Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 205–256

Inner Asian States and Empires: Theories and Synthesis


DOI: 10.1007/s10814-011-9053-2

Cite this article as:
Rogers, J.D. J Archaeol Res (2012) 20: 205. doi:10.1007/s10814-011-9053-2


By 200 B.C. a series of expansive polities emerged in Inner Asia that would dominate the history of this region and, at times, a very large portion of Eurasia for the next 2,000 years. The pastoralist polities originating in the steppes have typically been described in world history as ephemeral or derivative of the earlier sedentary agricultural states of China. These polities, however, emerged from local traditions of mobility, multiresource pastoralism, and distributed forms of hierarchy and administrative control that represent important alternative pathways in the comparative study of early states and empires. The review of evidence from 15 polities illustrates long traditions of political and administrative organization that derive from the steppe, with Bronze Age origins well before 200 B.C. Pastoralist economies from the steppe innovated new forms of political organization and were as capable as those based on agricultural production of supporting the development of complex societies.


Empires States Inner Asia Pastoralism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, NHB 112, National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA

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