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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Middlemen and marcher states in Central Asia and East/West Empire Synchrony

  • Author(s): Christopher Chase-Dunn
  • Thomas D. Hall
  • Richard Niemeyer
  • Alexis Alvarez
  • Hiroko Inoue
  • Kirk Lawrence
  • Anders Carlson
  • Benjamin Fierro
  • Matthew Kanashiro
  • Hala Sheikh-Mohamed
  • Laura Young
  • et al.

East, West, Central and South Asia originally formed somewhat separate cultural zones and networks of interaction among settlements and polities, but during the late Bronze and early Iron Ages these largely separate regional systems came into increasing interaction with one another. Central Asian nomadic steppe pastoralist polities and agricultural oasis settlements mediated the East/West and North/South interactions. Earlier research has discovered that the growth/decline phases of empires in East and West Asia became synchronous around 140 BCE and that this synchrony lasted until about 1800 CE. This paper develops the comparative world-systems perspective on Central Asia and examines the growth and decline of settlements, empires and steppe confederations in Central Asia to test the hypothesis that the East/West empire synchrony may have been caused by linkages that occurred with and across Central Asia.

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