Agriculture in the Central Asian Bronze Age

Abstract

By 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. These Central Asian low-investment agropastoralists are responsible for connecting the great centers of plant domestication, and through a process of experimentation and exchange shaped economies across the Old World. In this article, I synthesize the evidence for the movement of agricultural technology through this region, which ultimately brought southwest Asian and East Asian crops together for the first time. By the Late Bronze Age, a specific package of agricultural crops had developed across the entire mountain corridor, including broomcorn millet, peas, naked six-row barley, and highly compact free-threshing wheat. Each of these crops has a distinct narrative, and I approach the topic of their spread individually. I also show that agriculture did not spread across the steppe during the Bronze Age and that crops cultivated in the forest-steppe of Eastern Europe were distinct from those of the mountain corridor.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  1. Abetekov, A., & Yusupov, H. (1999). Ancient Iranian nomads in western Central Asia. In J. Harmatta, B. N. Puri, & G. F. Etemadi (Eds.), History of civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II, The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations (700 BC to AD 250) (pp. 23–34). Delhi: UNESCO Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Akishev, K. A. (1969). Зимoвки-пoceлeния и жилищe дpeвнeгo Уcyни [Winter settlements and dwellings of the ancient Wusun]. Извecтия Aкaдeмии Hayк Кaзaxcкoй CCP, cepия AH Oбщecтвeнныe [Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR, Series AN Public], 1, 39–46.

  3. Anthony, D. W. (2007). The horse, the wheel, and language: How Bronze Age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Anthony, D. W. (2013). Two IE phylogenies, three PIE migrations, and four kinds of steppe pastoralism. Journal of Language Relationship, 9, 1–22.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Anthony, D. W., Brown, D., Brown, E., Goodman, A., Kokhlov, A., Kosintsev, P., et al. (2005). The Samara Valley Project: Late Bronze Age economy and ritual in the Russian steppes. Eurasia Antiqua, 11, 395–417.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bacon, E. (1958). Obok: A study of social structure in Eurasia, Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology 25. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation.

  7. Baipakov, K. M. (2008). The city and steppe in antiquity: Sedentism and agriculture in the Saka and Wusun of Semirech’ye. Izvestia, 1, 3–25.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Barth, F. (1964). Nomads of southern Persia: The Basseri tribe of the Khamseh confederacy. New York: Humanities Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bashtannik, S. V. (2008). Земледельческая культура южного Казахстана эпохи средневековья [Mediaeval Agriculture of South Kazakhstan]. Almaty, Kazakhstan: Kemerovo.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bates, D. G., & Lees, S. H. (1977). The role of exchange in productive specialization. American Anthropologist, 79, 824–841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Beck, L. (1986). The Qashga’i of Iran. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Beckwith, C. I. (2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Bellwood, P. (2005). First farmers: The origins of agricultural societies. Malden: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Bendrey, R. (2011). Some like it hot: Environmental determinism and the pastoral economies of the later prehistoric Eurasian steppe. Pastoralism, 1(8), 1–16.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Bennett, J. W. (1969). Northern plainsmen: Adaptive strategy and agrarian life. Arlington Heights: AHM Publishing Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Berdyev, O. K. (1968). Чaкмaклы-дeпe—нoвый пaмятник вpeмeни Aнay IA [Chakmakly Depe—A new monument during the Anau IA Period]. Иcтopия, apxeoлoгия и этнoгpaфия Cpeднeй Aзии [History, Archaeology and Ethnography of Central Asia], 368, 26–34.

  17. Boivin, N., Fuller, D. Q., & Crowther, A. (2012). Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: Comparison and contrast. World Archaeology, 44(3), 452–469.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Borojevic, K., & Borojevic, K. (2005). The transfer and history of “reduced height genes” (Rht) in wheat from Japan to Europe. Journal of Heredity, 96(4), 455–459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Boserup, E. (1983). The impact of scarcity and plenty on development. In R. I. Rotberg & T. K. Rabb (Eds.), Hunger and history: The impact of changing food production and consumption patterns on society (pp. 185–210). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Boserup, E. (1990a). Agricultural growth and population change. In T. P. Shultz (Ed.), Ester Boserup: Economic and demographic relationships in development (pp. 11–24). Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Boserup, E. (1990b). The impact of population growth and agricultural output. In T. P. Shultz (Ed.), Ester Boserup: Economic and demographic relationships in development (pp. 42–45). Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Braadbaart, F. (2008). Carbonization and morphological changes in modern dehusked and husked Triticum dicoccum and Triticum aestivum grains. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 17, 155–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Burt, B. C. (1941). Comments on cereals and fruits. In M. S. Vats (Ed.), Excavations at Harappa (p. 466). New Delhi: Government of India Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Casal, J.-M. (1961). Fouilles de Mundigak. Paris: Librairie C. Klincksieck.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Chang, C., Tourtellotte, P., Baipakov, K. M., & Grigoriev, F. P. (2002). The evolution of steppe communities from Bronze Age through Medieval periods in southeastern Kazakhstan (Zhetysu). Sweet Briar: Sweet Briar College.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Chen, G., Zheng, Q., Bao, Y., Liu, S., Wang, H., & Li, X. (2012). Molecular cytogenetic identification of a novel dwarf wheat line with Introgressed Thinopyrum ponticum chromatin. Journal of Biological Science, 37(1), 149–155.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Chen, K.-T., & Hiebert, F. T. (1995). The late prehistory of Xinjiang in relation to its neighbors. Journal of World Prehistory, 9(2), 243–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Chernikov, S. S. (1960). O тepминe «paнниe кoчeвники» [On the term ‘early nomads’]. In Кpaткиe cooбщeния o дoклaдax и пoлeвыx иccлeдoвaнияx Инcтитyтa иcтopии мaтepиaльнoй кyльтypы [Brief Reports and Field Studies of the Institute of the History of Material Culture] (Vol. 80, pp. 17–21). KSIIMK: Moscow.

