Thunder from the Steppes:
New Perspectives on the Mongol Empire

DATES: Thursday, September 29, 2016 ▪ 4:00pm-6:30pm — Keynote Address
Friday, September 30, 2016 ▪ 9:00am-6:30pm

LOCATION: 180 Doe Library

SPONSORS: Mongolia Initiative and Institute of East Asian Studies

This conference was made possible by the generous support of the government of Mongolia.



The Mongol Empire orients history between Asia and Europe, ancient and modern, rural and urban, settled and nomadic, scientific and faith-based, and soteriological and aristocratic worlds. This conference invites new research on the Mongol empire in an effort to re-situate and re-evaluate the study and the significance of the Mongol empire in a global context. Organized by the UC Berkeley Mongolia Initiative.

Speakers include:
 •  Reuven Amitai, Hebrew University of Jeruselem
 •  Christopher Atwood, University of Pennsylvania
 •  Brian Baumann, UC Berkeley
 •  Dashdondog Bayarsaikhan, National University of Mongolia
 •  Michal Biran, Hebrew University of Jeruselem
 •  Bettine Birge, University of Southern California
 •  Nicola Di Cosmo, Institute for Advanced Study
 •  Johan Elverskog, Southern Methodist University
 •  Matthew Mosca, University of Washington
 •  Roxann Prazniak, University of Oregon
 •  Morris Rossabi, Columbia University
 •  Uranchimeg Tsultem, UC Berkeley
 •  Leonard Van Der Kuijp, Harvard University




4:00 PM — Opening Session
Chair: Sanjyot MEHENDALE, Vice Chair, Center for Buddhist Studies

Welcome Remarks

Sanjyot MEHENDALE, Vice Chair, Center for Buddhist Studies

Consul General Erdene SALDAN, Consulate General of Mongolia in San Francisco

Uranchimeg TSULTEM, History of Art, UC Berkeley

Brian BAUMANN, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

Introductory Presentation

“Finding Mongolia: Arts, Artifacts, and Early Historiography”
Morris ROSSABI, Columbia University

Keynote Address

“Environmental Perspectives on the Mongol Empire: What Climate Variability May Tell Us About the Mongol Expansion”
Nicola DI COSMO, Institute for Advanced Study


9:00 AM — Contacts, Conflicts, and Transformations
Chair: Brian BAUMANN, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

“The Mongol Middle Kingdom: Religions and Cross-Cultural Contacts in the Chaghadaid Ulus”
Michal BIRAN, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“’The Birth of Mohammed’ from the Jami‘ al-Tavarikh: A Lens on the Transformation of 13th/14th Century Eurasia”
Roxann PRAZNIAK, University of Oregon

“The Mongol-Ismā'īlī Relationship Revisited”
Dashdondog BAYARSAIKHAN, National University of Mongolia

“Ilkhanid-Mamluk Relations: Further Thoughts”
Reuven AMITAI, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Brief introduction to the project "Mobility, Empire and CrossCultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia"
Michal BIRAN, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

12:00-1:30 PM — Lunch Break

1:30 PM — The Role of Religion
Chair: Jacob DALTON, East Asian Languages and Cultures and South and Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley

“A Secular Empire? Religions, Estates, and Tax Exemptions in the Mongol Empire”
Christopher ATWOOD, University of Pennsylvania

“Were the Mongols Atheists?”

“Tibetan Lamas at the Mongol Court”

3:30 PM — Break

3:45 PM — Exploring the Empire: Literature, Art, and Documents in the Study of the Mongols
Chair: Patricia BERGER, History of Art, UC Berkeley

“Fearful Symmetry: Heavenly Allegory and the “Secret History of the Mongols”
Brian BAUMANN, UC Berkeley

“Marriage Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Challenges of a Multicultural Society”
Bettine BIRGE, University of Southern California

“Portraits of Chinggis Khaγan: Ancestral Connections ReExamined”
Uranchimeg TSULTEM, UC Berkeley

“The Importance of Qing-era Historiography on the Mongol Empire: Two Perspectives”
Matthew MOSCA, University of Washington

Download the conference program here. Program posted September 1, 2016.



