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.


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

Agriculture in the Central Asian Bronze Age

Spengler, Robert N., III
2015. Agriculture in the Central Asian Bronze Age. Journal of World Prehistory. Peer-reviewed.


World PrehistoryBy the late third/early second millennium BC, increased interconnectivity in the mountains of Central Asia linked populations across Eurasia. This increasing interaction would later culminate in the Silk Road. While these populations are typically lumped together under the title of ‘nomads’, a growing corpus of data illustrates how diverse their economic strategies were, in many cases representing mixed agropastoral systems. Continue reading

Paleoethnobotanical Methods for the Study of Early Agriculture and Cuisine in the Prehistory of Central Asia

Experience of Turkmenistan Published Book Chapter

Spengler, Robert N., III
2014. Paleoethnobotanical Methods for the Study of Early Agriculture and Cuisine in the Prehistory of Central Asia. In Experience of Turkmenistan in Research and Museumification of Archaeological Findings. (pp. 326-328), Turkmenistan Ministry of Culture, Ashgabat.

Agricultural Origins from the Ground Up

Langlie, BrieAnna S., Natalie G. Mueller, Robert N. Spengler, and Gayle J. Fritz
2014. Agricultural Origins from the Ground Up: Archaeological Perspectives on Plant Domestication. American Journal of Botany 101(10): 000–000. Peer-reviewed.

Special Issue: Speaking of Food: Connecting basic and applied science.
Available open access through AJB.


American Journal of BotanyThe timing, geographical locations, causes, and consequences of crop domestication have long been major concerns of archaeologists, and agricultural origins and dispersals are currently more relevant than ever to scientists seeking solutions to elusive problems involving food insecurity and global health disparities. Perennial research issues that archaeologists continue to tackle include Continue reading

Ecotopes and Herd Foraging Practices in the Bronze and Iron Age, Steppe and Mountain Ecotone of Central Asia

Spengler, Robert N., III, Michael D. Frachetti, and Gayle J. Fritz
2013. Ecotopes and Herd Foraging Practices in the Bronze and Iron Age, Steppe and Mountain Ecotone of Central Asia. Journal of Ethnobiology 33(1): 125-147. Peer-reviewed.


Journal of EthnobiologyEurasian mobile pastoralists living in semiarid environments focus on specific location on the landscape where pasture resource and water are available. Ectones – or intermediary zones between the mountain and steppe environments – create mosaic landscapes of resource-rich patches and other discrete enclaves of useful biota for pastoralist communities. Ecotopes (Ecological patches) provide vital resources Continue reading

Agricultural Production in the Central Asian Mountains

Spengler, Robert N., III, Claudia Chang, and Perry A. Tourtellotte
2013. Agricultural Production in the Central Asian Mountains: Tuzusai, Kazakhstan (410-150 BC). Journal of Field Archaeology 38(1): 68-85. Peer-reviewed.

Available open access through JFA.


JFAThe site of Tuzusai is located in the Tien Shan Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan; occupation at the site between 410 B.C. and A.D. 150 represents the transition between the Saka and Wusun periods (Saka: 800–200 B.C.; Wusun: 200 B.C.–A.D. 400). Iron Age people of Central Asia are often described simply as mobile pastoralists, yet at Tuzusai, we have evidence that agriculture was practiced along with pastoral transhumance. Continue reading