  29. Chernykh, E., Kuz’minykh, E., & Orlovskaia, L. B. (2004). Ancient metallurgy in northeast Asia: From the Urals to the Saiano-Altai. In K. M. Linduff (Ed.), Metallurgy in ancient eastern Eurasia from the Urals to the Yellow River (pp. 15–36). Lewiston: Edwin Mellen.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Christian, D. (1994). Inner Eurasia as a unit of world history. Journal of World History, 5(2), 173–211.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Christian, D. (2000). Silk Roads or steppe roads? The Silk Roads in world history. Journal of World History, 11(1), 1–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Costantini, L. (1979). Plant remains at Pirak. In J.-F. Jarrige & M. Saontoni (Eds.), Fouilles de Pirak (pp. 326–333). Paris: Diffusion de Boccard.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Costantini, L. (1984). The beginning of agriculture in the Kachi Plain: The evidence of Mehrgarh. In B. B. Allchin (Ed.), South Asian archaeology 1981 (pp. 29–33). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Costantini, L. (1987). Appendix B: Vegetal remains. In G. Stacul (Ed.), Prehistoric and protohistoric Swat, Pakistan (pp. 155–165). Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.

  35. Crawford, H. (1992). An Early Dynastic trading network in North Mesopotamia. In D. Charpin & F. Joannes (Eds.), La circulation des biens, des personnes et des idées dans le Proche-orient ancien (pp. 77–82). Paris: Recherche sur les Civilisations.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Crawford, G. W., & Lee, G.-A. (2003). Agricultural origins in the Korean Peninsula. Antiquity, 77, 87–95.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Crawford, G. W., Underhill, A., Zhao, Z., Lee, G.-A., Feinman, G., Nicholas, L., et al. (2005). Late Neolithic plant remains from northern China: Preliminary results from Liangchengzhen, Shandong. Current Anthropology, 46(2), 309–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. d’Alpoim Guedes, J., Lu, H., Li, Y., Wu, X., Spengler, R. N., III, & Aldenderfer, M. S. (2014). Moving agriculture onto the Tibetan Plateau: The archaeobotanical evidence. Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Science, 6, 255–269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Davydova, A. V. (1968). The Ivolga gorodishche (a monument of the Hiung-Nu culture in the Trans-Baikal region). Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 20, 209–245.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Debaine-Francfort, C. (1987). Etude comparative de matériels lithiques protohistoriques chinois (Chine métropolitaine et Asie centrale). In L’Asie centrale et ses rapports avec les civilisations orientales, des origines à l’Age du Fer (pp.197–206).

  41. Di Cosmo, N. (1994). Ancient Inner Asian nomads: Their economic basis and its significance in Chinese history. The Journal of Asian Studies, 53(4), 1092–1126.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Diaz-del-Río, P., García, P. L., López-Sáez, J. A., Martinez Navarette, M. I., Rodrígues Alcalde, A. L., Rovira-Llorens, S., et al. (2006). Understanding the productive economy during the Bronze Age through archaeometallurgical and paleo-environmental research at Kargaly. In D. L. Peterson, L. M. Popova, & A. T. Smith (Eds.), Beyond the Steppe and the Sown: Proceedings of the 2002 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology (pp. 343–357). Leiden: Brill.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Dodson, J., Li, X., Zhou, X., Zhao, K., Sun, N., & Atahan, P. (2013). Origins and spread of wheat in China. Quaternary Science Reviews, 72, 108–111.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Dolukhanov, P. M. (1981). The ecological prerequisites for early farming in southern Turkmenia. In P. L. Kohl (Ed.), The Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia: Recent Soviet discoveries (pp. 350–358). New York: M. E. Sharpe.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Doumani, P. N., Frachetti, M. D., Beardmore, R., Schmaus, T., Spengler, R. N., & Mar’yashev, A. N. (2015). Burial ritual, agriculture, and craft production among Bronze Age pastoralists at Tasbas (Kazakhstan). Archaeological Research in Asia, 1–2, 17–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Drennan, R. D., Hanks, B. K., & Peterson, C. E. (2011). The comparative study of chiefly communities in the Eurasian steppe region. Journal of Social Evolution and History, 10(1), 12–48.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Dyson-Hudson, N. (1966). Karimojong politics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Dyson-Hudson, R. (1972). Pastoralism: Self-image and behavioral reality. In W. G. Irons & N. Dyson-Hudson (Eds.), Perspectives on nomadism (pp. 30–47). Leiden: Brill.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Dyson-Hudson, R., & Dyson-Hudson, N. (1980). Nomadic pastoralism. Annual Review of Anthropology, 9, 15–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1963). The Sanusi of Cyrenaica. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Flad, R., Li, S., Wu, X., & Zhao, Z. (2010). Early wheat in China: Results from new studies at Donghuishan in the Hexi Corridor. Holocene, 17, 555–560.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Fleure, H. J., & Peake, H. (1928). The Steppe and the Sown. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Frachetti, M. D. (2008). Pastoralist landscapes and social interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Frachetti, M. D. (2012). Multi-regional emergence of mobile pastoralism and non-uniform institutional complexity across Eurasia. Current Anthropology, 53(1), 2–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Frachetti, M. D., Spengler, R. N., Fritz, G. J., & Mar’yashev, A. N. (2010). Earliest direct evidence for broomcorn millet and wheat in the Central Eurasian steppe region. Antiquity, 84, 993–1010.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Fu, D. (2001). 西 藏 昌果 沟 遗 址 新 石 器 时 代 农 作 物 遗 存 的发 现 鉴 定 与 研 究 [Discovery, identification and study of the remains of Neolithic cereals from the Changguogou site, Tibet]. Kaogu, 3, 66–74.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Fuller, D. Q. (2001). Responses: Harappan seeds and agriculture: Some considerations. Antiquity, 75, 410–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Fuller, D. Q. (2002). Fifty years of archaeobotanical studies in India: Laying a solid foundation. In S. Settar & R. Korisettar (Eds.), Indian archaeology in retrospect, Vol. III Archaeology and interactive disciplines (pp. 247–363). New Delhi: Manohar.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Fuller, D. Q. (2009). Framing a Middle Asian corridor of crop exchange and agricultural innovation. Unpublished paper presented at the 13th Harvard University Roundtable Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia (ESCA), Kyoto.

