Karabalgasun – Stadt der Nomaden: Die archäologischen Ausgrabungen in der frühuigurischen Hauptstadt 2009–2011[Karabalgasun – City of Nomads: The Archaeological Excavations in the Early Uyghur Capital 2009–2011]. Burkart Dähne. Forschungen zur Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen Band 14 [ Research on the Archaeology of Non-European Cultures, vol. 14]. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2017. x, 236 pp., 109 illustrations. Hardbound 110€, ISBN 9783954901265.

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2019-04-09
Authors
Bemmann, Jan
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Urbanism has been one of the main topics in the humanities for the past two decades. Today, about 54 percent of the world population lives in cities and more than 80 percent of the populations in highly developed countries is urban. These numbers may explain why urbanism is such an important issue for geographers, sociologists, architects, and urban planners. Early cities and early states, which are connected to 'civilizations', dominate historical and archaeological studies even though they covered only 5 percent of the world. This implies that about 95 percent of the globe remains unconsidered. The steppes of Inner Asia is one of these neglected regions mainly for two reasons: their inaccessibility for researchers from highly developed Western countries and the ongoing focus of archaeologists on pastoral nomadic lifeways and their sometimes monumental burials. Only very few international teams from Russia, Japan, and Germany have begun to explore urban sites in Mongolia since the 1990s. Burkart Dähne was a member of such a team and presents in this monograph the results of recent excavations in the largest city of the Turco-Mongol era in Inner Asia, the capital of the Uyghur empire ( C.E. 744–840) Ordu Baligh with the modern name Karabalgasun. The city occupies more than 30 km 2and is situated in the Orkhon Valley, a pasture-rich region in the center of modern Mongolia. In 2007, the German Archaeological Institute started to explore Karabalgasun, which was until then only known by a topographic survey carried out by the first scientific expedition to the Orkhon Valley in 1891 and by two small-scale but mostly unpublished excavations by Kotwicz in 1912 and Kiselev in 1947. An airborne laser scan (LIDAR) conducted in 2007 provided a first idea about the extent of the city and an excellent topographic planning guide for further excavations. Together with Ulambayar Erdenebat, Burkart Dähne was the local head of the excavation until the retirement of the responsible director of the mission, Hans-Georg Hüttel, in 2011, which obviously brought a change in staff and excavation strategy. This circumstance may explain why Dähne regrets in his report several times that the excavations in these parts were discontinued. As a consequence, the construction and layout of the building could not be understood in their entirety.
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