Ilkhanid-Mamluk Relations: Further Thoughts
, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Abstract: The main “foreign policy” concern of the leadership of the early Mamluk Sultanate was the Mongol Ilkhanate, which ruled in Iran and the neighboring countries from the late-1250s to 1335. These Mongols, led by Hulegu and his successors known as Ilkhans, were the primary existential threat to the new Mamluk state from its first decades until the end of hostilities in the early fourteenth century. I have spent much of the last thirty years studying the ongoing struggle for regional supremacy between the Ilkhanate and the Sultanate. Less than a year ago, I took the opportunity at a conference in Bonn to review and sum up my thoughts on some of these matters, mainly looking at the Mamluk side of these relations. In the present lecture, I will concentrate on three aspects that more directly concern the Mongols:

  1. Why were the Ilkhans ultimately unsuccessful in defeating the Mamluk Sultans?
  2. How and why was the Mamluk-Ilkhanid war resolved around 1320?
  3. What was the effect of this peace on Ilkhanid politics?

Discussing these matters might lead to a better understanding of the Ilkhanate and its untimely demise.

A Secular Empire? Religions, Estates, and Tax Exemptions in the Mongol Empire
Christopher ATWOOD
, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: Since the days of Edward Gibbon, the empire of Chinggis Khan has been famous for its “religious tolerance.” In contrast to other medieval empires, the Mongol empire treated clergies of various religions equally and publicly expressed a standard that sounded much like separation of church (or mosque or sangha) and state. This seeming secularism of the Mongol empire seems like a fascinating precursor to the European colonial empires of the modern era. Indeed as recent research has shown, contemporary concepts of secularism and world religions were constructed in the scholarship of late 18th and 19th century European and American exploration and imperialism. One might interpret the Mongol empire as a 13th-14th century version of the same phenomenon, classifying both religions and their opposite, secularism. Yet it is strange that while the names of the different types of clergy are well attested in Mongol exemption decrees, for most of the actual religions as abstract entities, no Middle Mongolian word has yet been discovered. Nor do we find any word for “secularism” as a concept. This paper will explore to what degree the concept of secularism and religion might be applied to the Mongol empire and how the Mongol version of religious policy may be compared with those found in modern Euro-American imperial discourse.

Fearful Symmetry: Heavenly Allegory and the “Secret History of the Mongols”
, UC Berkeley

Abstract: The Secret History of the Mongols has been described in its commentaries as a “literary masterpiece.” True as this may be, the quality requisite to justify the claim has yet to be fully demonstrated. To date, study of the Secret History’s literary aspect has lagged behind other, perhaps prerequisite, pursuits linguistic, philological, and historical. Whether less fundamental than these or not, study of the text as literature has been vitiated by a lack of hermeneutic method which, unless overcome, will inhibit progress interpreting the text indefinitely. My paper presents a hermeneutic method useful for interpreting not only the Secret History but literature in general and demonstrates its applicability with examples from the text. The method I discuss derives from the science of orientation fundamental to establishing order against the void in nature. In this science the relationship between heaven and earth is one of symmetry expressed figuratively as allegory. This science of symmetry was known to the Mongols, who took it as the foundation to their world order and the source of their legitimacy as sovereign lords. Recognition of the presence of heavenly allegory in the text helps not only in its interpretation but also in comparing the text’s literary quality with the literature of other world rulers who did the same.

The Mongol-Ismā‘īlī Relationship Revisited
, National University of Mongolia

Abstract: The subject that I would like to discuss relates to the Ismā‘īlī history of the period of Mongol incursions in 1256. This article deals with three topics: the Mongols and their invasions of Alamut; Mongol-Ismā‘īlī relationship before and after invasion; and the issues of the death of Ismā‘īlī leader at the hands of the Mongols.

The Mongol conquest of Nizārī Ismā‘īlīs’ strongholds was described as “the single-most disastrous event in their history,” putting an end to the political aspiration and prominence of the Ismā‘īlīs in the region. This paper discusses the death of Ismā‘īlī Imam, arguing against the usual, common view of his murder.

The Mongol Middle Kingdom: Religions and Cross-Cultural Contacts in the Chaghadaid Ulus
Michal BIRAN
, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Abstract: The Chaghadaid ulus called itself as "Dumdadu Monggol Ulus", the Middle Mongol Ulus (rendered in Latin as Medium Imperium and in Arabic as Wasitat al-`iqd, the middle chain of a necklace), a designation that refers to its location among the Mongol uluses and later polities. Yet despite this central location, the Chaghadaids are often left out of the discussions on cross cultural connections in Mongol Eurasia, being over-shadowed by their magnificent and much better-documented neighbors mainly the Yuan dynasty and the Ilkhanate.

