The ‘Lost Cities’ project is back in Mongolia

Team members Henny Piezonka, Ochir Battulga and Odmangai Gansukh excavate the 3 m high waste
Team members Henny Piezonka, Ochir Battulga and Odmangai Gansukh excavate the 3 m high waste heap that accumulated during the use of the Baruun Khüree monastery between the 17th and the early 20th centuries. Photo: Sara Jagiolla, CAU.

For the first time since 2019, the German-Mongolian research project “Abandoned Cities in the Steppe” was able to conduct extensive fieldwork in Central Mongolia in May and June 2022. This year, the focus was on investigations at the monastic city of Baruun Khüree in the Orkhon Valley. Through excavations, remote sensing, and ethnographic interviews, the team collected a wealth of new data to understand the city design, the daily life activities, and the historical significance of Baruun Khüree for the development of Mongolia’s urban network.
Funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation since 2019 as part of the ‘Lost Cities’ programme, the project explores the emergence and perception of permanent settlement structures in Mongolia that evolved during the reign of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty between the 17th and early 20th centuries CE. In the process, previously enigmatic pit formations in the Orkhon Valley have already been attributed to Qing Dynasty military activities in Central Mongolia, and the ruins of the garrison town, Uliastai, have been precisely documented for the first time. In addition to ROOTS PI Henny Piezonka, ROOTS Associate Members Jonathan Ethier and Christian Ressel, and PhD student Enkhtuul Chadraabal, the fieldwork team included colleagues from Germany, Mongolia, the US and Canada. ROOTS also co-funded this year’s field campaign. “The ongoing analysis of the new data over the next months is expected to yield a wealth of new insights on urbanism in nomadic Mongolia,” commented Henny Piezonka.

Lea Kohlhage investigates thousands of bones
Lea Kohlhage investigates thousands of bones from the waste heap of the Baruun Khuree monastery for the Dietary ROOTS subcluster. Photo: Sara Jagiolla, CAU

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Fieldwork + Activities


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