Radiocarbon dating and cultural dynamics across Mongolia’s early pastoral transition

William Taylor* (Corresponding Author), Shevan Wilkin, Joshua Wright, Michael Dee, Myagmar Erdene , Julia Clark, Tumurbaatar Tuvshinjargal, Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan, William Fitzhugh, Nicole Boivin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The emergence of mobile herding lifeways in Mongolia and eastern Eurasia was one of the most crucial economic and cultural transitions in human prehistory. Understanding the process by which this played out, however, has been impeded by the absence of a precise chronological framework for the prehistoric era in Mongolia. One rare source of empirically dateable material useful for understanding eastern Eurasia’s pastoral tradition comes from the stone burial mounds and monumental constructions that began to appear across the landscape of Mongolia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age (ca. 3000–700 BCE). Here, along with presenting 28 new radiocarbon dates from Mongolia’s earliest pastoral monumental burials, we synthesise, critically analyse, and model existing dates to present the first precision Bayesian radiocarbon model for the emergence and geographic spread of Bronze Age monument and burial forms. Model results demonstrate a cultural succession between ambiguously dated Afanasievo, Chemurchek, and Munkhkhairkhan traditions. Geographic patterning reveals the existence of important cultural frontiers during the second millennium BCE. This work demonstrates the utility of a Bayesian approach for investigating prehistoric cultural dynamics during the emergence of pastoral economies.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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