This millennium sees many changes in the ways of life in North and Central Asia, although in the far north, hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding continue. On the steppes, horse-riding pastoralism becomes the dominant way of life at the beginning of the millennium, and a new military elite arises among these nomadic groups. By the middle of the millennium, major states to the west and east extend their political power into Central Asia, and new kinds of cities develop as a result. The rich mix of cultures, religions, and art styles intensifies through regular east-west trade along the Silk Road.
ca. 5th4th century B.C.In the Altai mountains, burials of the Pazyryk culture are placed in log cabins buried underground with stone mounds above. Some of these burials are flooded with groundwater and then frozen until recent excavation in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These frozen burials preserve silk textiles from China, pile carpets from far to the west, and lively, gold-covered wooden decorations for the many horses buried with their masters.