Isotopic perspectives on pastoralist mobility in the Late Bronze Age South Caucasus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Isotopic methods of studying the geographic and seasonal movements of herd animals provide new data pertinent to ongoing scholarly re-consideration of the relationships between pastoralist mobility and the development of new forms of political organization. Radiogenic strontium and mass-dependent oxygen and carbon isotope analysis on a large sample of herd animals (sheep, goats, and cattle) from Late Bronze Age (1500–1100 BC) sites in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia indicate that long-distance movements across geological zones were not common, but that animals were drinking from a range of water sources. Connecting this variation to movement is complicated by limited intra-tooth variation in δ 13 C values. Data from the study provide preliminary evidence for foddering. These results reveal a gap between the emphasis on mobility in theoretical models of pastoralism and political organization and the way that animal diets mediate isotopic proxies for movement. These interpretive difficulties emphasize the need to consider herds’ seasonal and geographic movement within a wider range of pastoralist practices. These findings also highlight the need for large sample sizes in isotopic investigations of pastoralist mobility, in order to accurately identify and evaluate the diversity in both geographic and seasonal movements within a single ancient pastoralist system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-67
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Carbon isotopes
  • Eurasia
  • Isotopic analysis
  • Mobility
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Pastoralism
  • Political complexity
  • South Caucasus
  • Strontium isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


Dive into the research topics of 'Isotopic perspectives on pastoralist mobility in the Late Bronze Age South Caucasus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this