Mapping Nomadic Cultures: Material Definitions of the Xiongnu Confederacy


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Dissertation Fellowships (North America)


East Asian Languages and Civilizations


This dissertation research aims to reassess the material foundations and categorizations of early Iron Age groups in Eastern Central Asia, as they relate to so-called Xiongnu studies, in order to pursue objective inquiries into the economic, political, and social composition of those peoples who occupied the steppes, mountains, and river valleys north of the Chinese realm. The archaeological corpus of remains related to the historical phenomenon of the nomadic confederacy will be tested--through comparative mapping and creation of a comprehensive database--for degrees of variation within, the extent to which it spreads in all directions, and the level of consistency or ambiguity at the peripheries and regions of interaction. By means of a composite database of materials from these areas separated by modern political and linguistic boundaries, this study seeks to help bridge the gap between institutions and scholarly circles so that archaeologists addressing the same issues may begin to observe broader similarities in spheres previously not anticipated, see regional variability where homogeneity has often been assumed, and question the historical biases brought to the classification of archaeological remains in reconstructions of the first steppe empire.