The Soviet-American Siberian Expedition


  • John Martin Campbell



Copper Eskimos


The 1975 expedition was mainly exploratory, its primary purpose being that of collecting substantive evidence relative to the past and present natural environments and the human prehistory of western Lake Baikal in central Siberia. … The work at the two camps was organized as follows: Drs. Atseev, Clark, Derevyanko, Harper, Laughlin and Okladnikov partially excavated two archaeological sites, of the period from about 8000 B.C. to 1000 A.D., which were in the main representative of Mesolithic and Neolithic encampments whose inhabitants were heavily reliant on the hunting of large game, including the Bailak seal. In addition, the investigators just mentioned, and other members of the field party, briefly excavated a locality which contained lithic specimens (probably artefacts) directly associated with the bones of extinct megafauna. Dr. Hopkins and his Soviet counterpart, Dr. Troitsky, formed interpretations of the geological stratigraphy of the archaeological localities just referred to; collected invertebrate and vertebrate fossils; discovered, and partially excavated, another Neolithic site and, more generally, assessed major regional climatological and geomorphological events of about the past 10,000 years. My own work was directed toward recording certain characteristics of the present-day regional environment - mainly, its late summer climate, terrestrial plant communities, and invertebrates. The various studies resulted in the accumulation of a comprehensive body of data. In addition to meteorological observations, we recorded a few live fishes and mammals, and nearly 70 species of birds. The collections we assembled included numerous artefacts; human skeletal remains; a total of more than 75 fossil, soil and radiocarbon samples; about 100 specimens of recent invertebrates, and more than 400 plant specimens. That we were permitted to remove these collections intact and without search (together with our journals, and more than 7000 undeveloped still photos and 33 reels of film) testifies to the freedom we enjoyed both in the field, and in Moscow, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk. …