Traveling through time to Khunnu Empire

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The National Museum of Mongolia has unveiled the “New Discoveries Khunnu Archaeology” special exhibition, featuring artifacts excavated by a joint Mongolian-Russian expedition at the Noyon Uul burial site.

Noyon Uul, the tombs and burial site of powerful aristocrats of the Khunnu Empire (Xiongnu), occupies a significant place in Khunnu studies. This burial site consists of more than 200 large burial mounds, covering timber burial chambers. It is located along Selenge River in the hills north of Ulaanbaatar in Batsumber soum of Tuv Province. They were excavated between 1924 and 1925 by Pyotr Kozlov, who discovered they were tombs of the aristocracy of the Khunnu Empire, including the exceptionally rich burial of a historically known ruler of the Xiongnu, Wuzhuliu, who died in 13 CE. 

The Institute of Archeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences jointly excavated four tombs of Khunnu aristocrats and four satellite tombs at Noyon Uul between 2006 and 2015 and discovered more than 1,300 artifacts.

The special exhibition manifests about 400 items from more than 200 selected artifacts from the tombs of Khunnu aristocrats. Among the most important artifacts from Noyon Uul are embroidered portrait images, textiles, silver ornaments from the Roman Empire, and silverware with Scythian “animal” style.

After the archeological excavations, the restoration of the artifacts and a detailed laboratory analysis were completed, making it possible to make the results of the survey available to the public this year.

The exhibition, co-organized by the Institute of Archeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and National Museum of Mongolia, is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Arts Promotion Fund. It will run until March 1, 2022.

Misheel Lkhasuren