Panicoids in Xiongnu burial ground (Mongolia, First Century AD): problems of identification

E. A. Korolyuk, A. A. Krasnikov, N. V. Polosmak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper summarizes the data on plant remains from burial mounds of the Noin-Ula burial ground in Northern Mongolia (dated from the end of the 1st century BC to the beginning of the 1st century AD). Plant remains that were found in several mounds (20, 22, and 31) belonged to different plant species. Some of them, the remains of Pinus sylvestris L. and Betula sp., got into a mound (31) accidentally during burial ceremony. They are typical for that area. Another part of plants, found in all three mounds, was placed there intentionally, most likely, for ritual purposes. They are loose grains inside the casket (mound 31) and on the foor of a burial chamber (mounds 20, 22) at 17-meter depth. The problems of identifcation of panicoid remains from burial grounds are discussed in detail. For diagnostics of panicoid graminoids in this case study only caryopsis macroparameters were possible to use. The knowledge on morphology of ultrasculpture of caryopses surface is fragmentary and weakly studied even for the modern material which could be used as a standard for identifcation of archaeological material. The written sources of the time close to the burial age, if existed, should be used very carefully. Plant remains from all three mounds were identifed up to a species level. They all belong to Panicum miliaceum L. The Xiongnu culture featured a special attitude to millet as reflected in burial rituals of the Xiongnu nobles among other numerous traditions of Han civilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Nomads
  • Northern Mongolia
  • Panicum
  • Plant remains
  • The Xiongnu
  • nomads
  • plant remains
  • the Xiongnu

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