Sponsored by: Michigan State University Department of Anthropology
Northern Realms of the Mongol Empire: Salvage Archaeology and Science in Mongolia
Dr. Alicia R. Ventresca-Miller (Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan)
Communities in northern Mongolia lived between two imperial powers during the politically tumultuous Mongol period (around ~1200 CE). Northern communities were poised to influence Silk Road routes traversing the region, yet while trade into the heart of Mongolia is discussed in historical sources, it is uncertain how peripheral groups took part in these networks. Our salvage work on looted cemeteries in the Darkhad Depression have resulted in the recovery of silk robes, equestrian tack, shoes, and personal adornments. Finds preserved in the permafrost include dairy and tallow in ceramic vessels, birchbark hats, and clothing. We anticipate that continued excavations will reveal additional remarkably preserved textiles and foodstuffs. To understand how peripheral herders became cosmopolitan elites, we brought together an interdisciplinary team using novel techniques (isotopes, proteomics) to explore the cuisines of local communities and provide insight into the lives of elites and commoners. In this talk I will highlight our ongoing excavations and proteomic results.