Mobile Pastoralists and Lowland-Highland Interconnectivity in Southeastern Turkey

Author(s): Emily Hammer

Year: 2015


In Turkey and other mountainous parts of Eurasia, archaeologists have primarily targeted lowland sites for investigation, leaving highland areas relatively unexplored. Drawing on ethnography of twentieth-century tribes, scholars have assumed that mobile pastoralists were one of the major agents connecting lowlands and highlands in all post-Neolithic periods. However, little data has been collected on such people or on mobility practices. In this paper I briefly review empirical evidence for the origins of vertical transhumance in Turkey, and present a recent analysis of survey data showing how mobile pastoralists of the last 500 years in southeastern Turkey moved through and improved their local landscapes. The data suggest that vertical transhumance may not have been as widespread in the ancient past as archaeologists have traditionally assumed, but this could be due to biases in the collected evidence. More surveys and excavations focused on upland areas, like the presented case study, are necessary for understanding the role of pastoralism in long-term connections between highlands and lowlands, and for shifting the conversation concerning highlands and mobility away from common tropes such as such as the exteriority of mobile groups to state level societies, the ‘‘invisibility’’ of pastoralists, and pastoral degradation of the environment.

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Cite this Record

Mobile Pastoralists and Lowland-Highland Interconnectivity in Southeastern Turkey. Emily Hammer. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396473)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;