11th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

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Workshop Luneau/Rouse

Redefining Interaction and Mobility in preshistoric Southern Central Asian Archaeology

Organizers: Élise Luneau (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Eurasien Abteilung; CNRS – UMR 8215) / Lynne M. Rouse (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Eurasien Abteilung)


In comparison with the better-known Eurasian steppe, prehistoric mobility in the southern part of Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and northern Iran) has hardly been studied. Focus on mobile populations has increased over the past decade, but inconsistencies are still present in how we define who is moving (nomads, itinerant traders or craftsmen, exogamy, etc.), and how mobility shaped specific social behaviours, subsistence economy or cultural features in this area. Moreover, the specific ecological setting of southern Central Asia, consisting of a unique assortment of desert, steppe, and mountains is still poorly explored in terms of human social-ecological adaptation in local contexts. Specifically, how did localized ecological exploitation shape mobility in southern Central Asia in prehistory?
No doubt, inconsistencies in research on mobility and the environment in southern Central Asia can sharply impact how different researchers conceive of the interactions both between different mobile communities as well as with local sedentary groups. The question remains: is ‘mobility’ an explanation for how things, techniques, practices, and ideas moved? Or do we need to better attend to the nature, intensity, and duration of interactions, as Irene Good urged us to do several years ago, to push forward our understanding of prehistoric transfers in people, goods and ideas?
The objective of this session is to bring together a group of researchers currently working on intersecting issues related to the exchange of people, things, and ideas that shifted Central Asian history. Comparatives between periods and sub-regions will be discussed thematically. Utilizing the most contemporary datasets and analyses from multi-disciplinary methods to support the discussion, we aim to update the way we think about mobility and interaction in southern Central Asia.


Arciero, Roberto (Universiteit Leiden)
Bonora, Gian Luca (International Association of Studies on the Mediterranean and the Orient, Roma)
Brite, Elizabeth (Purdue University, West Lafayette)
Cerasetti, Barbara (Università di Bologna)
Eger, Jana (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Forni, Luca (Università di Bologna)
Kroll, Sonja (Bern University)
Luneau, Elise (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Eurasien Abteilung; CNRS – UMR 8215)
Mashkour, Marjan (CNRS – UMR 7209, Paris)
Olson, Kyle G. (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia)
Pollock, Susan (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Rouse, Lynne M. (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut-Eurasien Abteilung, Berlin)
Spengler, Robert (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena)


9:00 Luneau, E./Rouse, Lynne M.: Introduction: Arenas of Mobility and Interaction in Prehistoric Southern Central Asia, with an example from Bronze Age Ceramic Traditions
Section 1. Defining Mobility in the Central Asian Environment
9:30 Arciero, Roberto: Water and Mobility: How different communities in prehistoric southern Turkmenistan viewed and managed the same water resources
10:00 Pollock, Susan/Eger, Jana: Mobility in Early Village Societies: Monjukli Depe and southern Turkmenistan in the Early Aeneolithic
10:30 Mashkour, Marjan/Daujat, Julie/Sheikhi, Shiva/Kroll, Sonja/Fiorillo, Denis/Amiri, Sarieh/Tengberg, Margareta/Lhuillier, Johanna/Bendezu-Sarmiento, Julio: Pastoralism and Animal Management at Ulug Depe during the Bronze and Iron Ages
11:00 Coffee break
11:30 Spengler, Robert: Bearing Fruit in Archaeobotanical Studies of the Prehistoric Silk Road
12:00 Cerasetti, Barbara: Who Interacted With Whom? Redefining mobility in Bronze Age southern Turkmenistan
12:30 Discussion (section 1)
13:00 Lunch break
Section 2. Mobility of People: Movement and Pathways
14:00 Kroll, Sonja/Mashkour, Marjan/Dufour, Élise/Fiorillo, Denis/Bendezu Sarmiento, Julio/Lhuillier, Johanna/Bon, Céline: Where did they come from and where did they go? Stable isotope analyses of Bronze Age societies in Central Asia and Iran
14:30 Bonora, Gian Luca: Nomadic Pastoralists and Traders along the Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise Routes
15:00 Olson, Kyle G.: FETE-LCA: Supercomputer simulations of trade routes in the ancient Near East
15:30 Rouse, Lynne M.: Space Invaders: New insights on long-term sedentary-mobile interactions in prehistory from recent research in southern Turkmenistan
16:00 Coffee break
Section 3. Interaction(s) through Material Culture
16:30 Brite, Elizabeth: Were Khorezmian Potters Nomadic? Pottery production in the Khorezm Oasis as an indicator of syncretic culture, 1st millennium B.C. – 1st millennium A.D.
17:00 Forni, Luca: Religion and Spiritual Life in the Bronze Age: New evidence of interactions between mobile pastoralists and sedentary farmers in the Murghab region (southern Turkmenistan)
17:30 Discussion (sections 2 and 3)