China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Contrary to a historiography predicated on distinctions between sedentary civilisation and mobile pastoralism, in fact steppe-based rulers used and built many urban centers – some two hundred in Inner Mongolia alone. Such centers were located within larger and smaller zones of production, supply and control, and participated in networks of exchange, diplomacy and politics. What were the characteristics of these cities as they emerged, changed and disappeared in relation to these wider contexts? What were the functions of urban settlements in societies and polities predicated on and celebrating mobility?
To address these questions, this panel presents new evidence from archaeological fieldwork from the Mongolian region. The papers will be representative of the growing body of work on a diverse selection of steppe cities and illustrate a range of archaeological and cross-disciplinary engagement with the medieval period in Northeast Asia. We will cover the landscape archaeology of urban hinterlands and suburbs and inscriptions in Chinese and Kitan, and new readings of transmitted historical texts. As well as detailed and broad synthetic studies of urban form and function during the medieval period. If cities were all different and were not restricted to ‘civilizations’, then we will have to think again about sociopolitical organization and interactions of all kinds between groups in northeast Asia.