Iron Age societies of the eastern Eurasian steppe are traditionally viewed as nomadic pastoralists. However, recent archaeological and anthropological research in Kazakhstan has reminded us that pastoralist economies can be highly complex and involve agriculture. This paper explores the nature of the pastoralist economies in two Early Iron Age populations from the burial grounds of Ai-Dai and Aymyrlyg in Southern Siberia. These populations represent two cultural groups of the Scythian World - the Tagar Culture of the Minusinsk Basin and the Uyuk Culture of Tuva. Analysis of dental palaeopathology and carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes suggests that domesticated cereals, particularly millet, and fish formed a major component of the diet of both groups. The findings contribute to the emerging picture of the nuances of Early Iron Age subsistence strategies on the eastern steppe.
Murphy, E. M., Beer, N., Schulting, R., Chistov, Y., Kasparov, A., & Pshenitsyna, M. (2013). Iron Age Pastoral Nomadism and Agriculture in the Eastern Eurasian Steppe: Implications from Dental Palaeopathology and Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(5), 2547-2560. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.09.038