  60. Fuller, D., & Rowlands, M. (2011). Ingestion and food technologies: Maintaining differences over the long-term in West, South and East Asia. In T. Wilkinson, S. Sherratt, & J. Bennet (Eds.), Interweaving worlds systemic interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st millennia BC (pp. 37–60). Oxford: Oxbow.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Gayduchenko, L. L. (2002). Organic remains from fortified settlements and necropoli of the ‘Country of Towns’. In K. Jones-Bley & D. G. Zdanovich (Eds.), Regional specifics in light of global models BC: Complex societies of Central Eurasia from the 3rd to the 1st Millennium, Volume 2: The Iron Age; Archaeoecology, geoarchaeology, and palaeogeography; Beyond Central Eurasia (pp. 400–418). Washington: Institute of Man.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Gegas, V. C., Nazari, A., Griffiths, S., Simmonds, J., Fish, L., Orford, S., et al. (2010). A genetic framework for grain size and shape variation in wheat. The Plant Cell, 22(4), 1046–1056.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Gryaznov, M. T. (1955). Heкoтopыe вoпpocы иcтopии cлoжeния и paзвития paнниx кoчeвыx oбщecтв Кaзaxcтaнa и Южнoй Cибиpи [Some questions regarding the history of the formation and development of the early nomadic societies of Kazakhstan and South Siberia]. In: Aнтoлoгия Coвeтcкoй Apxeoлoгий [Anthology of Soviet Archaeology], III (19411956), 141–147.

  64. Gupta, S. P. (1979). Archaeology of Soviet Central Asia and the Indian borderlands. Delhi: B. R. Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Hanks, B. (2010). Archaeology of the Eurasian steppes and Mongolia. Annual Review of Anthropology, 39, 469–486.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Hanks, B. K., & Doonan, R. (2013). Research results from 2007–2012 by the Sintashta Collaborative Archaeology Research Project at the fortified settlements of Stepnoye and Ust’ye. In The environment and cultural development during the Bronze Age in the Southern Urals, conference held March 79, 2013, Frankfurt, Germany.

  67. Harris, D. (2010). Origins of agriculture in western Central Asia: An environmental-archaeological study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Hemphill, B. E., & Mallory, J. P. (2004). Horse-mounted invaders from the Russo–Kazakh steppe or agricultural colonists from western Central Asia? A craniometric investigation of the Bronze Age settlement of Xinjiang. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 124, 199–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Herrmann, G., & Kurbansakhatov, K. (1994). The International Merv Project: Preliminary report on the second season (1993), Iran. British Institute of Persian Studies, 32, 53–75.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Hiebert, F. T. (1994). Origins of the Bronze Age oasis civilization in Central Asia. Cambridge: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Hiebert, F. T., & Kurbansakhatov, K. (2003). A Central Asian village at the dawn of civilization, excavations at Anau, Turkmenistan. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Hiebert, F. T., Lamberg-Karlovsky, C. C., Kurbansakhatov, M., Moore, K. M., Clark, S., Evasdottir, E., et al. (1995). Progress report. In HarvardIuTAKE excavations at Anau South, Turkmenistan (pp. 28–36). Cambridge: Harvard.

