Gutorm Gjessing Lecture 2019: Professor emeritus David W. Anthony

We are pleased to announce David W. Anthony as our second speaker for the Gutorm Gjessing Lecture Series, with the lecture "Nomads from the east: ancient DNA, migration, and the origins of Bronze Age Europe".

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Professor emeritus David W. Anthony

David Anthony is an American anthropologist and archaeologist, specialized in Indo-European history and languages, and Professor at Hartwick College since 1987. He has contributed substantially to research areas like the domestication of the horse, the invention of wheeled transport, prehistoric migration and language spread, and, more lately, the repercussions of ancient DNA in steppe archaeology. Anthony has conducted extensive archaeological fieldwork in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

He will present the following lecture: 

Nomads from the east: ancient DNA, migration, and the origins of Bronze Age Europe

Ancient DNA has recently proved that people from the steppes of Russia and Ukraine, associated with the Yamnaya culture, migrated westward into Europe and eastward into Asia around 3000 BC, causing the largest demographic turnover of the last 5000 years and probably spreading the ancestor of the Indo-European languages. But our understanding of the Yamnaya migrations is complicated by decades of academic resistance to centuries-old, simplistic tropes of faceless nomadic hordes pouring out of the steppes to destroy agricultural civilizations.

Nomadism is understood by many academics as a late, parasitic economy that depended on the agricultural surpluses of ancient states such as China and Persia, making it impossible for nomadism to have evolved in the Bronze Age before centralized states appeared—an interpretation called ‘dependency theory’.

Decades of archaeological research have questioned whether Yamnaya people had domesticated horses, or functional wagons, or any of the prerequisites of a nomadic economy.  But recent archaeological research in the steppes contradicts the expectations of dependency theory. New discoveries instead support an interpretation of the Yamnaya culture as the first inventors of nomadism in the steppes, an essential step in understanding the unprecedented mobility of the Yamnaya population.


The lecture will also be live streamed at


Following the lecture there will be light refreshments and the opportunity to continue the conversation in a more informal setting.

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Published July 12, 2019 10:38 AM - Last modified Aug. 15, 2019 12:34 PM