Late Bronze Age agriculture at Tasbas in the Dzhungar Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan

Spengler, Robert N., III, Paula Doumani, and Michael Frachetti 2014. Late Bronze Age agriculture at Tasbas in the Dzhungar Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan. Quaternary International 348: 147-157. Peer-reviewed.

Special Issue of Quaternary International, Volume 348, Pages 1-266 (20 October 2014)
The Bridging Eurasia Research Initiative: Modes of mobility and sustainability in the palaeoenvironmental and archaeological archives from Eurasia
Edited by Mayke Wagner, Gui-Yun Jin and Pavel Tarasov

Abstract

INQUAThe settlement of Tasbas is located in the Dzunghar Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan. This article illustrates an economy at the site in the Late Bronze Age (Phase 2a, 1490-1260 cal. BC), which incorporated mixed agropastoralism or multiresource pastoralism. This economic model is significant in that it confirms the presence of Bronze Age agriculture in northern Central Asia, an area where the nature of early pastoralism and agriculture has been debated for decades. The archaeobotanical remains from Tasbas provide conclusive evidence for agricultural pursuits and suggest that by (at least) the mid-second millennium BC highland areas supported a complex system of agriculture using several distinct crop types. The Late Bronze Age assemblage from Tasbas has high ubiquities of: naked, six-rowed, splitapexed barley; highly compact, free-threshing wheat; green peas; and broomcorn millet. In addition, the presence of processing chaff (rachises) and impressions of culms and grains in mudbrick at the site support the argument that these crops were produced locally. The data presented here open new discussions concerning the integration of agriculture into Bronze Age pastoralist economies across Central Asia and the diffusion of both domestic grains and modes of production during the second millennium BC.

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