TOEFL reading test 38 with answers

Pastoralism in Ancient Inner Eurasia

Pastoralism is a lifestyle in which economic activity is based primarily on livestock. Archaeological evidence suggests that by 3000 B.C., and perhaps even earlier, there had emerged on the steppes of Inner Eurasia the distinctive types of pastoralism that were to dominate the region’s history for several millennia. Here, the horse was already becoming the animal of prestige in many regions, though sheep, goats, and cattle could also play a vital role. It is the use of horses for transportation and warfare that explains why Inner Eurasian pastoralism proved the most mobile and the most militaristic of all major forms of pastoralism. The emergence and spread of pastoralism had a profound impact on the history of Inner Eurasia, and also, indirectly, on the parts of Asia and Europe just outside this area. In particular, pastoralism favors a mobile lifestyle, and this mobility helps to explain the impact of pastoralist societies on this part of the world.

The mobility of pastoralist societies reflects their dependence on animal-based foods. While agriculturalists rely on domesticated plants, pastoralists rely on domesticated animals. As a result, pastoralists, like carnivores in general, occupy a higher position on the food chain. All else being equal, this means they must exploit larger areas of land than do agriculturalists to secure the same amount of food, clothing, and other necessities. So pastoralism is a more extensive lifeway than farming is. However, the larger the terrain used to support a group, the harder it is to exploit that terrain while remaining in one place. So, basic ecological principles imply a strong tendency within pastoralist lifeways toward nomadism (a mobile lifestyle). As the archaeologist Roger Cribb puts it, “The greater the degree of pastoralism, the stronger the tendency toward nomadism.” A modern Turkic nomad interviewed by Cribb commented: “The more animals you have, the farther you have to move.”

Nomadism has further consequences. It means that pastoralist societies occupy and can influence very large territories. This is particularly true of the horse pastoralism that emerged in the Inner Eurasian steppes, for this was the most mobile of all major forms of pastoralism. So, it is no accident that with the appearance of pastoralist societies there appear large areas that share similar cultural, ecological, and even linguistic features. By the late fourth millennium B.C., there is already evidence of large culture zones reaching from Eastern Europe to the western borders of Mongolia. Perhaps the most striking sign of mobility is the fact that by the third millennium B.C., most pastoralists in this huge region spoke related languages ancestral to the modern Indo-European languages. The remarkable mobility and range of pastoral societies explain, in part, why so many linguists have argued that the Indo-European languages began their astonishing expansionist career not among farmers in Anatolia (present-day Turkey), but among early pastoralists from Inner Eurasia. Such theories imply that the Indo-European languages evolved not in Neolithic (10,000 to 3,000 B.C.) Anatolia, but among the foraging communities of the cultures in the region of the Don and Dnieper rivers, which took up stock breeding and began to exploitthe neighboring steppes.

Nomadism also subjects pastoralist communities to strict rules of portability. [■] If you are constantly on the move, you cannot afford to accumulate large material surpluses. [■] Such rules limit variations in accumulated material goods between pastoralist households (though they may also encourage a taste for portable goods of high value such as silks or jewelry). [■] So, by and large, nomadism implies a high degree of self-sufficiency and inhibits the appearance of an extensive division of labor. [■] Inequalities of wealth and rank certainly exist, and have probably existed in most pastoralist societies, but except in periods of military conquest, they are normally too slight to generate the stable, hereditary hierarchies that are usually implied by the use of the term class. Inequalities of gender have also existed in pastoralist societies, but they seem to have been softened by the absence of steep hierarchies of wealth in most communities, and also by the requirement that women acquire most of the skills of men, including, often, their military skills.


1. The word “prestige” in the passage is closest in meaning to

 A. interest

 B. status

 C. demand

 D. profit

2. According to paragraph 1, what made it possible for Inner Eurasian pastoralism to become the most mobile and militaristic form of pastoralism?

