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The Orkhon Valley

Cradle of the Mongolian nomadic civilization

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The cradle of nomadic civilization

Throughout the history, nomadic cultures have made important contributions to world civilization, including the sedentary civilization, through the processes of intercultural exchange and transmission. In comparison with the sedentary civilization, the nomadic civilization is more unique and their cultures more vulnerable. Its value and significance is also increasingly growing in prominence.

Mongols have practiced pastoral nomadism for centuries within the vast steppe stretched throughout the Central Asia, thus, the 'nomadc civilization'; a distinct civilization accepted worldwide. Today, the nomadic civilization is recognized as a key factor of the modern social development of Mongolia. It is highly respected as a noble way to live in harmony with the natural landscape and social environment since pre'historic times.

OVL is an evidence of the nomadic cultural tradition that is still living through the tradition of animal husbandry, oral and folk arts, custom and festivals which was inherited from generation to generation. As the cradle of nomadic civilization of Central Asia, the historical and cultural rich and invaluable heritage properties have been preserved in the Orkhon Valley.

The testimony to Central Asian and World history

The Orkhon Valley bears an exceptional testimony of the existence of human beings in Central Asia since ancient times as well as Central Asian and World history. It was demonstrated by the unique properties which were left by successive nomadic empires, in particular by the Mongol Empire established by Chinggis Khan and its famous capital city of Kharakhorum.

There are also a variety of historic sites and ruins, including sites and places, monasteries and temples and other monuments which are outstanding in universal value within this cultural landscape. These include important Turkic memorial sites, Khar Balgas-capital city ofUighur Empire as well as the Kharakhorum city ofMongol Empire which was the largest empire in world history. Erdene Zuu, the earliest surviving Mongolian Buddhist monastery and the Tuvkhun monastery are evidences of the widespread religious meditative traditions and customs. A number of other sites were also preserved.

Also, many cultural and archaeological vestiges dated from Paleolithic period through the Bronze and Iron Ages, including the Stone Aged archaeological sites of Moiltyn Am and "Orkhon-7" were revealed here. These remains are evidences which showed how these nomadic tribes lived, moved and pastured over several thousands years time.

The various empires which were established and existed in the Orkhon Valley, were as follow:

The Hunnu               3rd century BC-1 st century AD

The Sianbe                1st - 3rd centuries AD

The Jujuan               4th - 6th centuries AD

The Turkic empire     6th - 8th centuries AD

The Uighur state       8th - 9th centuries AD

The Kirgiz state         9th century AD

The Xidan state         10th - 12th centuries AD

The Great Mongol Empire 13th - 14th centuries AD

The cross-road of the inter-cultural exchange

The Orkhon Valley was a gateway where the exchange of cultural and human values between West and East, as well as Asia and Europe. This can be confirmed in many cultural relics originated from foreign countries but found in the Orkhon archaeological sites.

Temples and places for worship testified the existence of different kinds of religions and foreign cultures in the Kharakhorum city. The nomadic civilization was influenced by these foreign cultures. This was evident in the city ruins and monasteries designed by the Sogd, Uighur, China, Tibet and Mongolian architecture, the stele with inscriptions using Turkic, Sogd, Uighur, Mongolian, Tibet, Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Lanz and Soyombo scripts and other remains which are still in existence in the Orkhon Valley.

Stretching across the continents of Asia and Europe, the -Great Mongolian Empire was the backdrop for the great political, economic, culture and trade transformations. During this period, the territory of the Mongol Empire was the transit route for merchants from Persian Gulf and other countries. The route of transit was also called the "Silk road". The establishment of the horse relay system (Urtuu), a network covering the whole territory of the Empire, was the most then the most established transportation and communication system in the world. Western and eastern traders, adventurers, missionaries, politicians and soldiers traveled through this relay system; bringing the relations between Asia and Europe to an unprecedented level. Certainly, the Kharakhorum city, the ancient capital of Mongolian Empire was the center of this network.

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