The high Himalayan valley of Upper Mustang today appears isolated and remote. But more than 1600 years ago, the settlements of Upper Mustang participated in an extensive trade network that ultimately connected them to the fabled Silk Road. Not only did exotic objects find their way in to the region, but new ideas and religious practices appeared in mortuary rites and rituals and which reflect a complex blend of pre-Buddhist and possibly Zoroastrian influences. The archaeological evidence supporting these claims is explored in this presentation.
Bio: Mark Aldenderfer is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Professor of Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts at the University of California, Merced. His research focuses the comparative analysis of high altitude cultural and biological adaptations from an archaeological perspective. He has worked on the three high elevation plateaus of the planet—Ethiopian, Andean, and Tibetan—over the course of his career and currently works in the High Himalayas of Nepal. He has edited or written more than 10 books, including Montane Foragers (1998), and has published numerous articles and book chapters in journals including Science, PNAS, Journal of Archaeological Science, Latin American Antiquity, and others. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association. He is the editor of Current Anthropology, is an associate editor for anthropology of Science Advances, co-edited Latin American Antiquity, and serves on a number of editorial boards.