NOMAD Science (Mongolia)

COVID-19 NOTICE: Please be sure to reach out to the project contact to find out the status of their upcoming season. Many projects have cancelled fieldwork for 2020 and the information below may not reflect that.

Location: Tugul, Mongolia

Season: May 1, 2020 to August 29, 2020

Session Dates: Session I: Survey Archaeology, May 5 - 25, 2020; Session II: Salvage Archaeology, June 8 - 29, 2020; Session III: Soyo Archaeology Field School, July 6 - 24, 2020; Session IV: Taiga Archaeology, August 1 - 29, 2020

Application Deadline: February 15, 2020

Deadline Type: Contact for Details


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

NOMAD Science, Flinders University, American Center for Mongolian Studies, National Museum of Mongolia

Project Director:
Dr. Julia Clark and Dr. J. Bayarsaikhan

Project Description:

NOMAD Science is an international, interdisciplinary team of scholars passionate about Mongolian cultural heritage seeking like minded individuals to join our four unique fieldwork opportunities in northern Mongolia during May/June/July/August of 2020. No previous experience necessary. While many of our participants are working towards an archaeology degree, team members come from a variety of disciplines, educational backgrounds, generations, nationalities, etc. Whether this is a requirement for your bachelors/masters/PhD program, or you just want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, check out our 2020 program choices below.

Applications are due for early decision by February 15, 2020 a final due date for any remaining slots on April 1st, 2020. Program costs are listed below for each session. For support in applying for external funding, please contact us. This fee covers all costs for the duration of the project for food, transportation, permits, and equipment. This does not include international travel to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, travel insurance, or personal camping gear. If you’d like to be a part of our 2020 team, you can access the application HERE.

Below you will see a short description for each of the four sessions that make up NOMAD Science in 2020.

Session I: Survey Archaeology

May 5-25


Description: During this intensive, dynamic 3-week course, team members will be tasked with travelling to many different parts of Huvsgul province to locate and map archaeological sites with a focus on determining the scale of looting activity in the region. Illegal looting activity has been particularly destructive in this region of northern Mongolia, and it is hoped that this survey will provide a rich dataset to help understand the severity of the problem, what has been lost, what is salvageable, and the nature of looting with a goal of curbing future destruction of priceless archaeological sites. This program is designed for fit, adventure-minded participants who relish a physical and mental challenge. They will travel by 4WD, on foot, and by horse and will be rewarded with the comradery of passionate like-minded cultural heritage enthusiasts, amazing views and breathtaking campsites.


Dates: May 1-20, 2020

Fee: $2,900  USD


Session II: Salvage Archaeology

June 8 – 29


Description: Building on the last 3 years of salvage work by NOMAD Science, this 3-week program is designed to salvage threatened material related to illegal looting activity in northern Mongolia. Thieves have targeted nearly every known cemetery in the region, hauling away untold treasures and destroying much of Mongolia’s priceless cultural heritage. Our teams travel to these disturbed cemeteries and recover what we can – which has historically actually turned out to be quite a bit! Despite the missing components and jumbled contexts, archaeologists can still learn a lot about ancient peoples from what remains. However, without our intervention, much of what remains will decay, be destroyed, lost, or looted again. This program is designed for participants interested in cultural heritage preservation, field conservation, salvage archaeology, and bioarchaeology. Participants will be stationed at a base camp and travel to various nearby cemeteries on a daily basis.


Dates: June 14 – July 3, 2020

Fee:  $2,900  USD


(For support in applying for external funding, please contact us.)

Session III: Soyo Archaeology Field School

July 6 – 24


Description: This year’s 3-week program at the multicomponent (Neolthic-Bronze Age) site of Soyo will focus on groundtruthing geophysical results from previous years through targeted excavation, and continuing surveys that put Soyo into the larger landscape context in which it is found. The previous application of GPR, ERT, and Magnetometry have given us important clues as to what may lie beneath the surface of this important site that straddles the regional hunting and gathering to herding transition. This year, we will be using that data to target specific areas of the site that have shown suggestive anomalies in the geophysical data in the hopes of locating hearths, pits, and other cultural features related to the thousands of years of occupation at the site. Additionally, pedestrian survey around the site will be expanded to help illuminate land-use strategies and change through time. This program is designed for participants who want a traditional archaeological field school that gives them a wide range of new field skills, those interested in how to use and apply geophysical data, and those interested in the adoption of food production.


Dates: July 29 – August 16, 2019

Fee: $2,900  USD


(For support in applying for external funding, please contact us.)

*Australian students from Flinders University, Macquarie University, Southern Cross University, the University of Wollongong, and James Cook University : A significant number of scholarships of up to $3,000 AUD are available based on merit and need through our partnership with Flinders University and the generous support of the New Colombo Plan. More info on how to apply for this funding will be released soon.

Session IV: Taiga Archaeology

August 1 – 29


Description: Throughout this challenging but rewarding 4-week course, participants will travel by horseback and on foot through remote regions of Mongolia’s taiga and tundra to investigate known archaeological sites, discover and map new sites, and search for the source of the region’s rich stone tool industry. Preliminary work in the 2019 field season finally resulted in the discovery of several lithic scatters in the high mountain areas now occupied by reindeer herders. The team will return to these sites to collect and map these finds, will build predictive models to help locate new sites, will work with local reindeer herder communities to help interpret and share their findings, and will follow tips to locate important resources used by the region’s ancient people – in particular the location of stone quarries. This program is designed for fit, adventurous participants who are up for a physical and mental challenge, willing to work as a team, and who’s curiosity always leads them over the next ridge.


Dates: August 1 – 29, 2020

Fee: $3,750 USD


(For support in applying for external funding, please contact us.)

Period(s) of Occupation: Neolithic, Bronze Age, Medieval (mostly salvage)

Public outreach, citizen science, drones, GIS, Survey archaeology, excavation, horseback survey, taiga, reindeer herders, digital archaeology, conservation, geophysics, bioarchaeology, pastoralism, remote sensing, hunter-gatherers

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum Age: 18 or accompanied by a guardian

Experience Required: None - our participants are archaeology students at all levels, life-long-learners, and other interested travelers. Attitude is much more important than experience as Mongolia can be challenging (though very rewarding).

Room and Board Arrangements:
Camping - participants responsible for tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Three meals a day provided by project. Hired cook prepares all meals. Water can be purified using a pump/tablets/etc. from abundant local streams, rivers and lakes.  Cost: $2900-$3750

Academic Credit:
Arrangements made on request - contact us for more details!

Contact Information:

Julia Clark

CPO 695





Phone: +(976) 9414 9155

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