Mongolian Museum

The history of the Mongols in China dates back thousands of years. The Mongols were a fierce breed of people who survived and prospered in a time of war and violence. The most powerful and famous warlord in Mongol history was Chinggis Kahn, also known by his Persian name, Genghis Kahn. Born in 1167 AD, Chinggis Kahn's military power succeeded in uniting many of the individual tribes of Mongolia into one unified country under one powerful leader.

Although Chinggis Kahn will be remembered throughout history for controlling the largest empire at one time, much about Mongolia and its inhabitants still remains a mystery. Due to the geographical and political isolation of Mongolia, much about their culture and the religious beliefs are just recently coming to light. Western civilization is finally getting a chance to appreciate the fierce beauty of these nomadic people.

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The Task

You are a curator of a new Mongolian museum exhibit. It will be the first exhibit in history to reveal some of the mysterious artifacts of Mongolia. This could be the break that your curator career has been waiting for!

There is only one small problem...the anthropologist who has arranged the shipment of the artifacts in Mongolia has mysteriously disappeared. It does not appear that the anthropologist recorded any descriptions of the artifacts, but he did label each piece. Basically, you have a bunch of crates with old, expensive, and rare "stuff" in them. If you are going to pull off this exhibit, it will be up to you to carefully examine each artifact, identify it, and explain what each piece reveals about Mongolian culture.

Once you have determined all you can from each artifact, you will write a description to be included in the museum tour for each piece in the exhibit. You will also create a brochure detailing the exhibit and include a floor plan of the exhibit.

The Process

Step I - Inference Scenario

Before attempting to examine and identify the Mongolian artifacts, you must first brush up on your inference techniques. Complete the following scenario to refresh your inference skills:

You are an archeologist from the future whose task is to investigate a small uninhabited planet called Earth. The population of Earth has been extinct for thousands of years. After extensive searches, your archeological team discovers only one artifact, a small, metal disc.

After examining the metal disc, you need to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the physical characteristics of the object? (Use your five senses to describe the object -- however, it would probably not be wise to taste the object!)
  2. What inferences can you make about the function of the object?
  3. What inference can you make about the culture of the people who made it?
  4. What generalizations can you make about the people?

Now that you have sharpened your inference skills, you are ready to tackle the Mongolian artifacts!

Step II - Mongolian Poster

Before beginning to identify the art pieces, you need to review a bit of Mongolian history. Create a poster that creatively summarizes the key points of Mongolian History to hang in the foyer of the museum exhibit. Create a poster summarizing the following key areas of Mongolian history:

Once you have identified the key aspects of Mongol history, put the key points on a poster. Be creative with the poster, by using pictures and colors! Be sure that the poster summarizes the key points clearly.

Step III - Artifact Identification

When you arrive at the museum warehouse, your team helps you uncrate each artifact. As you uncrate each artifact, you find it has already been labeled by the anthropologist. These labels give you a good starting point to begin your inferences.

Artifact I
The first artifact is a labeled "saddle". Click on the blue words to see the image.

Artifact II
The second artifact is labeled "double spouted ewer". This ewer has an interior wall that separates two chambers so that two different liquids could be served simultaneously.

Artifact III
The next artifact is a jacket labeled Boy do Khan jacket.

Artifact IV
The next artifact is a tapestry or fabric hanging depicting the Phagspa Lama.

Artifact V
The next artifact is a Tsongkhapa statue.

Artifacts VI-IX
The next crate contains an entire series of statues.

Select two of these artifacts and answer the following:

Artifact X
The next artifact is labeled "horse statue".

Artifact XI-XVI
The next crate holds another series of artifacts. They are several different statues.

Select three of these statues and answer the following questions:

Step IV - Artwork Exhibit Identification Cards

Now that you have identified all of the artwork, it is time to create the identification cards that will appear in the exhibit brochure.

Fill out the following for each piece of artwork:



Cultural Revelation:

Step V - Check Your Work With the Team

After all of the work you have put into this exhibit, it looked like you were actually going to pull it off successfully! Just two days before the tour grand opening, who shows up - but the original anthropologist who disappeared!!

The anthropologist has all of the records about each of the artifacts! Now you need to check all of your information against the information that you inferred from the artifacts.

Your career is on the line and the museum exhibit is scheduled to open in two days! You are desperate for help, so you ask the head curator (your teacher) of the entire museum for assistance. The head curator assigns each member of your team to look up two artifacts using the anthropologist's newly discovered notes. Check each Artifact Identification Card before you create the exhibit brochure.

Your teacher will assign each student to look up two artifacts using the new information provided by the anthropologist. Click here to view the anthropologist's detailed notes about each artifact. Create a new Artifact Identification Card for the two artifacts that you were assigned by the head curator. Include the following information on the new cards:

While you are researching the two artifacts, your teacher will hang a large target in front of the class.

Each student will share their new artwork identification card with the entire class. After all of the new information has been shared, each student will place his/her original cards on the target board in the front of the class.

Each student will place his/her original card according to the following chart. Place the card...

Step VI - Whole Class Discussion

Prepare to answer the following questions with the entire class:

  1. After discovering the anthropologists notes, were most original cards on or off the target?
  2. Were there specific artifacts that appeared on or off target more frequently than the others?
  3. Were there common misconceptions made about the Mongolian culture?
  4. Do you think there was any cultural bias involved in making the inferences about the artifacts?

Step VII - Museum Exhibit Brochure

Using the information you have gained by examining the Mongolian artifacts and reviewing the anthropologists notes, create a brochure to be used as a guide when people tour the museum exhibit. Create color sketches of each artifact and copy the Artwork Identification Card information into the brochure. Your brochure can take many forms. Try a tri-fold, a standard brochure format, or a flip chart format.

Also, create a floor map of the exhibit showing visitors to the various artifacts. Be sure to group all of the artifacts so that like pieces are together and the exhibit has a good flow. Be sure to label each artifact in the exhibit on the floor map and coordinate it to the description.

Try creating a tri-fold brochure for your exhibit!


Other Internet resources that will help you are :

Learning Advice

If you have access to PageMaker, Quark, or Microsoft Publisher or a good word processing program, use it to make your exhibit tour brochure.


You will be evaluated on the thoughtfulness of your inferences about the artifacts. You will be evaluated on your final artifact research and whole class discussion. Also, you will be evaluated on the creativity, quality, and accuracy of the brochure you create.



The scope of the Mongolian empire was vast and powerful. In the midst of the war and turmoil that plagued the Mongolian people, great works of beauty emerged. The exhibit of Mongolian art gives us a brief glimpse of the more aesthetic side of the traditional Mongolian culture.

Extension Activities

Last revised 3/28/06