- Doctoral Candidate
- University of Pittsburgh
Emergent Complexity on the Mongolian Steppe: Mobility, Territoriality, and the Development of Early Nomadic Polities
Through the comparative study of settlement sites, this international collaborative research project investigates the nature of the social and economic organization of Late Bronze Age (mid-second - early first millenia BCE) societies in the Khanuy River Valley, Central Mongolia so as to contribute to an evaluation of the ‘dependency’ hypothesis of sociopolitical development among mobile pastoralists. By focusing specifically on the core variables of demography, subsistence, mobility, and political economy in relation to higher degrees of sociopolitical organizations, this research project provides much needed empirical data to the ongoing theoretical discussions regarding the early development of ‘nomadic’ polities in Inner Asia. It is also anticipated that it will offer a useful case study for comparative research with other similar types of societies in other regions of the world. The anthropological objectives of this research and the methods employed, notably those of survey and settlement archaeology, are relatively new axes of research in Inner Asia in general and in Mongolia in particular. The collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of this research, as well as the training of Mongolian students in these and other field methods, are considered important components of this project.
Continuity and Change in Household Life in Bronze and Iron-Age Mongolia
This project addresses an important question in the anthropological literature on nomadic pastoralism, that is, the impact of major economic and social changes on nomadic society and pastoral subsistence—a question still very pertinent today in various world regions. The project consists of a collaborative and multidisciplinary endeavor that includes archaeology, zooarchaeology, paleobotany, and geoarchaeology in order to document the transformation of the domestic economy of mobile pastoralist groups inhabiting the Khanuy Valley region of central Mongolia from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age period when the first state-like nomadic polity, the Xiongnu, appeared on the Eurasian steppes. The objective is to find out if and how a representative sample of households responded to and participated in the broader political and economic system. In other words, this research project evaluates continuity and change in the range, organizations, and variation of household activities as the region is incorporated into a regional-scale polity. As a result, it provides the first detailed archaeological investigation of how and to what degree the forces of economic and social change among mobile pastoralists were also played out at the local level. This in turn contributes to anthropological studies on the topic of social change in general by documenting variability in both the forms and developmental trajectories of societal complexity.