Nomadic Identity: The Origins of a Multiethnic Empire in Mongolia.

Author(s): Christine Lee

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Cooperative Bodies: Bioarchaeology and Non-ranked Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Little is known about the ethnic composition of early nomadic populations in Mongolia. Archaeological and historical research have concentrated on the Xiongnu (209 BC-93 AD) and Mongol (1206-1368) time periods. The period in between is known as the period of disunion, characterized by fragmented states and foreign dynasties. This is a period of political unrest, but there is evidence that many different ethnicities were accepted and incorporated into these states. Five cemeteries from Bulgan, Arkhangai, and Orkhon Aimags were analyzed to determine how many different ethnicities were present. Twelve burials were recorded from the Xianbei (147-234), 15 from the Rouran (330-555), and 15 from the Turkic (555-840) periods. Based on grave architecture, burials artifacts, metric traits, nonmetric traits, developmental defects, and musculoskeletal markers, various ethnicities were assigned to the burials. During the Xianbei period, Xianbei, Ordos, Qidan, and Turkic individuals were identified. At the Rouran cemeteries, Xianbei, Ordos, Qidan, Turkic, Mongol, and Xiongnu individuals were present. The Turkic period cemetery had only Turkic burials. The variability in ethnicities is probably related to differences in political control and national identity. Further analyses incorporating the Xiongnu and Mongol periods may clarify the unusual level of inclusiveness which characterized the resulting Mongol Empire.

Cite this Record

Nomadic Identity: The Origins of a Multiethnic Empire in Mongolia.. Christine Lee. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450632)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 70.4; min lat: 17.141 ; max long: 146.514; max lat: 53.956 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25460