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Caves in Mongolia

Around 2 million years ago apes slowly began to leave trees and made their first attempt to live on the land. I, 2 million years later their next generations or first humans began using stone tools in order to make nests and caves. Ancient humans didn’t understand the reality of natural disasters such as earthquake, thunder, strong winds and rains, flood, volcanic eruption, fire, attacks of beasts and coldness. In order to survive from those dangers their natural instincts taught them to use natural homes like caves, dense jungles, rock gaps and ravines. Ancient humans resided on Mongolian territory had used different ways to hide and protect themselves from sudden dangers in the night. Mountain people lived in caves and shelters of rocks. In contrary the people in steppes and riverside spent nights at ravines and riverbeds in big groups. In 20th century, caves and caverns that have amazing formations were discovered in many countries of the world. In Mongolia too, many caves and caverns that had been used by ancient humans were found in past century. For example; Expedition worked in Uvur Khangai, Bayan Khongor, Gobi Altai and Hovd aimags in 1956 discovered some caves and ancient homes used by humans.

Cave of Tsenkher

2 Caves located at the east side of river Tsenkher in Mankhan village of Hovd aimag are in great interest of foreign and domestic scientists. During the research of those caves, bones of ancient humans and some stone tools were found. Based on the soot on its walls and ocher paintings of wild camel, mountain goats and cattle, researcher Ser-Odjav N and Skladnicov AP made a conclusion that those caves were used by humans around 40 thousand years ago. After the detailed study, scientists agreed those caves belong to the Old Stone Age.

Cave of Bayan Ulaan

There are several caves in Bayan Ulaan Mountain that stretches from Bayan Delger village of Tuv aimag to Tsenkher Mandal village of Khentii aimag. In 1969, explorer Perlee H excavated the cave north of Khushig Mountain and found some evidences proving that Buddhist lamas had lived in that cave until recently. He also discovered stone tools, broken parts of vase and bones of livestock. He noted these are the evidence to prove people were using that cave in Stone Age.

Cave of Shiliin Bogd

This cave is located in Sukh-Baatar aimag. 40 years ago local people found human bones in this cave. Its marrow had a blue color. It means that it is the bone of ancient human.

Cave of Gurvan-Zeerd

This cave is located very close to Chinese and Mongolian border in Umnugobi aimag. Human bones discovered from that cave in 1930 by explorer Sumikov has been kept in museum until today. Apart from those caves there are also many well interested caves such as Cave of Dayan-Deerkh in Chandmana-Undur village of Khuvsgul aimag and cave of Rashaant. Based on the soot and ancient paintings on its walls the scientists enacted that those caves were used by people since stones ages. But ancient people didn’t only use caves. They used to leave caves in warm seasons to hunt animals in steppes, forests and river banks. During such long travel, ancient people learned more about the importance of comfortable residence and thereby began to make their own nests using natural caves and ravines. Their knowledge collected by different kinds of laborhelped them to invent their own homes. Evolution process of human residences can be divided into 3 periods. In the 1st period human like apes lived passively in caves, in 2nd period Neanderthal humans learned to cover cave holes and began using a fire to warm up, in the 3rd period people began to build cave like homes themselves.

First Designs of Residences

The history of residence created by people is relatively shorter than the history of mankind. Human like apes left trees and made first attempts to live on the land about 2 million years ago. Although 800 thousand years ago first humans began using stone tools, there weren’t any residence at all then. But there isn’t any proof that comparatively smart human like apes never built nests and other simple residences. We don’t have to forget that at the time when humans first made stone tools, only caves were used to protect people fromdangers of nature. At first ancient humans used to use caves and caverns to protect themselves from natural dangers. But when the time moves, caves became their homes. Because of the changes occurred to the climate and lifestyle, the need to make life more comfortable were rising.

Dugout Residence

Dugout Eruken originated a long time ago. Some researchers consider that Eruken originated almost 50 thousand years ago and became main residence of ancient people. It was the direct result of human practice and knowledge collected since people began hunting wild animals. At that time people used to hunt in large groups and used rock shelters, ravines, deep holes, land gaps and high cliffs for hunting purposes. These methods and knowledge of hunting later influenced them to dig holes in the ground and use that as a residence. By the time passes, people were searching more advantageous and comfortable residence. That’s how people invented first dugout residence or Eruken. To erect Eruken they used poles, branches, animal skin and bones. First dugouts didn’t have a roof. It was just a hole on the ground. But soon people began to cover it with poles, branches and bark of a tree. Since 30 to 50 thousand years ago, people began to use pillars to cover dugouts. At the same time they made walls using with logs, rocks and thick grasses. It was either an important progress or a beginning of new steps to originate completely new types of residences that have different roofs and covers. New dugout roofs had some disadvantages. They were not suit-able to move freely inside of it. People realized it quickly and began making slanting roof high close their own heights. People also began making holes in logs of the wall to make their movement easier was the first step to originate a stair. Furthermore, to let in fresh air and sunlight people needed to make windows and doors. Almost 10 thousand years ago Turk, Manchu, Khamnigan and Mongols had same language “Altai” and sametradition, same methods for hunting and food making. They all used round and quadrangular shaped dugouts and used to call it Eruken. After separation between Mongol and Altai language groups, Mongolians began to call it ovookhoi (wigwag) by its shape. One important version of ancient Mongolian home Eruken had been used by Huns later. This fact was written in the book of Chinese historian Shima Tsen “Shi-Tsi historical travelogue”. People of that time used to believe that anyone dies; his or her still exists at home. That’s why dead people were buried at their own homes or at same tombs to their own home. One clear example of that tradition is a tomb of Noyon Mountain. This tomb has rectangular shape in size of 2, 9×4, 6 meters and 1, 7 meters high. Inside of it, there is a small compartment with the size of 1,55×3 meters and 1, 45 meters high. The dugout inwhich that tomb lies is made out of logs and poles. To build Eruken the Huns used to use chopped and original logs. The size of logs used for that tomb was 20cm in diameter and 21 logs were used for roof and floor. Furthermore, no nail was used to build that tomb. One progress of modern archeological research is the discovery of Huns used not only bricks, rocks and logs but also poles, green meadow, bark of a tree and branches to make a roof. Scientists consider that the Eruken originated not in the times of Huns, but thousands of years before that. To identify the prehistoric shape of Eruken, scientific expedition had traveled through the places such as Khuiten bulag, Tamsag bulag, Yamaan Us and Lake of Duruu along the road to Khalkh Gol village of Dornod aimag. Erukens found by that expedition were interesting discovery for many researchers. Most interesting discovery among them was the remains of Eruken belong back to 4000s BC. That Eruken was found 7 kilometers to the southeast from old Tamsag Bulag village. Russian and Mongolian
archaeologists excavated that remain and found stone scraper, bone knife, 7 anklebones of horses belong back to New Stone Age. Based on that evidence, researchers came to a conclusion that this Eruken belongs to New Stone Age. For ancient tribes, main factor to transform into urban lifestyle and use farmland was water resource. That’s why ancient people used to build their dugouts close to rivers and spring waters. Tamsag Bulag’s Eruken is an important evidence to study the lifestyle of humans long before trade and handcrafts originated. Researchers say anklebones, bones of birds, broken vase, and millstone and remain of wheat which was found in that Eruken are an evidence to prove that people who lived on eastern Mongolian steppes had possessed farming. Now we know that people resided on Mongolian territory in ancient times invented different kinds of Erukens and almost 10 thousand years ago. Those residences had been by Huns until 2 thousand years ago.

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