Despite its relatively isolating geography, the Valley of Kashmir in the Western Himalayas has an archaeological and historical record that can include some of the oldest Neolithic farming villages in the region, (reported) conferences crucial for the formulation and spread of Silk Road Buddhism and some of the oldest chronologically focused written histories in South Asia that stretch into geological-mythological time with surprising accuracy. As a result of these rich archives, studies have tended to focus on site specific (biggest, oldest) archaeologies or on major historical events, with little attention paid to intervening periods, generally considered to be periods of widespread societal collapse.

Given the unstable geopolitical situation in the region, intensive archaeological survey or excavation is rather restricted. This study instead aims to reconstruct long term patterns of environmental change, human landscape modification and niche construction, with a particular focus on the middle and high altitude zones on the valley flanks. These data drawn from sediment cores include pollen and charcoal influxes, particle size distribution and palaeomagnetic signatures.

Land use patterns reconstructed in these studies will then be used to supplement recent archaeological studies by Kashmiri archaeologists taking a longue duree landscape oriented approach, rather than a site specific focus.


About the presenter

Michael Spate has recently completed his PhD thesis at the University of Sydney. His research aims to understand long term patterns of environmental change and human adaptation in Central and South Asia using geoarchaeological and palaeobotanical methods. He is currently engaged in ongoing research projects in Kashmir and has previously undertaken fieldwork in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


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