  73. Honeychurch, W., & Amartushin, C. (2006). States on horseback: The rise of Inner Asian confederations and empires. In M. T. Stark (Ed.), Archaeology of Asia (pp. 255–278). Malden: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Hudiakov, Y. S., Skobelev, S. G., Mitko, O. A., Borisenko, A. Y., & Orozbekova, Zh. (2013). The burial rite of the early Scythian nomads of Tuva (based on the Bai-Dag I cemetery). Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia, 41(1), 104–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Hunt, H. V., Vander Linden, M., Liu, X., Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute, G., Colledge, S., & Jones, M. K. (2008). Millets across Eurasia: Chronology and context of early records of the genera Panicum and Setaria from archaeological sites in the Old World. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 17, S5–S18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Hunt, H. V., Campana, M. G., Lawes, M. C., Park, Y.-J., Bower, M. A., Howe, C. J., & Jones, M. K. (2011). Genetic diversity and phylogeography of broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) across Eurasia. Molecular Ecology, 20, 4756–4771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Irons, W. G. (1975). The Yomut Turkmen: A study of the social organization among a Central Asian Turkic-speaking population. Anthropological papers no. 58. Ann Arbor: Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan.

  78. Ishjamts, N. (1999). Nomads in eastern Central Asia. In J. Harmatta, B. N. Puri, & G. F. Etemadi (Eds.), Ancient Iranian nomads in western Central Asia. History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II, The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations (700 BC to AD 250) (pp. 151–170). Delhi: UNESCO.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Jarrige, J.-F. (1988). Le complexe culturel de Mehrgarh (periode VIII) et de Sibri: Le trésor de Quetta. In Les cités oubliées de l’Indus (pp. 111–128). Paris: Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet.

  80. Jia, P. W., Betts, A., & Wu, X. (2011). New evidence for Bronze Age agricultural settlements in the Zhunge’er (Junggar) Basin, China. Journal of Field Archaeology, 36(4), 269–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Jiang, H.-E., Zhang, Y.-B., Li, X., Yao, Y.-F., Ferguson, D. K., Lü, E.-G., & Li, C.-S. (2009). Evidence for early viticulture in China: Proof of a grapevine (Vitis vinifera L., Vitaceae) in the Yanghai tombs, Xinjiang. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36, 1458–1465.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Jones, G., Jones, H., Charles, M. P., Jones, M. K., Colledge, S., Leigh, F. J., et al. (2012). Phylogeographic analysis of barley DNA as evidence for the spread of Neolithic agriculture through Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(10), 3230–3238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Jones, H., Leigh, F., Mackay, I., Bower, M., Smith, L., Charles, M. P., et al. (2008). Population based resequencing reveals that the flowering time adaptation of cultivated barley originated east of the Fertile Crescent. Molecular and Biological Evolution, 25, 2211–2219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Jones, M. K., Hunt, H., Lightfoot, E., Lister, D., Liu, X., & Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute, G. (2011). Food globalization in prehistory. World Archaeology, 43(4), 665–675.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  85. Josekutty, P. C. (2008). Defining the genetic and physiological basis of Triticum sphaerococcum perc. MSc Thesis, University of Canterbury.

  86. Kenoyer, J. M. (2011). Preface. In R. W. Law (Ed.). Inter-regional interaction and urbanism in the ancient Indus Valley: A geologic provenience study of Harappa’s rock and mineral assemblage. Occasional Paper 11: Linguistics, Archaeology and the Human Past. Kyoto: Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.

  87. Khazanov, A. M. (1984). Nomads and the outside world (Trans. Crookenden, J.). London: Cambridge University Press.

  88. Kim, M. (2013). Wheat in ancient Korea: A size comparison of carbonized kernels. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40, 517–525.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  89. Kislev, S. V. (1960). Heoлит и бpoнзoвый вeк Китaя [Neolithic and Bronze Age China]. Coвeтcкaя Apxeoлoгия, 4.

  90. Koba, T., & Tsunewaki, K. (1978). Mapping of the s and Ch 2 genes on chromosome 3D of common wheat. Wheat Information Service, 4546, 18–20.

  91. Kohl, P. L. (2007). The making of Bronze Age Eurasia. Cambridge World Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  92. Komatsuda, T., Mohammad, P., He, C., Perumal, A., Hiroyuki, K., Perovic, D., et al. (2007). Six-rowed barley originated from a mutation in a homeodomain-leucine zipper l-class homeobox gene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(4), 1424–1429.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Korobkova, G. F. (1981). Ancient reaping tools and their productivity in the light of experimental tracewear analysis. In P. L. Kohl (Ed.), The Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia: Recent Soviet discoveries (pp. 350–358). New York: M. E. Sharpe.

    Google Scholar 

  94. Koroluyk, E. A., & Polosmak, N. V. (2010). Plant remains from Moin Ula burial mounds 20 and 31 (Northern Mongolia). Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia, 38(2), 57–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  95. Koryakova, L., & Epimakhov, A. V. (2007). The Urals and western Siberia in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  96. Koster, L. (1977). The ecology of pastoralism in relation to changing patterns of landuse in the northeast Peloponnese. PhD Dissertation for the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.

