Prof.D.Tumen, Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, The National University of Mongolia


Figure 1. Dendrogram showing relationship of the Neolithic

 populations from Asia (Penrose shape distance 

analysis for 15 cranial variables)


During the archaeological field work carried out in 2002-2004 there were discovered  several unknown before archaeological  sites, belonging to different historical periods ( from Neolithic up to Mongolian Period) in Durilag Nars, Tsuvraa Uul and Bayan-Uul mountain areas in Khulenbuir sum, Dornod aimag. There were excavated around 30 graves dated to Hunnu and Mongolian Periods in the archaeological sites and found   unique archaeological findings and  human remains which are well preserved.
 The aims of the paleoanthropological study  are 1). To carry out craniological studies of human remains yielded  from archaeological excavation carried out in Eastern Mongolia: 2). To conduct comparative morphological analysis for ancient populations from the Eastern Mongolian and Northeast Asian based on obtained craniofacial data on the ancient Mongolian populations to test the biological and historical relationship of studied prehistoric populations from the Eastern Mongolia and the Northeast Asia.
  Material and methods:
 Cranial series used to provide a comparative foundation for the Eastern Mongolian remains encompass 26 Neolithic samples, 28 Bronze and Early Iron samples and 14 Hunnu  samples from Inner Asia.  Fifteen cranial variables ( five for the neurocranium, and ten for the facial skeleton) of those defined by Martin (1928) V.P. Alexseev and G.F. Debets (1961) and W.Bass (1987) provide the metrical basis for the current study.    The comparative study was conducted separately  for each historical periods. Penrose shape distances were calculated  between each pair of compared populations. 

The main upshot of the paleoanthropological studies of the prehistoric populations from Eastern Mongolia is the following:
1. In general, prehistoric populations from Eastern Mongolia is characterized by mongoloid anthropological features.
2. Hunnu populaton is not anthropologically  homogeneous. It may be explained by extensive migration of nomads from Eurasian steppe (Caucasoid or mixed populations from West to East and Mongoloids from East to West) which lasted during the Bronze and Early Iron Age and Hunnu period in the Inner Asia.
3. Comparative study of populations from different historical periods of Mongolia clearly demonstrated genetic and biological relationship between Neolithic population  from Eastern Mongolia, Bronze age populations with slab grave culture from Central and Eastern Mongolia and as well as Hunnu, Early Mongolian and Mongolian Period and contemporary populations of Mongolia.



Figure 2. Dornod, Bulgan sum, Norvilin Uul site, Neolithic period, Male, adultus

tumen 3-3.jpg

  • Nonmetric examination of paleoanthropological findings
    from Eastern Mongolia

Prof.D.Tumen, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, The National University of Mongolia


Cranial nonmetric, i.e. epigenetic variation, is quite popular in analyzing osteological remains at the population level and has successfully been used to evaluate the evolutionary relations and biological affinities among ancient populations (Finnegan and Marcsik, 1979; Ishida and Dodo, 1992; 1993; 1997; Kozintsev, 1972, Ossenberg, 1990; Sutter, Mertz, 2004; Wenger, 1974). The theoretical basis of any such investigation is that 1) the traits are highly genetic in nature; 2) that populations vary in frequencies between even closely related populations; 3) that some consistency is seen without regard to environmental variation; 4) the traits do not vary significantly with age; 5) show little sex difference; 6) show little correlation between the traits used; and 7) are easily defined and have the advantage of being scoreable for highly fragmented skeletal materials.
 These above assumptions have been tested on many ancient and contemporary populations from Europe, North America and Northeast Asia and were discussed concerning their ethnogenesis and biological relationships with the populations from the contiguous regions. However, ancient populations inhabited the territory of Mongolia have not been studied by its non-metirc or epigenetic traits so far, whereas the comparative craniometrical and osteological study of the paleoanthropological materials from different historical periods of Mongolia have been done to a certain extent (Tumen, 1977; 1985; 1987; Tumen et al., 2002).
Material and methods
The 58 more or less well preserved skulls uncovered during archaeological expeditions carried out in Eastern Mongolia since 1960s were studied for the presence or absence of 81 nonmetric cranial traits. The traits were selected based on their successful use by other researchers in biodistance studies, and their scoring procedures and descriptions are well known in the literature (Finnegan and Marcsik, 1979; Hauser and DeStefano, 1989; Movsesyan et al., 1975).
Nonmetric cranial trait frequencies were calculated using the "individual count” method described by Turner and Scott (1977), where if an individual exhibited asymmetry in the expression of a given trait, the greatest level of expression is used. This scoring procedure assumes that a single genotype is responsible for any given trait's expression, and that when asymmetry exists among bilateral traits, the side exhibiting the maximum expression is closest to the true underlying genotype for the trait. The procedure also maximizes sample sizes; in cases where a given trait is observable for one antimere but not the other, the observable side is counted as the maximum expression for that trait.

