Rewriting the Medieval History of Tibet

News item posted on: November 7th, 2011
“Rewriting the Medieval History of Tibet: A Field Survey of the Great Tombs and Relics of the Tibetan Empire in the Western Kokonor Region”

A lecture by Yongdrol K. TsongkhaProfessor Tsongkha
Professor of Ethnic and Tibetan Studies, Lanzhou University (Amdo)
Research Associate at Indiana University

When: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Where: Gibson 241 at 6pm

Presented by the UVa Tibet Center and the Buddhist Studies Group at UVa

Don’t miss this chance to hear one of Tibet’s foremost historians speak about the biggest archaeological discovery in Tibet since Dunhuang

Since the 1983 discovery of plundered imperial tombs in Dulan in the western Kokonor region of the Tibetan Plateau, thousands of tombs dated to the period of the Tibetan Empire (7th-9th centuries) have been discovered in the area. A great number of tomb relics such as gold, silver and silk artifacts and Tibetan inscriptions on stone tablets and wood slats are now circulating in public museums and private collections in Europe, North America, Japan and China as well as in antique markets in Hong Kong, Beijing, Lanzhou and elsewhere. Based on extensive field studies, Professor Tsongkha’s lecture will give a survey of the tombs, relics from the tombs, and recent academic studies, all detailing the significance of these discoveries for understanding the medieval civilization of Tibet.


A leading historian of Tibet, Yongdrol K. Tsongkha is Professor of Ethnic and Tibetan Studies in the School of History and Culture and School of Ethnology, founding director of the Institute for Tibeto-Burman & Altaic Studies at Lanzhou University, Gansu Province, and a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University. He has published extensively, in Chinese, Tibetan and English, on a wide range of topics, including Tibetan folklore, archaeology and early history of Tibet, local history of Amdo, linguistics, history of Tibetan, Indic and Chinese medicines, ecological and environmental issues. He is also a cultural entrepreneur and advocate for the revival of the lost traditions of Tibet. He has initiated more than seven festivals featuring traditional Tibetan dances, sports and games in his hometown in Kumbum and other areas of Amdo. His 2003 film, Life Among the People of Choni, has been broadcast by Gansu TV, Canadian Shaw Multicultural, Maysles Institute Cinema, and at the Sichuan TV International Festival where it won the Golden Panda Award in 2009. He has lectured at the University of Virginia, Columbia University, Harvard University, Cornell University, Simon Fraser University, Georgia Washington University and Waseda University as well as at universities across the PRC.

Professor Tsongkha holds a Ph.D. in Medical History (1995) and a Master’s degree (1988) in the local history of Amdo. He has taught and studied at the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and Department of Anthropology as an assistant professor (adjunct 1999-2003) at Indiana University and was a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for the History of Natural Science of Chinese Academy of Sciences 1995-2000 and Junior Research Fellow in the Department of History at Tso-ngon (Qinghai) Normal University from 1988-1991.

Field Team

Field Team in Western Tso-ngon-po (Kokornor )