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The Joint Mongolian / American / Russian Project, 'Altay,' is dedicated to the study of the ecology of ancient cultures in the Altay Mountains of North Asia. Since 1994, the Project has been surveying and documenting surface archaeology in Bayan Ölgiy aimag, where the Altay Mountains separate Mongolia, Russia, and northern China.

These remote mountains and valleys are rich in surface archaeology: burial mounds from the late Bronze and Iron Ages, great stone altars (khereksur) from the Bronze and early Iron Ages, and ritual sites and stone images from the Turkic period. Bayan Ölgiy aimag also includes some of the finest and largest
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petroglyphic complexes in North Asia. Previously unrecorded and unknown to the scientific world, these complexes have become the particular focus of the Project's

 

work in Bayan Ölgiy. Named after the valleys in which they are found, the sites include Tsagaan Salaa / Baga Oigor, Tsagaan Gol, and Aral Tolgoi. In addition, the Project has recorded extensive petroglyphs and Bronze and Iron Age ritual sites in the valley of Khar Yamaa; deer stones, hereksur, small altars and burials in the valley of Tsagaan Asgaat; Turkic images and ritual altars and khereksur in the valley of Mogoitiin Gol, and many other
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surface structures and standing stones from the Bronze Age through the Turkic period. Through this process of survey and documentation, the Project is developing a broad understanding of the ecology of culture in the Mongolian Altay between the late Pleistocene (approximately 12,000 calendar year B.P.) and the first millennium C.E.

 
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