JMRAAE’s Tsagaan Agui Cave project has won First Prize among archaeological research endeavors conducted in Mongolia in 2021

On December 15-16, 2021 the annual “Mongolian Archaeologists” conference was held at Mongolian State University in Ulaanbaatar. Archaeologists from the University, the Institute of Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and various Mongolian museums reported the results of their 2021 investigations. Our JMRAAE team participated in two such presentations.

Tsedendorj Bolorbat presented a synopsis of excavations undertaken at Tolbor 21, an open-air Paleolithic site in northern Mongolia’s Middle Selenga Basin. This year was very fruitful for the team led by Evgeny Rybin and Bolorbat: an apparently utilitarian pit was uncovered, thought to be a storage locus for lithic flakes and bones. An additional example of Initial Upper Paleolithic art was also found: a perforated pendant made of soft stone.

Bazargur Dashzeveg presented the preliminary results of our 2021 excavations at Tsagaan Agui Cave including:

  1. The identification of several occupational episodes in the cave, including one during the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 26-19,000 years ago).
  2. The discovery of an Initial Upper Paleolithic component exhibiting bidirectional laminar technology and the Levallois convergent method for point production, employing “exotic” raw material.
  3. The presence of non-utilitarian objects associated with both occupation episodes.

The strata below Initial Upper Paleolithic Layer 3 in Tsagaan Agui are even more interesting and clearly warrant further research. Several Middle Paleolithic occupations were uncovered there, represented by lithic industries based on centripetal and orthogonal systems of flaking aimed at the production of flakes with predetermined shapes.

You can find a detailed report on our 2021 fieldwork at Tsagaan Agui here.

Each year, the Mongolian archaeological community chooses what it considers that year’s best research project by collectively voting after the conclusion of the conference presentations. This year our research, presented by Dashzeveg Bazargur, Tserendagva Yadmaa and Gunchinsuren Byambaa, took first place!

B. Gunchinsuren, Ya. Tserendagva, D. Bazargur

We appreciate the abilities and collegiality of our Mongolian friends and are incredibly proud of them! Congratulations to all! Take a look at our award certificate!!! 😋

Investigations of Tsagaan Agui Cave were supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project 19-78-1012), the Leakey Foundation and the Je Tsongkhapa Endowment of the University of Arizona.

Research at Tolbor 21 was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project 19-18-00198) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Russian-Mongolian project 19-59-44010).

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