Location: Bayankhongor, Mongolia
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
- 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.)
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks
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 CreditNumber of credits offered: none
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