The spread of livestock, dairy and millet into the eastern steppes: Biomolecular perspectives from the Altai mountains and the Mongolian steppe
|Dates:||11 May 2021|
|Times:||13:00 - 13:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences|
|Who is it for:||University staff, Adults, Alumni, Current University students|
|Speaker:||Prof Cheryl Makarewicz|
Prof Cheryl Makarewicz, University of Kiel, joins us for a Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences seminar. Abstract below.
The spread of domesticated plants and animals across the Eurasian steppe sparked the emergence of novel subsistence strategies that converted expanses of plant biomass unavailable for human consumption into a reliable food source via domesticated livestock grazing. The ASIAPAST project investigates a critical transition in this process when sheep, goats and cattle first spread beyond the western steppes of Kazakhstan into rugged terrains to the east. Proteomic analyses of human dental calculus and organic residue analyses of ceramics reveal dairy consumption coincided with initial transmission five thousand years ago of domesticated livestock in the Altai mountains from the eastern Eurasian steppe, although the relative importance to human diets remains unclear. There, ancient pastoralists later incorporated millet into their diets, but mobile pastoralists in the adjacent Mongolian steppe did not take up this foodstuff, ubiquitous throughout much of East and Central Asia, until quite late at ca. 200 cal BC coinciding with the emergence of the Xiongnu empire. Even then, millet consumption was sporadic and geographically restricted to the Xiongnu heartland. Finally, I discuss the promises and current limitations of biomolecular analyses to drawing out the precise mechanisms underscoring the spread of pastoralism.
Prof Cheryl Makarewicz
Organisation: University of Kiel
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