Professor William Honeychurch’s research is on the archaeology of ancient nomadic political organization in eastern Eurasia. Nomadic groups of the Eurasian steppe organized large-scale states and empires from the first millennium BC and are best known for the world empire constructed by the medieval Mongols under Genghis Khan. How and why relatively small groups of pastoral nomads assembled such monumental and complex polities is a topic that informs us about different approaches to political relationships, state organization, and inter-cultural contact. Study of Eurasian steppe political systems gives valuable insight to how other large-scale empires were created and maintained over time, especially those in the Andes, the Mediterranean, and Southwest Asia where significant pastoral populations have resided.
PhD student William Gardner’s research includes a specific focus on archaeological research of mobile peoples. Currently, William is directing a full scale archaeological investigation of mobile pastoralists in the forest-steppe environment of north central Mongolia. The primary emphasis of the research project is to better understand the inception and operationalization of social complexity at local and regional levels. In addition to archaeological research, William is also conducting an anthropological study of modern mobility patterns around the capital of Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar), using remotely sensed satellite data.