Thursday, 2 September 2010

Ancient secret hidden in Roof Tiles

From the Mongolia Field Expedition Blog by Dr. Fredrik Hiebert (August 26, 2010)

Being in Mongolia was an amazing experience and it seemed that history was hidden everywhere beneath our feet. We surveyed in some wildly rugged areas, crossed raging rivers, climbed stony mountains above the tree line and experienced the reality of the steppe environment with the summer blazing heat during the day and the cold at night.

What I find fascinating is that people have lived for centuries and even created flourishing civilizations in these extreme conditions.

Some of our best finds were in the most unexpected places. This is what I think is exceptional about being in Mongolia.

Right now I am working on the digital architectural data that we have collected from a couple of ancient cities on the steppe. I combine information from satellite images, geophysical data and basic walking over the sites. These cities appear to have huge rectangular exterior mudbrick walls, surprisingly similar to archaeological remains that I have excavated thousands of miles west in the fabled cities Central Asia that Genghis Khan conquered. Could it be that that Genghis' conquests were actually ways that technologies and traditions spread?

I am also in the process of photographing and drawing the ceramic tiles found on the surface of some of the sites that you helped us find. Sometimes I wonder what an ancient Mongol nomad was doing with roof tiles in the mountains. If they were ceramics or personal goods, I could imagine that they were just trade goods, but these were clearly parts of buildings used by the people living in these rugged areas.
Such archaeological finds indicate the vast distances that were known by people in the past. They were connected to Central Asia without the benefit of the airplanes, trains, and trucks ubiquitous of modern civilization. They lived in regions that we today think of a being difficult, but they obviously survived and thrived in an interconnected world that we are just beginning to understand.

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