Proto-Urban Establishments in Inner Asia: Surveys of an Iron Age Walled Site in Eastern Mongolia

Bryan K. Miller* (Corresponding Author), Martin Furholt, Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan, Tömörbaatar Tüvshinjargal, Lennart Brandtstätter, Joshua Wright, Tseel Ayush, Tina Wunderlich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Walled sites attributed to the Xiongnu steppe empire (2nd century b.c.–1st century a.d.) constitute the earliest investments in explicitly non-mortuary built environments among pastoralists of the Mongolian Steppe. These permanent constructions are important precedents to the medieval towns of subsequent steppe empires, yet very little of the complete layouts and surrounding remains of the large enclosures are understood. Our investigations of the walled site at Kherlen-Bars in eastern Mongolia are among the first surveys to fully document all aspects above and below ground across an entire Iron Age walled site area. In addition to detailed documentation of the large structures, our geomagnetic prospections and digital elevation modeling brought to light numerous small sub-surface and subtle-surface features that show such early walled sites, often deemed virtually empty, to be far more complex and diachronic in their formation processes and possible functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-286
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number4
Early online date21 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019


  • digital elevation modeling
  • geophysics
  • Inner Asia
  • urbanism
  • Xiongnu


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