Four Field Colloquium: Late Prehistoric Social Transformations in the Central Eurasian Steppes: Warfare, Metallurgy and Ritual Practice
This presentation details the results of a seven-year international research project that has examined social, economic, and political change connected with Middle Bronze Age communities (c. 2100-1700 BCE) in the Southern Ural Mountains of Russia. New forms of nucleated, fortified settlements, specialized copper metal production, and innovative technologies connected with warfare have stimulated a variety of theories that attempt to explain the emergence of social complexity in this region of the ancient world. Recent field research has combined a variety of techniques, including; regional scale pedestrian survey, geophysical prospection, HHpXRF soil chemistry, bioarchaeological analysis, and stratigraphic excavation. These studies have examined research questions connected with health and demography, scale and organization of mining and metal production, and new forms of mortuary practice. Research results to date are challenging conventional models and theoretical perspectives on local and supra-local socio-economic organization and long term trends in social complexity in the Central Eurasian Steppes.