Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries in Mongolia
I believe- One of the things that people love to do is travel around the world and look at archaeological sites. Because it gives us an opportunity to study past civilizations, and see where they succeeded and where they failed.
Thousands and thousands of years later, Mongolian archaeological finds still delight professionals and the world with their wonder, luring researchers and joint teams – many from other countries – hoping to unlock secrets the past, the way Nomadic Mongols lived and how they powered the nations.
In no particular order, here are game-changing Mongolian Top Ten archaeological sites which every history lover should consider adding to their Mongolia Travel Bucket List.
1. Mongolian Adidas Boots- Rare Findings in Ancient Tomb
Two rock tombs with over 90 archaeological findings were found in Myangad soum and in Munkhkhairkhan soum of Khovd province. Ulaan Uneet mountain tomb in Myangad soum was excavated in May, 2015 by researchers of the National Museum of Mongolia, who unearthed over 20 valuable archaeological findings such as body remains of a man, 1m long animal skin deel, 96.5 cm long badger fur coat, horse skin trousers, pair of boots, bow and 70.5-73 cm long 6 arrows, wooden saddle, knife and 19.1 cm tall wooden vase. Researchers say that the tomb dates back to the 4-6th century, the era of Nirun state.
The second rock tomb referred as Uzuur Gyalan tomb is a main attraction of the 2-month exhibition because of the popular ‘Adidas boots’ unearthed from it. Discovered in 2010 by locals and excavated by researchers of Khovd University, the rock tomb indeed became a sensation for the rare archeological findings it had maintained since the 10th century. Archaeologists discovered 71 objects from the precious tomb including body remains of a woman in her 30s and a horse, 4 deels, 3 trousers, 5 caps, 3 pairs of boots and socks, set of horse tack, 7 cloths and other objects like a broken piece of a mirror, knife, comb, and piece of silk and stone.
2. The Mummified Human Body-Ice Man- The One of top 10 discoveries of the world
Mongolian, Russian and German joint archeological expedition found mummified human body (cadaver), in Ulaanhus soum, Bayan Ulgii, in 2006. This finding can be the most ancient between this kind of findings, it is dated around Pazyryk era (VII – III, BC). And this discovery was selected as one of 10 best discoveries by “Discovery” US magazine, in 2006.
3. Mongolia Deer Stones / Steles
Throughout the grasslands of Northern Mongolia /Arkhangai, Bulgan, Khvosgol, Byanakhongor and Zavkhan/ and Southern Siberia lay hundreds of megaliths bearing mysterious carvings that seems to depict flying reindeer.
Known as deer stones, these upright stone slabs measure 3 to 15 feet tall and occur in small groups, or concentrated in larger groupings, often in association with stone burial mounds, called khirgisuur.
There are over 900 deer stones in Central Asia and South Siberia, of which 700 are in Mongolia alone. These monumental features are believed to be erected by Bronze Age nomads, approximately 3000 years ago.
4. Inscription of Yanran
The Inscription in Mount Yanran is an inscription composed by Eastern Han dynasty Chinese historian Ban Gu and carved by the general Dou Xian on a cliff in the Yanran Mountains (Delgerkhangai Mountains in Dundgobi) in 89 BC, to commemorate Dou's victory against the nomadic Hunnu Empire. The text is in the 5th-century official history Book of Later Han, and the inscription was re-discovered by researchers in the Baruun Ilgen hills located south of Inel (Delgerkhangai) mountain, which is in the Gobi desert of Dundgovi Province, Mongolia.
Cliff inscriptions on Baruun ingen hills in south of Inel (Delgerkhangai) mountains were commonly used to record military success in ancient China. The inscription of Yanran is one of the best known. The expression "to carve a stone on Yanran” was regarded as one of the highest achievements for military generals. This the most ancient rock inscription found in Mongolia.
5. The ancient musical instrument Yatga- The Harp
This harp was found with other items of a warrior in a tomb, in Jargalant Khairkhan, Mankhan soum, Khovd aimag, in 2008 and it was well conserved. This archeological finding is considered as one of biggest discoveries. The harp was made by birch tree, the length is 72cm, and width is 10, 1 cm. There is an interesting carving on the backside of this harp, 6 deer, 1 ibex, 5 dogs and a hunter with his archer. It seems like carved in three different period.
When you think about archaeology, archaeology is the only field that allows us to tell the story of 99 percent of our history.
6. Inscription of Seruun Haalga dates back to XII century
The inscription of Seruun Khaalga was found in Bayankhutag soum, Khentii aimag. This inscription is written about battles between Mongols and Tatars, in Jurchen and Chinese language, in circa 1191.
