Chronology of Post-Glacial Settlement in the Gobi Desert and the Neolithization of Arid Mongolia and China
AdvisorOlsen, John W.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 26-Apr-2014
AbstractPrior to this study, knowledge of Gobi Desert prehistory was mostly limited to early and mid-20th century descriptions of undated stone tool assemblages from unanalyzed museum collections. This research focuses on the use of extensive existing museum collections to establish a baseline chronology of technology, economy, and land-use for prehistoric Gobi Desert groups. Radiocarbon and luminescence dating are used to establish an artefact-based chronology and provide a relative age for 96 archaeological site assemblages. Interpretations of land-use derived from lithic analysis are compared to detailed regional and local palaeoenvironmental records in order to contextualize residential mobility and subsistence. Results indicate that a dramatic shift in land-use after about 8000 years ago was related to a combination of widespread forestation and the increased productivity of lowland habitats during a period of high effective moisture. Hunter-gatherers organized their movements around dune-field/wetland environments, but utilized a range of both high- and low-ranked foods such as large ungulates from adjoining plains and uplands, and seeds and/or tubers from dune-fields and wetlands. New radiocarbon dates indicate that the use of dune-fields and wetlands persisted into the early Bronze Age, overlapping with the rise of nomadic pastoralism across Northeast Asia. These findings illuminate the period just prior to the rise of nomadic pastoralism in Northeast Asia and add considerable depth to our understanding of hunter-gatherer adaptations within arid environments following the Last Glacial Maximum.
Degree ProgramGraduate College