Nomadic ecology shaped the highland geography of Asia’s Silk Roads

  title={Nomadic ecology shaped the highland geography of Asia’s Silk Roads},
  author={Michael Frachetti and Christopher E Smith and Cynthia Traub and Tim Williams},
There are many unanswered questions about the evolution of the ancient ‘Silk Roads’ across Asia. This is especially the case in their mountainous stretches, where harsh terrain is seen as an impediment to travel. Considering the ecology and mobility of inner Asian mountain pastoralists, we use ‘flow accumulation’ modelling to calculate the annual routes of nomadic societies (from 750 m to 4,000 m elevation). Aggregating 500 iterations of the model reveals a high-resolution flow network that… Expand
Megadrought and cultural exchange along the proto-silk road
Abstract Arid Central Asia (ACA), with its diverse landscapes of high mountains, oases, and deserts, hosted the central routes of the Silk Roads that linked trade centers from East Asia to theExpand
Country Roads: Travel, Visibility, and Late Classic Settlement in the Southern Maya Mountains
ABSTRACT Mayanist archaeology has long been concerned with creating and evaluating explanatory models for the locations of ancient sites relative to one another and to the physical geography of theExpand
Which way to Roxane: Mobility networks in the heartland of Central Asia
Abstract This paper aims to study interactions between ancient societies in semi-arid mountainous landscape of southern Central Asia using GIS based mobility analysis. The study region covers theExpand
Crossing the western Altiplano: The ecological context of Tiwanaku migrations
Abstract Mobility and migration are critical processes that influence cultural and socio-economic development, and have lasting effects on demographic and ecological arrangements. However, these areExpand
Movement across a ‘mountain barrier’: Mapping accessibility with rock-art and GIS in the Altai Mountains, Eastern Eurasia
Abstract The Altai Mountains stand at the crossroads between the four nations of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Whilst its location means that it has been conceptualised as a locus forExpand
Arboreal crops on the medieval Silk Road: Archaeobotanical studies at Tashbulak
Examining the spread of crops, notably arboreal crops, across Eurasia is examined and ties together several data sets in order to add to discussions of what plant cultivation looked like in the central region of the Silk Road. Expand
Urban and nomadic isotopic niches reveal dietary connectivities along Central Asia’s Silk Roads
These data indicate tightly bound social connectivity in urban centres pointedly funnelled local food products and homogenized dietary intake within settled communities, whereas open and opportunistic systems of food production and circulation were possible through more mobile lifeways. Expand
Water Supply and Ancient Society in the Lake Balkhash Basin: Runoff Variability along the Historical Silk Road
Expansion of agricultural practices from the Fertile Crescent to China during the mid and late Holocene are believed to have shaped the early network of Silk Road routes and possibly regulated theExpand
Early pastoral economies along the Ancient Silk Road: Biomolecular evidence from the Alay Valley, Kyrgyzstan
The current study reveals that agropastoral occupation of the high-mountain Alay corridor started millennia before the formal establishment of the Silk Road, and posits that ZooMS, when paired with radiocarbon dates and ancient DNA, is a powerful and cost-effective tool for investigating shifts in the use of animal domesticates in early pastoral economies. Expand
Nonlinearity and distance of ancient routes in the Aztec Empire
This study analyzes the case of trade routes that connected Aztec settlements around 1521 CE in central Mexico and uses the least cost path approximation to reconstruct a hypothetical large-scale map of routes reproducing physical connections among ancient places. Expand


Silk Roads or Steppe Roads? The Silk Roads in World History
Modern historiography has not fully appreciated the ecological complexity of the Silk Roads. As a result, it has failed to under stand their antiquity, or to grasp their full importance in EurasianExpand
Early agriculture and crop transmission among Bronze Age mobile pastoralists of Central Eurasia
This article presents a new archaeobotanical analysis from pastoralist campsites in the mountain and desert regions of Central Eurasia that documents the oldest known evidence for domesticated grains and farming among seasonally mobile herders. Expand
Ancient Xinjiang Between Central Asia and China; The Nomadic Factor
Historical knowledge of Central Asia in China dates back to the second century B.C., and is associated with the odyssean journey of the imperial envoy Zhang Qian. Contacts between China and CentralExpand
New evidence for Bronze Age agricultural settlements in the Zhunge’er (Junggar) Basin, China
Abstract The Zhunge’er (Junggar) Basin in northern Xinjiang was a key crossroads in antiquity for the dispersal of ideas and technological innovations from the Eurasian steppe into the heartland ofExpand
Reconfiguring the Silk Road: New Research on East-West Exchange in Antiquity
From the Bronze Age through the Middle Ages, a network of trade and migration routes brought people from across Eurasia into contact. Their commerce included political, social, and artistic ideas, asExpand
Life along the Silk Road
In the first 1,000 years after Christ, merchants, missionaries, monks, mendicants, and military men traveled on the vast network of Central Asian tracks that became known as the Silk Road. LinkingExpand
The landscape of ancient mobile pastoralism in the highlands of southeastern Uzbekistan, 2000 b.c.–a.d. 1400
Abstract Here we present the results of archaeological survey and excavations carried out in southeastern Uzbekistan during the summer of 2011. The sites are among the first systematically recoveredExpand
Agriculture in the Central Asian Bronze Age
By the late third/early second millennium BC, increased interconnectivity in the mountains of Central Asia linked populations across Eurasia. This increasing interaction would later culminate in theExpand
Between China and South Asia: A Middle Asian corridor of crop dispersal and agricultural innovation in the Bronze Age
Evidence for the selective long-distance transport of crops as an alternative to demic-diffusion of farmers with a defined crop package is explored to highlight the first steps towards food globalization. Expand
Radical change and dietary conservatism: Mixing model estimates of human diets along the Inner Asia and China’s mountain corridors
Recent research has demonstrated that a series of mountains from the eastern Iranian Plateau to eastern Kazakhstan and to western China played a significant role in trans-Eurasian exchange during theExpand