Radiocarbon dating from a prehistoric cemetery in Northern Russia reveals human stress caused by a global cooling event 8,200 years ago Early hunter gatherers developed more complex social systems and, unusually, a large cemetery when faced by climate
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
University of Oxford news release
16:00 (GMT), Thursday 27 January 2022
Climate change in the Early Holocene
- Radiocarbon dating from a prehistoric cemetery in Northern Russia reveals human stress caused by a global cooling event 8,200 years ago
- Early hunter gatherers developed more complex social systems and, unusually, a large cemetery when faced by climate change
New insight into how our early ancestors dealt with major shifts in climate is revealed in research, published today [27 Jan] in Nature Ecology & Evolution, by an international team, led by Professor Rick Schulting from Oxford University’s School of Archaeology.
It reveals, new radiocarbon dates show the large Early Holocene cemetery of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov, at Lake Onega, some 500 miles north of Moscow, previously thought to have been in use for many centuries, was, in fact, used for only one to two centuries. Moreover, this seems to be in response to a period of climate stress.
The team believes the creation of the cemetery reveals a social response to the stresses caused by regional resource depression. At a time of climate change, Lake Onega, as the second largest lake in Europe, had its own ecologically resilient microclimate. This would have attracted game, including elk, to its shores while the lake itself would have provided a productive fishery. Because of the fall in temperature, many of the region’s shallower lakes could have been susceptible to the well-known phenomenon of winter fish kills, caused by depleted oxygen levels under the ice.
The creation of the cemetery at the site would have helped define group membership for what would have been previously dispersed bands of hunter-gatherers – mitigating potential conflict over access to the lake’s resources.
But when the climate improved, the team found, the cemetery largely went out of use, as the people presumably returned to a more mobile way of life and the lake became less central.
The behavioural changes – to what could be seen as a more ‘complex’ social system, with abundant grave offerings – were situation-dependent. But they suggest the presence of important decision makers and, say the team, the findings also imply that early hunting and gathering communities were highly flexible and resilient.
The results have implications for understanding the context for the emergence and dissolution of socioeconomic inequality and territoriality under conditions of socio-ecological stress.
Radiocarbon dating of the human remains and associated animal remains at the site reveals that the main use of the cemetery spanned between 100-300 years, centring on ca. 8250 to 8,000 BP. This coincides remarkably closely with the 8.2 ka dramatic cooling event, so this site could provide evidence for how these humans responded to a climate-driven environmental change.
The Holocene (the current geological epoch which began approximately 11,700 years before present) has been relatively stable in comparison to current events. But there are a number of climate fluctuations recorded in the Greenland ice cores. The best known of these is the 8,200 years ago cooling event, the largest climatic downturn in the Holocene, lasting lasted one to two centuries. But there is little evidence that the hunter-gatherers, who occupied most of Europe at this time, were much affected, and if they were, in what specific ways.
Keep on rockin in the Holocene.
I’ve always felt (not a good word to use when talking about a scientific concept, I realize) that “the Holocene” should be defined as the entire warming period, not just the period after the last of the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets were essentially gone. The warm up began far earlier than the end of the glaciers.
If my defining criteria were used, the Holocene would include the period from 11K ya to approximately 20K to 25K ya, when the ice sheets began to shrink towards their oblivion. The Holocene would include the meltwater based draining of historical Lake Bonneville. It might include one or two instances of the repeating Lake MIssoula floods. And in stark contrast, it would also include the entire period of the Younger Dryas.
I know, I know, call me crazy.
Temperature records obtained from ice cores on both Greenland and Antarctica show this cooling. It has been attributed to the dramatic collapse of an ice dam in the vicinity of Hudson Bay in North America which released a large volume of icy fresh water which had built up as the glaciers in North America melted. This, in turn, disrupted the flow of the ocean currents in the Atlantic. See lecture eleven on DVD from “The Physics of History” from The Teaching Company.