 A. It involved the domestication of several types of animals.

 B. It was based primarily on horses rather than on other animals.

 C. It borrowed and improved upon European ideas for mobility and warfare.

 D. It could be adapted to a wide variety of environments.

3. The word “profound” in the passage is closest in meaning to

 A. strange

 B. positive

 C. direct

 D. far-reaching

4. In paragraph 2, why does the author contrast pastoralists with agriculturalists?

 A. To explain why pastoralism requires more land than agriculturalism to support basic needs

 B. To identify some advantages that mobile societies have over immobile societies

 C. To demonstrate that ecological principles that apply to pastoralism do not apply to agriculturalism

 D. To argue that agriculturalism eventually developed out of pastoralism

5. According to paragraph 2, pastoralists tend to

 A. prefer grazing their animals on agricultural lands

 B. consume comparatively large amounts of food and clothing

 C. avoid eating plant foods

 D. move from place to place frequently

6. In paragraph 3, why does the author discuss languages spoken in the region spanning from Eastern Europe to the western borders of Mongolia?

 A. To emphasize the frequency with which Indo-European languages changed as a result of the mobile nature of pastoralism

 B. To indicate one method linguists use to determine that inhabitants of the Don and Dnieper river area had taken up stock breeding

 C. To provide evidence that Indo-European languages have their roots in what is now Turkey

 D. To provide evidence that pastoralist societies can exercise cultural influence over a large area

7. The word “striking” in the passage is closest in meaning to

 A. reliable

 B. noticeable

 C. convincing

 D. violent

8. The word “exploit” in the passage is closest in meaning to

 A. use to advantage

 B. depart from

 C. pay attention to

 D. travel across

9. According to paragraph 4, the fact that pastoralist communities are subject to “strict rules of portability” encourages such communities to

 A. relocate less frequently than they would otherwise

 B. have households that are more or less equal in wealth

 C. become self-sufficient in the manufacture of silk and jewelry

 D. share large material surpluses with neighboring communities

10. According to paragraph 4, all of the following are true of social inequality in pastoralist societies EXCEPT:

 A. It exists and has existed to some degree in most pastoral societies.

 B. It is most marked during periods of military conquest.

 C. It is expressed in the form of a rigid hierarchy based largely on heredity.

 D. It is usually too insignificant to be discussed in terms of class differences.

11. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

 A. Despite the fact that wealth is relatively evenly distributed in pastoral societies, gender inequality still exists because only men can acquire military skills and social status.

 B. Inequalities of gender existed in pastoralist societies until most communities began to require women to possess the same skills as men and take part in the military.

 C. Inequalities of gender in pastoralist societies were caused by steep hierarchies of wealth and differences in military training between men and women.

 D. In pastoral societies, gender inequality is comparatively mild because wealth is relatively evenly distributed and women have to learn most of the same skills that men do.

12. Look at the four squares [■] that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. Where would the sentence best fit? Click on a square to add the sentence to the passage.

There is a good reason for this.

13. Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.

By 3000 B.C., a distinctive form of pastoralism had appeared on the steppes of Inner Eurasia.

A.  The domesticated horse is primarily responsible for Inner Eurasian pastoralism’s success in mobility and warfare.

B.  As pastoralists traveled across large areas of terrain with their domesticated animals, they traded valuable material goods such as silks and jewelry.

C.  Because pastoralists are highly mobile, they tend to have few material possessions and can influence the culture, ecology, and language of very large areas

D. Because pastoralism requires a great deal of land to support its animal-based lifeway, pastoralists must continually relocate and have comparatively egalitarian societies.

E. Most scholars now believe that Indo-European languages probably evolved during the Neolithic period in the region of the Don and Dnieper rivers.

F.  Pastoralist communities do not have social classes in the usual sense because they value spiritual attainment over material wealth.



1.B, 2.D, 3.D, 4.A, 5.D, 6.D, 7.C, 8.A, 9.B, 10.C, 11.A, 12.A, 13. ACD