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

Fruits of the Silk Roads

Abstract

Spengler, Robert N. III (2019) Fruits of the Silk Roads, In Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes Susan Whitfield (Ed.) Thames and Hudson: London.

As world powers realign their cultural, economic and political outlooks, there is no better time to consider how Afro-Eurasia’s complex network of ancient trade routes – which spanned the vastness of the steppe, vertiginous mountain ranges, fertile river plains and forbidding deserts across the continents and on to the seas beyond – fostered economic activity and cultural, political and technological communication. From silk to slaves, fashion to music, religion to science the movement of interaction of goods, people and ideas was crucial to the flourishing of peoples and their cultures across this vast region. Continue reading

Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat

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Abstract

Fruit from the SandsSpengler, Robert N., III (2019) Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat, University of California Press: Berkeley.

The foods we eat have a deep and often surprising past. From almonds and apples to tea and rice, many foods that we consume today have histories that can be traced out of prehistoric Central Asia along the tracks of the Silk Road to kitchens in Europe, America, China, and elsewhere in East Asia. 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

Barley (Hordeum vulgare) in the Okhotsk culture (5th–10th century AD) of northern Japan and the role of cultivated plants in hunter-gatherer economies

Christian Leipe, Elena A. Sergusheva, Stefanie Müller, Robert N. Spengler III, Tomasz Goslar, Hirofumi Kato, Mayke Wagner, Andrzej W. Weber, Pavel E. Tarasov (2017)

Abstract
PLOS-ONE

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

Introduction and Intensification of Agriculture in Central Eurasia and Adjacent Regions

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.

Abstract

HoloceneFor 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

The spread of agriculture into northern Central Asia

Robert N. Spengler III, Natalia Ryabogina, Pavel Tarasov, and Mayke Wagner
2016. The spread of agriculture into northern Central Asia: Timing, pathways, and environmental feedbacks. The Holocene.

Abstract

HoloceneOver 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

Early agriculture and crop transmission among Bronze Age mobile pastoralists of Central Eurasia

Spengler, R. N., M. D. Frachetti, P. N. Doumani, L. M. Rouse, B. Cerasetti, E. Bullion, A. N. Mar’yashev
2014. Early agriculture and crop transmission among Bronze Age mobile pastoralists of
Central Eurasia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20133382. Peer-reviewed.

Available open access through ProcB.

Abstract

ProcBArchaeological research in Central Eurasia is exposing unprecedented scales of trans-regional interaction and technology transfer between East Asia and southwest Asia deep into the prehistoric past. This article presents a new archaeobotanical analysis from pastoralist campsites in the mountain and desert regions of Central Eurasia that documents the oldest known evidence for domesticated grains Continue reading