'The Introduction and Intensification of Agriculture in Central Eurasia: The Exception to the Rule or the Exception That Proves the Rule?'
March 19-22, 2015, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin, Germany
Organizers: Robert N Spengler III (Washington U.), Mayke Wagner (German Archaeological Institute), and Pavel Tarasov (Freie Universitat Berlin)
The theme of the workshop -- agricultural introduction and intensification in Central Eurasia -- is interpreted in a broad sense here to include related topics of increasing social complexity and exchange. Inner Asia is an anomaly in discourse surrounding social complexity; the early Iron Age is marked by a demographic transition, long believed to be fueled by increased pastoralism. In the rest of the world, agriculture is accepted as a cornerstone to the development of social hierarchy and population growth. One of the least studied parts of the world, in terms of agricultural origins and spread, is also the region that breaks down the classical model of social development: the exception to the rule. This conference pooled an international group of scholars to discuss the growing realm of paleoeconomic data coming out of Central Eurasia; in many cases these novel data do not fit the long-held models of economy in the region and demand that a new approach be taken. We have taken steps toward the construction of a new economic model for the Bronze and Iron Ages of Eurasia, and in doing so reshaped the general understanding of social developments and cultural complexity across the Old World.