Mongolia is rich with monuments and complex heritage sites that belong to Bronze Age culture.
The main Bronze Age monuments are khirgisuurs, petroglyphs, stone sculptures such as deer stones and burial sites.
The most exciting and elegant and valuable monument among Bronze Age complexes are deer stones.
Deer stones usually be found together with extraordinary monuments called khirgisuur, with slab burials or in some cases with petroglyphs forming a complex site.
Deer stones are unique monuments dating to the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age that are found mostly in Mongolia and in some Central Asian countries.
The Bronze Age funeral practice, sacrificial ritual and ideology and animal style art, which were spread among ancient nomads, are all together represented through deer stones.
The term “Deer Stone” is derived from highly artistic illustrations of deer on stone. The deer stones are created from a long block of granite with four flat sides, on which deer and other images are engraved. Deer stones have three ornamented anthropomorphic sections: a “face”, “torso”, and “lower body” section.
The face part contains human faces, symbol of sun and moon and earrings while stylized deer, elk – occasionally horses and ibexes – are engraved in the torso.
In the lower body part there are images of weapons, belt and horse riders. The main decoration, deer images are classically depicted in superimposed extraordinary abstract style. However, in many cases deer image or other animals such as horses, ibexes and pig images are occasionally depicted in rough appearance.
The size of deer stones range between 1 – 4 meters in height and 20 – 40 cm in thickness and 30 – 80 cm in width.
A combination of different art making techniques is applied on the deer stones statues. Researchers believe that these sophisticated statues, which require enormous effort and skill, were dedicated to leaders and great warriors of a tribe. Therefore on the bodies of the deer stones there are engravings of various types of weapons such as daggers, grindstones, mattocks, bows with cases, spears, shields and mirrors as well as belts with decorative patterns.
The deer stone statues have their origin during the middle of the Bronze Age in the Central Mongolia and then the early Iron Age they were spread throughout Mongolia extending to some countries of Asia and Europe. The first research on the deer stone was conducted over 100 years ago.
Thus far, about 1200 deer stones have been discovered.
The following three sites can represent the sites of the Bronze Age cultural complex in Mongolia in the Tentative List:
1. BRONZE AGE CULTURAL COMPLEX SITE WITH DEER STONES AT UUSHGIIN UVUR
This complex site is located south of the Uushig mountain of Burentogtokh soum, Khuvsgul province, occupying approximately 400 hectare area.
It is fascinating and interesting to see a complex of 30 deer stones and big khirgisuurs and slab burials. In terms of statue number, skillful works and illustrations this complex site is a great representation of this culture. Especially, statues with images of human face draw attentions of many scientists and considered one of the rarest statues.
2. BRONZE AGE CULTURAL COMPLEX SITE WITH DEER STONES AT NORTH TAMIR VALLEY
There are over 100 deer stones, numerous khirgisuurs, burials and petroglyphs are spread within 45,000 hectare area of North Tamir river valley on territory of Battsengel and Ikh Tamir soums of Arkhangai province. This site is considered to be the biggest one that situated at one river valley. Besides the monuments, this place also keeps raw material (stones) exploitation sites, which shows that this river valley was the main area of the deer stone culture. There are also very interesting statues with engravings of fighting warriors and sling-like weapons.
3. BRONZE AGE CULTURAL COMPLEX SITE WITH DEER STONES AT JARGALANT VALLEY
This site is located 1 km from Khanui River in Undur-Ulaan soum of Arkhangai province, occupying 17.9 hectares area. A group of 30 deer stone statutes and a number of khirgisuurs and slab burials constitute this complex site. From these statues, 20 had been fallen and, in 2009-2010, these were erected on their original places.
This site is called “The museum of deer stones” because there is no other sites to contain such number of deer stones so close to each other.