Summary: Tying the Threads of Eurasia

Tying the Threads of Eurasia: Trans-Regional Routes and Material Flows in Eastern Anatolia and Western Central Asia, c. 3000-1500BC


This work aims to examine trade and interaction routes and the flow of materials along them across Eurasia during the period c. 3000-1500BC. Two regions ‘eastern Anatolia’ and ‘western Central Asia’ form the geographical case studies for this research. Different sources of evidence for interaction, both direct and indirect, are interrogated. In Chapter 1, the initial frameworks of research, landscape and chronology are introduced, followed by a review of our knowledge on transportation technologies during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC and a reflection on the kinds of archaeological evidence from which we expect to gather movement and interaction. Chapter 2 critically examines the traditional approach to route reconstruction, based on the principle of ‘route inertia’, and presents an assembly of data about routes in different historical periods to assess the usefulness of this approach. Chapter 3 builds on this critique of routes to consider how GIS might contribute new ways to visualize routes and interaction. An experimental model of movement based on ‘cost- surface analysis’ is proposed as an additional tool for the interpretation of distributions in geographical context: these visualizations are termed ‘archaeotopograms’. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 form the substantive core of the thesis, synthesizing direct and indirect evidence for the flow of 3 categories of material: stone, metals and textiles respectively. Raw materials, trends in consumption and displaced material aesthetics (e.g. skeuomorphs) are mapped and ‘archaeotopograms’, based on suitable datasets, are created. Chapter 7 attempts to bring together these diverse data into a chronological narrative and highlight patterns that indicate low-level but important interconnections between our case-study regions and the wider ancient Near East and Eurasia. In the concluding chapter 8, the outcomes of the work are summarized. Here it is argued that the constant transformation of ‘indigenous cultural foci’ drove the evolution of routes and development of long-term cultural-economic interaction.