Long thought of as simple communities that defy complex social organization by way of constant movement, the nomadic lifeway was often considered at odds with large and complex agglomerations of people. Recent archaeological research in the Eurasian steppe has now shown that quite to the contrary, mobile people amalgamated into various forms of communities at multiple scales and during different periods of time. But what did this look like in its earliest stages and in its simplest forms? Working in the Tarvagatai Valley of north-central Mongolia, the current presentation highlights the results of methodological and analytical techniques used in the investigation of Paleo hunter-gatherer habitations for the purpose of identifying an ephemeral mobile pastoralist domicile of the Early Iron Age (ca. 500 B.C.). As a result of this process, we will see what appear to be indications of one of the earliest mobile structures so far identified in the Mongolian steppe. A finding that has not only given us a glimpse into the daily life of mobile pastoralists but also provides unique insight into the early formation of larger, regional scale, political associations of the Early Iron Age in Mongolia.
William Gardner is an anthropologically trained archaeologist interested in studying ancient mobility (or mobile communities) from a comparative perspective. These interests stem from long-term research on ancient Mongolian mobile pastoralists and archaic hunter-gatherers of the Colorado Plateau. Dr. Gardner recently completed his Ph.D. at Yale University on early political complexity and community organization during the early Iron Age on the Mongolian steppe (ca. mid-1st millennium B.C.). Upon graduation, Dr. Gardner worked as a postdoctoral associate for Yale University where his research on Inner Asian political traditions expanded to consider the interaction between coupled human/natural systems. Presently, Dr. Gardner is part of a multi-disciplinary team from Yale University, Columbia University, and the University of Alaska, that is researching human and climatic drivers of ecosystem change in northern Asia. Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Arctic Social Sciences program, this research looks to identify the connections between ecosystems, climate, human culture, and sociopolitical organization that promotes sustainability in a coupled human/natural system.
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