Selected Resources and References

The study of Central Asia and its long history of nomadic peoples is ongoing and ever changing. The below bibliography contains some of the key resources that I used while writing AKMARAL, which I began in the early 2000s. I’ve also included a few more recent texts that have exposed new discoveries in the region. If you come across some new research in the field, please contact me! Even after a project is done, I always stay connected to my characters and their world. (And, who knows? I might discover inspiration for another novel!)


Anthony, David W. The Horse, The Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2007.

Aruz, Joan, et al, editors. The Golden Deer of Eurasia. New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Yale University Press. 2000.

Baumer, Christoph. The History of Central Asia: The Age of the Steppe Warriors (Volume 1). London, UK: I.B. Tauris. 2012.

Bayarsaikhan, Jamsranjav. Deer Stones of Northern Mongolia. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and Hanover, NH: International Polar Institute Press. 2002.

Bodio, Stephen J. Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends of Wild Mongolia. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. 2003.

Clayton, Sally Pomme. Tales Told In Tents: Stories from Central Asia. London, UK: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 2010. (The Girl Who Cried a Lake, a folktale from Kyrgyzstan, was where I first read about kesh-kumay.)

Davis-Kimball, Jeannine, et al. Nomads of the Eurasian Steppes in the Early Iron Age. Berkeley, CA: Zinat Press. 1995.

Davis-Kimball, Jeannine, Ph.D. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines. NY, NY: Warner Books. 2002.

Eliade, Mircea. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Bollingen Series LXXVI. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1964, 1992. (The Kara Kam’s ritual before Marjan’s death is adapted from Chapter Six: Shamanism in Central and North Asia: Horse Sacrifice and the Shaman’s Ascent to the Sky (Altaic).)

Fitzhugh, William W. Archaeology of Bronze Age Mongolia: A Deer Stone Diary. International Polar Institute. April 30, 2023.

Fitzhugh, William W. Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute. Joint Mongolian-Smithsonian Deer Stone Project. Last accessed September 22, 2022.

Hermitage Museum. Last accessed September 22, 2022. (For an incomparable collection of artifacts from Pazyryk, Scythian, Sarmatian, Sauromatian, and Altaic Cultures, including the Pazyryk Ice Maiden burial.)

Herodotus. The Histories. Last accessed September 22, 2022. (Note: Drinking from “a small round skull” is mentioned in Herodotus IV:65-66, although no archaeological evidence to date has supported this report, per E. Jacobson.)

Herodotus. The Histories. New York, NY: Penguin Books. 2003.

Hildinger, Erik. Warriors of the Steppe. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. 1997. (Includes a medieval Arabic treatise giving instruction to shooting horsemen: “If your arrow swerves up high, it will hit the horseman’s chest. Low and it will pierce his belly. Make your aim precise to counter your horse’s movement!” which inspire Bayir’s instructions to his warriors.)

Jacobson, Esther. The Deer Goddess Of Ancient Siberia: A Study In The Ecology Of Belief. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. 1992.

Kazakh Adoptive Names. Last accessed September 22, 2022.

Masey, Mary Lou. Stories of the Steppes: Kazakh Folktales. New York, NY: David McKay Company, Inc. 1968.

Mayor, Adrienne. The Amazons. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2014.

Metternich, Hilary Roe. Mongolian Folktales. Boulder, CO: Avery Press. 1996.

NOVA: “Ice Mummies: Siberian Ice Maiden.” PBS Airdate: November 24, 1998. Transcript:

Rjabchikov, Sergei. On Some Names of the Scythians, Sarmatians and Meotians. 2005.

Rolle, Renate. The World of the Scythians. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1980.

Secrets of the Dead: Amazon Warrior Women, Season 4, Episode 5. Last accessed September 22, 2022.

Stark, Sören, et al. Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan. Institute of the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and Princeton University Press. 2012.

State Hermitage Museum :: Southern Siberia/Pazyryk. University of Washington. Last accessed September 22, 2022.

Tedlock, Ph.D., Barbara. The Woman in the Shaman’s Body. NY, NY: Bantam Books. 2005.

Uysal-Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative (ATON). Tengrism. Last accessed September 22, 2022.

Waugh, Louisa. Hearing Birds Fly. London: Abacus. 2003. (Akmaral’s meeting with the old woman looking for her camels is inspired by actual encounters described in Waugh’s book.)

Wright, David C. Peoples of the Steppe: Historical Sources on the Pastoral Nomads of Eurasia. Needham Heights, MA: Simon and Schuster. 1998.