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Modeling Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Pastoral Adaptations in Northern Mongolia's Darkhad Depression

Clark, Julia (2015) Modeling Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Pastoral Adaptations in Northern Mongolia's Darkhad Depression. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation investigates pastoral adaptations, multi-resource economic strategies and monument construction and use diachronically in the Darkhad Depression of northern Mongolia. This program of research has utilized GIS analysis, predictive modeling, pedestrian survey, targeted excavation, experimental archaeology and ethnoarchaeology. The results of this research contribute to a more detailed understanding of how this region contributed to broader social, political and economic change in the Bronze and Iron Ages through the Xiongnu period (ca. 2500 BCE – 200 CE). Numerous models have been proposed to explain the transition from an agricultural economy to an agro-pastoral or fully nomadic economy. However, there are far fewer explanatory models for the incorporation or adoption of pastoralism into existing hunting, gathering and/or fishing economies. Furthermore, a hyper-focus on connections between China and Inner Asia has dominated discussions of inter-regional, inter-economic relationships. Such trends have overshadowed potentially earlier important relationships with groups to the north, including the hunter-gatherers of Lake Baikal, and early pastoralists of the Minusinsk Basin and Tuva (Russian Federation). This dissertation research, in contrast, has employed a holistic landscape approach that examined both ritual and domestic activity areas in order to model the introduction and integration of herding practices with existing hunting-gathering-fishing economies. Recent archaeological research in the Darkhad Depression of north-central Mongolia has investigated the ritual landscape and has concluded that the monuments in this region, while not particularly large, are the oldest of their kind known in Mongolia and neighboring regions of Kazakhstan and Russia. If these monuments are connected with new forms of a pastoral economy and hierarchical social organization, as some have suggested, this underscores the importance of this region for modeling early pastoralist orientations in Mongolia and perhaps more broadly within northeastern Asia. This dissertation examines these important late prehistoric developments and situates this work in the context of other recent and important archaeology projects within Mongolia. The results of this research contribute to a growing trend in the scholarship of early multi-resource pastoralists that highlights the varied ways in which domestic animals were incorporated into existing economies, impacting local and supra-local social, political and ritual practices and lifeways.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHanks, Bryan K.bkh5@pitt.eduBKH5
Committee MemberElizabeth, Arkusharkush@pitt.eduARKUSH
Committee MemberLoukas, Bartonloukas@pitt.eduLOUKAS
Committee MemberSandra ,
Date: 9 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 May 2014
Approval Date: 9 January 2015
Submission Date: 10 December 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 274
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Archaeology, Mongolia, Pastoralism, Bronze Age, Modeling
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2015 21:53
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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