Publications by authors named "Michael Frachetti"

9 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

High mitochondrial diversity of domesticated goats persisted among Bronze and Iron Age pastoralists in the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor.

PLoS One 2020 21;15(5):e0233333. Epub 2020 May 21.

Graduate School "Human Development in Landscapes", Kiel University, Kiel, Germany.

Goats were initially managed in the Near East approximately 10,000 years ago and spread across Eurasia as economically productive and environmentally resilient herd animals. While the geographic origins of domesticated goats (Capra hircus) in the Near East have been long-established in the zooarchaeological record and, more recently, further revealed in ancient genomes, the precise pathways by which goats spread across Asia during the early Bronze Age (ca. 3000 to 2500 cal BC) and later remain unclear. We analyzed sequences of hypervariable region 1 and cytochrome b gene in the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) of goats from archaeological sites along two proposed transmission pathways as well as geographically intermediary sites. Unexpectedly high genetic diversity was present in the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor (IAMC), indicated by mtDNA haplotypes representing common A lineages and rarer C and D lineages. High mtDNA diversity was also present in central Kazakhstan, while only mtDNA haplotypes of lineage A were observed from sites in the Northern Eurasian Steppe (NES). These findings suggest that herding communities living in montane ecosystems were drawing from genetically diverse goat populations, likely sourced from communities in the Iranian Plateau, that were sustained by repeated interaction and exchange. Notably, the mitochondrial genetic diversity associated with goats of the IAMC also extended into the semi-arid region of central Kazakhstan, while NES communities had goats reflecting an isolated founder population, possibly sourced via eastern Europe or the Caucasus region.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0233333PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7241827PMC
August 2020

The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia.

Science 2019 09;365(6457)

Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.

By sequencing 523 ancient humans, we show that the primary source of ancestry in modern South Asians is a prehistoric genetic gradient between people related to early hunter-gatherers of Iran and Southeast Asia. After the Indus Valley Civilization's decline, its people mixed with individuals in the southeast to form one of the two main ancestral populations of South Asia, whose direct descendants live in southern India. Simultaneously, they mixed with descendants of Steppe pastoralists who, starting around 4000 years ago, spread via Central Asia to form the other main ancestral population. The Steppe ancestry in South Asia has the same profile as that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe, tracking a movement of people that affected both regions and that likely spread the distinctive features shared between Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aat7487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822619PMC
September 2019

Early integration of pastoralism and millet cultivation in Bronze Age Eurasia.

Proc Biol Sci 2019 09 4;286(1910):20191273. Epub 2019 Sep 4.

Graduate School 'Human Development in Landscapes', Kiel University, Leibniz Straße 3, 24118 Kiel, Germany.

Mobile pastoralists are thought to have facilitated the first trans-Eurasian dispersals of domesticated plants during the Early Bronze Age (ca 2500-2300 BC). Problematically, the earliest seeds of wheat, barley and millet in Inner Asia were recovered from human mortuary contexts and do not inform on local cultivation or subsistence use, while contemporaneous evidence for the use and management of domesticated livestock in the region remains ambiguous. We analysed mitochondrial DNA and multi-stable isotopic ratios (δC, δN and δO) of faunal remains from key pastoralist sites in the Dzhungar Mountains of southeastern Kazakhstan. At ca 2700 BC, Near Eastern domesticated sheep and goat were present at the settlement of Dali, which were also winter foddered with the region's earliest cultivated millet spreading from its centre of domestication in northern China. In the following centuries, millet cultivation and caprine management became increasingly intertwined at the nearby site of Begash. Cattle, on the other hand, received low levels of millet fodder at the sites for millennia. By primarily examining livestock dietary intake, this study reveals that the initial transmission of millet across the mountains of Inner Asia coincided with a substantial connection between pastoralism and plant cultivation, suggesting that pastoralist livestock herding was integral for the westward dispersal of millet from farming societies in China.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.1273DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6743000PMC
September 2019

Farming strategies of 1st millennium CE agro-pastoralists on the southern foothills of the Tianshan Mountains: A geoarchaeological and macrobotanical investigation of the Mohuchahangoukou (MGK) site, Xinjiang, China.

PLoS One 2019 5;14(6):e0217171. Epub 2019 Jun 5.

Hejing County Office for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments, Hejing, Xinjiang, China.

Archaeological evidence emerging over the past decade clearly illustrates that agro-pastoralists living along the foothills of major mountain chains in Central Asia (the so-called "Inner Asian Mountain Corridor" or IAMC) facilitated the spread of domesticated grains through their direct involvement in farming. While the environmental conditions across the northwestern slopes of the IAMC provided adequate resources for incipient farming and herding as early as the mid-3rd mill. BCE, the development of local agricultural strategies on the extremely arid and eroded foothills on the southeastern, leeward side of the mountains remain comparatively less studied. Our study tackles this problem by combining geoarchaeological analysis with conventional macrobotanical identification in the investigation of a 1st-mill. CE agro-pastoralist farming site, Mohuchahangoukou (MGK), located on the arid foothills of the Tianshan range. Our results illustrate how ancient agro-pastoralists at MGK innovated irrigation systems both to combat water shortage and, importantly, to trap sediments carried by flood-water for crop cultivation. By synthesizing currently available data, we estimate that they managed to trap about 40 cm of fine-grained sediment within a span of 200 years or even less. These stone-built field systems helped water a diverse stand of crops and create deeper soils in an otherwise deflated landscape with thin desert soils. Since we detected high levels of salt concentration (>2 dSm-1) in the lower portions of all three test trenches we analyzed, we conclude that soil salinization might have affected the long-term sustainability of this form of irrigated field management. We also infer that, besides engineering efforts, the ancient agro-pastoralists at MGK had to resolve the scheduling conflicts between irrigated farming and animal herding through labor specialization.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217171PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6551202PMC
January 2020

Arboreal crops on the medieval Silk Road: Archaeobotanical studies at Tashbulak.

