Ongoing Research in Eurasian Archaeology: Assessing the Implications of New Evidence

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

This session explores the results of recent archaeological research in Russia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the adjacent areas. Nearly three decades of post-Soviet international scholarly engagement have greatly advanced our understanding of Eurasian prehistory and made this knowledge available to English readers. While theoretical perspectives and field methods are constantly being refined, some of the same themes continue to guide regional research. They include pastoralist subsistence and mobility strategies, the global spread of domesticated crops, the origins of the Indo-European languages, technological innovations in metallurgy and draft animal transport, broad-scale interactions over vast distances, developmental pathways of Eurasia’s complex societies. This session brings together graduate and post-graduate scholars working across time periods and research questions to discuss current archaeological projects in the region. The aim of the session is to facilitate the exchange of theoretical perspectives, expertise, and ideas among those involved in shaping the future of Eurasia’s past.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-13 of 13)

  • Documents (13)

  • Ancient DNA analysis and the Indo-European dispersal (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Anthony.

    New methods for analyzing ancient human DNA are introducing a new "molecular archaeology". aDNA permits us to detect mating networks, to see ancestry evolve across generations as populations expanded or died out, to track migrants and their genes across geographic space, and to say whether and with what frequency migrants and the indigenous population mated at the destination. aDNA analysis is an unprecedented tool for the study of ancient migrations, kinship, and biological adaptation. This...

  • Arukhlo: Neolithic Settlement and Ritual Place in Georgia, Southern Caucasus (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Svend Hansen.

    The Neolithic way of life arrived in the Caucasus at the beginning of the 6th Millennium B.C. Recent excavations in Arukhlo in the Republic of Georgia, not far away from the capital Tblisis, shed light on the occupation of the place between 5800 and 5400 BC. The buildung activities on the site were several times interrupted by digging deep ditches through the village. In the presentation it will be argued that Arukhlo and probably other places were centres of ritual activities.

  • Biological Diversity in Medieval Uzbekistan: Examining Community Expression under the Qarakhanid State (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elissa Bullion.

    This paper examines the expression of community during the Qarakhanid period (9th- 12th century CE) through a study of patterns of phenotypic diversity at medieval sites across Uzbekistan. The Qarakhanid dynasty is argued to be an integral period in the shaping of population, linguistic, and religious frameworks that shaped the social and ethnic landscapes of Central Asia up through the modern day. Historical sources suggest that the Qarakhanid rise to power instigated an in-migration of Turkic...

  • Bronze Age Economy and Rituals at Krasnosamarskoe in the Russian Steppes (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dorcas Brown. David Anthony.

    The final report of the Samara Valley Project (SVP), a U.S.-Russian archaeological investigation conducted between 1995 and 2002 in the Samara Oblast in central Russia, was published in June 2016. The SVP explored the changing organization and subsistence resources of pastoral steppe economies from the Eneolithic (4500BC) through the Late Bronze Age (1900-1200BC) across the steppe and river valley landscape in the middle Volga region.  Particular attention focuses on the role of agriculture...

  • The Bronze and Iron Age Sites Saridjar and Karim Berdy, Tajikistan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mike Teufer.

    The Late Bronze Age site of Saridjar was discovered during a survey of the northern Yakhsu valley in 2010. Excavations in 2012, in 2013, 2015 and in 2016 prove that we are dealing with a 200 x 200 m large settlement with at least three construction phases. The proportion of the hand-made ceramics in all levels varies between 80 and 90%. Only occasionally wheel-made ware appears. Andronovo pottery of the Federovo phase is present in small numbers. At Karimberdy nearly all the pottery was...

  • Early polities in the steppes: Sintashta communities of southern Russia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Denis Sharapov.

    First polities in the Eurasian steppes are documented by the Greek and Chinese historical accounts of the Scythians (9th-3rd centuries BC) and the Xiongnu (3rd century BC – 1st century AD). Archaeologically, these entities manifested themselves in complex settlement networks, consisting of fortified sites, dispersed farmsteads, and mobile pastoral camps. Earlier roots of political organization in the Eurasian steppes are largely limited to funerary and ceremonial monuments, which presumably...

