Spring 2015 – Introduction and Intensification of Agriculture in Central Eurasia

The Introduction and Intensification of Agriculture in Central Eurasia:
The Exception to the Rule or the Exception That Proves the Rule?

Robert N Spengler III; Mayke Wagner; Pavel Tarasov

Supported and funded by a joint grant from the Mellon and Volkswagen Foundations, as well as a grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation. Further support comes from the German Archaeological Institute.

2015 Conference Poster

This three-day conference consisted of thirty talks from scholars originating from ten countries spanning Asia, Europe, and North America; all of whom are leading experts on the topic of the origin and spread of agriculture in Central Eurasia. The proceedings are published in a special edition volume of The Holocene.

The theme of this workshop, agricultural introduction and intensification in Central Eurasia, was interpreted in a broad sense to include related topics of increasing social complexity and exchange. Inner Asia is an anomaly in discourse surrounding social complexity; the early Iron Age is marked by a demographic transition, long believed to be fueled by increased pastoralism. In the rest of the world, agriculture is accepted as a cornerstone to the development of social hierarchy and population growth. One of the least studied parts of the world, in terms of agricultural origins and spread, is also the region that breaks down the classical model of social development – the exception to the rule. This conference pooled an international group of scholars to discuss the growing realm of paleoeconomic data coming out of Central Eurasia; in many cases these novel data do not fit the long-held models of economy in the region and demand that a new approach be taken. We have taken steps toward the construction of a new economic model for the Bronze and Iron Ages of Eurasia, and in doing so reshaped the general understanding of social developments and cultural complexity across the Old World.

Opening Talk
Robert N Spengler III

Welcome and Introduction
Mayke Wagner

Rainfall Seasonality and the Spread of Millet Cultivation in Eurasia
Naomi Miller

The Spread of Early Agriculture to Central Asia: New data from the Sharoud plain, NE Iran
Margareta Tengberg

1492 BC: The scales of the Old World agricultures
Xinyi Liu

Subsistence Economy, Animal Domestication and Herd Management in Pastoralist Communities of Central Asia (Neolithic – Iron Age) – New Archaeozoological and Palaeogenetic Data
Norbert Benecke

Re-imaging Eurasian Pastoralism: The role of plants and agriculture during the Early to Middle Bronze Age Transition
Michael Frachetti

An Archaeobotanical Database and GIS Approach to Define a Middle Asian Corridor at the Centre of Four Millennia of Exchange of Agricultural Crops and Innovations
Chris Stevens and Dorian Fuller

The Potential of Plant Remains from the Archaeological Site Hamanaka II, Japan
Annette Kossler, Pavel Tarasov and Baikal-Hokkaido Archaeology Project members

Vegetation changes and human impact since ca. 4500 BP recorded from Badhani Taal (Garhwal Himalaya, India) with evidence for local retting of hemp
Dieter Demske, Pavel E. Tarasov, Christian Leipe, Frank Riedel, Bahadur S. Kotlia & Lalit M. Joshi

Reflections on Landscape and Climate in the Transurals during the Bronze Age
Astrid Stobbe & Heike Schneider

No Evidence for Agriculture in the Sintashta Settlements at the Karagaily-Ayat River in the Southern Trans-Urals steppe, Russia
Lisa Rühl and Astrid Stobbe

Cereal Pollen Grains in Cultural Layers and Natural Archives on the Periphery of Central Asia
Natalia Ryabogina

Agriculture and Pastoralism on the Gorgan Plain (NE Iran) from Palynological Perspective
Lyudmila Shumilovskikh, Morteza Djamali, Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu, Valérie Andrieu-Ponel, and Philippe Ponel

New Evidence for Climate Influence on the Evolution of the Harappan Civilisation from Palynological Records from the High-alpine Lake Tso Moriri (NW Himalayas)
Christian Leipe, Dieter Demske, Pavel E. Tarasov, Bernd Wünnemann, Frank Riede, and HIMPAC-Members

The Middle Holocene Changes Seen in Archaeological and Environmental Archives from Central Eurasia: Coincidence or causality?
Pavel E. Tarasov and Mayke Wagner

The Earliest Evidence of Crop Consumption in Central Tian Shan: Based on stable isotope analysis, archaeobotany and AMS 14C dating
Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute

Central Asia to the north Aegean? An achaeobotanical investigation of Bronze Age crop introductions to northern Greece
Soultana Maria Valamoti

Against the Grain: A re-evaluation of the role of millet in the diets of central Eurasian populations
Alicia Ventresca Miller and C. Makarewicz

Agricultural Activities in Prehistoric Xinjiang: A review
Hongen Jiang

How Did Wheat Come to China?
Zhao Zhijun

Archaeobotanical Research in Qara Qorum, Mongolia
Manfred Rösch

Neolithic Plant Exploitation around Shandong Highlands, East China
Guiyun Jin

Intensification of Agriculture at the Bronze to Iron Age Transition in the North Caucasus: Implications from archaeology, archaeobotany, geoinformatics and stable isotope data
Sabine Reinhold, Corina Knipper, and Andrej Belinskij

Some examples of agriculture and trade or exchange of agricultural products from the 2nd mill. BC to the Roman Period in Central Eurasia.
Reinder Neef

Phytolith Analyses from Grinding Stones in Aeneolithic Monjukli Depe, Turkmenistan
Birgül Ögüt

Food Globalization in Eurasia
Martin Jones

Closing Discussion
Mark Nesbitt

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