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Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia

Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia

Michael D. Frachetti
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia
    Book Description:

    Offering a fresh archaeological interpretation, this work reconceptualizes the Bronze Age prehistory of the vast Eurasian steppe during one of the most formative and innovative periods of human history. Michael D. Frachetti combines an analysis of newly documented archaeological sites in the Koksu River valley of eastern Kazakhstan with detailed paleoecological and ethnohistorical data to illustrate patterns in land use, settlement, burial, and rock art. His investigation illuminates the practical effect of nomadic strategies on the broader geography of social interaction and suggests a new model of local and regional interconnection in the third and second millennia B.C.E. Frachetti further argues that these early nomadic communities played a pivotal role in shaping enduring networks of exchange across Eurasia.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94269-1
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    I began working in Kazakhstan in 1999, eight years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time, Kazakh people¹ were economically and socially adjusting to the freemarket system and capitalist enterprise they had chosen (or had been handed), less than a decade earlier. In Almaty, still the de facto capital at that time, Kazakhstan seemed to be more a part of wider Russia than of Central Asia. Communication and business were conducted almost exclusively in Russian, and the mode of life was still effectively Soviet. With ironic grins, local colleagues and friends often described the decaying housing blocks,...

    (pp. 1-14)

    The geography and history of Central Eurasia are inseparable. Together they reflect the formation of Eurasia’s diverse landscapes through time. Thus, a geographic perspective underlies this book’s thesis regarding Eurasian pastoralism. Through the negotiation of social institutions, ecologically variable regional geographies, and historical events (i.e., social interactions), Eurasian pastoralists have constructed enduring local landscapes that have shaped a dynamic constellation of socioeconomic exchanges, reformations of social identity, and political economies across Eurasia over the past four thousand years. Pastoralist landscapes represent the foreground contexts for historical events in the Eurasian steppe largely because social interactions (the catalysts of historical change)...

    (pp. 15-30)

    Dansereau’s question is compelling because fundamentally it asks us to differentiate between human cognition and animal perception. Bees surely recognize the existence of the blossom and are well adapted to exploit its nectar with inherent deftness, but a more complicated philosophical inquiry is whether bees perceive their own ontology through the spatial and temporal geography of their socioeconomic practices.

    At the core of the concept “landscape” is precisely the idea that humans do perceive their own ontology: mental maps allow humans to conceive and socialize their environment. Our landscapes, therefore, are emblematic of our historical accumulation of knowledge and ability...

    (pp. 31-72)

    In 1913 S.A. Teploukhov excavated the first of a series of burials in the Andronovo valley of southern Siberia (Minusinsk region). The burials and the materials found therein were sufficiently different in form from the those of the Afanas’evo and Okunev cultures which had been previously documented in the region and so were considered by Soviet cultural historians at that time to be a distinct archaeological culture group. In 1927, after more than a decade of excavations and study of these burials in the tributary valleys along the Yenisei River, Teploukhov proposed “the Andronovo Culture” to define the corpus of...

    (pp. 73-106)

    Ethnographers have long recognized that mobile pastoralism is largely an ecologically strategic way of life (Bacon 1954; Barth 1964, Leslie and Little 1999). Decades ago Douglas Johnson (1969, 4) wrote “It is the combination of seasonal and areal variability in the location of pasture and water that makes the movements of pastoral nomads necessary.” Regardless of the other significant motivations that contribute to their social and economic practices, pastoralists attentively monitor environmental conditions such as seasonal rainfall and pasture and water resources and adjust their schedules of mobility, settlement, and socialization to accommodate these rhythms. As a result, pastoralist landscapes...

  10. 4 BETWEEN ETHNOGRAPHY AND HISTORY: Pastoralism and Society in Semirech’ye and the Dzhungar Mountains
    (pp. 107-124)

    Chapter 3 suggested that the “restrictive” nature of the regional environment could be most effectively exploited through a mobile pastoralist strategy, but that variability in climate and resource geography across vertical zones in the mountains of Semirech’ye introduced a corollary degree of variation in the productive strategies of local societies. Moving beyond the complexity of steppe environmental conditions, this chapter delves deeper into the formative factors of pastoralist landscapes of southeastern Kazakhstan through a study of its ethnohistory and ethnography. Ethnography here is presented as comparative data against which archaeological data may be better understood. Ethnographic cases focus our interpretations...

  11. 5 A PASTORALIST LANDSCAPE IN SEMIRECH’YE: Archaeology of the Koksu River Valley
    (pp. 125-150)

    The previous chapters presented detailed investigations of the environment and ethnography of the Koksu River valley and Semirech’ye region that characterize it as a rich ecological context for mobile pastoral ways of life, prehistorically and more recently. Environmentally, the seasonal variability and resources of different altitude zones help to shape the strategies of transhumant mobility between lowland winter settlement areas and highland summer pastures, typically ranging less than 50 kilometers per season. From a long-term paleo-environmental perspective, the productive capacity of the various ecotones described for the Kosku valley was shown to be relatively stable, drawing into question an environmental...

    (pp. 151-170)

    The pastoralist landscape in the Koksu River valley is shaped through a combination of economic strategies related to the management of herds and through the construction of, investment in, and iterated use of social, ritual, and political locales. These practices together organized the spaces and times of human interactions throughout the landscape (Ingold 1993). The following sections explore the ways in which Bronze Age pastoralists of the Koksu valley experienced their pastoral landscape by reconstructing the spatial and temporal intersections of ecological and social forces. Specifically, this chapter explores the constellation of pastoral mobility and pasture use, selection of settlement...

    (pp. 171-176)

    This book set out to provide a clearer understanding of the formation of pastoralist landscapes across Eurasia through time. Starting from the earliest documented evidence of mobile strategies of herd management, the structure and durability of Eurasian pastoralist landscapes were presented as the result of human experiences and practices spatially and temporally reiterated in relation to a number of dynamic pressures. These included regionally discrete environmental variation and ecological fluctuation, locally conceived social and political relationships, and the historical resonance of meaningful places constructed through the knowledge of intersecting mobile pastoral groups. The foregoing chapters also contributed the idea that...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 177-184)
    (pp. 185-206)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 207-213)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 214-214)