Various charts on the WUWT Reference Paleoclimate page concur that the First Little Ice Age was from ~8400-8200 BP.
Greenland cores indicate that temps there fell 3°C before rising again to the Holocene Climatic Optimum. The lowest point of the FLIA was 0.5°C colder than that of the Second LIA of ~1300-1880.
The ice dates don’t correlate exactly with those cited in the article but close enough, I suppose. No doubt the FLIA was perilous. In contrast the HCO was wonderful, 2°C warmer than today. Warmer Is Better.
Or it could be that Alley’s dating and the C14 skeleton dating are both correct, in which case the burial fad was after the FLIA.
Maybe during the FLIA food was so scarce that the few residents were too hungry to bury their fallen compatriots and ate them instead. Then when it warmed up there was plenty to share, and beloved deceased relatives were treated with more respect. That phase only lasted 200 years when folks either reverted to form or switched to pyres and carrion platforms.
If you’re starving, why dig a useless hole?
Digging holes in frozen ground is quite difficult.
A more likely explanation. The area is at a high enough latitude for low land permafrost (about the same latitude as Yakutz) if not for the warmth from the Atlantic.
“the most marked decline
were Alnus, Corylus and Ulmus. In deposits from
lakes located in Finland, the pollen analysis also re-
gistered abrupt climatic cooling at 8200 calBP (Sar-
maja-Korjonen, Seppä 2007; Seppä 2004; Veski et
al. 2004). The end of this event is reflected as a sud-
den change between c. 8075 calBP and c. 8050
calBP, when the pollen proportions of Alnus (10%),
Corylus (2%) and Ulmus (1.5%) increase to 13%, 4%
and 2.5%, respectively. ”
The timing isn’t right but the common alder grows at the tree line in well watered soil, so its disappearance suggests that the ground froze over in the region. Scarce food, a break down in society and frozen ground are not likely to lead to a culture of burying the dead.
The most obvious explanation is that burial started earlier than 8200 BP, then stopped.
Yeah but if you’re starving to death and you urgently need to virtue signal unity of the tribes?
Isn’t it obvious that they had no choice, permafrost be damned?
Exactly my thoughts Mike.
This paragraph is raving gibberish lunacy:
Share and share alike, tribal unity—That’s exactly what doesn’t happen when resources get scarce and people are starving. Societal structure collapses, tribes hoard food and defend hunting grounds, k!lling off competitors. Once warrior leaders of the successful tribes have established their dominance, inequality increases and is entrenched.
Sounds like some lame academics put on a task to find precedents for Build Back Better that we ought to emulate.
The Narrative gets confusing.
That is the second of two offerings one has to go searching for.
I think I’ve got it.
lt got cold, more people died.
it got warm, less people died.
Free cookies for you as you are smarter than all the progressives and environmentalists on earth
Surely the same numbers of people died, just they lived longer and possibly bred more so in fact after a generation more people died rather than fewer?
Could be. I guess we will just look up the registry of births and deaths. Failing that, just make a wild guess
Great photo of Willis’ ancestor and his prehistoric back radiation forcing axe-wand.
Has more credibility too than the evidence free GHE and the ECS hypotheses.
But lukewarmists still engage with climate alarmists who say the Big CO2 dial is set at 11.
Lukewarmists argue that the Big CO2 dial is only set at 4.
To steal and reinvent and reapply Theresa May’s quote about Brexit, “No dial is better than a bad dial.”
It really is sad how constantly being refuted really rots the mind. Leitmotif, it may not be too late to seek professional help.
As usual my little stalker, MarkW, has no rebuttal except insults. It’s very sad when debate is shut down in this way.
that’s the best retort for stalkers and tr0lls. Talk about them, not to them. Really gets to them.
Where did you present an argument, all I see are insults.
Funny how I’m here more than you are, but I’m stalking you?
Do you define stalking as responding? In which case you are the one stalking me.
Hatred rots the mind, you need professional help.
