Seminar – 27 October – Bryan Miller

October 20th, 2015 by


Tuesday 27 October

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Bryan Miller

University of Oxford

Configurations of Steppe Urbanism: Permanent Centres of Pastoral Polities in Mongolia

Despite productive developments in archaeological approaches to urbanism, the study of constructed centers among steppe nomadic groups continues to receive cursory attention. Although the development of permanent centers of intensive social, economic, and ritual activities are often deemed incompatible with mobile lifeways and systems of pastoral production, revised considerations of the structures and environs of walled sites in early Inner Asia provide alternative notions of urban developments. Through a functional approach to urban centers and their sprawls, I propose that permanent settlement sites of the Xiongnu nomadic empire (2nd c. BCE – 2nd c. CE) were in fact complex built environments configured as expanded spatial occupations incorporating ritual arenas, production facilities, and key pastures. The case of central ‘urban’ places among early Inner Asian nomads thus highlights both the potency of urbanism approaches for studies of societal developments among steppe pastoralists and the potential for such groups to alter our understandings of the emergence and development of urban settings.