Congratulations to Dr. Victoria van der Haas, BAP PhD student at University of Alberta, for successfully defending her PhD dissertation on December 18th!

Victoria’s supervisor was Dr. Andrzej Weber, and her committee members were Dr. Sandra Garvie-Lok, Dr. Lesley Harrington, Dr. Kisha Supernant, Dr. Janet Montgomery and Dr. Mark Nuttall (chair).

Title: “Growing up in the Cis-Baikal region of Siberia, Russia: Reconstructing childhood diet of Middle Holocene hunter-gatherers”

Abstract: Cis-Baikal is a region in Siberia, Russia, that provides unique insight into prehistoric hunter-gatherer lifeways due to a large archaeological and mortuary dataset. The Baikal Archaeology Project (BAP) has been investigating hunter-gatherer complexity, variability, and culture change within the region since the 1990s. BAP’s previous stable isotope studies on the bone collagen of a large number of individuals have revealed information on past diet and subsistence during the last few years of a person’s life. The biochemical research also demonstrated that several individuals migrated from the north of the Cis-Baikal area toward the coast of Lake Baikal; some of these individuals changed their diet while others did not. My study further investigates these dietary and migratory patterns at the individual (rather than population) level. Micro-sampling tooth dentine for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis across multiple teeth tracks the individual dietary history for the first ~20 years of life – recovering data that could not be obtained through older methods. The data generated by this technique not only permits the detection of short-term dietary shifts during childhood development, but also provides insight into the breastfeeding and weaning period. Data suggest the various Cis-Baikal hunter-gatherer groups followed similar subsistence strategies but their isotopic values show micro-regional variability, including dietary variation within individuals from the same cultural period who have been buried in the same cemetery. This could be evidence for economic independence among groups that were occupying the same micro-region. The isotopic investigation in Cis-Baikal has provided exciting new results that contribute to our understanding of prehistoric hunter-gatherers in the subarctic region.

Read about Victoria and her research here:

Way to go, Dr. van der Haas! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!