I have asked you repeatedly, MarkW, to present evidence for the GHE and the ECS and you have failed repeatedly.
It is your misguided concept, MarkW, not mine. It is up to you to provide evidence, not for me to dispute your hypotheses.
And yes, you are a stalker. What else could you be? Whenever I post about the mythical back radiation you appear like the bad penny with an insult 100% of the time.
Sun heats planet, planet heats atmosphere, End of.
To be totally honest you are a bit slow when it comes to joined up thinking. Maybe you will gain some experience when you reach puberty.
Oh dear! I’ve just broken my own rule about insults.
Leitmotif you are in fact an ignorant troll. Posting nasty ad hom about Willis Eschenbach and drivel about there being no such thing as the greenhouse effect on a head post that has nothing to do with the GHE or anything that WE has said about the GHE. So, yes, you’re a totally off-topic nasty troll with a pathetic posse of sock puppets.
You wonder why nobody is willing to “debate” you? Why would anyone engage in a scientific discussion with a troll like you?
I don’t mind telling you that you’re a nasty troll, but as far as having any discussion with you, no thanks.
According to AOC theory, you must have a mad crush on Willis.
The scientific skeptic in me is almost always unimpressed by anthropological studies.
They find some interesting and enlightening fact, and then draw a bunch of tenuous conclusions. Usually, there are multiple alternative scenarios that pop into my head just while reading that could also fit the exact same facts.
(And remember, I am an Idiot.)
Yes, idiots of the world unite!
So much of their work is ad hoc. Some may be right, desperately clutching at straws to get their degree or whatever, but I suspect much is not. Sounds a bit like climate ‘science’ really…
“They find some interesting and enlightening fact, and then draw a bunch of tenuous conclusions.”
If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the book Motel of the Mysteries.
Here is the intro copy on Amazon:
It is the year 4022; all of the ancient country of Usa has been buried under many feet of detritus from a catastrophe that occurred back in 1985. Imagine, then, the excitement that Howard Carson, an amateur archeologist at best, experienced when in crossing the perimeter of an abandoned excavation site he felt the ground give way beneath him and found himself at the bottom of a shaft, which, judging from the DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging from an archaic doorknob, was clearly the entrance to a still-sealed burial chamber. Carson’s incredible discoveries, including the remains of two bodies, one of then on a ceremonial bed facing an altar that appeared to be a means of communicating with the Gods and the other lying in a porcelain sarcophagus in the Inner Chamber, permitted him to piece together the whole fabric of that extraordinary civilization.
This study is still not complete. They did not tell us about the belief system or the religious activities of the subjects…
“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” Mark Twain
Beat me to it… great quote.
When in the fossil record did humans switch to the pub mill incentive design for advancement. That’s important to know when science began to fray.
Climate stress because of cooling, really ?
Well, in the EU we know that cold kills and warm doesn’t. 😀
We always did, but not the relevant policymaker and so called climate scientists.:D
Color me very skeptical. I went and read as much of the paper not under paywall. And then did some further research.
Apparently true: there was a sudden cooling event 8.2ka. It is estimated to have been about 2C, and lasted about 150 years.
EurekaAlert contains many ‘Eurekas’.
They need more ‘lerts on staff.
Perhaps you should try reading the entire article. For instance the abstract states:
“with 177 burials recovered in excavations in the 1930s; originally, more than 400 graves may have been present. ” Not only that but they are well aware that not everybody who lived in the area was buried at the grave yard. Again the paper mentions “Burial in the cemetery of a selection of those who died at this time ” so clearly no-one is suggesting that everyone was buried there but rather only the most important people.
The freshwater effect is also real and has been known about for over 20 years. See their reference 30:
Cook, G. T. et al. A freshwater diet-derived 14C reservoir effect at the Stone Age sites in the Iron Gate Gorge. Radiocarbon 43, 453–460 (2001).