7. Turkic Period Inscription in Mongolia
Japanese Mongolian joint team discovered the ruins of a unique monument surrounded by 14 large stone pillars with Turkic Runic inscriptions arranged in a square on a steppe called Dongoin shiree in eastern Mongolia (Tuvshinshiree soum, Sukhbaatar province) during their three-year (2015-2017) joint excavation.
The major feature of the monument is its structure—a stone sarcophagus situated at the center of the mound, where a deceased person might be placed, surrounded by 14 stone pillars with inscriptions. Signs of the ancient Turkic tribes are carved in more than 100 inscriptions. These excavated inscriptions are some of the largest discovered in Mongolia.
It is estimated that this unique monument was built in the eighth century, during the Late Second Ancient Turkic Qaghanate. These findings show that the Dongoin shiree steppe, where the unique monument ruins remain, was the center of the eastern area of the ancient Turkic Qaghanate, whose location was not known from materials written in Chinese and Turkic texts.
This monument reveals power relationships of rulers in the east area of the Turkic Qaghanate and their territories, as well as their political and military relationships with Mongolian tribes such as the Khitan, Tatabi and Tatar. In addition, these stone pillars on the plateau also provides important information for discussing the religious ideas and world outlook of the ancient nomads.
8. Shoroon Bumbagar- Complete Tomb of Ancient Nomadic Tribe
Mongolian and Kazakhstani joint team discovered a complete tomb of an aristocrat from an ancient nomadic tribe at Shoroon Bumbagar of Bayannuur Soum in Bulgan Province in 2011. They have taken over 550 finds from the tomb. Out of those finds, 150 were gold, 80 were earthenware, the rest were wooden, bronze, and iron finds. The aristocrat, buried in the tomb, was a man. His body was cremated and was stored inside a silk bag. It is almost certain that he was a king or prince as there was a gold crown which was intentionally broken next to the silk bag. This tomb clearly represents foreign relations of 7th Century Nomads.
We know this because there were over 150 gold, silver and bronze coins under the silk bag, wrapped in silk. Most of the coins were made Constantinople. Some of the coins had handles for hanging and depicted various things. Some coins portrayed Byzantium State aristocrats and others depicted ritual fire offerings, which is the main rite of Manichaeism. This religion spread amongst the Turkic nomads back then. The experts have found out that the Western Turkic Nomads had relationship with Middle Asian countries and the Byzantium. Now, we can see from the finds of Shoroon Bumbagar that the Eastern Turkic Nomads were also in contact with Middle Asia and other parts of Asia in the 6th and 7th Centuries.
9. Noyon Mountain Burial Site
The Noyon Uul burial site consists more than 200 large burial mounds, approximately square in plan, some 2m in height, covering timber burial chambers. They are located close to Selenge River, in the hills of Northern Mongolia in Batsumber soum, Tuv province.
They were excavated in 1924–1925 by Soviet archeologist P. Kozlov, who proved them astombs of the aristocracy of Hunnu Empire, one is an exceptionally rich burial of a historically known ruler of Hunnu Empire, Uchjulü-Jodi-Chanuy (Ujulen Shanyu), who died in 13 AC. Most of the objects from Noyon Uul are now in the Hermitage Museum, while some artifacts unearthed later by Mongolian archaeologists are on display in the National Museum of Mongolian History, Ulaanbaatar.
10. Orkhon Valley Turkic Inscriptions
The Orkhon inscriptions or Kul Tigin steles are two memorial installations erected by the Göktürks written in Old Turkic alphabet in the early 8th century in the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia. They were erected in honor of two Turkic princes, Kultegin and his brother Bilge Khagan. The inscriptions, in both Chinese and Old Turkic, relate the legendary origins of the Turks, the golden age of their history, their subjugation by the Chinese, and their liberation by Ilterish Qaghan. In fact, according to one source, the inscriptions contain "rhythmic and parallelistic passages" that resemble that of epics. The inscriptions were discovered by Nikolay Yadrintsev's expedition in 1889, published by Vasily Radlov. The scripts follow an alphabetical form, but also appear to have strong influences of rune carvings. The inscriptions are a great example of early signs of nomadic society's transitions from use of runes to a uniform alphabet, and influenced that of the Uighur script and Sogdian language. Both inscriptions are part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape UNESCO world heritage site in Mongolia.
These archaeological discoveries always remind you about the creative mind of our ancestors. Such discoveries are also a great chance to see the centuries of old objects and we invite you to visit Mongolian archaeological wonders to gain insight into ancient civilizations and fire up your imagination about Mongolia.
Archeology holds all the keys to understanding who we are
and where we come from.