Landscapes of Belief: Structured Religious Practice in Iron Age Central Eurasia

Author(s): Kathryn MacFarland

Year: 2017


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 with Integrated Distance Analysis (IDA), a GIS-based approach.

Religion, for this purpose a structured system of beliefs and symbols that permeate everyday life, expressed through symbols and metaphor on material culture compounded with mobile lifestyles are a direct link to landscape utilization to identify and study the structure and expression of religious belief on a continental scale, or macro-scale landscape, in north central Eurasia. This paper demonstrates evidence that widespread display of distinctive and predominantly animal iconography on artifacts associated with the Scythian, Saka, and Xiongnu is a primary line of inquiry for identification of the way Iron Age peoples in central Eurasia interacted between groups throughout the region and structured their lives.

Cite this Record

Landscapes of Belief: Structured Religious Practice in Iron Age Central Eurasia. Kathryn MacFarland. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430459)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16672