Session III: Taiga Exploration

 This small wooden sign marks the official entrance into the "Ulaan Taiga"

This small wooden sign marks the official entrance into the "Ulaan Taiga"

 

Dates: August 1 - 22, 2018

Fees: $3,500 USD (For support in applying for external funding, please contact us.)

Skills: archaeological survey; mapping and GIS; ethnoarchaeology

Logistics: This session will be very logistically challenging (but very rewarding). Please apply for this only if you have a solid foundation of outdoor skills. Participants will move frequently between backcountry camps on foot or horseback. Water from local streams can be used for cleaning and purified for drinking water. Participants will take turns cooking VERY basic meals for the small team.

Description: NOMAD Science operates in the Darkhad Depression in part because it is an environmental and cultural crossroads. The high elevation densely forested taiga rings the more steppe-like grassy basin. The Tuvan reindeer herders and Darkhad herders (ethnic minorities in Mongolia, but the majority in the region) practice a mixed economy that combines hunting and herding strategies with a seasonally mobile movement scheme that utilizes different ecological niches at different times of the year. To date, NOMAD Science has exclusively worked on the floor and low elevation edges of the basin, in large part because of logistical challenges. In 2018, Session III will begin to explore the higher elevation taiga areas around the Darkhad Depression. Participants of this program must be particularly flexibly, savvy in outdoor skills, and interested in backcountry camping, horseback riding, and backpacking. As there are no roads into the taiga, participants will travel exclusively on foot or on horseback.

 Reindeer relaxing around camp

Reindeer relaxing around camp

The goals of this pilot study are to lay the groundwork for a future sustainable research program in the taiga. Team members will conduct preliminary archaeological surveys and ethnographic interviews in order to begin to construct a predictive site model that will help to guide future archaeological activities. Remnant ice/snow patches will be investigated for their archaeological potential as they may contain organic artifacts not preserved elsewhere, but now threatened by climate change. Ethnoarchaeological methods will be employed to investigate activity areas and site structures at modern and historical camp sites. An inventory and map of available natural resources will help researchers to understand the distribution of materials used by people – both modern and ancient. Monitoring of looting and vandalism at will help the NOMAD Science team to understand the scope of the problem in and around the basin.