A comparison of the results gained from the eastern Mongolian samples with those of Ishida and Dodo found among Siberian and Far East ancient and modern populations (1992) and Circum Pacific region populations (1993; 1997) can be summarized as follows:
Biological distances for the 8 Mongolian and 12 Siberian populations were computed based on the 23 nonmetric cranial traits. The central Mongolian population from Mongolian period and Western Mongolians from Xiongnu period were the closest to each other. The Eastern and Central Mongolian populations from Xiongnu period showed some affinities and with Chandmani population from Iron age in Western Mongolia formed another subcluster. Eastern Mongolian population from Mongolian period and modern population of Mongolia were the most distant from the other ancient populations.
In the dendrogram of relationships among ancient and modern Mongolian and other Asian populations, Xiongnu populations from Central and Eastern Mongolia were closely linked, while Central Mongolian population from Mongolian period and Western Mongolian  population from Xiongnu period were the closest among all the populations. Western Mongolian Chandmani population from Iron age and Eastern Mongolian population from Mongolian period linked and formed with the rest of ancient populations from Mongolia a distinct subcluster. Siberian and other Middle and Central Asian populations form a separate subcluster, within which Buriats and modern Mongolians, Tagar and Kazakh show some affinities. In Fig. 2 Northeast Asian populations form another distinctive subcluster, far from Mongolian and Middle and Central Asian populations.


M.Erdene, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology


Cranial nonmetric is quaite popular in analyzing osteological remains at the population level and has successfully been used to evaluate the evolutionary relations and biological affinities among ancient populations from different regions in the world. In present study we presented the results of cranial non-metric examination of modern Korean population. Through comparative analyses of cranial nonmetric variation of modern Koreans with those of ancient and modern Mongolian and other north and east Asian populations, we seek to determine the biological relationship of ancient and modern populations of Mongolia and Asia.


1. Erdene Myagmar, Presentation, Ancient population from Eastern Mongolia (Cranial nonmetric examination). Relics excavation state and meaning by the Jinghiz Khan Age, International Conference Korea and Eastern Asia III. Seoul, 25-26, October 2005.

2. Erdene Mygmar, Ancient population from Eastern Mongolia. Mongolian

Journal of Anthropology, Archaeology and Ethnology, 2006, Vol. 2, No. 1(254)


  • Color preference of Mongols, its tendencies

        M.Erdene, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology


 Abstract: One of the most important signs, and one that makes the greatest and most immediate impact in human communication is colour. Colour harmony, colour preferences and colour symbolism are culturally conditioned, and they vary considerably with both place and time. Here we present the results of colour preference study of Mongols of different age, ethnicity, education and professional background The results of the study show that most of Mongols favour white and blue colours, symbolizing purity and kindness, prosperity and happiness. In addition to white and blue, some participants mention black colour as a favourite, which symbolizes evil deed in traditional Mongolian culture. They described black colour as an official, looking slimmer, and very practical. This suggests us change of Mongols’ colour preference, especially in urban areas: besides traditional favourite colours, white and blue, black colour is becoming one of the most used and favourite colour of Mongols under the influence of the social development and western. Colour preference tends to change with both sex and age of participants, while education and profession are not important factor.

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