Comparing Ancient Nomads of the Russian Steppes and Northern Plains
Publication Type:Conference Paper
The Ancient Nomads Project generated the first comparison of ancient pastoral nomads of the Russian Steppes and ancient bison-hunting nomads of the Canadian Prairies. Results are being disseminated in exhibition and book form. The exhibition is organized around nine major themes: (1) culture history, (2) environment, (3) herds, (4) travel, (5) subsistence, (6) dwellings, (7) social life, (8) spiritual life, and (9) warfare and trade. The book expands on the same themes. The project revealed amazing similarities in lifestyle and environment, but also crucial differences due to wild versus domestic herds, pedestrian versus equestrian travel, stone-rich versus stone-poor landscapes, and sparse versus moderately dense populations. It uncovered similarities and differences in the approach to archaeology in the two regions – comparable emphases on cultural resource management and culture history; but significant differences in focus – camp sites and bison-kill sites in the Northern Plains, human burials in the Russian Steppes. Sharp differences also exist in public reactions to archaeology – weak knowledge and variable interest in Canada; substantial knowledge and strong interest in Russia.