Prehistory of the Silk Road

By E. E. Kuzmina; Victor H. Mair | Go to book overview

Editor’s Foreword

Elena Kuzmina’s The Prehistory of the Silk Road is a major accomplishment, and I am proud to have had a hand in making it a reality. There is, of course, tremendous interest in the Silk Road, but we have had to wait for this volume by Dr. Kuzmina to describe and analyze the preconditions that led to its establishment. The story she tells is a fascinating one that encompasses nearly the whole of Eurasia in Bronze Age and Early Iron Age times.

Having met Elena Kuzmina at several conferences in the United States and Kazakhstan during the mid-1990s, I had come to realize that she possesses a phenomenal wealth of knowledge about the Bronze Age cultures of Central Asia. I read a number of her books and articles, especially Otkuda prishli Indoarii? (Whence Came the Indo-Aryans?), and I was all the more impressed by her masterful command of the archaeological data concerning the early spread of Indo-European peoples (particularly the Indo-Iranians) toward the east. Consequently, around 1997,I asked Dr. Kuzmina if she would be willing to write a book about the prehistory of the Silk Road. Since no one had ever attempted to undertake a systematic study of the overall situation in Central Asia during the millennia preceding the establishment of the historical Silk Road, such a work was obviously much needed. Naturally, I was delighted when Dr. Kuzmina agreed to write the volume I had requested.

The Prehistory of the Silk Road is fundamentally a work of historical reconstruction. As such, it is complementary to archaeological fieldwork. Although these two approaches may be guided by different questions and executed in disparate manners, both are vital for an appreciation of a contested set of problems in the study of prehistory.

Kuzmina’s monograph constitutes an excellent summary and distillation of a specific historical tradition of research. Her work is rooted in a particular school of Soviet learning, itself now a focus of study in

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