The Khorig burials are in the process of being looted. (a) shows a looted burial with textiles strewn on the surface. (b) is a large silk textile, possibly part of a saddle, excavated in 2019. (c) shows a birch bark fragment with carving of a sheep. (d) is a detail of the silk textile in (b), showing two griffins.
Congratulations to Alicia Ventresca Miller, assistant curator of Asian archaeology at UMMAA, who has been awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society to support further excavation in northern Mongolia. Her work on the looted cemeteries of Khorig in the Darkhad Depression has resulted in the recovery of silk robes, equestrian tack, shoes, and personal adornments. Finds preserved in the permafrost include substances in ceramic vessels resembling dairy, butter, and tallow.
Ventresca Miller anticipates that continued excavations will reveal additional remarkably preserved textiles and foodstuffs. To understand how peripheral herders of the region became cosmopolitan elites, her interdisciplinary team will use novel techniques (isotopes, proteomics, aDNA) to explore the cuisines of local communities and provide insight into the lives of elites. Through computational network analyses, they will link local goods to broader networks of exchange. This project will reveal the range of exotic textiles and foods that flowed along the lesser-known northern Silk Road routes, demonstrating the power of local elites and their impacts on social networks.