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The Western Mongolia Archaeology Project

Location: Uvs, Mongolia

May 28, 2017 to June 23, 2017

Session dates: 
May 28 to June 23, 2017

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 31, 2017

Deadline Type: 

Flyer: PDF icon project_overview_2017.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Western Kentucky University and National Museum of Mongolia

Project Director:

Dr. Jean-Luc Houle (Western Kentucky University) and Dr. Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan (National Museum of Mongolia) Staff: Lee Broderick (Zooarchaeologist, University of York, UK) Oula Seitsonen (Cartographer and lithics specialist, University of Helsinki, Finland) Dr. Danielle DeCarle (Archaeobotanist, University of Leicester, UK)

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, political, and economic organization of Bronze and Iron Age societies in the Zuunkhangai region of Mongolia through the use of landscape and settlement archaeology.

Located in the grasslands of northwestern Mongolia, the research area is dotted with archaeological sites that date from at least the Late Paleolithic and continues to be inhabited by nomadic pastoralists who have maintained much of their traditional lifeways.

Activities for the 2017 field season will include regional survey, excavation of human burials and ritual sites, as well as the exploration of ancient nomadic pastoralist habitation sites. Participants will receive training in proper methods of unearthing and documenting materials, survey, and will have the opportunity to work with the artifactual and zooarchaeological material.

This project accommodates participants wishing to receive academic credit through WKU and those just willing to gain archaeological field experience.

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, Early Iron Age,Turkic

Mongolia; Nomadic Pastoralists; Social Complexity; Landscape Archaeology, Settlement Archaeology, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Xiongnu, Monuments

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Whole Session

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
Participants need no special training, but should be prepared for physical activity 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 stay in a school with beds/bunk beds in a local town surrounded by mobile pastoralist campsites. Participants on the project have many opportunities to meet local nomads and visit them in their gers. Participants must bring their own sleeping bag. Hired cooks will be responsible for buying and preparing all of the food consumed and cleaning up following meals.


Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Western Kentucky University
Number of credits offered 3 credits are offered through Western Kentucky University. For details on how to get academic credit, please contact Dr. Jean-Luc Houle: Resident $413 per credit Non-Resident $1,033 per credit International $1,060 per credit *Students wishing to transfer credits must make arrangements directly with their college or university.


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

Houle, Jean-Luc, 2016. Bronze Age Mongolia. Oxford Handbooks Online in Archaeology.
Houle, Jean-Luc, 2016. Long-Term Occupation and Seasonal Mobility in Mongolia: A comparative analysis of two mobile pastoralist communities. In Fitful Histories and Unruly Publics: The Archaeology of Eurasia from Past to Present, edited by Kathryn Weber, Emma Hite, Adam T. Smith, and Lori Khatchadourian. Oxford University Press.

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.

Houle, Jean-Luc and Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan, 2014. The Archaeological Heritage of Mongolia. Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer.

Seitsonen, Oula, Jean-Luc Houle, and Lee G. Broderick. 2014. GIS Approaches to Past Mobility and Accessibility: An Example from the Bronze Age Khanuy Valley, Mongolia. In Past Mobilities: Archaeological Approaches to Movement and Mobility, edited by Jim Leary. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

Honeychurch, William. 2015. Inner Asia and the Spatial Politics of Empire: Archaeology, Mobility, and Culture. Springer.

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.