  • Landscape reconstruction at the Black Sea cost (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Udo Schlotzhauer. Denis Zhuravlev. Daniel Kelterbaum. Anca Dan. Hans-Joachim Gehrke.

    Landscapes are subject to ongoing geological transformation which change, hide or even destroy for their part anthropogenic remains. The reconstruction of historic landscapes as well as the causes of their changes is subject of geoarchaeology. A noteworthy example for a reconstruction of the historical landscape of a whole region is demonstrated by an interdisciplinary and international project on the South Russian Taman peninsula in the North Pontus. The new insights that were made by...

  • Landscapes of Belief: Structured Religious Practice in Iron Age Central Eurasia (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathryn MacFarland.

    Realistic, symbolic and metaphorical representations of animals (i.e., Animal Style Art), and associated themes ("griffins"/animal fusion, combat, geometric design within animal) depicted on artifacts attributed to Scythian, Saka, and Xiongnu, from Iron Age (ca., 1,000-100 BC) north central Eurasia are the focus of statistical analyses identifying structured usage amongst the regions, linked to religious beliefs. Common expression of symbolic subject matter and themes on artifacts is analyzed...

  • Late Bronze Age in the North Caucasus – Shaping a new culture for a new millennium (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sabine Reinhold.

    After more than one millennium of mobile pastoral lifeways, the mid-2nd millennium BC witnessed the reappearance of village-based life in an area stretching from the Black Sea, across Caucasia to Anatolia and North Western Iran. Its manifestation is the emergence of stone-built dwellings clustered in small or middle-sized settlements. Concurrently, the transformation of the 3rd millennium BC mobile pastoralism into combined mountain agriculture allowed retaining a pastoral economy in spite of a...

  • Medieval worldbuilding and cosmopolitics: Armenia on the Silk Road (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathryn Franklin. Astghik Babajanyan.

    This paper presents observations from recent seasons of research in the Vayoc Dzor region of southern Armenia, in the context of a long-term and multi-sited program of investigations into the intersections of locally situated highland social phenomena within the broader Silk Road cultural ecumene during the late medieval period (AD 12th-15th centuries). This ongoing project builds on an understanding of late medieval Armenian participation in and co-production of the worlds of the Silk Road,...

  • Motif and Milieu: Deconstructing the (Re)production of the Kura-Araxes Culture (3500-2400 BC) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gabrielle Borenstein.

    How do material remains – and the imagery that adorns them – inform our understanding of past landscapes? How does knowledge of landscapes enrich our understanding of the objects produced within them? This paper explores the relationship between iconography and environment in the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes (3500-2400 BC) culture. The Kura-Araxes was arguably the most widespread archaeological horizon in the ancient Near East, extending from the Caucasus to the Levant to the Zagros Mountains....

  • Regional Political Economies in the South Caucasus: Tracing Social Boundaries in a Eurasian Context (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alan Greene.

    After more than a century of Russian Imperial and Soviet research dominated by the excavation of tumulus burials, researchers in the South Caucasus have now spent two decades investigating exactly how settlement archaeology sheds light on the inhabitants of the region's earliest polities (ca. 1500-1150 BC). Most of this data has emerged from the sites of the Tsaghkahovit Plain, which have served as a micro-regional laboratory for Bronze and Iron Age studies since 1998. But how exactly do these...

  • Torbulok - a sanctuary in the Hellenistic Far East (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gunvor Lindstroem.

    A sanctuary of the Hellenistic period was recently discovered at the village of Torbulok in southwest Tajikistan. Its discovery was based on a random find of a large limestone vessel, identified as a perirrhanterion – a vessel for Greek purification rituals. The excavations, started in 2013 by a German-Tajik team, gave insights into the structure of the sanctuary and confirmed the dating to the 3rd and 2nd century BC, as Bactria was part of the Hellenistic world. The unearthed installations and...