On Thursday, November 14, Bryan Miller, a research affiliate at the UMMAA, will speak in the Brownlee Room (Room 2327, School of Education Building) at noon as part of the UMMAA Brown Bag Lecture Series.
Miller will talk about extended pastoral urbanism in the Inner Asian Steppe. Despite productive developments in comparative studies of early urbanism, mobile pastoral societies of the steppe continue to receive cursory attention and constructed ‘urban’ centers are persistently deemed incompatible with mobile lifeways and pastoral economies. Sites with prominent buildings and production facilities in Inner Asia, however, evidence the development of permanent centers of intensive social, economic, and ritual activities among steppe pastoralists.
Through remains of the first “proto-urban” establishments of the first steppe empire (the Xiongnu, ca. 200 BCE–100 CE), Miller argues that the components and arrangements of these urban settings would have been structured according to the logistical and social parameters of large herds and small-holder herding households that made up the majority of the populations that moved through and occupied such centers in the steppe. This study thus adapts concepts of “low-density” urbanism and fluctuating “urban sprawls” to formulate a model of extended pastoro-urban landscapes—a lattice of monumental structures as well as permanent workshops, corralling and pasturing spaces, and fluid yet structured residential areas, equally defined by natural geography and built environments.
The Museum’s Brown Bag Lecture Series is free and open to the public.