Archaeology of the Mongolian Steppe

Help discover and document the vital cultural resources within the stunning Ikh Nart Nature Reserve.

On this unique and interdisciplinary team, you’ll have the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to assist Earthwatch scientists researching the cultural and archaeological aspects of managing a national nature reserve. You’ll identify and document (but not excavate) significant archaeological and cultural sites within the Ikh Nart reserve’s boundaries so that wildlife management plans can take these cultural resources into account - and vice versa. You’ll also describe sites in writing, learn how to draw them to scale, and to map them using GPS technology.

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What to Expect?

This magnificent region of semi-arid grasslands and rocky outcrops is one of the best hopes for wildlife in central Asia. Argali sheep, lesser kestrels, cinereous vultures, and other animals threatened throughout their range find a stronghold here. Herds of graceful Mongolian gazelles and goitered gazelles roam freely through the reserve. For years, Earthwatch teams have worked to study and conserve the area’s wildlife, including argali—the largest mountain sheep in the world with huge, curling horns. Their efforts have been so successful that results from the work have been used to develop much more effective conservation management activities in the reserve.

Under the overall direction of Dr. Rich Reading and in collaboration with an international team of scientists, Earthwatch is also supporting the archaeological and cultural investigations needed to ensure a truly holistic approach to managing the Reserve. Led by Dr. Joan Schneider (California State Parks), and Charles Bennett (Colorado Desert Archaeology Society), you’ll be surveying the landscape for significant archaeological and cultural resources such as burial cairns, steles and other commemorative monuments or markers, the remains of campsites and rudimentary structures, rock art, and other indications of the cultural history and vitality of the region. The goal of the project is to establish baseline archaeological inventory data. Volunteers should not expect to do excavation or be working at active dig sites, but instead to survey and document the landscape to help determine where such sites will need to be in the future. This expedition is therefore a remarkable opportunity to be involved in designing an ongoing archaeological investigation.

  • Program ID: # 1969
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
    2 Weeks to 1 Month
  • location:
    Ikh Nart Wildlife Reserve Ulaanbaatar
    45° 33' 53.9532" N, 108° 42' 23.472" E
  • Fitness level:
    Moderately Fit
    Very Fit
  • Closest Airport:
    Various locations - please contact program
  • Costs From:
    $1500 to $3000
    Over $3000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
  • Click Here for More Info

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