This listing expired on June 1, 2013. Please contact for any updated information.
The Northern Bayan-Khongor Project

Location: Bayankhongor, Mongolia

July 1, 2013 to July 22, 2013

Session dates: 
Participants should plan to schedule their arrival in Ulanbaatar a few days ahead of the project start date.

Application Deadline: 
Monday, April 15, 2013

Deadline Type: 

Program Type


RPA certified



National University of Mongolia

Project Director:

Kevin Bryce Lowry and Dr. Tseden Ochir

Project Description

The Northern Bayan-Khongor Project will take place in south-central Mongolia, concentrating on the Late Bronze to Late Iron Ages (ca. 1500 B.C. - 200 A.D.).  This is a period when the Mongolian steppe became politically centralized and when the form of nomadic pastoralism associated with the country today emerged.  Hence, the project aims to better understand the political and economic transitions of this time period through a comprehensive study of mortuary and habitation sites in the research area.  Fieldwork will consist of pedestrian survey, excavation, and laboratory analysis.  Archaeologically recovered remains will include lithics, ceramics, bioarchaeological and faunal remains, bronze and iron artifacts, and soils.  Volunteers will be trained in all aspects of the project's methodology, and will have the opportunity to take part in each facet of fieldwork to gain familiarity with each phase of archaeological recovery.  Participants will also gain experience recording mortuary stone monuments and archaeological sites using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database.  A brief summary of activities is as follows:

- Pedestrian Survey

- Mapping

- Excavation

- Data recording

- In-field Laboratory Analysis

In addition to this hands-on experience, the Project Directors and staff will provide informational seminars and discussions on topics germane to archaeological research in Mongolia.

The monument types that will be encountered are diverse, and include khirigsuurs, shape-burials, and quadrangular burials that date to the Late Bronze Age (1500-700 BCE), as well as slab burials and Xiongnu ring tombs that date to the Early Iron Age (700-200 BCE) and Iron Age 200 BCE-200 CE) respectively.  Excavation will primarily center on Iron Age Xiongnu monuments.

Period(s) of Occupation: Late Bronze-Iron Age (1500 B.C. - 200 A.D.)

Xiongnu, bioarchaeology, stone monuments, and regional interaction.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
No prior archaeological experience required.

Room and Board Arrangements

The rural nature of this project cannot be stressed enough.  We will work in a relatively challenging steppe environment far from any urban centers.  In short, the research area is quite remote and participants should be prepared for a range of field conditions where Murphy's Law often prevails. 
Participants will be required to supply their own tent and sleeping bag.  The project will have two gers (traditional felt tents) to serve as cooking and laboratory space.  Food will be provided and will conform to a pastoral diet that is meat and dairy-based, supplemented by noodles, vegetables, tea and coffee.  Vegetarians will be able to manage, but should speak to project coordinators how to best supplement the diet.  Weather is extremely variable, from hail to sunshine, chilly to hot so clothing brought should be adequately flexible. 


Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
Dr. Erik G. Johannesson
15 Sawyer Rd
Recommended Bibliography: 

Allard, F., and Erdenebaatar, D. 2005. “Khirigsuurs, Ritual and Mobility in the Bronze Age of Mongolia.” Antiquity 79 (1): 547–563.

Barfield, T. 1993. The Nomadic Alternative. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Bemmann, J., Parzinger, H., Pohl, E., and Tseveendorzh, D. (eds.). 2009. Current Archaeological Research in Mongolia: Papers from the First International Conference on “Archaeological Research in Mongolia” Held in Ulaanbaatar, August 19th-23rd, 2007. Universitait Bonn: Vor-und Fruhgeschichtliche Archaeologie Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms.

Derevianko, A. 1996. “Northern Asia and Mongolia (3000-700 BC).” In History of Humanity: From the Third Millennium to the Seventh Century B.C. (Dani, A.H., and Mohen, J.P., eds.), II:1026–1052. Routledge Press: Oxford.

Fitzhugh, W. 2009. “Pre-Scythian Ceremonialism, Deer Stone Art, and Cultural Intensification in Northern Mongolia.” In Social Complexity in Prehistoric Eurasia: Monuments, Metals, and Mobility (Hanks, B., and Linduff, K., Eds.), 378–411. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hanks, B. 2010. “Archaeology of the Eurasian Steppes and Mongolia.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39 (1): 469–486.

Kohl, P. 2007. The Making of Bronze Age Eurasia. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lattimore, O. 1962. Nomads and Commissars: Mongolia Revisited. New York: Oxford University Press.

Volkov, V. 1995. “Early Nomads of Mongolia.” In Nomads of the Eurasian Steppes in the Early Iron Age (Davis-Kimball, J., Bashilov, V., and Yablonski, L., eds.), 319–332. Berkeley: Zinat Press.

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