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: Suggested Citation