Independent dating in archaeological analysis
Asiatic Huns) on the doorstep of China in the late third century B. Later empires, regimes, and dynasties of steppe origin—Turks, Uighurs, and Mongols—had government institutions, legal systems, religious beliefs, imperial rituals, and a ruling ideology whose first political embodiment can be traced back to the same Xiongnu empire.
Considering the whole of world history, who the Xiongnu were and how they became an empire are actually quite important questions.
These studies address unresolved questions about humans roaming the earth thousands of years ago, and possibly hold in the balance the solution to theories fiercely debated for decades and even centuries.
A lecture on archaeological perspectives on ethnicity in ancient China, delivered by Lothar von Falkenhausen, Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, was part of the workshop "DNA, History, and Archaeology" organized by Nicola Di Cosmo in October.Satellite photography, remote sensing, archaeo-GIS, C14 dating, dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), and chemical analysis have become standard tools of the archaeologist that coexist with the trowel and the shovel.But the palaeosciences and ancient DNA studies pose challenges of a different order, directly correlated to the greater distance that exists between scientific and historical research in terms of training and knowledge base.In order to address these large issues one ought to look into the early history and prehistory of nomadic communities, understand how they lived, moved, adapted, and evolved socially and culturally, and try to figure out how they interacted with other peoples: trade or raid, tribute or conquest.Understanding the genetic legacy of peoples identified as Xiongnu can bear upon how we connect the dots between populations where unusual concentrations of wealth and power or centers of advanced technology may be found.