Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The summer of 2014 is dead. Long live the summer of 2014!

The BMA 2014 project didn't work out.  Rather than dwell on the unhappy particulars, this post will focus on the good things that did happen during the summer of 2014 in Mongolia.

Most of the student volunteers who had signed up to work on the BMA project journeyed to Mongolia in order to gain field experience and make the most of their summers.  To that end, our small teams conducted informal archaeological reconnaissance excursions through five provinces.  The team visited numerous significant historical and religious sites, reconnoitered in a variety of ecological zones (mixed desert-steppe, steppe, and khangai or forested hills), and got a crash-course, rough-and-ready education on all things Mongolian.

The majority if not all of the photos below were taken by Ellen Platts, one of the team members and archaeological reconnaissance photographer.  She did a great job capturing our progress.  I encourage you to visit her blog - - for her posts on the summer of 2014 in Mongolia and more images.  The photos below are organized in chronological order but it's difficult to explain the rhyme or reason of the reconnaissance routes without preparing and uploading a series of maps and dates.  Instead, an impressionistic highlights real of the archaeological component of the summer conveys the 'meat' of the team's experiences.

Field reconnaissance:

Recording a khirigsuur in the Khunui River valley, Arkhangai

Identifying rock art in Suujiin Valley, Bulgan

Community relations in Khentii

Our field team at the Orkhon waterfall (Ulaan tsutgalan, Uvurkhangai)

Our traveling REI photoshoot:
Sunset along the Khunui River, Arkhangai

North of Khungun Khan/Ikh Khan Uul, Bulgan

Near Khurkh River, Khentii

Archaeological highlights:

Monumental khirigsuur and part of a much larger Bronze Age cemetery in Orkhon, Bulgan
Rock art panel with people, horses, and possibly dogs in Saikhan, Bulgan

Unusual khun chuluu in Saikhan, Bulgan

Collection of five khun chuluu in Saikhan, Bulgan

Roof tile fragments from the ruins of a Buddhist monastery in Sumyn Am, Bulgan
Balbal line and Turk-period grave (in the distance) near Monostoi River, Khentii

Lithic debitage at Rashaan Khad site, Khentii

The woolly rhinoceros at Rashaan Khad (Paleolithic rock art, which is why it's hard to get a good photo)

The wall up the mountain at Uglugchiin kherem, Khentii

Strategic view from the top of the wall, Uglugchiin kherem

Turk-period feature (burial, standing stone at eastern edge of burial, and beginning of a balbal line), Khurkh River, Khentii

Khar Balgas, ruins of the Uighur capital, Arkhangai

Earthwork structures at Khar Balgas, Arkhangai

Khadag at Khar Balgas, Arkhangai

Exploring the Khitan ruins, Khar Bukhyn Balgas, near Dashinchilen, Bulgan

Stupa at Khar Bukhyn Balgas, Bulgan

Children playing at Temeen Chuluun Bronze Age cemetery, Uvurkhangai

Slab burial at Temeen Chuluun, Uvurkhangai

Next time:
There's more to the Mongolian countryside than amazing archaeology, if you can believe it!  Our reconnaissance took us through five provinces and tons of adventure.  Ellen, the project photographer, snapped tons of gorgeous shots of the rivers, hills, valleys, and sunsets of Central Mongolia.  Stay tuned!

Multiple khadag at an ovoo, Khentii

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