Buried, eaten, sacrificed: Archaeological dog remains from Trans-Baikal, Siberia

Robert J Losey* (Corresponding Author), Tatiana Nomokonova, Lacey S Fleming, Artur Kharinskii, Evgenii V Kovychev, Mikhail V. Konstantinov, Natal'ia G. Diatchina, Mikhail V Sablin, Larisa G. Iaroslavtseva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Trans-Baikal, the interior region just to the east of Siberia's Lake Baikal, has a fairly extensive but largely unstudied archaeological record of human interaction with domestic dogs. This region's archaeological dog remains are documented for the first time in this paper. New radiocarbon dates indicate that dogs first appear in this region by at least 7900 years ago during the Siberian Early Neolithic period. These dogs lived with the region's foragers, particularly in the southern portions of Trans-Baikal, and were sometimes buried, indicating their unique status in these communities. Dogs during this period were likely involved in hunting and burden carrying, but there is no evidence they were eaten. For much of the Middle Holocene, dog remains appear to be absent in Trans-Baikal, a pattern similar to that seen in the Cis-Baikal region to the west. During the Iron Age, dogs become food sources in Trans-Baikal, being abundant in some sites occupied by pastoral and agricultural groups. This same period also witnesses some dog sacrifice. Overall, dogs were clearly widespread in Trans- and Cis-Baikal by ~8000 years ago, and in all likelihood were present in much of Siberia in smaller numbers far earlier than this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalArchaeological Research in Asia
Early online date8 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding for this research was provided by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant (#SSHRC IG 435-2014-0075) and a European Research Council Grant to D. Anderson (#295458). The participation of ZIN RAS (state assignment № АААА-А17-117022810195-3) to this research is acknowledged. We wish to acknowledge the following institutions for facilitating access to the materials analyzed for this study: Trans-Baikal State University, National Museum of the Buriat Republic, Irkutsk National Research Technical University, and the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg). E.V. Kovychev's research at Proezzhaia I was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia, # 14.W03.31.0016. Robert Gustas is thanked for creating the map used in Fig. 1.


  • dogs
  • domestication
  • Siberia
  • sacrifice
  • dog burial
  • Xiongnu
  • pastoralism


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