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Gol Mod Project Egiin Gol Project Xiongnu Necropolis Tomb T1 Tomb T20

Khünüin Gol Valley facing the Gol Mod necropolis

Gol Mod

The Gol Mod necropolis is located north of the Khangai mountain range, some 350 km as the crow flies from Ulaanbaatar. It was established at an altitude of about 1,600 meters in the rolling foothills that gently slope down towards the Khünüin River. Judging from the number of ancient monuments that survive, the valley that holds this winding river appears to have been used as a road in ancient times.

The oldest vestiges are those of kereksüür and deer stones, which can be dated to the late Bronze Age or the early Iron Age. During the Xiongnu period (3rd century BC–2nd century AD) it was mainly tombs that were constructed. Later vestiges were added during the Türk empire (5th–7th century AD).

Given the number of tombs—as well as the scale of some of them—the Xiongnu sepultures created a definite cultural presence in the landscape. It is clear that such a complex required significant human and material resources, and the carefully chosen setting was able to provide them. Traces of land use that can be seen in the vicinity, particularly the remains of open-air quarries, attest to the tremendous activity that must have taken place in antiquity. In a certain manner, we may consider this location as characteristic of the criteria sought by the Xiongnu. Set in rolling foothills, it offered protection from the elements, with an unimpeded view that made surveillance easy. It also required vast amounts of well-irrigated pastureland in summertime, in order to accommodate large gatherings of people. The loose, sandy soil was easy to dig, and nearby quarries and forests provided construction materials.

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