Re: The Kurgan Tradition.
From: John Croft
Piotr and Mark on nomadic pastoralism.
The nature of "the pastoral transition" grew out of the "secondary
products revolution". The incorporation of animals for more than
production, saw a more sophisticated mixed farming system in which
grain and animal production lived side by side.
During warm wet climatic periods, this mixed farming system could
travel far out onto the steppe lands of Eurasia. During cold and dry
periods, grain production would be reduced and dependence upon flocks
increased. This dependence upon flocks would be dependent upon
transhumance, seasonal "migration" up the mountains (in spring and
summer) and down the valleys (in autumn and winter), that is even
found in Alpine and Pyreneen villages today. Thus farming versus
nomadic pastoral communities are only the extremes of a Weberian
"ideal-typical-model". The reality was usually somewhere in the
For instance, even in such nomadic groups as the Mongol, they would,
if conditions were right, quite often sow a crop and harvest it, if
conditions were right. In fact, nomadic pastoral communities were
usually dependent upon links (by trade or sponsorship) with nearby
farming communities for a proportion of their products, and for the
kinds of luxury goods that enabled tribal patronage structures to
survive (i.e. tribal chieftains maintained the loyalty of retainers
their ability to provide them with a continuous supply of luxury
- often obtained as "protection money" tarrifd paid by Caravaneers
passing through their territory, tribute from farming communities or
the booty obtained from raids).
The "nomadic transition" which would occur in cold dry periods would
effect those areas with marginal farming systems first. As aridity
increased pressure would force these people from marginal into
progressively less sub-marginal areas. Generally this would result
a wave travelling from the East to the West, washing up on the shores
of the grasslands of Pannonia in Hungary. Although transhumance
developed first in the west and spread eastwards, the full "nomadic
pastoral culture" would start in the east and travel west. The line
between the pastoral and the sown (found inside every farming
community) would thus ebb and flow with climatic effects.
Hope this helps