Migration Concepts in Central Eurasian Archaeology

Posted: 2 Nov 2011

Date Written: October 2011


Theories of migration hold a pervasive position in prehistoric archaeology of Central Eurasia. International research on Eurasia today reflects the juxtaposition of archaeological theory and practice from distinct epistemological traditions, and migration is at the crux of current debates. Migration was employed paradigmatically during the Soviet era to explain the geography and materiality of prehistoric ethnogenesis, whereas in the west it was harshly criticized in prehistoric applications, especially in the 1970s. Since the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), migration has resurfaced as an important, yet polemical, explanation in both academic arenas. Short- and long-distance population movements are seen as fundamental mechanisms for the formation and distribution of regional archaeological cultures from the Paleolithic to historical periods and as a primary social response to environmental, demographic, and political pressures. Critics view the archaeological record of Eurasia as a product of complex local and regional interaction, exchange, and innovation, reinvigorating essential debates around migration, diffusion, and autochthonous change in Eurasian prehistory.

Suggested Citation

Frachetti, Michael D., Migration Concepts in Central Eurasian Archaeology (October 2011). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 40, pp. 195-212, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1950871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-081309-145939

Michael D. Frachetti (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
United States

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