Since 2008 projects conducted within the Cluster of Excellence Topoi at the Freie Universität Berlin have applied isotope and molecular analyses to obtain proxy data for reconstructing the diet and the way of life of people who inhabited the steppe North of the Black Sea between 3500 and 2000 BCE. Researchers have postulated mobility among groups of prehistoric populations again and again, but seldom convincingly confirmed by archaeological evidence. On the basis of the writings of ancient authors which refer to Scythian and Sarmatian tribes and especially historically attested mounted nomads, scholars have assumed that mobile groups also existed in the eastern European steppe in prehistoric times, going back to the Aeneolithic.

The first part of the paper presents a critical review of the already existing reconstructions of mobile lifeways in the steppe in prehistoric time, which are mainly based on archaeological arguments. It then discusses archaeozoological data and the results of the isotope analyses and of investigations of organic residues in vessels conducted within our projects so far in order to allow a better understanding of the subsistence economy and mobility in the area under study. Finally it discusses the potential of integrating scientific approaches for the reconstruction of a mobile lifeways which are closely connected with the subsistence basis.