Chronology and Changing Cultures on the Mongolian Steppe

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences


Mongolia has been the most rapidly developing archaeological territory in Eastern Eurasia. There are high-quality excavated data, cutting edge bioarchaeological approaches to mobility, diet and multi-species interaction, and collaborative international teams who develop and deploy anthropological models. The archaeological record of Mongolia is second-to-none for examining the emergence of nomadic pastoralism, the mobility of humans and animals in the past, and the development of complex societies rooted in landscapes of mobility.

Ultimately, a robust and detailed archaeological chronology must underlie all statements made about past cultures. Radiocarbon dating has come late to the Mongolian archaeology and it is only recently that the numbers of dates collected by field research projects has begun to grow. Still, the total number of dates run is only in the hundreds. As a result, typically used chronological periods are large, unwieldy and mostly typologically based. To date, no broadly productive synthesis and chronological model flexible and dynamic enough to critically examine these chronological periods and the attributes associated with them has been built. This PhD project aims to build such a model. It will use the existing corpus of dates and analyses plus many additional newly dated samples drawn from Northern and Southern Mongolia. The breadth of this project allows for both large scale regional synthesis and modelling as well as detailed examination of specific large sites or defined small local regions.

The project will also critically examine the tripartite relationship between chronology, subsistence and mortuary and ritual monuments. Traditionally in Eurasian archaeology diet and types of archaeological context are related i.e. humans and animals recovered from the same types of mortuary sites are considered to have the same social structures, interspecies relationships and the same diets. Data on carbon and nitrogen isotopes analysed independently or in tandem with radiocarbon dating are now routinely used to examine paleodiet in a broad sense. This data provides both basic dietary frameworks as well as the deep and broad models of dietary make-up and diversity that breathe life into reconstructions of past subsistence systems.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007377/1 01/09/2019 30/09/2027
2435965 Studentship NE/S007377/1 01/10/2020 31/08/2024