  97. Kradin, N. N. (2002). Nomadism, evolution and world-systems: Pastoral societies in theories of historical development. Journal of World-Systems Research, 8(3), 368–388.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  98. Kremenetski, C. V. (2003). Steppe and forest-steppe belt of Eurasia: Holocene environmental history. In M. Levine, C. Renfrew, & K. Boyle (Eds.), Prehistoric Steppe Adaptation and the Horse (pp. 11–28). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

  99. Kuzmina, E. (1998). The Tarim Basin people and pastoralists of the Asian steppes. In V. H. Mair (Ed.), The Bronze Age and early Iron Age peoples of eastern Central Asia: Volume I: Archaeology, migration and nomadism, linguistics (pp. 63–93). Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Man.

    Google Scholar 

  100. Kuzmina, E. (2008). The prehistory of the Silk Road: Encounters with Asia (trans. Mair, V. H.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

  101. Larkum, M. (2010). Phytolith analysis of samples from on- and off-site deposits at Jeitun. In D. Harris (Ed.), Origins of agriculture in western Central Asia: An environmental–archaeological study (pp. 142–149). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

    Google Scholar 

  102. Law, R. (2006). Moving mountains: The trade and transport of rocks and minerals within the Indus Valley Region. In E. C. Robertson, J. D. Seibert, D. C. Fernandez, & M. U. Zender (Eds.), Space and spatial analysis in archaeology (pp. 301–313). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

    Google Scholar 

  103. Lebedeva, E. Y. (2005). Apxeoбoтaникa и изyчeниe зeмлeдeлия эпoxи бpoнзы в вocтoчнoй Eвpoпe [Archaeobotany and study of the Bronze Age agriculture in Eastern Europe]. OPUS: Meждиcциплинapныe иccлeдoвaния в apxeoлoгии [Interdisciplinary Studies in Archaeology], 4, 50–68.

  104. Li, C., Lister, D. L., & Li, H. (2011). Ancient DNA analysis of desiccated wheat grains excavated from a Bronze Age cemetery in Xinjiang. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38, 115–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  105. Li, S. (2002). Interactions between northwest China and Central Asia during the second millennium BC: An archaeological perspective. In K. Boyle, C. Renfrew, & M. Levine (Eds.), Ancient Interactions: East and West in Eurasia (pp. 171–182). London: McDonald.

    Google Scholar 

  106. Li, X., Dodson, J., Zhou, X., Zhang, H., & Masutomoto, R. (2007). Early cultivated wheat and broadening of agriculture in Neolithic China. The Holocene, 17, 555–560.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  107. Linduff, K. M. (2006). Why have Siberian artifacts been excavated within ancient Chinese dynastic borders? In D. L. Peterson, L. M. Popova, & A. T. Smith (Eds.), Beyond the Steppe and the Sown: Proceeding of the 2002 University of Chicago Conference on Eurasian Archaeology (pp. 358–370). Boston: Brill.

    Google Scholar 

  108. Lisitsina, G. N. (1969). The earliest irrigation in Turkmenia. Antiquity, 43, 279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  109. Lisitsina, G. N. (1981). The history of irrigation agriculture in southern Turkmenia. In P. L. Kohl (Ed.), The Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia: Recent Soviet discoveries (pp. 350–358). New York: M. E. Sharpe.

    Google Scholar 

  110. Lister, D. L., Thaw, S., Bower, M. A., Jones, H., Charles, M. P., Jones, G., et al. (2009). Latitudinal variation in a photoperiod response gene in European barley: Insight into the dynamics of agricultural spread from ‘historic’ specimens. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(4), 1092–1098.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  111. Lister, D. L., & Jones, M. K. (2013). Is naked barley an eastern or a western crop? The combined evidence of archaeobotany and genetics. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 22, 439–446.

  112. Litivinskii, B. (1963). Иcтopия тaджикcкoгo нapoдa [History of the Tajik people] (Vol. 1). Moscow: Изд-вo вocтoчнoй лит-pы.

  113. Litivinskii, B. A. (1989). The ecology of ancient nomads of Soviet Central Asia and Kazakhstan. In G. Seaman (Ed.), Ecology and empire: Nomads in the cultural evolution of the Old World (pp. 61–74). Los Angeles: Ethnographics/University of Southern California.

    Google Scholar 

  114. Lone, F. A., Khan, M., & Buth, G. M. (1993). Palaeoethnobotany: Plants and ancient Man in Kashmir. New Delhi: Oxford and 1BH Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  115. Mallory, J. P., & Mair, V. H. (2000). Ancient China and the mystery of the earliest peoples from the West. London: Thames and Hudson.

  116. McNeill, W. H. (1963). The rise of the West. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  117. Mei, J. (2009). Early metallurgy and socio-cultural complexity: Archaeological discoveries in northwest China. In B. K. Hanks & K. M. Linduff (Eds.), Social complexity in prehistoric Eurasia: Monuments, metals, and mobility (pp. 215–234). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  118. Mei, J., & Shell, C. (1998). Copper and bronze metallurgy in late prehistoric Xinjiang. In V. H. Mair (Ed.), The Bronze Age and early Iron Age peoples of East Central Asia (pp. 581–603). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  119. Mei, J., & Shell, C. (1999). The existence of Andronovo cultural influence in Xinjiang during the second millennium BC. Antiquity, 73(281), 570–578.

