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


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

Agriculturalists and Pastoralists

Spengler, Robert N., III, Barbara Cerassetti, Margareta Tengberg, Maurizio Cattani, and Lynne M. Rouse
2014. Agriculturalists and Pastoralists: Bronze Age Economy of the Murghab Delta,
Southern Central Asia. Journal of Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 23, 805–820. Peer-reviewed.


Vegetation History and ArchaeobotanyArchaeological investigations of pastoral economies often emphasize exchange relations with agricultural populations, though for Bronze Age Eurasia the notion of a ubiquitous ‘pastoral realm’ has masked various forms of mixed subsistence economies. In Central Asia, there are few attempts to specifically identify the domestic crops utilized by mobile pastoralists or what they may suggest about the role of agriculture Continue reading

Botanical Resource Use in the Bronze and Iron Age of the Central Eurasian Mountain/Steppe Interface

Spengler, Robert N., III
2013. Botanical Resource Use in the Bronze and Iron Age of the Central Eurasian Mountain/Steppe Interface: Decision Making in Multi-resource Pastoral Economies, Ph.D. Dissertation for the Anthropology Department at Washington University in St. Louis.

Available open access through WUSTL.


WUSTLThis dissertation examines botanical resources as components of Central Asian economies in the Bronze: ca. 2500 – 800 B.C.) and Iron Ages: ca. 800 B.C. – A.D. 500) using a paleoethnobotanical data set from four archaeological sites, Begash, Mukri, Tasbas, and Tuzusai. These sites are located in  Continue reading