The Western Mongolia Archaeology Project

Location: Zuunkhangai, Uvs, Mongolia

Season: May 23, 2024 to June 20, 2024

Session Dates: May 23 to June 20, 2024

Application Deadline: February 28, 2024

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

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: Dr. Oula Seitsonen (Geographer and lithics specialist, University of Oulu, Finland), Dr. Natalia Égüez (Geoarchaeologist, University of La Laguna [Spain] and University of California Davis [USA]); Dr. Francesc C. Conesa (Archaeological remote sensing, Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology).

Project Description:

  • Investigate the roots of the First Steppe Empire of Mongolia through archaeological fieldwork in the Zuunkhangai region of northwestern Mongolia. 
  • Learn state of the art field methods and conduct hands-on work on Bronze and Iron Age sites with an international team of archaeologists who are investigating human-environment relationships and the development of complex societies in Inner Asia. 
  • Expose yourself to a radically different culture and way of life by living and working among Mongolian pastoral herders who make up one of the world’s last remaining nomadic cultures.​​

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 Mongolia through the use of landscape and settlement archaeology (see Project Overview above for more details).

Located in the grasslands of central 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.

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

It is also possible to apply online via the Project’s website:

Period(s) of Occupation: Bronze Age, Iron Age

Mongolia; Nomadic Pastoralists; Social Complexity; Landscape Archaeology; Settlements; Ritual Monuments; Bronze Age; Iron Age; Geoarchaeology; Remote Sensing

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Whole Session

Minimum Age: 18

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:
The field camp consists of sleeping tents (participants bring their own tent and sleeping bag), a kitchen/mess hall ger (yurt), a ‘lab’ ger (yurt), and outdoor pit toilets. Hired cooks will be responsible for buying and preparing all of the food consumed in the field (see details in the 'Project Overview'). Cost: $3,100 Includes: Transport to and from field in Mongolia, training, meals in the field, and international medical insurance. Not included: International travel, visas (if needed).

Academic Credit:
We are happy to work with students wishing to receive Field School credit. Students should contact Dr. Jean-Luc Houle and make previous arrangements 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




Fax: (270) 745-6889

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