Edited Volume – introduction to Special Edition volume of The Holocene
Robert N. Spengler III, Mayke Wagner, and Pavel Tarasov 2016. Introduction to the Special Issue: ‘Introduction and intensification of agriculture in Central Eurasia and adjacent regions’. The Holocene.
For well over a century scholars from across the social and biological sciences have been trying to understand the origins and spread of agriculture. This debate is often intertwined with discussions of climate change and human environmental impact. Over the past decade, this debate has spread into Central Eurasia, from western China to Ukraine and southern Russia to Turkmenistan, a part of the world often thought to have been largely dominated by pastoralists. A growing interest in the prehistory of Central Eurasia has spurred a new chapter in the origins of agriculture debate; archaeobotanical research is showing how important farming practices in this region were in regards to the spread of crops across the Old World. While early people living in Central Eurasia played an influential role in shaping human history, there is still limited understanding of the trajectories of social evolution among these populations. In March of 2015, thirty leading scholars from around the globe came together in Berlin, Germany, to discuss the introduction and intensification of agriculture in Central Eurasia and adjacent regions. At the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, these scholars presented novel data on topics covering East, South, and Central Asia, spanning a wide realm of methodological approaches. The present special edition volume deals with a selection of the papers given at this conference, and it marks a significant step toward recognizing the contribution of Central Eurasian populations in the spread and development of agricultural systems over the course of the Holocene.