Institute of Archaeology


Miljana Radivojević receives ERC Consolidator Grant

23 November 2023

Congratulations to Miljana Radivojević (UCL Institute of Archaeology) who has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant to investigate how and why Bronze Age Eurasian Steppe communities created the first global economic network, c. 4,000 years ago.

A smiling woman with auburn hair, wearing a white top, standing in front of an area of green foilage

The Eurasian Bronze Age trade of metals has long been recognised as the driving force of the West-East economic network, later known as the Silk Roads. Central to this network was the demand for copper-base items from the rising political leadership of agrarian states and empires and the richness of Eurasian Steppe ore deposits.

Preliminary research by Miljana Radivojević and colleagues has revealed evidence for an unparalleled scale of exploitation, production and circulation of Bronze Age metals Eurasian steppe communities within and beyond the vast grasslands.

How and why did Bronze Age steppe metallurgy scale up to unprecedented levels of production and circulation (c. 3500–1000 BC)?

The DREAM project will take an original interdisciplinary approach to analyse steppe metal production and plant debris, and to create and predict multi-layered datasets that will feed into high-resolution explanatory models for the evolution, organisation and environmental impact of Eurasian Steppe metallurgy in the context of Eurasian connectedness, delivering a paradigm shift in generating new knowledge of Eurasian (pre)history.

According to Miljana:

It has long been thought that steppe pastoralists were solely the ‘conveyor belt’ of the proto- Silk Roads routes, however, metal production debris in the region speaks of a very active role in controlling more than just a mere trade of metal artefacts. Through high resolution archaeometallurgical research, paired with environmental, spatial and geological data, and very importantly, extensive regional network of project partners, DREAM will explore the impact of nearly industrial-scale metal making technology on society and environment in the steppes, and beyond. I will build robust explanatory models using innovative combination of approaches from Archaeology, Geography, Materials, Environmental, Earth and Complexity Sciences and Artificial Intelligence. These are very exciting times for archaeometallurgy and archaeological science in general, and I am thrilled to be given this unique opportunity to lead the field beyond the current state-of-the-art."

European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers with a proven track record and excellent research proposal. Applications are evaluated by selected international peer reviewers who assess them on the basis of excellence - of both the research project and the Principal Investigator -  as the sole criterion.

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