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Modern Mongolia

Genghis Khan
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Mongolian Herding Awards
Mongolian Herding Awards

The exhibition presents a new research initiative by a multi-disciplinary team at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. Led by William Fitzhugh, chair of the Museum's Department of Anthropology and director of its Arctic Studies Center, the team is in Mongolia as part of a long-term research program in the country - open to western scientists for the first time in nearly a century. Fitzhugh is studying the ancient origins and role of the reindeer-herding people, and participating in excavation of burial mounds and a 4,000 - 5,000-year-old Neolithic house. Daniel Rogers, curator of archaeology in the Department of Anthropology, is focusing on urban centers and empires, including the ancient capitol at Kharkhorin and the imperial palace of Monkh Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson. Rogers is also researching the history of Mongolia as told from a Chinese point of view. Paula DePriest, curator for the botany section in the Department of Systematic Biology, is studying the gradual disappearance of plants and lichens which comprise the reindeer's main dietary source.

"The opening of Mongolia to the scientific community is a rare opportunity to gain new knowledge about important issues of human migration and circumpolar connections," said Fitzhugh. "'Modern Mongolia' enables us to bring these exciting findings to the rest of the world."

The Arctic Studies Center is part of the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Established in 1988, the center is the only United States government program with a special focus on northern cultural research and education. In keeping with this mandate, the Arctic Studies Center specifically studies northern peoples, exploring history, archaeology, social change and human lifeways across the circumpolar world. The center's Web site is at http://www.mnh.si.edu/arctic/.

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