The Mongol – Hungarian archaeological cooperation looks back to a past of more than fifty years: Miklós Gábori (BTM), researcher of the Paleolithics and István Erdélyi, archaeologist of the Hun and Avar periods, used to conduct field work regularly in Mongolia beginning from the 1960s, later after the 1990s unfortunately these contacts with this remote Inner Asian country were interrupted. Gergely Csiky participated in the work of a French archaeological expedition (Mission archéologique française en Mongolie, headed by Jean-Paul Desroches, Musée Guimet, Paris) excavating the Xiongnu cemetery of Gol Mod between 2005 and 2007, however official Mongol – Hungarian archaeological cooperation has only re-launched this year due to an agreement with the Historical Institute of Mongolian Academy of Sciences.
The financial base of the joint research is granted by scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for support of project-based researcher’s mobility applied and won by Gergely Csiky, research fellow of the Institute of Archaeology RCH HAS. More fellows of the Research Centre for Humanities cooperate in the project: Zsolt Szilágyi as expert of Mongolian history represents Institute of Ethnography, while Katalin Tolnai as GIS-specialist is delegated by the Historical Institute. Delgermaa Amina Jambajantsan, doctorand in Mongolistics in ELTE university, takes part in the work of this research team as an expert of medieval Mongol burials.
The planned research bears the title of “Archaeological Landscapes in Pre-Chinggisid Mongolia – Settlement Networks at the Northern Territories of the Khitan Liao Empire”. The Mongolian speaking Khitans founded a dynasty called Liao in Northern China in the 10th century, the northwestern border of their state was situated in Mongolia and it was protected by a chain of forts. Some of them witnessed archaeological excavations, but the archaeological research of the environment of the forts focusing rather on elements of the landscape instead of the site itself is a novelty in the region. The project aims the investigation of the context of the Khitan fortified settlements, mapping of new sites and creating a GIS database of the studied area. The project lasts for three years, the first journey to Mongolia is planned on October.
The planned research can provide significant new results in the study of Inner Asian urbanization, the early spread of Buddhism in the region, at the same time it can reveal the infrastructural basis of the later Great Mongol Empire. These archaeological problems seem to be too distant geographically from the Carpathian Basin, however these questions are closely related to the research of nomadism and it can offer a new model of the acculturation of nomads to the neighboring civilizations in a period parallel to the age of Hungarian conquest and state formation.