2,200-Year-Old Rare Artifacts Discovered At Xiongnu Cemetery In Mongolia

Excavation work at an archeological site.
China Photos / Stringer / Getty Images

A joint team of researchers from China and Mongolia has discovered 2,200-year-old rare artifacts at Xiongnu cemetery in Arhangay, an ancient archeological site in Mongolia. The project to excavate this cemetery was launched in July 2017, and in the past six months, archeologists have recovered several rare items from this site. Researchers from both countries cooperated on mapping, surveys, research, and excavation of the site during this project. The excavation work carried out by the archeologists was also streamed live on Sina Weibo website.

According to Xinhua News, Xiongnu cemetery has more than 400 tombs. Earlier work at this site had revealed pottery, ironware, and a chariot most likely given by Chinese kings to the Xiongnu people during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). During the latest excavation, archeologists found artifacts such as iron belts, gold and silver swords, ironware, pottery, and bronze items. Mirrors made nearly 2,200 years ago during Han Dynasty were also discovered.

“This shows that China had close exchanges with the Xiongnu group during the Han Dynasty,” said Zhou Ligang, the head of the Chinese archaeological team.

Chinese archeologists now plan to create a three-dimensional model of the cemetery using advanced techniques to digitize the research findings. Mongolian researchers are also expected to visit Henan region in China to undertake training on aerial photogrammetry and to carry out some field surveys.

Xiongnu were the nomadic people of Mongolia, who united themselves during third century B.C. to form a great tribal league, called Huns. This great league dominated most of Central Asia for nearly 500 years. Xiongnu clashed with Chinese emperors during third century B.C. and eventually became a persistent threat to China’s northern frontier. It was these repeated invasions that forced small kingdoms of Northern China to create a structure that was known as the Great Wall of China. Xiongnu ruled a large region in Asia extending from western Manchuria to the Pamirs.

In the past 100 years, several archeological sites related to Xiongnu people have been discovered in Mongolia, according to Wasington.edu. One of them is the famous Xiongnu tombs at Noyon uul in north-central Mongolia. This site was discovered in 1912. Excavation work at this site unearthed a range of artifacts including textiles, wooden chambers, clothes, and lacquerware.