In search of a Paleolithic Silk Road in Kazakhstan

Radu Iovita, Aristeidis Varis, Abay Namen, Patrick Cuthbertson, Zhaken Taimagambetov, Christopher E. Miller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Paleoanthropological data suggest that the Late Pleistocene was a time of population contact and possibly dispersal in Central Asia. Geographic and paleoclimatic data suggest that a natural corridor through Kazakhstan linked areas to the north and east (Siberia, China) to those further to the west and south (Uzbekistan), much like a Paleolithic Silk Road. We review the known Pleistocene archaeology and paleoclimatic setting of this region and provide a geoarchaeological framework for contextualizing preliminary survey results of the PALAEOSILKROAD project's first three seasons of fieldwork. We discuss some systematic biases in three geomorphic and sedimentary archives: karst, loess, and spring deposits, specifying ways in which these biases might determine the kinds of data that are extractable by systematic survey. In particular, we caution about the possibility of future systematic biases in chronology that could come about as a result of the type of geomorphic context in which the sites are recovered. We conclude with recommendations for future work in the area.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalQuaternary International
    StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



    • Central Asia
    • Geoarchaeology
    • Paleolithic
    • Systematic survey
    • Taphonomy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Earth-Surface Processes

    Cite this

    Iovita, R., Varis, A., Namen, A., Cuthbertson, P., Taimagambetov, Z., & Miller, C. E. (Accepted/In press). In search of a Paleolithic Silk Road in Kazakhstan. Quaternary International.