Ancient Mustang: the Origins of a High Himalayan Kingdom in Nepal


September 27, 2013  7:15 pm to 9:00 pm

Friday, September 27, 2013: Professor Mark Aldenderfer (UC Merced) will present “Ancient Mustang: the Origins of a High Himalayan Kingdom in Nepal.” This lecture will be held at SDSU, Arts & Letters 101.

Today, Upper Mustang, located in a high elevation valley in northern Nepal, seems remote and isolated. Closed to the world until the 1990s, Mustang is now home to a small but thriving Tibetan Buddhist community that was once part of a much larger world with connections westward into Central Asia and to the east into China and beyond via the famous Silk Road. Yet the origins of this community are very much unknown. The earliest inhabitants are variously described as Aryans, Mongolians, Tibetans, and others. Our research project, composed of a team of archaeologists, historians, bioarchaeologists, archaeological scientists, including specialists in the analysis of ancient DNA, along with a crack team of Alpinists and climbers, is recovering important new data that speak to the origins of the people of Upper Mustang and the ways in which the polity grew and changed over the past 3000 years. This is scientific, adventure archaeology at its finest!

Professor Aldenderfer is Dean and Professor at the University of California at Merced, and holds his degrees from Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D.) and Wake Forest University. His areas of specialization include the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan arc, the archaeology of foraging societies, Archaic/Pre-ceramic Andes, comparative analysis of high altitude cultural and biological adaptations, the archaeology of Buddhism, and the archaeology of religion. He has conducted fieldwork in Tibet, Nepal, Peru, Argentina, Ethiopia, and at sites throughout the United States. Professor Aldenderfer is an AIA Norton Lecturer for 2013/2014.

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