PLoS One 2018 14;13(8):e0201409. Epub 2018 Aug 14.

Institute for Archaeological Research, Academy of Sciences, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

During the first millennium A.D., Central Asia was marked by broad networks of exchange and interaction, what many historians collectively refer to as the "Silk Road". Much of this contact relied on high-elevation mountain valleys, often linking towns and caravanserais through alpine territories. This cultural exchange is thought to have reached a peak in the late first millennium A.D., and these exchange networks fostered the spread of domesticated plants and animals across Eurasia. However, few systematic studies have investigated the cultivated plants that spread along the trans-Eurasian exchange during this time. New archaeobotanical data from the archaeological site of Tashbulak (800-1100 A.D.) in the mountains of Uzbekistan is shedding some light on what crops were being grown and consumed in Central Asia during the medieval period. The archaeobotanical assemblage contains grains and legumes, as well as a wide variety of fruits and nuts, which were likely cultivated at lower elevations and transported to the site. In addition, a number of arboreal fruits may have been collected from the wild or represent cultivated version of species that once grew in the wild shrubby forests of the foothills of southern Central Asia in prehistory. This study examines the spread of crops, notably arboreal crops, across Eurasia and ties together several data sets in order to add to discussions of what plant cultivation looked like in the central region of the Silk Road.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0201409PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6091944PMC
January 2019

Urban and nomadic isotopic niches reveal dietary connectivities along Central Asia's Silk Roads.

Sci Rep 2018 03 26;8(1):5177. Epub 2018 Mar 26.

Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Johanna-Mestorf-Straße 2-6, 24118, Kiel, Germany.

The ancient 'Silk Roads' formed a vast network of trade and exchange that facilitated the movement of commodities and agricultural products across medieval Central Asia via settled urban communities and mobile pastoralists. Considering food consumption patterns as an expression of socio-economic interaction, we analyse human remains for carbon and nitrogen isotopes in order to establish dietary intake, then model isotopic niches to characterize dietary diversity and infer connectivity among communities of urbanites and nomadic pastoralists. The combination of low isotopic variation visible within urban groups with isotopic distinction between urban communities irrespective of local environmental conditions strongly suggests localized food production systems provided primary subsistence rather than agricultural goods exchanged along trade routes. Nomadic communities, in contrast, experienced higher dietary diversity reflecting engagements with a wide assortment of foodstuffs typical for mobile communities. These data indicate tightly bound social connectivity in urban centres pointedly funnelled local food products and homogenized dietary intake within settled communities, whereas open and opportunistic systems of food production and circulation were possible through more mobile lifeways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22995-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5979964PMC
March 2018

Nomadic ecology shaped the highland geography of Asia's Silk Roads.

Nature 2017 03;543(7644):193-198

Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK.

There are many unanswered questions about the evolution of the ancient 'Silk Roads' across Asia. This is especially the case in their mountainous stretches, where harsh terrain is seen as an impediment to travel. Considering the ecology and mobility of inner Asian mountain pastoralists, we use 'flow accumulation' modelling to calculate the annual routes of nomadic societies (from 750 m to 4,000 m elevation). Aggregating 500 iterations of the model reveals a high-resolution flow network that simulates how centuries of seasonal nomadic herding could shape discrete routes of connectivity across the mountains of Asia. We then compare the locations of known high-elevation Silk Road sites with the geography of these optimized herding flows, and find a significant correspondence in mountainous regions. Thus, we argue that highland Silk Road networks (from 750 m to 4,000 m) emerged slowly in relation to long-established mobility patterns of nomadic herders in the mountains of inner Asia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21696DOI Listing
March 2017

Early agriculture and crop transmission among Bronze Age mobile pastoralists of Central Eurasia.

Proc Biol Sci 2014 May 2;281(1783):20133382. Epub 2014 Apr 2.

Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St Louis, , One Brookings Drive-CB 1114, St Louis, MO 63130, USA, Dipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà, Università degli Studi di Bologna, , Piazza S. Giovanni in Monte, 2 40124 Bologna, Italy, Institute of Archaeology, , 44 y. Dostyk, Almaty, 050010, Republic of Kazakhstan.

Archaeological research in Central Eurasia is exposing unprecedented scales of trans-regional interaction and technology transfer between East Asia and southwest Asia deep into the prehistoric past. This article presents a new archaeobotanical analysis from pastoralist campsites in the mountain and desert regions of Central Eurasia that documents the oldest known evidence for domesticated grains and farming among seasonally mobile herders. Carbonized grains from the sites of Tasbas and Begash illustrate the first transmission of southwest Asian and East Asian domesticated grains into the mountains of Inner Asia in the early third millennium BC. By the middle second millennium BC, seasonal camps in the mountains and deserts illustrate that Eurasian herders incorporated the cultivation of millet, wheat, barley and legumes into their subsistence strategy. These findings push back the chronology for domesticated plant use among Central Eurasian pastoralists by approximately 2000 years. Given the geography, chronology and seed morphology of these data, we argue that mobile pastoralists were key agents in the spread of crop repertoires and the transformation of agricultural economies across Asia from the third to the second millennium BC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.3382DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3996608PMC
May 2014