And they appear to have corrected it by comparing carbon dates for humans with terrestrial animal remains found in the same grave. So unless you want to suggest that the people consistently dug up old graves and buried fresh Elk alongside their grandparents this is effect is real and needs to be corrected for.
And what on earth is the issue with drawing upon “a body of anthropological and archeological theory”? Are you suggesting that they should ignore helpful evidence because it comes from a different field? If you want to make sense of the past you need to use all the evidence you can get.
Physical anthropology and archaeology always have to deal with small data sets. That does not invalidate their research and their conclusions.
Frankly it’s amazing how many knee jerk attacks on this study are posted in this comment thread, when the upshot of this research is that global cooling is very bad, and global warming is very good. The precise opposite of what the warmunists say.
That’s not what the YouReekAlot! press release says, now is it, Duane?
They would have us believe that the enlightened elders established a cemetery for all the tribes in order to strengthen the bonds of unity in a time of stress. They resorted to socialism when faced with Climate Change ™
Just as we should as we Build Back Better!
“believes”? ROFLMAO what’s that phrase about believing? These are followers of scientism, not science.
These are physical anthropologists, not warmunists. Climate most certainly DOES affect human populations, always did, always will. Their study confirms that global cooling is bad – it IS bad – and that ipso facto warming is good.
I agree with that. But “believes” means they have no clue and are guessing based on their modern presumptions.
And if warming is good, why are they paniced about it?
Didn’t their “science” show them that the ancients weren’t idiots who sat around and froze to death?
Our ancestors MOVED to more favorable climates.
I still don’t understand shoveling snow all winter?
Odd coincidence. All the radical CAGW warriors are now trying to make a more complex SOCIALIST SYSTEM in response to that very same climate change and the number of graves are likely to rise catastrophically if they succeed. History repeats.
Number of graves thing will be hard to fudge. The site was discovered and ALL the graves excavated by archeologists in the 1930s.
Oh wait—they changed the 1930’s temparature records to colder, sooo…
Central Asia struck by major region-wide blackout
Millions of people across Central Asia, including in much of southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, were left without electricity from around lunchtime on January 25 as a result of a major technical fault.
In Uzbekistan, the region’s most populous country, the blackout was confirmed in Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Kokand, and even in the far west of the country, in Nukus. Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, as well as southern cities like Osh and Jalalabad were likewise affected. Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Almaty, and cities in the country’s south were also without power.
Energy officials from the three nations, which are linked by a Soviet-vintage power grid, said work was underway to restore electricity supplies, but there was no immediate consensus over the cause of the disruption.
It’s very cold there as it’s winter.
Central Asia blackout leaves millions without power
Skiers were reportedly left stranded on a cable car at Uzbekistan’s largest ski resort, Amirsoy.
The outage has once again raised concerns about how vulnerable the 1970s-built power line is.
Kazakhstan has experienced power shortages before, following a boom in crypto-currency mining – the process by which transactions are verified and new “coins” made.
Again, someone who purports to be “sorry” about posting OT, then posts OT.
Mark Twain: “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” Evidence:
“… human stress caused by a global cooling event 8,200 years ago Early hunter gatherers developed more complex social systems and, unusually, a large cemetery when faced by climate [sic] …”
“The team believes the creation of the cemetery reveals a social response to the stresses caused by regional resource depression. At a time of climate change, Lake Onega, as the second largest lake in Europe, had its own ecologically resilient microclimate. This would have attracted game, including elk, to its shores while the lake itself would have provided a productive fishery. Because of the fall in temperature, many of the region’s shallower lakes could have been susceptible to the well-known phenomenon of winter fish kills, caused by depleted oxygen levels under the ice.”
“The creation of the cemetery at the site would have helped define group membership for what would have been previously dispersed bands of hunter-gatherers – mitigating potential conflict over access to the lake’s resources.”
“The creation of the cemetery at the site would have helped define group membership for what would have been previously dispersed bands of hunter-gatherers – mitigating potential conflict over access to the lake’s resources.”
