The Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads (CSEN) was established to preserve archaeological remains and to promote ethnographic research on the nomadic (and sedentary) cultures who lived or are currently living in the vast steppe lands that stretch from southern Russia through Kazakhstan, southern Siberia, western Mongolia, and northern China. Although the contemporary nomads are limited to specific regions, the steppes as a whole are extremely rich in archaeological remains dating from 4,000 B.C. and earlier.
In order to promote such research, CSEN sponsors excavations, publishes research in the form of articles and books, and invites international scholars to present lectures and meet with colleagues in the U.S.
Between 1988-1991, CSEN sponsored and led ethnographic research and archaeological excavations in conjunction with the Institute of History, Ethnography, and Archaeology, Kazak Academy of Sciences (Almaty, Kazakstan). Early Iron Age kurgans belonging to the Saka and WuSun were excavated at Issyk and flat cemeteries dating to Silk Road villages, ca. A.D. 300-400 were excavated in the Djambul region of southern Kazakstan. CSEN volunteers and staff participated in the "Silk Road Dialogue" sponsored by UNESCO. Between1992-1995, CSEN sponsored archaeological excavations at Pokrovka in the southern Ural mountains in collaboration with the Russian Institute of Archaeology in Moscow.
In 1995, the Pokrovka excavations were featured in a documentary "Russian Amazons" on The Learning Channel. Interpretation of this material has been published in English, in Western European and Japanese journals and popular magazines. The Pokrovka excavations wee published in Russian and English.
In 1996, ethnography research involved Kazak nomads living in Bayan Ulgii aimag, the most westerly part Altai Mountains in Mongolia. There we recorded the daily way of life and personal histories of people who still live much the same way as the nomads of the ancient world did. An archaeological survey was also conducted in this aimag revealing a vast array of monuments dating from the Bronze Age through the Turkic Period (c. 2000 B.C- A.D. 900).
The CSEN field season in 1997 was at two sites on the Dneister River in Moldova and in 1999 the Beiram Mound in the high Altai Mountains of western Mongolia was excavated. Reports of these two excavations are on the CSEN Website.