In the early 1980s Naomi Miller changed the field of palaeoethnobotany; her research into whether the ancient seed eaters of southwest Asia were human or herbivore opened an ongoing debate over the impact that burning of animal dung had on the formation of archaeobotanical assemblages, and how researchers can differentiate between human and animal food remains. Continue reading
This study presents a high-resolution, chronologically well-constrained pollen record from Lake Kushu (45֯25’ 58”N, 141֯ 02’05”E) and a record of archaeobotanical remains from the nearby Hamanaka 2 archaeological site. The pollen record suggests continuous long-term cooling, which parallels the decline in Northern Hemisphere summer insolation. This cooling trend is overlaid by several rather quick transitions towards cooler conditions (ca. 5540/5350, 1550, and 390 cal BP) and one distinct decadal-scale cold event around 4130 cal BP. Continue reading
This book summarises Chang’s attempts to wade through an immense body of Russian literature, and to introduce modern methodological approaches, a novel repertoire of questions and an American scholarly tradition. To this end, she not only pioneered a new frontier, she opened the iron curtains for the scholars who would follow her path.
Review available here.
Central Asia is commonly referred to as a pastoral realm, and the first millennium B.C. is often thought to mark a period of increased mobility and reliance on animal husbandry. The economic shift of the first millennium B.C. is usually interpreted as a transition toward specialized pastoralism in Central Asia, and the point in time when the Central Asian ‘nomads’ or Scythians appear. Continue reading
This paper presents a new record of naked barley from the Okhotsk cultural layers of the Hamanaka 2 archaeological site on Rebun Island, northern Japan. Calibrated ages (68% confidence interval) of directly dated barley remains suggest that the crop was used at the site ca. 440-890 cal yr AD. Together with the finds from the Oumu site (north-eastern Hokkaido Island), Continue reading
In this article, we introduce a new line of evidence for the passage and consumption of one commodity – textiles – into the Dzhungar Mountains of southeastern Kazakhstan during the incipient (i.e., Bronze Age), and later (i.e., Iron Age and Medieval Period) Silk Road periods. Although woolen textiles are known for neighboring western China from several discoveries of clothing in its prehistoric cemeteries, Continue reading
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, Continue reading
Over the past decade researchers have directed greater focus toward understanding Bronze (3200-800 BC) and Iron Age (800 BC-AD 400) economies of Central Asia. In this article, we synthesize paleobotanical data from across this broad region and discuss the piecemeal archaeological evidence for agriculture in relation to environmental records of vegetation and climate change. The synthesis shows that Continue reading
The two East Asian millets, broomcorn (Panicum miliaceum) and foxtail millet (Setaria italica), spread across Eurasia and became important crops by the second millennium BC. The earliest indisputable archaeobotanical remains of broomcorn millet outside of East Asia identified thus far date to the end of the third millennium BC in eastern Kazakhstan. By the end of the second millennium BC, broomcorn millet Continue reading
By the late third/early second millennium BC, increased interconnectivity in the mountains of Central Asia linked populations across Eurasia. This increasing interaction would later culminate in the Silk Road. While these populations are typically lumped together under the title of ‘nomads’, a growing corpus of data illustrates how diverse their economic strategies were, in many cases representing mixed agropastoral systems. Continue reading