Enkhtur Altangerel, Mongolian Academy of Sciences The Progress

Enkhtur Altangerel, Mongolian Academy of Sciences
The Progress of Archaeology of the Middle Ages in Mongolia
Turkic Period (6th-8th Centuries)
There is a huge number of Turkic monuments in the territory of Mongolia and those
may be devided into such kinds as burials, offering complexes, stone statues and
written monuments.
Archaeological studies on the Turkic monuments began in the early 20th century. One
of the recent bigger research is Mongol-Turkish Joint project of the years 2000-2003.
Many interesting findings including golden and silver goods were revealed by the
excavation. The monument was built for an Ancient Turkic Khaghan and these rural
findings are new evidence for explaining the material and spiritual culture and the
performing art of the Ancient Turks. They are important for restoring the goods and
the offering rites of the ancient khaghans.
In the recent years, there have been a gradual rise in the study of ancient turkic burials
in Mongolia. Important contributions were made by the Mongol-Italian “Geoarchaeology of Gobi” project in Tarimalt, Bogd soum, Bayankhongor county in
2005. In 2007, an expedition of the Joint Mongol-Korean-Russian Project excavated
an offering complex with stone statue at Khar Yamaat site in Bayan Ulgii county.
Some offering complexes, stone statues and written monuments have been newly
found and were studied again.
The Uighur period (8th-9th centuries)
By the collapse of the Ancient Turkic Khaghanate, the Uighur Khaghanate was
founded and it controlled territory of modern Mongolia. Uighur is a language which is
one of group of the Altaic language family.
The descendants of the Uighurs were named ‘ting-ling’, ‘ti-li’ and ‘t’e-le’ in the
Chinese chronicles. Most of the uighur monuments spread over the basins of the
rivers Orkhon, Selenge and Tuul. These monuments are classified as settlements,
offering complexes, stone statues and written monuments. Uighur settlements were
found in Khar Balgas, Khermen Denj, Tsagaan Sumiin Balgas, Chilen Balgas, Bii
Bulagiin Balgas, Zagzuugiin Balgas, Lungiin Durvuljin, Shiveet Tolgoi, Kharaat
Tolgoi, Ugii Nuuryn Durviljin, ancient ruin of Tuvkhun monastery, mountain
structure of Tuvkhun monastery, ancient ruin of Erdenezuu monastery, Talyn
Durvuljin, Erdene Uul, Melkhii Tolgoi near Karakorum.
The inscriptions of Suuj, Tariat and monument with turtle-shaped stone base confirm
that the Uighurs used the turkic script in the early period of their reign.
There are such Uighur period underground mausoleums as Khulkhiin Am, Khundyn
Khooloi, Khirgisiin Khooloi, Uvur Khavtsal, Dugana Uzuur and Olon Dov sites in
Khotont soum, Arkhangai county. Most recently early Uighur underground
mausoleum sites such as Maikhant Uulyn Shoroon Bumbagar, Bor Bulangiin Shoroon
Bumbagar and Tsogtyn Geriin Buir in Central Mongolia were found.
The Kitan period (10th-12th centuries)
Most of the Kitan period ruins in Mongolian territory are relatet to cities alongside
the western border of the Kitans. Ten cities with walls, 20 satellite cities and 2 parts
of watchtowers were discovered in Mongolia.
Mongolian-Japanese archaeological team has studied Chin Tolgoy site in
Dashinchilen soum of Bulgan province. The joint team have discovered several news
about Kitans` production technology, wall structure and manufacture as well as
studied the entrance of the wall, the earthenware chimney and the city environment.
The geographical position of the Kitan ruins in Mongolia is organized from the west
to the east. For example, Kherlen bars-1, Zuun Kherem, Baruun Kherem, Oglogchyn
Golyn Kherem, and Ulaan Kherem, Chin Tolgoyn Balgas, Chilen Balgas, Khar
Bukhyn Balgas, Emgentyn Kherem in Tuul river and Orkhon river basin can be
included in it. These ruins are located at 15-30 km distance from each other. Satellite
cities and watchtowers are organized within each ruins. The archaeological
excavations contributed much to our understanding of the Kitans' life.
The Mongol Period (12th-14th centuries)
Mongol tribes dwelt in the territory between the contemporary Great Wall of China
and the upper Selenge in 12th century, after the collapse of the Kitan Empire. The
Khamag Mongol Chiefdom founded the Great Mongol empire, becoming more
powerful and uniting all Mongol tribes in the beginning of the 13th century.
Monuments belonging to period of the Mongol Empire can be classified as
settlements, burials, stone statues and written monuments. In the recent years,
Mongol-German and Mongol-Japan joint expeditions carried out more important
excavations in the ruin of Karakorum and the site of Auraga where Chingis Khan’s
Great Horde was located.
Having excavated the main parts of the city, the Karakorum expedition utilized such
modern methods and technologies as making specific topografic maps, geophysical
researches and natural sciences analyzes for dating artefacts.
As a main result of the archaeological studies on Karakorum, a central big building of
a complex was examined by whole-scale excavation. The building used to be
described as ‘Ögödei Khan’s Palace’ during many years and its date, structures and
organization were specifically determined.
Burials of Mongol period are divided into two main groups as ‘stone mounded
buirals’ and ‘rock burials’. The Mongol-American Joint expedition of “Survey in
South Gobi” project has excavated sites of Baga Gazryn Chuluu since 2006.
Other expedions of the Institute of Archaeology, MAS carried out excavations in the
territory of Khan Bogd and Tsogt Tsetsii soums of Umnugobi county since 2008 and
at Khutag Undur soum, Bulgan county in 2011.
Mongol archaeologists excavated 8 of the burials of the Mongol Period site Tavan
Tolgoi in the territory of Ongon soum, Sukhbaatar county. Some wonderful artefacts
including arm-chair, full suit of armour, golden top and engraved ornament of
headdress, inscribed bone seal, wooden musical instrument were found by this
Rock burials have been found in the following sites: Ikh Nartyn Chuluu in Dundgobi
county, Ikh Khushuut in Bayan Ulgii county, Rashaant, Artsat Del, Shiveet Tsankhir
in Bayankhongor county, Shiluustei soum in Zavkhan and Chonot Uul, Bulgan Uul in
Bulgan soum, Khovd county.
The Archaeology of Mongolia's Middle Ages begun to be studied by teams from
Holland, Japan, Russia, Germany, China, Korea and the USA. We hope that we are
now at a new stage of studying "the Archaeology of Mongolia's Middle Age".
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