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New radiocarbon dates indicate that the use of dune-fields and wetlands persisted into the early Bronze Age, overlapping with the rise of nomadic pastoralism across Northeast Asia.These findings illuminate the period just prior to the rise of nomadic pastoralism in Northeast Asia and add considerable depth to our understanding of hunter-gatherer adaptations within arid environments following the Last Glacial Maximum.The persistent coexistence of Bronze Age burials and microblade-based habitation sites around oases, as well as similarities in material culture, suggest that these groups overlapped geographically or were the same entity.

New research in the Gobi Desert shows that a dramatic change in organizational strategies, including the intensified use of low-ranked foods from dune-field and wetland habitats, is closely correlated with the establishment of dispersed patches boasting high species diversity and a concentrated abundance of small prey.

According to a global suite of paleoenvironmental and archaeological data, it appears that the fragmentation of more homogeneous grassland habitats coincided with the rise of broad-spectrum foraging and that these fragmented ecosystems were ideally suited to the unique set of foraging strategies employed by modern humans.

This article introduces a wealth of new site-specific and interpretive data, drawing on English-language sources as well as Russian-and Mongolian-language publications to create a synthesis for the prehistory of the Gobi Desert from the end of the Last Glacial Maximum to the adoption of herding.

Special emphasis is placed on the relationship between a major shift in desert ecosystems, comparable to the 'greening of the Sahara', the establishment of an oasis-based broad-spectrum foraging strategy, and progressive desertification and deforestation after 2000 BC.

New radiocarbon and luminescence dates on collections from the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China are used here to assess the potential for direct dating of commonly occurring artefacts like ostrich eggshell and pottery.

Direct dating also allows for the identification and sorting of mixed-age assemblages.

The desert and arid steppes of Mongolia and northern China were geographically central to the spread of pastoralism and the rise of pastoralist states, but research on the organizational strategies of pre-pastoralist hunter-gatherers and the spread of herding has been extremely limited.

Until recently, catalogues of sites collected by Westerners in the 1920s and 1930s comprised the body of English-language publications on Gobi Desert prehistory.

Many scholars have focused on broad-spectrum foraging as a result of resource depression due to demographic stress and/or environmental degradation.

However, these factors are absent in an increasing number of cases.

The Zaraa Uul habitation sites are the biggest in terms of lithic scatter and assemblages.

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