Michael Frachetti

Associate Professor of Archaeology

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The main focus of Frachetti’s research is on the dynamic strategies of pastoral nomadic societies living in the steppe region, mountains and deserts of Central and Eastern Eurasia. His work centers primarily on pastoralism in the Bronze Age (~3500-1000BC), which is intricately tied to questions of social and economic interaction between regional populations across Central Asia at that time. His theoretical interests center on how social groups utilize economic and political strategies to communicate inter-regionally, and how variability in their economic and social strategies introduces opportunities for reshaping the boundaries of their social landscapes and human interactions.

WashU in the News


Market stall in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar (Xinjiang, China) in 2003. Photo by Michael Frachetti/Washington University.

Food culture along the Silk Road

Like passionate foodies who know the best places to eat in every town, Silk Road nomads may have been the gastronomic elites of the Medieval Ages, enjoying diets much more diverse than their sedentary urban counterparts, suggests a new study in Scientific Reports.
Michael Frachetti excavating in Tashbulak

Targeted excavating leads to lost city

Using modern, high-tech analysis tools, anthropologist Michael Frachetti is leading groundbreaking research on an ancient city high in the Uzbekistan mountains. The site may hold clues to how medieval civilizations changed when diverse communities integrated — and even suggest how we might consider our own current initiatives of global community-building.

Digging Kazakhstan’s past helps students find themselves

Much more than an archaeology course, a six-week summer field practicum on the history of Central Asia, led by Michael Frachetti, PhD, associate professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, offers students from all disciplines the opportunity to immerse themselves in the past and present culture of Kazakhstan.

Ancient nomads spread earliest domestic grains along Silk Road, study finds

Charred grains of barley, millet and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.