    Google Scholar 

  120. Miller, N. F. (1999). Agricultural development in western Central Asia in the Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 8, 13–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  121. Miller, N. F. (2003). The use of plants at Anau North. In F. T. Hiebert & K. Kurdansakhatov (Eds.), A Central Asian village at the dawn of civilization: Excavations at Anau, Turkmenistan. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum.

    Google Scholar 

  122. Miller, N. F. (2011). Preliminary archaeobotanical results. In S. Pollock & R. Bernbeck (Eds.), Excavations at Monjukli Depe, Meana-Čaača Region, Turkmenistan, 2010. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (Vol. 43, pp. 213–221).

  123. Moore, K., Miller, N. F., Heibert, F. T., & Meadow, R. H. (1994). Agriculture and herding in early oasis settlements of the Oxus civilization. Antiquity, 68, 418–427.

    Google Scholar 

  124. Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute, G., Telizhenko, S., & Jones, M. K. (2012). Archaeobotanical investigation of two Scythian-Sarmatian period pits in eastern Ukraine: Implications for floodplain cereal cultivation. Journal of Field Archaeology, 37, 51–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  125. Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute, G., Staff, R. A., Hunt, H. V., Liu, X., & Jones, M. K. (2013). The early chronology of broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) in Europe. Antiquity, 87, 1073–1085.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  126. Ng, C. Y. (2013). Archaeobotanical evidence for Bronze Age subsistence economy and social complexity (2100–1750 BCE) at the Stepnoye settlement, Russia. Paper presented at the 19th annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Pilsen, Czech Republic, 4th–8th September 2013.

  127. Okladnikov, A. P. (1959). Ancient population of Siberia and its cultures, Russian Translation Series, Volume 1, no. 1. Cambridge: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

  128. Otroshchenko, V. (2003). The economic peculiarities of the Srubnaya cultural-historical entity. In M. Levine, C. Renfrew, & K. Boyle (Eds.), Prehistoric steppe adaptations and the horse (pp. 319–328). Cambridge: McDonald Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  129. Parpola, S., Parpola, A., & Brunswig, R. H., Jr. (1977). The Meluhha village: Evidence of acculturation of Harappan traders in the late third millennium Mesopotamia? Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 20(2), 129–165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  130. Pashkevich, G. (1984). Palaeoethnobotanical examination of archaeological sites in the Lower Dnieper region, dated to the last centuries BC and first centuries AD. In W. van Zeist & W. A. Casparie (Eds.), Plants and ancient Man: Studies in palaeoethnobotany (pp. 277–284). Boston: A. A. Balkema.

    Google Scholar 

  131. Pashkevich, G. (2003). Paleoethnobotanical evidence of agriculture in the steppe and forest-steppe of East Europe in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age. In M. Levine, C. Renfrew, & K. Boyle (Eds.), Prehistoric steppe adaptation and the horse (pp. 287–297). Cambridge: McDonald Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  132. Percival, J. (1921). The wheat plant. London: Duckworth.

    Google Scholar 

  133. Peters, E. L. (1960). The proliferation of segments in the lineage of the Bedouin of Cyrenaica. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 90, 29–53.

    Google Scholar 

  134. Peterson, R. F. (1965). Wheat, botany, cultivation and utilization. New York: Leonard Hill/Interscience Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  135. Popova, L. M. (2006) Political pastures: Navigating the steppe in the Middle Volga Region (Russia) during the Bronze Age. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Chicago.

  136. Possehl, G. L. (2004). The Middle Asian interaction sphere: Trade and contact in the third millennium BC. Expedition, 49(1), 40–42.

    Google Scholar 

  137. Pumpelly, R. (1908). Explorations in Turkestan: Expedition of 1904, Prehistoric civilizations of Anau (Vol. 2). Washington: Carnegie Institution.

    Google Scholar 

  138. Qian, S. (1993 [91–109 BC]). Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty and Qin Dynasty, Volume 3 (Trans. Watson, B.). New York: Columbia University Press.

  139. Rao, M. V. P. (1977). Mapping of the sphaerococcum gene ‘s’ on chromosome 3D of wheat. Cereal Research Communication, 5, 15–17.

    Google Scholar 

  140. Razzokov, A. (2008). Sarazm. Dushanbe: Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan.

  141. Reynolds, M. P., & Borlaug, N. E. (2006). Impacts of breeding on international collaborative wheat improvement. Journal of Agricultural Science, 144, 3–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  142. Rogers, J. D. (2007). The contingencies of state formation in eastern Inner Asia. Asian Perspectives, 46(2), 249–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  143. Rogers, J. D., Ulambayar, E., & Gallon, M. (2005). Urban centers and the emergence of empires in eastern Inner Asia. Antiquity, 79, 801–818.

    Google Scholar 

  144. Rosen, A. M., Chang, C., & Grigoriev, F. P. (2000). Paleoenvironments and economy of Iron Age Saka-Wusun agro-pastoralists in southeastern Kazakhstan. Antiquity, 74, 611–623.

    Google Scholar 

  145. Rouse, L., & Cerasetti, B. (2014). Ojakly: A Late Bronze Age mobile pastoral site in the Murghab, Turkmenistan. Journal of Field Archaeology, 39(1), 32–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  146. Rudenko, S. I. (1962). Кyльтypa xyннoв и Hoинyлинcкиe кypгaны [Hun Culture and the Kurgans of Noin Ula]. Moscow: Nauka.