“The results have implications for understanding the context for the emergence and dissolution of socioeconomic inequality and territoriality under conditions of socio-ecological stress.”
“The Holocene (the current geological epoch which began approximately 11,700 years before present) has been relatively stable in comparison to current events.” [The CliSciFi money shot.]
And “… emergence and dissolution of socioeconomic inequality and territoriality …” is the woke Marxist lecture.
Yes, the last sentence contains the most BS
Everything was stable until now
Hockey team, forward
Nobody told the CliSciFi practitioners that paleo temperature reconstructions don’t have the same temporal resolution of thermometers; they think that paleo temperatures didn’t rise or fall as fast as recent thermometer readings. That’s because Mann used proxies with temporal resolutions of between about 20 and 50 years-plus to directly compare to recent thermometer warming trends.
Early caveperson climate worriors convinced the tribal chieftains that burning wood and dung was bad for the environment. So everyone stopped. CO2 crashed, and so did the temperature.
Then, Great Chieftain Ugh, of the Ginger Clan, put all that nonsense to rest. Fires became a thing again, and the Great Warmening began. And human civilization began.
Have we learned nothing??
On the bright side, a story admitting cold kills.
Endless books about historic climate catastrophes, every of which documents periods of cooling climate.
Why is this so hard for so many people
Endless books about historic climate catastrophes
Isn’t that also the case with all the apocalyptic climate catastrophe movies? Often because they were trying to stop global warming, but still the REAL catastrophe always ends up that it’s too cold.
I’m suffering here with a rather bad cause & effect brain-ache..
Because folks in that part of the world would have been ‘operating’ like The Nenet currently do
That is that they are ‘nomadic’ but not nomadic. They certainly move around a lot BUT, they follow well-trodden paths along a predominately North/South line.
IOW They followed the sun.
They did not simply wander around Siberia in some random walk
We hear about them eating elk and being hunters.
Why, again referring to the Nenet, were the Elk not semi-domesticated as the Nenet keep semi-domesticated Reindeer
Hence it was not the Nenet or the ‘ancient people’ who decided when to move or where to move to next, they were following the annual migrations of their respective herds as *they* followed the sun up and down the globe as the seasons went by
See where I’m going – if folks were constantly moving: Why The Cemetery?
Cemeteries are for settled civilisations & peoples yet that is the last thing these folks would have been.
Thank you Rud for ‘one per year‘ suggestion/idea/note – it’s a beaut and better than any amount of Co-Codamol for fixing brain-aches.
Was the cemetery some sort of ‘sacred site’ and a place where they buried their leader when he passed away? Hence the low burial rate.
In that part of the world, no matter where or when your ‘leader’ passed away, you could either mummify the body or let it freeze and carry it with you as you continued your annual migration. And when you passed the cemetery, pop him in there, say a few words and then move on – when the Elk or Reindeer decided to. Not your decision at all.
And or possibly a meeting place for different tribes as they moved around – a place and a chance to ‘mix and share your gene pool’ – if you know what I mean. wink wink
Nothing at all to do with Climate, CO2, CCZZTTCCZZ, WhatsHisNames CirculatedUpWellRisedowningsDownings or any of that contrived garbage
What say you El Sol – did you do it?
There. See. It must have been that Mankowitch character, what is he like eh?
Peta: “And or possibly a meeting place for different tribes as they moved around – a place and a chance to ‘mix and share your gene pool’ – if you know what I mean. wink wink”
I think you’re on to something there. At the annual meetup, where everyone was enjoying the adult beverage of the time, the young bucks would all be trying to impress the ladies of other tribes, all in a gaggle across the camp from the guys.
One of the guys would eventually pipe up, “It would take a real man to wrassle that sabretoothed tiger over there.”
Inevitably, one of the tipsy guys would say, “Hold my beer” and off he’d go to impress the girls…
…with predictable results. Much laughter at the poor schlub’s expense. Then they’d take him over to the burial spot, happy in the knowledge that there’s one less guy competing for the ladies.
