Fish and Fishing in Holocene Cis-Baikal, Siberia: A Review

Losey, Nomokonova, Dustin White

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Eastern Siberia's Lake Baikal and its tributaries are productive fisheries, and the region's Holocene archaeological sites confirm that this is a long-standing phenomenon. Recent zooarchaeological investigations of sites here allow Holocene fishing practices to be examined in more detail than was previously possible. Along much of the lake's coast, bathymetry is very steep and the water very cold; here fishing appears to have been supplemental to other subsistence practices such as sealing and ungulate hunting. In shallower areas, waters were warmer and supported very productive fisheries for littoral species, perhaps through the use of nets or traps. The region's rivers offered their own resident species but also were used as spawning grounds by some lake fishes. The lake's littoral fisheries, while productive, likely produced fish throughout the year and did not require complex labor organization to be effectively used. Some sections of the region's rivers, particularly those that were spawning grounds for some lake fishes, may have required more complex sociopolitical organization to be exploited efficiently. Such fish runs were short-lived and the best fishing places likely were spatially restricted. This potentially created the need for pools of labor, required organization of harvesting and processing, and generated surpluses that could be stored and manipulated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-145
JournalThe Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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