Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 405–425 | Cite as

Land Use Patterns in Central Asia. Step 1: The Musical Chairs Model

  • Andreas AngourakisEmail author
  • Bernardo Rondelli
  • Sebastian Stride
  • Xavier Rubio-Campillo
  • Andrea L. Balbo
  • Alexis Torrano
  • Verònica Martinez
  • Marco Madella
  • Josep M. Gurt


Herding and farming coexisted in Central Asia for several thousand years as main options of preindustrial economic production. The relationship between people practicing different variants of these modes of subsistence is known to have been dynamic. Among the many possible explanations, we explore this dynamic by modeling mechanisms that connect aggregate decisions to land use patterns. Within the framework of the SimulPast project, we show here the results from step 1 of our modeling program: the Musical Chairs Model. This abstract agent-based model describes a mechanism of competition for land use between farming and herding. The aim is the exploration of how mobility, intensity, and interdependence of activities can influence land use pattern. After performing a set of experiments within the framework of this model, we compare the implications of each condition for the corroboration of specific land use patterns. Some historical and archaeological implications are also discussed. We suggest that the overall extension of farming in oases can be explained by the competition for land use between farming and herding, assuming that it develops with little or no interference of climatic, geographical, and historical contingencies.


Land use Central Asia Agent-based modeling Coevolution Herding and farming 



This research has been developed in the framework of the SimulPast Project—Consolider Ingenio 2010 (CSD2010-00034), funded by the former Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation (MICNN). The authors gratefully acknowledge the feedback of anonymous reviewers. Special thanks to Enrico Crema for providing useful comments to the model implementation and reviewing a first version of the manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10816_2013_9197_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (896 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 896 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Angourakis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bernardo Rondelli
    • 2
  • Sebastian Stride
    • 1
  • Xavier Rubio-Campillo
    • 3
  • Andrea L. Balbo
    • 2
  • Alexis Torrano
    • 3
  • Verònica Martinez
    • 1
  • Marco Madella
    • 2
    • 4
  • Josep M. Gurt
    • 1
  1. 1.ERAAUB, Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and ArchaeologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Complexity and Socioecological dynamics (CaSEs), Istitució Milà i Fontanals, Spanish National Research Council (IMF-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain

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