That seems as plausible as any explanation.
(Peta, you do warn us of the perils of alcohol, and this would be a cautionary tale in support of that.)
Warming is good … cooling is bad.
Supposition of climate change….could have been reindeer migration, bands of marauding Vikings, disease spread by fleas, or maybe spread of a new kind of poisonous mushrooms, or new religious beliefs changing burial customs….but CC, yeah, lets run with that one to get published…
The other possibility is ….
The group probably cremated their dead earlier, just like some of the Vikings did. Due to sudden drop in temperature, vegetation also suffered. Hence they stopped cremating and went for burial. The practice again stopped after temperature went up and vegetation was more easily available.
You’re thinking weather related again….have a look at the world….the reasons populations go missing generally has a lot more to do with politics and warfare than needing an extra blanket….
There is that specious claim, again. Comparing past low resolution proxies to modern high resolution weather records, then imply that weather changes every second, and ‘that’s bad’ virtue signal.
Yup, pond pollen and tree ring proxies accurate to +/- 3 C depending on rainfall and sunshine in any given year, and then suddenly after the invention of the thermometer in 1714, we think an increase of a degree in a century is a big variation…
Is this research the background for the next Flintstones movie?
To clear up this Holocene issue , ask John Oldman who was actually there :
The Man From Earth
Come to think of it, it looks like the researchers already did!
‘early hunting and gathering communities were highly flexible and resilient.’ Late modern communities, not so much.
They developed a more complex social structure or maybe they all just huddled together to die from the cold.
Got to get it in there! For that grant money!
In the rest of Europe there were large expansions of village settlements, In Serbia with the late Lepenski Vir phase (6300–6000 BC), in Bulgaria, near the isle of Wight England with wheat growing and a boatyard, and an early Harappan expansion in the Indus.
A strong positive North Atlantic Oscillation would have led too the cooling in northern Russia and in Greenland, along with a colder AMO and a La Nina regime. But with generally milder winters and good summers in the mid latitude land regions.
Proxies show strong trade winds through the period.
Around 3450 years later through 2700-2400 BC was the next coldest period in Greenland (GISP2), that saw city building take off worldwide. 3450 years after that in the 700’s AD was the next coldest period in Greenland, and had the warmest northern European summer temperatures of the Medieval Warm period (Esper 2014).
They were high solar periods, occurring at the same pitch as grand solar minima series, every 863 (+/-20) years, with 3453 years being every fourth series. Greenland is warmer during the grand solar minima because of negative NAO regimes, during an interglacial.
OK, the climate cooled back then; no disagreement about that.
And they determined the cemetery was in use for about 200 years; fine.
But the rest of the article is pure conjecture, imagination, if not total BS.
The authors, nor anybody else, do not have the slightest bit of evidence why the cemetery was abandoned and why, the postulated-local-settlement, up and moved on.
Maybe they moved on for reasons other then climate change; maybe another tribe/clan of people forced them to move away; nobody knows. Or maybe it was climate change.
And large clans / tribes have routinely moved , say in N.America, for reasons having nothing at all to do with changes in climate.
The total bullshit one reads in papers dealing with climate change is simply astounding.
Big cemeteries are usually associated with more people. That is why there are bigger cemeteries in cities. If things got tougher, why are there more people?
How did fish get into the 100s of thousands of lakes just decades (?)after the glaciers left.
But when the climate improved
Exactly how did it do so? Did it happen to get WARMER?
Now we wait for the “breaking research” showing that this 8200 year ago cooling was caused by falling CO2 (while oddly not wiping out plants),
3 … 2 … 1 …
Codswallop, buckets of it. Sheer speculation nothing more.
How did they find time to build a cemetery if the climate was changing? Surely they would have been too busy protesting or praying to the weather gods?
There was no photography in the early Holocene. I call BS click-bait on the photo. Probably some one LARPing.