Paleoethnobotany

Published Book Chapter

Archaeological SciencesSpengler, Robert N. III (2018) Paleoethnobotany. In Sandra L. López Varela (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: New York.

Paleoethnobotany is the scientific investigation of human and plant interactions in the past; this includes both human environmental impact and cultural practices involving plants. 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

plos1

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

Dung burning in the archaeobotanical record of West Asia: Where are we now?

Spengler, Robert N., III (2018) Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Vegetation History

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

Vegetation change and human impacts on Rebun Island (Northwest Pacific) over the last 6000 years


Christian Leipe, Stefanie Müller, Konrad Hille, Hirofumi Kato, Franziska Kobe, Mareike Schmidt, Konrad Seyffert, Robert Spengler III, Mayke Wagner, Andrzej W. Weber, Pavel E. Tarasov (2018)

Quaternary Science ReviewsThis 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

Claudia Chang. Rethinking prehistoric Central Asia: shepherds, farmers, and nomads

Spengler III, Robert N. (2018). Antiquity.

AntiquityThis 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. 

Linking agriculture and exchange to social developments of the Central Asian Iron Age

Robert N. Spengler III, Naomi F. Miller, Reinder Neef, Perry A. Tourtellotte, Claudia Chang

Abstract

JAA-CoverCentral 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