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The Western Mongolia Archaeology Project

Location: Uvs, Mongolia

May 23, 2015 to June 19, 2015

Session dates: 
May 23 to June 19, 2015 (exact dates may change slightly)

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Deadline Type: 

Flyer: PDF icon project_overview_2015.pdf

Program Type




Western Kentucky University and National Museum of Mongolia

Project Director:

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

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 and economic organization of Bronze and Iron Age societies in the Zuunkhangai region (Uvs province) of Mongolia through the use of regional survey and settlement archaeology. Located in the grasslands of northwestern Mongolia, the research area is dotted with impressive stone built burial and ritual sites dating at least to the Late Bronze Age (second and first millennia BCE) and continues to be inhabited by horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who have maintained much of their traditional lifeways.

Activities for the 2015 field season will include survey, excavation of habitation sites and ritual monuments, and ethnographic work. Participants will receive training in proper methods of unearthing and documenting materials, survey, and will have the opportunity to work with the artifactual material as well as with the zooarchaeologist and the cartographer and lithics specialist.

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; Settlement Archaeology

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 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 and sleeping mat. Hired cooks will be responsible for buying and preparing all of the food consumed and cleaning up following meals.

$1,850 per session

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


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. 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.

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.

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