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

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.

 

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

The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs

Abstract

Science AdvancesRen, Meng, Zihua Tang, Xinhua Wu, Robert N. Spengler III, Hongen Jiang, Yimin Yang, and Nicole Boivin (2019) The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs. Science Advances. 5(6): eaaw1391.

Available open access

Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants in East Asia Continue reading

Origins of the Apple: The Role of Megafaunal Mutualism in the Domestication of Malus and Rosaceous Trees

Abstract

Frontiers in Plant ScienceSpengler, Robert N., III (2019) Origins of the Apple: The Role of Megafaunal Mutualism in the Domestication of Malus and Rosaceous Trees. Frontiers in Plant Science. 10(617):1-18.

Available open access

The apple (Malus domestica [Suckow] Borkh.) is one of the most economically and culturally significant fruits Continue reading

A new project aims to understand the early prehistoric use of animals and plants along the ancient Silk Road through archaeological fieldwork in southern Kyrgyzstan’s high Alay Valley.

Abstract

AntiquityTaylor, William T., Svetlana Shnaider, Robert N. Spengler III, Ludovic Orlando, Aida Aboykanova, Andrei Krivoshapkin (2019) Investigating Ancient Animal Economies and Exchange in Kyrgyzstan’s Alay Valley. Antiquity. 93(367): e2.

A new project aims to understand the early prehistoric use of animals and plants along the ancient Silk Road Continue reading

The Breadth of Dietary Economy in Bronze Age Central Asia

Spengler, Robert N., III, Ilaria de Nigris, Barbara Cerasetti, Marialetizia Carra, Lynne M. Rouse (2018) The breadth of dietary economy in Bronze Age Central Asia: Case study from Adji Kui 1 in the Murghab region of Turkmenistan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 22: 372-381.

Abstract

Archaeological Science ReportsOver the past decade research into the paleoeconomy of Bronze Age (3500-800 B.C.) peoples in Central Asia has shown how complex the productive economy was. The agropastoral system involved an array of crops and herd animals. In this article, we present a paleoethnobotanical study conducted on sediment samples from excavation units at the site of Adji Kui, Turkmenistan. Continue reading

Arboreal crops on the medieval Silk Road: Archaeobotanical studies at Tashbulak

Robert N. Spengler III, Farhod Maksudov, Elissa Bullion, Ann Merkle, Taylor Hermes, Michael Frachetti (2018). PLOS One

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During the first millennium A.D., Central Asia was marked by broad networks of exchange and interaction, what many historians collectively refer to as the “Silk Road”. Much of this contact relied on high-elevation mountain valleys, often linking towns and caravanserais through alpine territories. This cultural exchange is thought to have reached a peak in the late first millennium A.D., Continue reading