Social Inequality and Violence in Hunter-Gatherer Communities of Western Siberia

Research project T2_2

The ongoing PhD project investigates markers of social inequalities of hunter-gatherer settlements in Western Siberia diachronically, starting with the first complex and partly fortified sites at the end of the 7th millennium BCE. The Siberian fortified sites represent a peculiar and largely unstudied phenomenon, which can be traced up until the 18th century CE. Settlement and fortification structures are still visible on the surface as depressions, ditches and ramparts. This unique archive of architectonical features enables a pioneering study of fortification systems and its associated settlement structures covering nearly all archaeological and cultural stages over eight millennia. It also provides the rare opportunity to measure house-size distributions and settlement sizes of hundreds of sites, largely without invasive methods.
This enables the calculation of indices of social inequality (e.g. Gini-coefficient) for non-sedentary, non-agricultural communities on a diachronic scale. The main focus lies on the degree of inequality in fortified and non-fortified settlements as well as between households within each of these types. Possible connections to centrality, territoriality, the control of natural resources and thus to social and economic inequality as well as to intra- and intergroup violence makes the West Siberian prehistoric and historic settlements a crucial source for the comprehension of social, political and economic dynamics of hunter-gatherer societies.

ROOTS of InequalitiesKayukovo 1; Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia; sunken-floor house (ca. 6th mil. BC), visible on the surface (photo: Henny Piezonka)

ROOTS of Inequalities

Project by Tanja Schreiber


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions