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Dr. Christian Leipe et al. paper published in PLoS ONE

March 29, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Christian Leipe, BHAP team member at Freie Universitaet Berlin, on the publication of his paper in PLoS ONE!

Congratulations also to the co-authors, many of whom are BHAP colleagues.

Title: "Barley (Hordeum vulgare) in the Okhotsk culture (5th-10th century AD) of northern Japan and the role of cultivated plants in hunter-gatherer economies"

Authors: Christian Leipe, Elena A. Sergusheva, Stefanie Mueller, Robert N. Spengler, Tomasz Goslar, Hirofumi Kato, Mayke Wagner, Andrzej W. Weber and Pavel E. Tarasov.

Published in the open access journal PLoS ONE 12(3): e0174397.

A note from Dr. Leipe: The authors would like to thank all students and BHAP project members who enthusiastically supported the on-site floatation, especially Erin Jessup and Victoria van der Haas for organising this fruitful part of the field work! Thanks a lot also to Yu Hirasawa and Ren Iwanami who supplied us with valuable information about the site stratigraphy and cultural layers.

A summary: Our study provides new insights into the subsistence strategies of prehistoric non-agrarian societies. The analysis of macrobotanical remains from Okhotsk cultural layers at the Hamanaka 2 site on Rebun Island revealed hundreds of charred grains of compact naked barley (Hordeum vulgare var. nudum). Direct radiocarbon dating indicates long-term use of barley at the site over a period of about 500 years (ca. 430-960 cal yr AD, 95% confidence interval). So far, the Okhotsk people have been regarded as a typical hunter-gatherer culture, which was highly specialised in exploiting marine food resources. In fact, the study results show that the Okhotsk people also incorporated domesticated crops like barley into their subsistence economy, which, however, did not lead to a transformation into an agrarian society. Our findings emphasise the complexity of subsistence strategies of groups that can be placed somewhere between hunting-gathering and agriculture and that is still not fully understood. Moreover, the Hokkaido Okhotsk culture barley assemblages, so far, highlight the prehistoric north-eastern dispersal limit of this crop in Eurasia. We also provide evidence that the Okhotsk barley was not propagated from the south (i.e. central and southern Japan), but originated from the continental Russian Far East region.

Link to paper:
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174397

Download pdf of paper here

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