Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 January 2010
This volume brings together a collection of essays that focuses specifically on themes connected with the analysis of social complexity in the third to first millennium bce in the Eurasian steppe. This dialogue stems from a symposium held at the University of Pittsburgh in February 2006 that sought to evaluate current trends and to determine new directions for the study of Eurasian steppe archaeology. What became apparent during this meeting was that the steppe region has moved firmly into the spotlight of world prehistory and contemporary archaeological theory. No longer viewed as closed geopolitical spheres, the territories of the former Soviet Union and neighboring regions, and the traditions of research that have addressed these areas, have become promising new arenas of international collaboration. Important questions surrounding the emergence and diffusion of agricultural and pastoral adaptations, early metallurgical technologies and their use, and the role of mobile pastoralist societies in China, Central Asia, and Europe have become significant topics within scholarly discourse in recent years. Such issues are clearly reflected in the publication of three new, seminal books in 2007 on the Bronze and Iron Ages of the steppe region (Anthony 2007 ; Kohl 2007 ; Koryakova and Epimakhov 2007).
The chapters offered within this volume not only examine these important issues in steppe archaeology but also seek to contribute more specifically to a broader comparative theoretical analysis of early social complexity in world prehistory.