Documentation of Rock Art Complexes in the Mongolian Altai (from the unknown to World Heritage Status)

Author(s): Esther Jacobson-Tepfer

Year: 2015


This paper describes the complex process of documenting two huge rock art complexes and a third very old complex, in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia. Previous to our work in this region at the Mongolian border with Russia and China, all three complexes were virtually unknown except to local herding populations. Our project began with a survey of a broad region in Bayan Ölgiy aimag and the identification of the complexes on which we wished to concentrate our efforts. This initial phase was followed by the multi-year process of their documentation. Our project began before there were available any detailed mapping for this border region. Our gradual development of appropriate mapping, using a variety of sources, coincided with building an analytical system that allowed us to divide each complex into manageable sectors and to link specific images and panels to GIS data points. Our system also allowed us to map specific motifs (e.g., vehicles, riders, wild bulls) and probable cultural periods across the complexes. This paper will conclude by briefly describing the analytical process we used to support the nomination (successful) of these sites for World Heritage status.

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Documentation of Rock Art Complexes in the Mongolian Altai (from the unknown to World Heritage Status). Esther Jacobson-Tepfer. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395165)