The Complexity of Nomadic Empires


Author: J. Daniel Rogers
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 18, Number 2 / September 2019

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30884/seh/2019.02.08

The culture and organization of human societies encompasses differing levels of complexity. Generally, there are two types of complexity that are most recognizable: first, those represented by the social interactions and cultural practices of everyday life, periodic ceremonial practices as part of religion, and cultural traditions. A second type of complexity is recognizable through social institutions, especially control hierarchies, bureaucratic functions, and networks of interactions across social and political boundaries. Among the pastoralist/nomadic polities of Central and Inner Asia we know many aspects of complexity in general outline, but seldom in detail. Through the use of social theory, document analysis, ethnography, and archaeology new details and interpretations continue to emerge. Taken together, these new forms of information are beginning to allow the kinds of research I propose below.

J. Daniel Rogers, Smithsonian Institution more