    Google Scholar 

  147. Rühl, L., Herbig, C., & Stobbe, A. (2015). Archaeobotanical analysis of plant use at Kamennyi Ambar, a Bronze Age fortified settlement of the Sintashta culture in the southern Trans-Urals steppe, Russia. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 24(3), 413–426.

  148. Ryabogina, N. E., & Ivanov, S. N. (2011). Ancient agriculture in western Siberia: Problems of argumentation, paleoethnobotanic methods, and analysis of data. Archaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology of Eurasia, 39(4), 96–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  149. Salina, E., Borner, A., Leonova, I., Korzun, V., Laikova, L., Maystrenko, O., et al. (2000). Microsatellite mapping of the induced sphaerococcoid mutation genes in Triticum aestivum. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 100, 686–689.

  150. Salvatori, S. (2008). A new cylinder seal from ancient Margiana: Cultural exchange and syncretism in a ‘world wide trade system’ at the end of the third millennium BC. In S. Salvatori & M. Tosi (Eds.), The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in the Margiana lowlands: Facts and methodological proposals for a redefinition of the research strategies, International Series 1806 (pp. 111–118). Oxford: BAR.

    Google Scholar 

  151. Salzman, P. C. (1971). Movement and resource extraction among pastoral nomads: The case of the Shah Nawazi Baluch. Anthropological Quarterly, 44(3), 185–197.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  152. Salzman, P. C. (1972). Multi-resource nomadism in Iranian Baluchistan. In W. Irons & N. Dyson-Hudson (Eds.), Perspectives on nomadism (pp. 60–68). Leiden: E. J. Brill.

    Google Scholar 

  153. Salzman, P. C. (1982). Contemporary nomadic and pastoral peoples: Asia and the North, Studies in Third World Societies, No. 18. Williamsburg: College of William and Mary.

  154. Salzman, P. C. (2002). Pastoral nomads: Some general observations based on research in Iran. Journal of Anthropological Research, 58(2), 245–264.

    Google Scholar 

  155. Salzman, P. C. (2004). Pastoralists: Equality, hierarchy, and the state. Boulder: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  156. Santoni, M. (1984). Sibri and the south cemetery of Mehrgarh: Third millennium connections between the northern Katchi plain (Pakistan) and Central Asia. In B. B. Allchin (Ed.), South Asian archaeology 1981 (pp. 52–60). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  157. Schwarz, H. G. (1984). The minorities of northern China: A survey. Seattle: Western Washington.

    Google Scholar 

  158. Shahrani, M. (1979). The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: Adaptation to closed frontiers. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

    Google Scholar 

  159. Shaw, F. J. P. (1943). Vegetation remains. In E. J. H. Mackay (Ed.), Chanhu-daro excavations 1935–36 (pp. 250–251). New Haven: Yale University Press.

  160. Sherratt, A. G. (1999). Cash-crops before cash: Organic consumables and trade. In C. Gosden & J. Hather (Eds.), The prehistory of food: Appetites for change (pp. 13–34). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  161. Sherratt, A. G. (2006). The trans-Eurasian exchange: The prehistory of Chinese relations with the West. In V. Mair (Ed.), Contact and exchange in the ancient world (pp. 32–53). Honolulu: Hawaii University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  162. Shishlina, N. I., & Hiebert, F. T. (1998). The Steppe and the Sown: Interaction between Bronze Age Eurasian nomads and agriculturalists. In V. H. Mair (Ed.), The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age people of eastern Central Asia, Volume 1. Archaeology, Migration and nomadism, linguistics (pp. 222–237). Philadelphia: The Institute for the Study of Man.

    Google Scholar 

  163. Singh, R. (1946). Triticum sphaerococcum Perc. (Indian dwarf wheat). Indian Journal of Genetics, 6, 34–47.

  164. Soucek, S. (2000). A history of Inner Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  165. Spengler, R. N., III (2013). Botanical resource use in the Bronze and Iron Age of the central Eurasian mountain/steppe interface: Decision making in multiresource pastoral economies. PhD Dissertation, Anthropology Department, Washington University in St. Louis.

  166. Spengler, R. N., III, & Willcox, G. (2013). Archaeobotanical results from Sarazm, Tajikistan, an Early Bronze Age village on the edge: Agriculture and exchange. Journal of Environmental Archaeology, 18(3), 211–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  167. Spengler, R. N., III, Chang, C., & Tourtellotte, P. A. (2013a). Agricultural production in the Central Asian mountains, Tuzusai, Kazakhstan (410–150 BC). Journal of Field Archaeology, 38(1), 68–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  168. Spengler, R. N., III, Frachetti, M. D., & Fritz, G. J. (2013b). Ecotopes and herd foraging practices in the steppe/mountain ecotone of Central Asia during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Journal of Ethnobiology, 33(1), 125–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  169. Spengler, R. N., III, Cerassetti, B., Tengberg, M., Cattani, M., & Rouse, L. M. (2014a). Agriculturalists and pastoralists: Bronze Age economy of the Murghab Delta, southern Central Asia. Journal of Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 23, 805–820.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  170. Spengler, R. N., III, Doumani, P. N., & Frachetti, M. D. (2014b). Late Bronze Age agriculture at Tasbas in the Dzhungar Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan. Quaternary International, 348, 147–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  171. Spooner, B. (1973). The cultural ecology of pastoral nomads. An Addison-Wesley Module in Anthropology No. 45. Reading: Addison Wesley.

