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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Asia - Mongolia - Northern Mongolia Archaeology Project - 2016

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2016-07-05
End Date 2016-07-26

Archaeology Field School Location

Soyo, Huvsgul Aimag, Mongolia

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution

National Museum of Mongolia

Academic Credit

none - but willing to arrange independent study hours with your home institution.

Archaeology Field School Room and Board


Archaeology Field School Travel
Up to participant - travel to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

Must have your own personal camping gear (tent and sleeping bag). Kitchen and food all provided (do not need dishes, stove, etc.). Travel to Ulaanbaatar not covered by project, but travel from Ulaanbaatar to the field site included.

Archaeology Field School Description

Northern Mongolia Archaeology Project

Need a little adventure in your life? Interested in traveling to Mongolia? Interested in trying your hand at archaeological fieldwork? A small international team is now being assembled to conduct archaeological fieldwork in northern Mongolia from July 5th – 26th in collaboration with the National Museum of Mongolia. Email to request an application or go to:

Applications are due by March 18, 2016. Program cost is $2,250 USD and covers all cost for the duration of the project for food, transportation, permits, and equipment. This does not include international travel to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia or personal camping gear. No previous experience necessary. Read on for more detail.

Research Aims: Mongolia’s mobile pastoral economy is the foundation of the national identity and primary economic strategy, a lifeway made possible with the introduction of domesticates into the area from regions to the north and west. Though this characterization has been evident since at least the 1st millennium BCE, little is known about the earliest pastoral adaptations in the region. The archaeological site of Soyo, in the Darkhad Depression of northern Mongolia, has the potential to contribute significantly to understanding questions about the archaeological history of this region. Located at the intersection of the dense forest taiga and the grass steppe-land of the basin, Soyo is uniquely positioned to facilitate interaction between hunting and herding practices. Previous research on prehistoric domestic sites in Mongolia has been frustrated by the prevalence of thin, jumbled deposits of artifacts with few preserved features. However, preliminary research at the Soyo site has revealed a unique depositional history where wind-blown sand has stratified thick artifact deposits creating a one of a kind, 7,000 year continuous record of human activity. No other similar domestic sites that have such a long, well preserved occupational sequence are known from Mongolia. Despite being such an important part of Mongolian heritage, this site is threatened by the development of a tourist camp. It is critical that an archaeological team conduct this research at the site in the summer of 2015 as the site is actively being threatened by this development.

Requirements: No previous archaeological experience necessary to participate in this project. A remote project area, variable climate, challenging topography, and cultural differences dictate that participants are in reasonably good physical shape, have a positive attitude, are culturally sensitive, and have a good sense of adventure. We will be departing from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on July 5th and returning on July 26th. It is suggested that you give yourself at least a couple of days before and after these dates to be in the city as delayed flights and lost baggage happen with some frequency. It will take us approximately 4-5 days to reach the project area by car as its approximately 1,000 km from the city, and there are few paved or dirt roads in Mongolia. Participants will not be able to sign up for only part of the 3 week project as it is logistically very difficult to arrange alternative travel options.

Fieldwork: Participants will be instructed in a variety of archaeological field methods, including survey,geohpysics survey (more on that below), mapping, excavation, and ethnoarchaeological interviews. They will also have the opportunity to gain some lab experience cleaning, sorting, cataloging and doing basic analysis on artifacts collected. All members of the team will be required to work in the field most days and in the lab occasionally. While many of the participants on past projects have been students of archaeology looking to gain skills in their field, others are simply interested in learning about archaeology. Participants usually range from 18-60 years of age, and are students, teachers, retirees, or any number of other professions. Mongolians make up approximately half of the project, while the other participants are typically from North America, Europe and Australia. There are no credits offered through this program, in part to keep costs down. However, if a student wishes to arrange independent study credits with their home institution, the project will work with his/her adviser to design a course of study.

Geophysics Survey: Participants will have the opportunity to work with geophysics expert, Dr. Ian Moffat. Geophysical techniques provide a means of non-invasively locating archaeological material in the subsurface. While the archaeological record of Mongolia is rich with significant late prehistoric and early historic period sites located throughout the country, the use of geophysical methods has rarely been used on sites of this type providing a unique opportunity to develop a new methodology for archaeological research and cultural heritage management in this country. This project will apply the geophysical techniques ground penetrating radar and magnetometry, integrated with real time kinematic differential GPS and drone aerial photography to locate and non-invasively examine the archaeological record of late prehistoric and early historic sites in northern Mongolia.

Staff: The project is co-directed by Dr. Julia Clark and J. Bayarsaikhan (Director of Research, National Museum of Mongolia). Dr. Clark has been working in Mongolia since 2007 and is the primary contact for applicants to this project. Email with any questions or to receive an application. Dr. Ian Moffat will provide the geophysics expertise. Stay tuned for more information on other staff and archaeological experts to join the team.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type


Time Period

Neolithic-Bronze Age

Field School Setting/Conditions

The field site is very remote and participants should be prepared for backcountry camping conditions.

How is the project area accessed each day

The site is a 4-5 day drive from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Transportation to and from the site is being organized by the staff of this project.

What is the daily schedule for the field school

3 weeks in the field, 6 days/week, weather dependent

Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation
Is there a professional certification for this field school


Directors and Instructors

Julia Clark, PhD J.
Bayarsaikhan, M.A.
Ian Moffat, PhD

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn

Geophysical Survey
Archaeological Survey
Archaoelogical Excavation
Botanical Flotation
Experimental Archaeology (pottery)

On rain days will there be lab work?


Will there be additional organized activities?

Yes - We usually play volleyball, soccer, go horseback riding, hiking, swimming, watch local festivals, etc.

Will there be additional organized activities?

Sometimes based on interest - directed instruction/lectures on local archaeology and contemporary issues

Is travel restriced during free time?

By the staff? No, as long as your plans are made clear. By logistics? Somewhat. We are very remote, and transportation is limited.

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Julia Clark
American Center for Mongolian Studies
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Field School Contact E-mail:
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