Political Process, Polity Formation, and the Role of Urban Centers in Inner Asia

Author(s): J. Daniel Rogers

Year: 2017


By 200 B.C.E. the eastern steppe regions of Inner Asia saw the development of expansive and complex political systems usually referred to as empires. The origins of these polities and the processes of consolidation can be described within the concept of a political community, reflecting the actions of competing groups in expansive social network. For Inner Asia, community was linked to issues of mobility, dispersed control hierarchies, and the economics of multi-resource pastoralism. Together, these patterns offer an alternative vision of the origin and operation of early complex polities. Archaeologically, the pastoralist way of using the built environment provides a window into the dynamics of political processes that operated within a particular polity, but also within multiple polities across long stretches of time. Based on a sample of 77 sites within 13 steppe polities distinctive patterns of political processes altered and incorporated community and place in the building of fortified settlements, palaces, military posts, and other constructions. The evidence suggests that these polities operated as spatial networks that relied more on mobility than the direct interactions seen in urban centers in sedentary societies. Urban centers tended to be the byproduct of polity formation, rather than the source.

Cite this Record

Political Process, Polity Formation, and the Role of Urban Centers in Inner Asia. J. Daniel Rogers. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431715)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14755