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SUMMER ARCHAEOLOGY IN MONGOLIA

From June through August 2000, American and Mongolian archaeologists will continue their survey of a remote section of the Lower Egiin Gol river in northern Mongolia. The Egiin Gol valley is part of the upper reaches of the Lake Baikal system and is famous for its beautiful forested steppe environment and the colorful nomadic lifestyle of the local people. The Egiin Gol Survey project has been working in the valley since 1997 and has discovered a fascinating variety of archaeological sites including the camps of early bison hunters who inhabited the valley 27,000 years ago, the tombs of Bronze Age warriors interred with their horses, and the ruins of a 200 year old Buddhist monastery.

We are in search of a group of volunteers who will assist researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley in completing the extensive survey of approximately 60 square kilometers of the valley and small-scale excavation at sites of the Bronze and Early Iron Age (ca. 500-200 BC) and Early Upper Paleolithic (30,000-25,000 years ago). Our project is supported by the Mongolian Institute of History in Ulaanbaatar and we will be joined by Mongolian archaeologists and students who will conduct burial excavations at Bronze Age and medieval period cemeteries in the valley.

Because the Government of Mongolia has proposed constructing a hydro-electric dam on the Egiin Gol river, there is increased urgency surrounding this project. The survey region contains areas having a wealth of archaeological sites but also a high potential for flooding during the construction of the dam. We are committed to salvaging important information concerning the early populations in this part of the world that would otherwise be irretrievably lost. The research programs being carried out will help us and other researchers better understand the extraordinary nomadic culture of Mongolia that gave rise to some of the greatest and most powerful land empires on earth. Volunteers with a variety of backgrounds are invited to work with us at Egiin Gol and will have opportunities to learn and practice a wide range of field skills including ground survey, site mapping, use of GPS and GIS, settlement excavation, and artifact processing. In addition we take to time to visit nomadic families, ride Mongol ponies through the valley, and fish the waters of the pristinely clear Egiin Gol river. Expedition vehicles are usually available for further exploration of the valley during days off.

Volunteers present in July will be invited to celebrate the Mongolian summer festival of Naadam

and take part in traditional horse racing and wrestling matches. There are a number of volunteer sessions available and a moderate tax deductible donation is requested to help us meet the expenses of the expedition.

Please join us this summer at Egiin Gol! More information and applications are available on the following web-pages at the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads (CSEN). We welcome any questions regarding the summer 2000 expedition through the e-mail addresses listed below. All applications must be submitted to CSEN by March 15, 2000 for those wishing to participate in a 6 week session and April 15, 2000 for those interested in a 3-4 week session. We look forward to seeing you in Mongolia!

William Honeychurch Project Director Museum of Anthropology University of Michigan honeychu@umich.edu