Pastoralist Mobility and Social Controls In Inner Asia: Experiments Using Agent-Based Modeling
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/SD962019071
Archaeological, historical, and ethnographic sources on the pastoralism of Inner Asia provide evidence for a resilient, but highly volatile steppe adaptation that developed several thousand years ago. This study explores some fundamental aspects of pastoralist settlement and social systems as they developed following the Bronze Age. The analysis uses the agent-based computational model, HouseholdsWorld, to simulate aspects of mobility, population density, kinship structures, and herd dynamics relating to emerging social territories and the implications for sustainable landscape use. Comparisons with archaeological data show the potential impacts of social controls on habitation distributions and mobility. When overarching social controls were in place distinctive territorial differences emerged. When social controls were less centralized individual households became wealthier. In regions with dense populations, expanding the scope of landscape knowledge allowed micro-mobility to effectively mitigate social restrictions. As a result population expanded, but became poorer. In less densely inhabited regions greater knowledge of the landscape expanded the mid-range of wealth distribution without expanding the number of poor.