The Western Mongolia Archaeology Project

This listing expired on June 30, 2014. Please contact for any updated information.

Mongolian Altai Camp

Location: Bayan-Olgiy, Mongolia

Season Dates: June 8, 2014 - July 8, 2014
Session Dates: June 8 to July 8, 2014
Application Deadline: February 28, 2014



Program Type

Affiliation: Western Kentucky University and National Museum of Mongolia

Project Director: Jean-Luc Houle (Western Kentucky University) and Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan (National Museum of Mongolia)

Project Description

This collaborative project between Western Kentucky University and the National Museum of Mongolia aims to investigate human-environment relationships and understand the nature of the social and economic organization of Bronze and Iron Age societies in the Altai region of western Mongolia through the use of regional survey and settlement archaeology. The 2014 field season will take place in the Altai region of western Mongolia. Amazingly, the research area continues to be inhabited by horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who have maintained much of their traditional lifeways.

Activities for the 2014 field season will include regional survey, ethnographic research and excavation of habitation sites and ritual monuments. Participants will receive training in proper survey methods, ethnographic interviews, and unearthing and documenting materials. Participants will also have the opportunity to work with the artifactual material as well as with the project’s zooarchaeologist, cartographer and lithics specialist.

For a full description, please download the 'Project Overview' through the Project's website:

It is also possible to apply online via the Project's website.

Period(s) of Occupation: Paleolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age (Pazyryk), Turkic

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Whole Session

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: Participants need no special training, but should be prepared for physical activity and wilderness camping for extended periods of time. The most important things you need for this project are patience, a good sense of humor; and the ability to adapt to radically different cultures and environments.

Room and Board Arrangements

We will live in tents and gers (or yurts -- Mongolian traditional tent houses) amongst local nomads who visit the archaeological field camp on a daily basis. Participants on the project have many opportunities to meet local nomads and visit them in their gers. Participants must bring their own camp gear and supplies. Hired cooks will be responsible for buying and preparing all of the food consumed and cleaning up following meals.

Cost: $1,750 per session

Academic Credit
Number of credits offered: none

Contact Information
Jean-Luc Houle
Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd. #61029
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Fax: (270) 745-6889

Recommended Bibliography

Houle, Jean-Luc. 2009. ‘Socially Integrative Facilities’ and the Emergence of Societal Complexity on the Mongolian Steppe. In Monuments, Metals and Mobility: Trajectories of Complexity in the Late Prehistory of the Eurasian Steppe, edited by Bryan K. Hanks, and K. M. Linduff. Cambridge University Press.
Houle, Jean-Luc and Lee Broderick. 2011. Settlement Patterns and Domestic Economy of the Xiongnu in Khanuy Valley, Mongolia. In Ursula Brosseder and Bryan K. Miller (eds.). Xiongnu Archaeology: Multidisciplinary Perspectives of the First Steppe Empire of Inner Asia. Bonn Contributions to Asian Archaeology, vol.5. Bonn: Bonn University Press.
Broderick, Lee G. and Jean-Luc Houle. 2013. More than Just Horse: Dietary Breadth and Subsistence in Bronze Age Central Mongolia. Mongolian Journal of Archaeology, Anthropology and Ethnology.
Hanks, B. 2010. “Archaeology of the Eurasian Steppes and Mongolia.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39 (1): 469–486.
Allard, F. and D. Erdenebaatar. 2005. Khirigsuurs, Ritual and Mobility in the Bronze Age of Mongolia, Antiquity, 79(305): 547-563.
Volkov, V., V., Early Nomads of Mongolia, In Nomads of the Eurasian Steppes in the Iron Age, edited by J. Davis-Kimball, V. A. Bashilov and L. T. Yablonski, 319-333, 1995, Berkeley, California

Javascript is required to view this map.

Unearth an Adventure

Dig Deeper

Email the AIA
Subscribe to the AIA e-Update

Sign Up!