The Gobi Desert (Mongolian: Говь, ᠭᠣᠪᠢ, ; Chinese: 戈壁; pinyin: gēbì) is a large, cold desert and grassland region in northern China and southern Mongolia and is the sixth largest desert in the world. The name of the desert comes from the Mongolian word Gobi, used to refer to all of the waterless regions in the Mongolian Plateau, while in Chinese Gobi is used to refer to rocky, semi-deserts such as the Gobi itself rather than sandy deserts.


There is little information about early habitation of the Gobi desert.

Lisa Janz has proposed a system of nomenclature for early Gobi desert habitation. They are Oasis I, Oasis II, Oasis III. [1][2]

Oasis I is equivalent to the Mesolithic from 13500 cal BP to 8000 cal BP. During this time people began using oases. It is characterized by:

micro blades small milling stones small tools plain, low fired, pottery with high organic content.[1]

Oasis II is equivalent to the Neolithic from 8000 cal BP to 5000 cal BP. People used the oases extensively. It was characterized by:

micro blades milling stones chipped macro tools adzes axes high quality cryptocrystallines honeycomb imprinted, corded, string paddled, low and high fired pottery with a sand and gravel mixture. [1]

Starting around 8000 cal BP there was a warm wet phase in the Gobi desert. [2]By 7500 cal BP lake levels in the Western Gobi reached their peak. Around this time there was meadow steppe vegetation around lakes. In Ulaan Nuur there may have been shrubby riparian woodlands.[1]

Oasis III is equivalent to the Bronze Age from 5000 cal BP to 3000 cal BP. It is characterized by:

micro blades chipped micro tools bifacially flakes arrowheads blades knives grinding stones copper slag high quality chalcedony bone beads, clay spindle whorls plain, string paddled, moulded rim, painted, geometrically incised, high and low fired pottery with mixture of sand, gravel, mica, shells, and fiber. [1]

Bronze Age herder burials have been found in the Gobi desert, as well as Karasuk bronze knives, and Mongolian deer stones. [1] Between 5000 cal BP and 4500 cal BP there was a period of desertification. [1][2] Due to the increasing aridity between 3500 cal BP and 3000 cal BP there was a decline in human habitation in the Gobi desert. [1] Prehistoric petroglyphs have been found in Southern Mongolia in 1997.[3]

European and American exploration

The Gobi had a long history of human habitation, mostly by nomadic peoples. The name of Gobi means desert in Mongolian. The region was inhabited mostly by Mongols, Uyghurs, and Kazakhs.

The Gobi Desert as a whole was known only very imperfectly to outsiders, as information was confined to observations by individual travelers engaging in their respective itineraries across the desert. Among the European and American explorers who contributed to the understanding of the Gobi, the most important were the following:[4]

Jean-François Gerbillon (1688–1698) Eberhard Isbrand Ides (1692–1694) Lorenz Lange (1727–1728 and 1736) Fuss and Alexander G. von Bunge (1830–1831) Hermann Fritsche (1868–1873) Pavlinov and Z.L. Matusovski (1870) Ney Elias (1872–1873) Nikolai Przhevalsky (1870–1872 and 1876–1877) Zosnovsky (1875) Mikhail V. Pevtsov (1878) Grigory Potanin (1877 and 1884–1886) Béla Széchenyi and Lajos Lóczy (1879–1880) The brothers Grigory Grum-Grshimailo (1889–1890) and M. Y. Grigory Grum-Grshimailo Pyotr Kuzmich Kozlov (1893–1894 and 1899–1900) Vsevolod I. Roborovsky (1894) Vladimir Obruchev (1894–1896) Karl Josef Futterer and Dr. Holderer (1896) Charles-Etienne Bonin (1896 and 1899) Sven Hedin (1897 and 1900–1901) K. Bogdanovich (1898) Ladyghin (1899–1900) and Katsnakov (1899–1900) Jacques Bouly de Lesdain and Martha Mailey, 1902[5] Roy Chapman Andrews from the American Museum of Natural History who led several palaeontological expeditions to the Gobi Desert in the 1920s[6] Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska who led Polish-Mongolian palaeontological expeditions in the 1960s.[7]
^ a b c d e f g h Janz, Lisa (March 2017). "Transitions in Paleoecology and Technology: Hunter Gatherers and Early Herders in the Gobi Desert". Journal of World Prehistory. 30 (1): 1–80. doi:10.1007/s10963-016-9100-5. JSTOR 44984508. S2CID 254747847 – via JSTOR. ^ a b c Rosen, Arlene (2019). "Holocene Vegetation cycles, land use, and human adaptations to desertification in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia". Vegetation History and Archeobotany. 28 (3): 295–305. Bibcode:2019VegHA..28..295R. doi:10.1007/s00334-018-0710-y. S2CID 135148462 – via Springer Nature. ^ Gonzalo de Salazar Serantes, “Discovery of Prehistoric Ruins in Gobi Desert”, Adoranten 1998. Tanum: Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art, 1998, pp 66-69 ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Bealby, John Thomas (1911). "Gobi". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 165–169. ^ "Romance Gone, Given Divorce". The Evening News. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. July 28, 1926. p. 1. Retrieved October 4, 2016 – via In 1902, while Lesdain was leading an expedition through the Gobi desert, he crossed the path of another explorer. This latter proved to be Miss Mailey who, dressed in men's clothes, commanded her expedition with assurance borne of the safe culmination of many adventures. ^ "Who Was Roy Chapman Andrews". Roy Chapman Andrews Society. Retrieved 2023-06-21. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Zofia (1969). Hunting for dinosaurs. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-61007-0.
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