Patterns of pastoralism in later Bronze Age Kazakhstan: new evidence from faunal and lipid residue analyses

Alan K. Outram*, Alexei Kasparov, Natalie A. Stear, Victor Varfolomeev, Emma Usmanova, Richard P. Evershed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Current research themes relating to prehistoric Central Asian pastoralism are discussed, and the Neolithic to Bronze archaeological sequence in Kazakhstan is briefly outlined. The results of new faunal analyses of six later Bronze Age sites in Central and Northern Kazakhstan are presented. These studies are based upon the analysis of 63,529 bone fragments, of which 27,023 were identifiable to species and element. These assemblages are compared with 16 other sites in Central and Northern Kazakhstan, and the Trans-Ural region. The herd structures at the final Bronze Age site of Kent are discussed in detail. Analyses of absorbed lipid residues from four sites are also presented. In total, 140 pottery sherds were analysed, of which 73 provided sufficient residues for stable isotope ratio determinations. It is concluded that species proportions are highly variable regionally. Cattle are most prevalent in the forest steppe zone, whilst caprines become more common in semi-arid steppe regions. Proportions of horse are particularly variable, even within environmentally similar areas. Lipid residue results indicate the high prevalence of ruminant dairy products in pottery vessels, whilst faunal data from Kent suggests that cattle husbandry might have been particularly focussed on milk, in comparison with sheep and goats. The significance of horses within prehistoric pastoralism is discussed. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2424-2435
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Prehistoric
  • Bronze Age
  • Pastoral
  • Central Asia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Residue
  • Zooarchaeology


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