The Mongolian-Japanese joint research project on inscription


More than twenty years since 1994 the Mongolian-Japanese Joint Project team has been working on discovering and comprehensive surveying of various  monumental  and  rock inscriptions, written in various languages and scripts, in the territory of Mongolia. The International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations from the Mongolian side and the Osaka International University, Ryukoku University, and Otani University from the Japanese side are cooperating in this joint project. A.Ochir, a Professor and International Project Coordinator of the International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations works as a Project Manager from the Mongolian side and L.Erdenebold – as a Researcher. Mr. K. Matsuda, a Professor of the Osaka International University works as a Project Manager from the Japanese side.

Over the years, the project team has surveyed more than 20 stone monuments and fragments having inscriptions written in Mongolian, Chinese, Arabic, and Persian discovered near Kharakhorum (Karkorin) city ruins and Erdene-Zuu monastery. Particularly:

One of the monuments discovered by the project team contains an inscription on decree of Chinggis Khaan to create Kharkahorum city. This monument was on a large stone turtle statue, which is still now its original site in Kharkhorin. The monument was broken up into many fragments, and additional three fragments were found. We have been working to put together these fragments with the rest one found earlier, and to restore and assembly this monument.

Among the monuments found near Kharkhorin and Erdene-Zuu monastery, the Mongolian script I monument has been included in the unique and invaluable intangible cultural heritage category of Mongolia and the II monument – in the most valuable intangible cultural heritage category according to Resolution of the Government of Mongolia and they are taken under special safeguarding.

The “Inscription” Project Team has worked in most aimags of Mongolia and has newly discovered more than 20 monumental and rock inscriptions in Mongolian, Square, Khitan, Uighur, Turkish /Runi/, Sogdian and Persian.   As a result of the research project we have  published five books in Japan. During the above surveys we have discovered rock inscriptions with horizontal and vertical square letters and shining monument with Khitan large script in the territory of Mongolia. The monument having inscription on six rows with Khitan large script were found in the “Buleen” mound (Hill) of Erdene soum of Dornogovi aimag. It is currently stored in the National Museum of Mongolian History.

Along with transcription and study of rock inscriptions,  the Project Team has  also been providing archaeological excavations. The birch-bark books in Mongolian and Tibetan languages have been discovered by the Project Team during surveying of archaeological site with archaeological excavations in Tavagchiin Ulaan site of Bukhmurun Soum,  Uvs Aimag in 1999, and in Khar Bukh ruin of Dashinchilen soum of Bulgan aimag in 2010. These books, belonging to the XVI-XVIII century, have been restored in the Ganiguji laboratory of Japan and returned to Mongolia. After surveying the part of these birch-bark books written in Mongolian script, we have published the results in the name of “Mongolian Birch-Bark Books”, containing photos and original scripts.

During exploration and research works the Project Team has discovered an oldest ruin with rectangular walls in the territory of Sharga soum of Gobi-Altai aimag. After examination of finds, this ruin named as Khalzan Shireg ruin has been identified as the ruin of Chingai town  created by Chingai Noble in 1212 according to Decree of Chinggis Khaan, about what the press conferences in Mongolia and Japan have been held.



Continuing its previous studies the “Inscription” Project team provided excavations  on the Khalzan shireg ruin in Sharga soum of Gobi-Altai aimag in 2018. Earlier there are discovered parts of ancient figurine identified as the legs of clay god, and during excavation in this year many different findings have been excavated, in particular a cattle shoulder bone on which are seen Tibetan letters, most likely written by hand in black ink, as well as fragments of earthen pots and porcelain pottery vessels, and cattle bones. As a result of surveys we think that the Buddhism has been developed following the Silk Road. In the framework of the project,  the broken fragment of a shining monument has been discovered in the territory of Bayannuur soum of Bulgan aimag, which has been identified as the 2nd monument dedicated to Ito Shou, a hereditary leader of the Pugu aimag of Uigur, who died in 678.

The exhibition named “Cultural & Religious Relations and Written Monuments of the Steppes: Some Results for 22  Year – Work of the Mongolian-Japanese Joint Project on “Inscription has been organized by the “Inscription” Project as an report of outcomes for 22 year-work implemented under this project. The exhibition opened in National Museum of Mongolian History on 10th and 7th of September, 2018 for one week. This exhibition comprises of more than one hundred exponents and promotes the multilingual writing culture of Mongolia and introduces the public with the Mongolian-Japanese science and culture cooperation for  recent years.