Taylor Randolph Hermes

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Max Planck Institute - Jena

Grant number

Gr. 9973

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Hermes, Taylor (Max Plank Inst) "Eneolithic Pastoralists in Hunter-Gatherer Worlds: Revisiting the Afanasievo in the Altai Mountains"

Pastoralist herding has been critically important for people in Inner Asia for more than 5000 years. Yet, we know very little about how this lifestyle coalesced and spread to the steppe grasslands. Human paleogenetic data suggests that Eneolithic people in the Altai Mountains of the Afanasievo culture (~3300-2800 BCE) brought livestock herbivores to Inner Asia after long migrations from the eastern fringe of Europe. Problematically, the Afanasievo horizon is defined from material culture in mortuary contexts, while data from settlements that would reveal subsistence engagements and cultural admixture with indigenous hunter-gatherers is lacking. This project focuses on new archaeological excavations of the Afanasievo settlement Nizhnyaya Sooru in the Russian Altai Republic in order to examine the rise of this enigmatic archaeological phenomenon through interactions with local Altaic communities. We will employ faunal and paleobotanical analyses to explore food production using animal and plant domesticates, in addition to assessing the exploitation of wild resources. We will also study ceramic and lithic technologies to track social continuity and change through the site’s occupation. With 3D excavation techniques and high-resolution radiocarbon dating, our combined methods will examine the rise of the Afanasievo through adaptation in hunter-gatherer landscapes.