Understanding past activities of pastoral nomadic Nenets from Western Siberia using a geoarchaeological toolkit

Loïc Charles Pierre Harrault, Karen Beatrice Milek, David George Anderson, Lorna A. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Nomadic Nenets people from Yamal peninsula (Siberia) were and still are dependent on reindeer herding, which provides them with food, tools, clothes, transport, and trade goods.
Herding activity in these high latitudes depends on fire, mainly for warmth and cooking, but also to create smoke to protect reindeer from insect harassment in summer. Exploring the presence, location, and uses of fire on past and present Nenets herding sites can help us understand how their lifeways and herding practices have changed over time.
Here we present preliminary results from an interdisciplinary approach applied to an ancient Nenets site still in use that used a range of geoarchaeological tools to elucidate past occupation and fire-related activities. Surface surveys for charcoal and burnt bones allowed the identification of modern fire locations, or the locations of ancient fires on eroded sites, and magnetic susceptibility anomalies helped to locate potential buried fires. Herding activity and related past animal presence were tracked by phosphate (presence/absence) and lipid biomarker (origin) analysis.
This multidisciplinary strategy, informed by traditional knowledge and ethnoarchaeology, is making an important contribution to our understanding of the past lifeways and herding practices and their relationship to fire, of northern nomadic pastoralists.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2017
EventEthnoarchaeology of fire - AMBI Lab, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, La Laguna, Spain
Duration: 9 Feb 201712 Feb 2017


ConferenceEthnoarchaeology of fire
CityLa Laguna
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding past activities of pastoral nomadic Nenets from Western Siberia using a geoarchaeological toolkit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this