About robertspengler

Volkswagen and Mellon Foundations Postdoctoral Fellow | Research Associate at Washington University | Paleoethnobotanist

Ancient Cannabis Smoking in Western China

Abstract

Spengler, Robert (2020) High in the Pamir Mountains: Ancient Cannabis Smoking in Western China. The Science Breaker. Online only.

Cannabis is one of the most contentious and widely used drug plants in the world today. However, its history of use and the role that it played among peoples in the past is poorly understood. Continue reading

Economic Diversification Supported the Growth of Mongolia’s Nomadic Empires

Abstract

Wilkin, Shevan Alicia Ventresca Miller, Bryan K. Miller, Robert N. Spengler III, William T. T. Taylor, Ricardo Fernandes, Richard W. Hagan, Madeleine Bleasdale, Jana Zech, S. Ulziibayar, Erdene Myagmar, Nicole Boivin, and Patrick Roberts (2020) Economic Diversification Supported the Growth of Mongolia’s Nomadic Empires, Scientific Reports. 10: 3916.

Populations in Mongolia from the late second millennium B.C.E. through the Mongol Empire are traditionally assumed, by archaeologists and historians, to have maintained a highly specialized horse-facilitated form of mobile pastoralism. Continue reading

5,200-year-old cereal grains from the eastern Altai Mountains redate the trans-Eurasian crop exchange

Abstract

Zhou, Xinying, Jianjun Yu, Robert Nicholas Spengler, Hui Shen, Keliang Zhao, Junyi Ge, Yige Bao, Junchi Liu, Qingjiang Yang, Guanhan Chen, Peter Weiming Jia, and Xiaoqiang Li (2020) 5,200-year-old cereal grains from the eastern Altai Mountains redate the trans-Eurasian crop exchange, Nature Plants 6: 78–87.

Wheat and barley evolved from large-seeded annual grasses in the arid, low latitudes of Asia; their spread into higher elevations and northern latitudes involved corresponding evolutionary adaptations in these plants, including traits for frost tolerance and shifts in photoperiod sensitivity. Continue reading

Rethinking the Origins of Plant Domestication

Abstract

Spengler, Robert N., III (2020) Anthropogenic Seed Dispersal: Rethinking the Origins of Plant Domestication. Trends in Plant Science. Online First.

It is well documented that ancient sickle harvesting led to tough rachises, but the other seed dispersal properties in crop progenitors are rarely discussed. Continue reading

Fruits of the Silk Roads

Abstract

Spengler, Robert N. III (2019) Fruits of the Silk Roads, In Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes Susan Whitfield (Ed.) Thames and Hudson: London.

As world powers realign their cultural, economic and political outlooks, there is no better time to consider how Afro-Eurasia’s complex network of ancient trade routes – which spanned the vastness of the steppe, vertiginous mountain ranges, fertile river plains and forbidding deserts across the continents and on to the seas beyond – fostered economic activity and cultural, political and technological communication. From silk to slaves, fashion to music, religion to science the movement of interaction of goods, people and ideas was crucial to the flourishing of peoples and their cultures across this vast region. Continue reading

Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use

Abstract

Stephens, L. D. Fuller, N. Boivin, T. Rick, N. Gauthier, A. Kay, B. Marwick, C. Geralda, D. Armstrong, C. M. Barton, T. Denham, K. Douglass, J. Driver, L. Janz, P. Roberts, J. D. Rogers, H. Thakar, M. Altaweel, A. L. Johnson, M. M. Sampietro Vattuone, M. Aldenderfer, S. Archila, G. Artioli, M. T. Bale, T. Beach, F. Borrell, T. Braje, P. I. Buckland, N. G. Jiménez Cano, J. M. Capriles, A. Diez Castillo, Ç. Çilingiroğlu, M. Negus Cleary, J. Conolly, P. R. Coutros, R. A. Covey, M. Cremaschi, A. Crowther, L. Der, S. di Lernia, J. F. Doershuk, W. E. Doolittle, K. J. Edwards, J. M. Erlandson, D. Evans, A. Fairbairn, P. Faulkner, G. Feinman, R. Fernandes, S. M. Fitzpatrick, R. Fyfe, E. Garcea, S. Goldstein, R. Goodman, J. Dalpoim Guedes, J. Herrmann, P. Hiscock, P. Hommel, K. A. Horsburgh, C. Hritz, J. W. Ives, A. Junno, J. G. Kahn, B. Kaufman, C. Kearns, T. R. Kidder, F. Lanoë, D. Lawrence, G. Lee, Maureece J. Levin, H. B. Lindskoug, J. A. López-Sáez, S. Macrae, R. Marchant, J. M. Marston, S. McClure, M. D. McCoy, A. Ventresca Miller, M. Morrison, G. Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, J. Müller, A. Nayak, S. Noerwidi, T. M. Peres, C. E. Peterson, L. Proctor, A. Randall, S. Renette, G. Robbins Schug, K. Ryzewski, R. Saini, V. Scheinsohn, P. Schmidt, P. Sebillaud, O. Seitsonen, I. A. Simpson, A. Sołtysiak, R. J. Speakman, R. N. Spengler, M. L. Steffen, M. J. Storozum, K. M. Strickland, J. Thompson, T. L. Thurston, S. Ulm, M. C. Ustunkaya, M. H. Welker, C. West, P. R. Williams, D. K. Wright, N. Wright, M. Zahir, A. Zerboni, E. Beaudoin, S. Munevar Garcia, J. Powell, A. Thornton, J. O. Kaplan, M. J. Gaillard, K. K.Goldewijk, E. Ellis. “Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use.” Science Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 897-902.

Humans began to leave lasting impacts on Earth’s surface starting 10,000 to 8000 years ago. Through a synthetic collaboration with archaeologists around the globe, Stephens et al. compiled a comprehensive picture of the trajectory of human land use worldwide during the Holocene (see the Perspective by Roberts). Hunter-gatherers, farmers, and pastoralists transformed the face of Earth earlier and to a greater extent than has been widely appreciated, a transformation that was essentially global by 3000 years before the present.

 

Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat

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Abstract

Fruit from the SandsSpengler, Robert N., III (2019) Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat, University of California Press: Berkeley.

The foods we eat have a deep and often surprising past. From almonds and apples to tea and rice, many foods that we consume today have histories that can be traced out of prehistoric Central Asia along the tracks of the Silk Road to kitchens in Europe, America, China, and elsewhere in East Asia. Continue reading

Grazing Animals Drove Domestication in Grain Crops

Abstract

Spengler, Robert N., III and Natalie Mueller (2019) Grazing Animals Drove Domestication in Grain Crops. Nature Plants. 5: 656–662.

In addition to large-seeded cereals, humans around the world during the mid-Holocene started to cultivate small-seeded species of herbaceous annuals for grain, including quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, the millets and several lost crops domesticated in North America. Continue reading

Bronze and Iron Age urbanization in Turkmenistan: Preliminary results from the excavation of Togolok 1 on the Murghab alluvial fan

Abstract

Cerasetti, Barbara, Roberto Arciero, Marialetizia Carra, Antonio Curci, Jacopo De Grossi Mazzorin, Luca Forni, Elise Luneau, Lynne M. Rouse, and Robert N. Spengler III (2019) Bronze and Iron Age urbanization in Turkmenistan: Preliminary results from the excavation of Togolok 1 on the Murghab alluvial fan. In: Christoph Baumer and Mirko Novak (Eds.) Urban Cultures of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Karakhanids: Learnings and conclusions from new archaeological investigations and discoveries. Proceedings of the First International Congress on Central Asian Archaeology held at the University of Bern, 4-6 February 2016. pp. 63-72 Harressowitz Verdog: Bern, Switzerland.

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