  172. Stapf, O. (1931). Comments on cereal and fruits. In J. Marshall (Ed.), Mohenjodaro and the Indus civilization (p. 586). London: Arthur Probsthain.

    Google Scholar 

  173. Strabo (1854–1857 [24 AD]). Geography, Volume 3 (Trans. Hamilton, H. C., & Falconer, W.). London: H. G. Bohn.

  174. Taketa, S., Amano, S., Tsujino, Y., Sato, T., Saisho, D., Kakeda, K., et al. (2008). Barley grain with adhering hulls is controlled by an ERF family transcription factor gene regulating a lipid biosynthesis pathway. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(10), 4062–4067.

  175. Tengberg, M. (1999). Crop husbandry at Miri Qalat, Makran, SW Pakistan (4000–2000 BC). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 8(1–2), 3–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  176. Thornton, C., & Schurr, T. G. (2004). Genes, language, and culture: an example from the Tarim Basin. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 23(1), 83–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  177. Vainshtein, S. (1980). Nomads of South Siberia the pastoral economies of Tuva (Trans. Colenso, M.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  178. Ventresca Miller, A., Usmanova, E., Logvin, V., Kalieva, S., Shevnina, I., Logvin, A., et al. (2014). Subsistence and social change in central Eurasia: Stable isotope analysis of populations spanning the Bronze Age transition. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42, 525–538.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  179. Vishnu-Mittre, (1972). Neolithic plant economy at Chirand, Bihar. Palaeobotanist, 22(1), 18–22.

    Google Scholar 

  180. von Bothmer, R., van Hintum, T., Knupfer, H., & Sato, K. (2003). Diversity in barley. Developments in plant genetics and breeding 7. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  181. Wang, B. (1983). 孔雀河古墓沟发掘及其初步研究 [Excavations and preliminary research on the remains from Gumugou on the Kongque River]. 新疆社会科学 [Social Science in Xinjiang], 117–127.

  182. Weber, S. A. (1991). Plants and Harappan subsistence: An example of stability and change from Rojdi. Boulder: Westview.

    Google Scholar 

  183. Weber, S. A. (1999). Seeds of urbanism: Palaeoethnobotany and the Indus civilization. Antiquity, 73, 813–826.

    Google Scholar 

  184. Willcox, G. (1991). Carbonized plant remains from Shortughai, Afghanistan. In J. M. Renfrew (Ed.), New light on early farming: Recent developments in palaeoethnobotany (pp. 139–153). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  185. Willcox, G. (1994). L’archéobotanique de Miri Qalat: Makran. Unpublished report.

  186. Winkelmann, S. (2000). Intercultural relations between Iran, the Murghabo-Bactrian Archaeological Complex (BMAC), Northwest India and Failaka in the Field of Seals. East and West, 50, 43–95.

    Google Scholar 

  187. Wright, J., Honeychurch, W., & Amartuvshin, C. (2009). The Xiongnu settlements of Egiin Gol, Mongolia. Antiquity, 83, 372–387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  188. Zadneprovsky, Y. A. (1962). Дpeвнeзeмлeдeльчecкaя кyльтypa в Фepгaнe [Ancient agricultural civilization in Ferghana], Maтepиaлы и иccлeдoвaния пo apxeoлoгии CCCP [Materials and Research on the Archaeology of the USSR] (Vol. 118). Moscow: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR.

  189. Zhao, Z. (2009). Eastward spread of wheat into China—New data and new issues. Chinese Archaeology, 9(1), 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  190. Zohary, D., Hopf, M., & Weiss, E. (2012). Domestication of plants in the Old World: The origin and spread of domesticated plants in Southwest Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean basin (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Archaeobotanical research was funded by NSF (2010–2011), Grant Number 1010678 titled “Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Plant Use and Domestic Economy Among Eurasian Mobile Pastoralists: Semirech’ye, Kazakhstan, during the Bronze and Iron Age Interface”; Michael Frachetti was the Principal Investigator, and by Washington University in St Louis. Further support came from Wenner-Gren workshop Grant (Gr. CONF-673), titled “Introduction and Intensification of Agriculture in Eurasia”; Spengler is the Grant PI. All laboratory work for the Begash, Tuzusai, Mukri, Tasbas, Ojakly, and site 1211 projects was done in the paleoethnobotany laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis by Robert Spengler, under the directorship of Gayle Fritz. Figures 1 and 6 were produced by Lynne Rouse at Washington University in St. Louis. Additional support came from the Volkswagen and Mellon Foundations for the Humanities, the German Archaeological Institute, and Free University, Berlin. I would also like to thank Gayle Fritz for her mentorship in the laboratory and Michael Frachetti for his advisement in the field.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert N. Spengler III.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Spengler, R.N. Agriculture in the Central Asian Bronze Age. J World Prehist 28, 215–253 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10963-015-9087-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Central Asia
  • Paleoethnobotany
  • Bronze Age
  • Mobile pastoral
  • Silk Road
  • Mountain corridor