The Zhunge'er (Junggar) Basin in northern Xinjiang was a key crossroads in antiquity for the dispersal of ideas and technological innovations from the Eurasian steppe into the heartland of central China. The Bronze Age chronology of the Zhunge'er Basin is chiefly based on relative dating and little is known about subsistence strategies, although the strong tradition of nomadic and transhumant pastoralism among modern populations suggests that there may have been a high degree of mobility. The visibility of ancient cemeteries and the need to salvage graves before they are looted have resulted in a lack of focus on settlements, with a consequent assumption that in antiquity agriculture played a limited role. This assumption has been challenged by rescue excavations at the Jimusa'er (Jimsar) Luanzagangzi site, which indicate that agriculture may have been a significant component of Bronze Age subsistence strategies. Small-scale soundings at settlement sites provide well-stratified sequences of material for absolute dating which can be used to place the artifacts recovered from graves in a more secure chronological context.
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