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 BC- 200 AD). 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. In addition to this hands-on experience, the Project Director and collaborators will provide informational seminars and discussions on topics germane to archaeological research in Mongolia.
Period(s) of Occupation: Bronze Age and Iron Age (1500 BCE- 200 CE)
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 session
Room and Board Arrangements
The project will be conducted in a rural and remote part of Mongolia. We will work in a relatively challenging steppe environment far from any urban centers. Participants should be prepared for a range of field conditions where Murphy's Law often prevails, and should be comfortable with a moderate workload. An open-mind, enthusiasm, and patience in sometimes adverse field conditions are essential!
Participants are required to supply a tent and sleeping bag for themselves. Two gers (traditional felt tents) will be used for cooking, eating, and laboratory work, and will be available for volunteers as a comfortable place to reside during the mornings and evenings. Weather is extremely variable, from hail to sunshine, chilly to hot. The diet will be relatively simple, but will include three square meals a day. Food will be heavily meat and dairy-based, supplemented by noodles, vegetables, tea and coffee. Vegetarians can manage and should speak to project coordinators how best to supplement the diet.
Academic CreditNumber of credits offered: none
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.
Honeychurch, W. 2013 The Nomad as State Builder: Historical Theory and Material Evidence from Mongolia. Journal of World Prehistory 26:283-321
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.