Landscapes of Inequality? A Critique of Monumental Hierarchy in the Mongolian Bronze Age

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Khirigsuurs are stone monuments of variable scale and complexity that dominate the archaeological landscape of the Mongolian Bronze Age. Though there are countless typical-sized monuments, there are a few very large structures suggesting that a chiefly hierarchy directed their construction. Using measurements of size and formal complex- ity to compare these mega-monuments and khirigsuurs within fully surveyed areas this article argues that these monuments are not primarily tombs built to represent the social hierarchy of early nomadic pastoralists. Instead, they are monumental places created for living communities to communicate their organization and enduring nature to others and themselves. This communication was essential for early pastoralist communities to become established and survive. Keywords: Mongolia, Bronze Age, monuments, pas- toralism, heterarchy, collective action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalAsian Perspectives
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Mon megalith
  • Bronze Age
  • monuments
  • pastoralism
  • heterarchy
  • collective action


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