Fortified Towns in a Nomadic Pastoral Landscape on the Mongolian Steppe: Bai Balik and the Northern Railways Archaeological Project
Mongolia is well known for its history of nomadic pastoralism and Bronze and Early Iron Age burials and monuments. For a brief period in the 8th and 9th centuries, however, the Uygher and Khitan Khanates built large towns and urban centers. One of these, Bai Balik was established about 758 CE during the northward expansion of the Uyghur Empire, by the Uyghur khagan, Bayanchur Khan as a ceremonial and trading center in the fertile and strategically located Selenge Valley. This well-known site, which was tested by a Japanese archaeological team, was recently recorded as part of a project conducted by the Mongolian International Heritage Team to provide recommendations on the routing of a proposed Northern Rail Link between Murun and Erdenet, in Northern Mongolia. Historical records, archaeological survey, and mapping are used to investigate the role centers such as Bai Balik may have played in the nomadic pastoral economy of the Mongolian Steppe. Specifically, we examine the size and layout of the town, the ethnic makeup and economic activities of the town’s population, and the possible role of agriculture.
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Fortified Towns in a Nomadic Pastoral Landscape on the Mongolian Steppe: Bai Balik and the Northern Railways Archaeological Project. Richard Ciolek-Torello, Jeffrey Altschul, John Olsen, Ch. Amartuvshin, B. Gunchinsuren. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430029)
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min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;
Abstract Id(s): 16195