Mastering Speed

The Bronze Age of Mongolia

Ursula Brosseder

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

The use of horses has had a tremendous impact on the history of societies, in the Old as well as in the New World. While existing narratives focus on the impact of the horse in warfare, our work counters current narratives of the development of horse riding and the social changes associated with it. The data we recovered from our in-depth study of a ritual landscape in central Mongolia allows for a new reconstruction of the cultural changes during the Bronze and Early Iron Age (ca. 1900 to 400 BCE). In this talk, I discuss the social dynamics we observe in connection with horse riding which eventually led to the establishment of the famous armies of mounted warriors that were troubling neighboring powers and Chinese Dynasties.

Ursula Brosseder received her PhD in 2001 from the Freie Universität in Berlin on the Early Iron Age in Europe. After a research stay with a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Novosibirsk, Siberia, she shifted her research focus to Eurasian archaeology and the archaeology of Mongolia, in particular, where she has been conducting fieldwork since 2005. She is a specialist on Xiongnu archaeology and contacts and connectivity across the Eurasian steppes during the late Iron Age ("Silk Roads"). Her work has been supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton where she was a member of the School for Historical Studies in 2013-14.

During her stay at ISAW, Dr. Brosseder is conducting research on Central Mongolia. Building on the bioarchaeological investigation of a ritual landscape in the Upper Orkhon Valley funded by the German Science Foundation, she will highlight the social and ritual dynamics of the Bronze and Early Iron Age.

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