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

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