Six students from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College trek across Mongolia in search of illumination, perspective, and the perfect cup of Yak-milk tea.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

This week ~ the Dutch

Unfortunately it wasn't a Dutch apple pie, but something almost as good. I was invited to the Dutch excavation in Selenge aimag (north and west of UB) by a man who organized, but apparently doesn't actually work at the dig. They are working on a Kitan era site which is dated between 900 and 800 AD. It is really important because it is among the main three sites of the Kitan (though they don't know which one yet) was only "discovered" in 2002 (so it hasn't been looted or destroyed by earlier projects) and in the first week was turning out a gold ring, a ton of pottery shards and a lot of animal remains. I arrived with the second wave of archeology students, who were not really expected for a few more days. As such we were sleeping 10 people to a ger (they are usually 4) and had to eat in shifts because there were not enough plates or forks. But they were very hospitable, and I got to see an amazing part of the countryside.

I got back into town last night and am leaving again tomorrow morning for my next (and final) project in eastern Mongolia. I'll be working with the Cultural Restoration Tourism Project which is restoring temples that were destroyed in the 1930's by the communists. The project is bringing in foreigners to work on the temple, but also to fund the local workers and tradesmen who will do most of the labor and take care of the site once it is completed. Im really excited as I have not yet been in eastern Mongolia, have not worked on a developing site and will get to finish out my project on community based eco-tourism. I have dinner in a few minutes with the CRTP group so I'll write again when I get back into town.