What is it about?

The Altai Mountains straddle 4 countries - China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia & Russia. Modern border controls mean that the mountains are seen as a 'natural barrier' to movement in prehistory and thus also cultural contact. By mapping routes in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and comparing them to the locations of rock art in all 4 countries, this paper identifies several major paths over the modern borders that could have been used in prehistory.

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Why is it important?

This paper demonstrates that: a) it was possible for people to travel throughout the Altai and reach neighbouring areas in all 4 countries; b) from the Neolithic onwards, various people used these routes, including hunter-gatherers and herders. In addition, there is no evidence that the Chinese part of the Altai was less accessible than the Kazakh, Mongol & Russian parts - this most likely reflects a division between Russian-speaking and Chinese-speaking research.

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This page is a summary of: Movement across a ‘mountain barrier’: Mapping accessibility with rock-art and GIS in the Altai Mountains, Eastern Eurasia, Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, October 2019, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.101979.
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