Dairy pastoralism sustained eastern Eurasian steppe populations for 5,000 years. Journal Article uri icon



  • Dairy pastoralism is integral to contemporary and past lifeways on the eastern Eurasian steppe, facilitating survival in agriculturally challenging environments. While previous research has indicated that ruminant dairy pastoralism was practiced in the region by circa 1300 BC, the origin, extent and diversity of this custom remain poorly understood. Here, we analyse ancient proteins from human dental calculus recovered from geographically diverse locations across Mongolia and spanning 5,000 years. We present the earliest evidence for dairy consumption on the eastern Eurasian steppe by circa 3000 BC and the later emergence of horse milking at circa 1200 BC, concurrent with the first evidence for horse riding. We argue that ruminant dairying contributed to the demographic success of Bronze Age Mongolian populations and that the origins of traditional horse dairy products in eastern Eurasia are closely tied to the regional emergence of mounted herding societies during the late second millennium BC.

publication date

  • March 1, 2020

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • January 18, 2021 7:33 AM

Full Author List

  • Wilkin S; Ventresca Miller A; Taylor WTT; Miller BK; Hagan RW; Bleasdale M; Scott A; Gankhuyg S; Ramsøe A; Uliziibayar S

author count

  • 20

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2397-334X

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 346

end page

  • 355


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