in Prehistoric Northeast Asia"); exchange of research workers, joint research work on the topic of research work).

Joint comprehensive studies of neolithic and Bronze Age nephritis artifacts from the territory of the Baikal region and northeastern China have been carried out. The mineralogical compositions of stone products have been studied, their possible raw material bases have been determined, and the technology of their production has been analyzed. Collected data on nephritis artifacts from the collections of the Irkutsk State University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, aimed to the creating a unified database

  • University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) (Agreement of January 29, 2019, the name of the project "History of human life and the development of cultures: Holocene hunter-fishermen of northern Eurasia").

Concepts developed

  • development and change of cultures of the Middle Neolithic - Bronze Age of the Baikal region
  • strategies of life of the Neolithic - Bronze Age of the Baikal region based on the analysis of the ratio of strontium isotopes 87Sr / 86Sr in different geolandscape zones;
  • changes in the nutritional structure of the population of the Neolithic and Bronze Age of the Baikal region based on the analysis of stable isotopes, their variations in the territory of the Baikal region and ethnographic analogues.
  • Hokkaido University (Sapporo, Japan) (Agreement on Scientific Exchange); exchange of undergraduates and postgraduates in the “East Russia – Japan Expert Education Program” (RJE3); participation in the field archaeological school (excavations on Ryabun Island (Japan)), presentation of our own research materials; lecturing.
  • Institute of the Earth's Crust SB RAS (Laboratory of Geology of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic); carrying out joint comprehensive studies of stratigraphic sections of geoarchaeological sites of Baikal Siberia.
  • Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS; exchange of researchers, holding joint events.
  • The Institute of the Earth's Crust of the SB RAS and the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS provide an interdisciplinary component in the process of research implementation, the integration of university and academic science into the scientific and educational process.
  • Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS N.N. Miklouho-Maclay (Center of Physical Anthropology); providing joint research; development of methods and approaches to the analysis and interpretation of paleoanthropological remains from geoarchaeological sites of Baikal Siberia.

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Shchetnikov A. A., Bezrukova E. V., Kazansky A. Yu., Matasova G. G., Ivanova F. I., Khenzykhenova V. V., Danukalova G. A., Osipova E. M., Filinov I. A., Berdnikova N. E., Berdnikov I. M., Rogovskoi E. O., Lipnina E. A., Vorobyeva G. A.
Upper Paleolithic site Tuyana – a multiproxy record of sedimentation and environmental history during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene in the Tunka rift valley, Baikal region // Quaternary International. – 2019 (март). – Vol. 534.
Weber A.W.
Middle Holocene hunter–gatherers of Cis-Baikal, Eastern Siberia: Combined impacts of the boreal forest, bow-and-arrow, and fishing // Archaeological Research in Asia. – 2020. – Vol. 24.
Harding P., Bezrukova E.V., Kostrova S.S., Lacey J.H., Leng M.J., Meyer H., Pavlova L. A., Shchetnikov A., Shtenberg M.V., Tarasov P.E., Mackay A.W.
Hydrological (in)stability in Southern Siberia during the Younger Dryas and early Holocene // Global and Planetary Change. – 2020 (октябрь). – Vol. 195. (Q1)
Moussa N.M., McKenzie H.G., Bazaliiskii V.I., Goriunova O.I., Bamforth F., Weber A.W.
Insights into Lake Baikal’s ancient populations based on genetic evidence from the Early Neolithic Shamanka II and Early Bronze Age Kurma XI cemeteries // Archaeological Research in Asia. – 2020 (октябрь). – Vol.25.
Vorobieva G., Vashukevich N., Berdnikova N., Berdnikov I., Zolotarev D., Kuklina S., Lipnina E.
Soil Formation, Subaerial Sedimentation Processes and Ancient Cultures during MIS 2 and the Deglaciation Phase MIS 1 in the Baikal–Yenisei Siberia (Russia) // Geosciences. – 2021 (август). – Vol. 11(8).
Matasova G. G., Kazansky A. Yu., Shchetnikov A. A., Filinov I. A., Berdnikova N. E., Berdnikov I. M.
Sedimentation and environmental dynamics of the Tunka rift valley (Baikal region) in the Late Pleistocene-Holocene based on the analysis of lithological and rock magnetic properties of the deposits from Upper Paleolithic sites // Archaeological Research in Asia. – 2021 (июнь). – Vol. 26.
Weber A.W., Bronk Ramsey C., Schulting R. J., Bazaliiskii V.I., Goriunova O.I.
Middle Holocene hunter–gatherers of Cis-Baikal, Eastern Siberia: Chronology and dietary trends // Archaeological Research in Asia. – 2021(март). – Vol. 25.
Berdnikova N. E., Berdnikov I. M., Vorobieva G. A., Shchetnikov A. A., Filinov I. A., Krutikova K. A., Zolotarev D. P., Lipnina E. A.
Geoarchaeological studies on the territory of Baikal Siberia: approach and methods // Geoarchaeology and Archaeological Mineralogy. – 2022 - P. 391-410.
Ivanova V., Shchetnikov A., Filinov I., Semeney E., Simon K.
LA-ICP-MS analysis of rare earth elements in tooth enamel of fossil small mammals (Ust-Oda section, Fore-Baikal area, Siberia): paleoenvironmental interpretation // Journal of Quaternary Science. – 2022 (март). – Vol. 37 (7). (WOS-Q2; SJR – Q1)
Kuznetsov A.M., Rogovskoi E.O., Klementiev A.M., Mamontov A.M.
North Angara Early Holocene hunter–gatherers: Archaeological evidence of the collector strategy // Archaeological Research in Asia. – 2022 (май) – Vol. 31.
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