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Mixing metaphors: sedentary-mobile interactions and local-global connections in prehistoric Turkmenistan

  • Lynne M. Rouse (a1) (a2) and Barbara Cerasetti (a3)

The deeply engrained stereotype of opposing ‘steppe’ and ‘sown’ societies has strongly influenced interpretation of Bronze Age Central Asia. This has led to the idea that the agricultural Oxus civilisation and non-Oxus mobile pastoralists formed two distinct cultural-economic groups in this region that are easily distinguishable through archaeological remains. Recent excavations of campsites in southern Turkmenistan, however, provide new evidence of variability in exchange between sites, suggesting adaptation by pastoralist groups in their interactions with settled Oxus farming groups. Rather than wholly reiterating or dissolving the distinctions between them, such practices dynamically reshaped the boundaries of these social and economic groups. These findings challenge us to move away from notions of centre-periphery, dependency and diffusion in discussions of intercultural contact in Eurasian prehistory.

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