Ancient Monument in Asia Reveals Hidden Stone Sarcophagus Surrounded by Mysterious Secret Writings

Dongoin Shiree
Drone aerial shot of the ancient Turkish ruins on Dongoin shiree. Osaka University and Institute of History and Archaeology, Mongolian Academy of Science

A team of archaeologists has discovered a strangely arranged monument in eastern Mongolia. The sarcophagus in the ruin the team found is flanked by 14 stone pillars, each covered in Turkic Runic inscriptions, arranged in a square. The excavation took place between 2015 and 2017, and was carried out by a team from Osaka University and the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, according to a press release.

At the center of the square formed by the pillars lies a sarcophagus. The person who may have been buried there, and described in the inscriptions on the surrounding pillars, held the position of viceroy, or Yagbu, according to a press release from Osaka University.

Before this investigation, it was reportedly believed that inscriptions like this were only in Western Ulaanbaatar or Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Takashi Osawa, one of the archaeologists who led the excavation, dates the grave to the time of "Bilge Qaghan of the Second Turkic Qaghanate," between the years 716 and 734. The Turkic language title qaghan or kaghan is equivalent to the title of emperor.

The discovery advances our understanding of the power dynamics among the ruling empires in the region. The Qaghanate or Khaganate refers to the area over which the qaghan ruled. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Ögödei Khan, son of Genghis Khan, was the first Mongol ruler to call himself khagan. The older Qaghans who were in power when this grave was built were Turkic, not Mongolian Khans, who lived and died hundreds of years before.

Mining trucks in the South Gobi region of Mongolia. David Stanway/Reuters

According to Osawa, the man described in the inscriptions ascended to the level of "commander in eastern Mongolia during the reign of Tengri Qaghan, from 734 to 741.

Along with offering particular lessons about the life of the man described in the inscriptions, Osaka University claims that the discovery of the monument provides evidence that the Dongoin shiree steppe was the center of the eastern Turkic Khagangate, whose location was previously unknown.

The University of Osaka did not state whether the results of the excavation or these claims will be published in a peer-reviewed publication.