Investigating reindeer pastoralism and exploitation of high mountain zones in northern Mongolia through ice patch archaeology
Clark, Julia K
Hodgins, Gregory W L
Lee, Craig M
Dixon, E James
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Lab
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
CitationTaylor, W., Clark, J. K., Reichhardt, B., Hodgins, G. W., Bayarsaikhan, J., Batchuluun, O., ... & Dixon, E. J. (2019). Investigating reindeer pastoralism and exploitation of high mountain zones in northern Mongolia through ice patch archaeology. Plos one, 14(11), e0224741.
Rights© 2019 Taylor et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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AbstractIn interior Eurasia, high mountain zones are crucial to pastoral subsistence, providing seasonally productive pastures and abundant wild resources. In some areas of northern Mongolia, mountainous tundra zones also support a low-latitude population of domestic reindeer herders-a lifestyle whose origins are poorly characterized in the archaeological record of early Mongolia. Traditionally, reindeer pastoralists make significant seasonal use of munkh mus (eternal ice) for their domestic herds, using these features to cool heat-stressed animals and provide respite from insect harassment. In recent years, many of these features have begun to melt entirely for the first time, producing urgent threats to traditional management techniques, the viability of summer pastures, and reindeer health. The melting ice is also exposing fragile organic archaeological materials that had previously been contained in the patch. We present the results of horseback survey of ice patches in Baruun Taiga special protected area, providing the first archaeological insights from the region. Results reveal new evidence of historic tool production and wild resource use for fishing or other activities, and indicate that ice patches are likely to contain one of the few material records of premodern domestic reindeer use in Mongolia and lower Central Asia. The area's ancient ice appears to be rapidly melting due to changing climate and warming summer temperatures, putting both cultural heritage and traditional reindeer herding at extreme risk in the years to come.
NoteOpen access journal
VersionFinal published version
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2019 Taylor et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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