Cities in Steppes - Turks, Uyghurs and Mongols in the Orkhon Valley

Airphoto of the so-called 'Citadel of Khar Balgas'. Courtesy of Jan Bemmann.

Cities in Steppes - Turks, Uyghurs and Mongols in the Orkhon Valley

Jan Bemmann (University of Bonn)

The Orkhon Valley, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 2004, was the center of the Second Turkic Qaganat, of the Uyghur Empire and the seat of the first capital of the Mongol world empire, Karakorum. It was a key region for nomads on horseback who wanted to create an empire.

The lecture will introduce the latest archaeological research in the Orkhon Valley and will analyze the differences and similarities between the three empires and their use of the Orkhon Valley.

Beginning with the Xiongnu who founded the first steppe empire in Inner Asia, several empires of different scales and duration followed who had their center in Mongolia. The establishment of a new power and the stabilization of rule needed an administration and a center. Therefore cities and walled enclosures existed as long as the empire lasted. If the empire falls, the cities, residences and other architectural symbols of power are of no more use, they decay.

The Orkhon valley with its world famous monuments offers a unique chance to compare the manifestation of power and the use of space and strategies of the elites to express their status.

Admission to the ISAW Lecture Hall closes 10 minutes after the scheduled start time.

This is a public event.

To RSVP, please email