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Archaeology of Past Nomads on the Mongolian Steppe

Uncover the secrets of Mongolia’s past with this online course from the National University of Mongolia.

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Archaeology of Past Nomads on the Mongolian Steppe

  • 6 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Unlimited subscription

    $244.99 for one whole yearLearn more

Discover more about ancient nomads on Mongolia's steppe

Mongolia has a rich history dating back thousands of years, characterised by the nomadic lifestyle of its people.

From ancient times to the era of imperial nomads, uncovering Mongolia’s heritage is vital for understanding the roots of contemporary Mongolian culture and its impact on world history.

Peel back the past with this online archaeology course from the National University of Mongolia. You’ll have the opportunity to explore historical sites, monuments, and artefacts to learn more about life on the Mongolian steppe.

Dig deep into archaeological studies to reveal more about Mongolia’s nomadic past

You’ll begin this course by learning the fundamentals of archaeology, particularly as it relates to mobile communities.

Focusing specifically on past nomads in Mongolia, you’ll explore how archaeological studies shed light on their lifestyles, cultural practices, and contributions to broader anthropological topics, such as the construction of monumental structures and urban development of nomadic settlements.

Unearth past lives on the steppe by analysing artefacts, dwelling sites, and other material evidence from the Mongol empire

During the second half of this course, you’ll delve into how states formed on the Mongolian Steppe and explore the intriguing political processes that shaped ancient societies.

You’ll also discover fascinating insights into the daily lives of nomads through the critical study of dwelling sites, providing a unique perspective on their culture and social organisation.

By the course’s end, you’ll possess the tools to uncover deeper insights into Mongolia’s ancient history, and you’ll be able to apply this knowledge to different studies of archaeological sites and historical periods.


  • Week 1

    Archaeology of Mobile Societies

    • Concept of Space

      As modern-day archaeology considers, space is not something given or is not just a neutral, passive thing. In each culture, space has a meaning and often societies and people make decisions based on space and its features.

    • Concept of Mobility

      As steppe people adopted new means of transportation and ways to cross the landscape at another level, it opened them a completely new world and opportunities.

    • Relationship of People and Animals

      Originally described in textual records as steppe people who lived by following their animals, the description of steppe population has significantly changed since then.

    • Terminologies and Additional Information

      Terminologies and Additional information of this week

  • Week 2

    Large-Scale Monumentality

    • Large-Scale Monumentality and Khirigsuurs

      Introduction to the importance of large-scale monumentality in archaeology and its significance to our investigations of past societies and processes.

    • Chronological Analysis of Khirigsuurs

      We will discuss how this analytical approach helps archaeologists to determine whether large-scale monuments were the products of hierarchical decision-making or of communal decisions and traditions.

    • Prestige Display and Khirigsuurs

      As large-scale monuments have often been associated with elites and royals, testing whether they were used as stages of prestige display helps archaeologists to determine the purpose and causes behind their construction.

    • Terminologies and Additional Information

      Terminologies and Additional information of this week

  • Week 3

    Archaeology of the Mongol Empire and Urbanism

    • The Mongol Empire

      Introduction to the Mongol Empire and its founding father, the Great Chinggis Khan.

    • Prelude to the Mongol Empire: Early Nature of Urbanism and its Archaeology

      Is urbanism the same in sedentary and nomadic societies? If not, how were they different and what was the true nature of urbanism in the nomadic world? These are the questions that interested archaeologists for a long time.

    • Urbanism during the Mongol Empire

      Dive into the discussion whether the nature of urbanism changed since the capital was moved to central Mongolia or it continued to carry the old traditions of nomadic urbanism.

    • Terminologies and Additional Information

      Terminologies and Additional Information of this week

  • Week 4

    Tracing Socio-Political Changes through Archaeology

    • Monuments as Source of Information for Socio-Political Changes

      Introduction to the potential of stone monuments to become significant source of information about past events, processes, and changes, especially when different types of monuments are reliable placed in chronological order.

    • The Local Approach

      As there are many approaches in archaeology to address different questions, we offer you to dive into this case study to analyze two different stone monuments from two different periods.

    • The Regional Approach

      The more broader or regional approach is taken into consideration to either support or discredit the local approach.

    • Terminologies and Additional Information

      Terminologies and Additional Information of this activity

  • Week 5

    Nomads as a State Builders

    • States and Nomads: The Problem

      This lecture offers two perspectives with single objective: to explain how herding nomads could unite and form a high level of social complexity?

    • Historical Perspective

      We will discuss the downfalls of early textual records in explaining this process and propose alternative approaches that can come from other scientific disciplines one of which is archaeology.

    • Alternative perspectives on the formation of the Xiongnu state

      Archaeology allows us to produce understandings of much higher resolution than any other source.

    • Terminologies and Additional Information

      Terminologies and Additional Information of this activity

  • Week 6

    Habitation Archaeology

    • Archaeology and Habitation Sites of Past Nomads

      Introduction to the importance of habitation sites and their research to our investigations of the past.

    • Methods of Finding and Testing Habitation Site

      Find out why has it been so challenging for archaeologists to find habitation sites of past nomads and what kinds of methodological approaches have been implemented by those who took upon this challenge to enrich our knowledge.

    • Current Studies of Habitation Sites in Mongolia

      While it tremendous amount of time and resources to finds these sites, initial positive results have started to shed more light on the potential of habitation archaeology to become one of the most important source of information.

    • Terminologies and Additional Information

      Terminologies and Additional Information of this activity

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the rich world of archaeological sites of past nomads in Mongolia.
  • Discuss the reasons and conditions of past events and processes established from material evidence.
  • Develop skills of producing socio-cultural interpretations related to past events based on archaeological evidence and different analytical methods implemented by modern-day archaeologists.
  • Engage in most recent archaeological discussions regarding past nomadic societies, including large-scale monumentality, urbanism, formation of states, habitation archaeology, and socio-political processes.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone studying or interested in archaeology and its related disciplines.

It will be particularly insightful for learners wishing to know more about nomadic societies and Mongolian history.

Who will you learn with?

I am an archaeologist who studies past cultural and social processes related to nomads on the Mongolian steppe through their material remains that I find during my surveys and excavations.

Who developed the course?

National University of Mongolia

The National University of Mongolia is Mongolia’s first and most comprehensive higher education institution. Since its establishment, it has been home to leading professors conducting cutting-edge research in priority fields such as natural and applied sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$244.99 for one whole year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 10 Jul 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 3 June 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 3 June 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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