This paper, originating in my chapter on the Chaghadaids for the forthcoming The Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire, and based on a large variety of multi-lingual literary sources as well as on numismatic and archaeological studies, analyzes a few aspects of the complex culture of Mongol Central Asia. It highlights the relations between Tibetan Buddhism, Islam and Christianity in the Chaghadaid realm; the mobile court as a locus for cross-cultural contacts; and trade networks and their connections to the Central Asian diasporas all over Eurasia.

Marriage Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Challenges of Governing a Polyethnic Empire
Bettine BIRGE
, University of Southern California

Abstract:The Mongol conquest of China in the thirteenth century and Khubilai Khan’s founding of the Yuan dynasty brought together under one government people of vastly different languages, religions, social customs, and legal traditions. In their attempt to establish their rule over this diverse and polyethnic world, Khubilai and the great khans who succeeded him confronted fundamental questions, such as the role of government in regulating marriage and family life and what laws should apply to what people. At times they took a laissez-faire approach and allowed couples to establish prenuptial contracts that might contradict aspects of traditional Chinese marriage law. At other times they attempted to impose a unified set of ethical values on the populace through the adjudication of marriage law at the local level. Similarly, during some periods, emperors allowed different laws to apply to different ethnic or cultural groups, however unclearly defined. When this proved unworkable, they tried to unify marriage law for all peoples within Yuan territory, but this generated a flood of lawsuits by Chinese and other plaintiffs who found laws derived from Mongol steppe customs to be abhorrent. In their struggle to reconcile competing values and different cultural and religious practices, the Mongol emperors of China faced challenges not unlike those faced by the courts in legal conflicts over marriage law in the US today.

Environmental Perspectives on the Mongol Empire: What Climate Variability May Tell Us About the Mongol Expansion
, Institute for Advanced Study

Abstract: Theories of environmental change due to climate have been put forward in the past to explain the Mongol conquest have generally been received with skepticism due to the low quality of the data and to methodological shortcomings. Today high-definition climate data provides a key to more accurate interpretations of the relationship between climate-induced environmental changes and historical events. Therefore, historians may be able to gain a better appreciation of the effects that climate may have had on the rise of Mongol power and on its imperial expansion.

This talk will take into consideration scientific approaches to climate change in the early thirteenth century and discuss ecological variability, especially in relation to the availability of resources and military operations of the Mongols. Special attention will be paid to questions of steppe ecology and to the pros and cons of the use of scientific data as historical sources.

Were the Mongols Atheists?
, Southern Methodist University

Abstract: This paper aims to explore recent scholarship on the religious policies and practices of the Mongols during the empire period in order to engage with broader scholarly debates about categories such as “religion,” “secularism,” and “atheism.”

The Importance of Qing-era Historiography on the Mongol Empire: Two Perspectives
Matthew MOSCA
, University of Washington

Abstract: The period of the Qing Empire (1636-1912) was particularly formative for the historiography of the Mongol Empire. This was due largely to unprecedented contact between China and Inner Asia within the Qing Empire, and between the Qing Empire and other parts of Eurasia. Under these conditions, sources, translations, maps, linguistic knowledge, and other forms of information circulated and interacted to greatly expand historical knowledge of the Mongol conquests. This paper considers this period from two perspectives, the vantage of historians in the Qing, and in the twentieth century. It examines differences in what historians in those two eras regarded as the most important historiographical breakthroughs of the period between 1636 and 1912, and what these differences reveal about the development of historiography on the Mongol Empire.

“The Birth of Mohammed” from the Jami‘ al-Tavarikh: A Lens on the Transformation of 13th/14th Century Eurasia
, University of Oregon

Abstract: A case for the centrality of the Mongol Empire in the 13th/14th century transformation of Eurasia can be seen through the illustrated world history of Rashid al-Din’s Jami‘ al-Tavarikh, an innovative creation of the imperial workshops of Tabriz, Ilkhanate capital of the Iranian portion of the Mongol Empire. This paper takes as its focus the illustration of “The Birth of Mohammed” to explore briefly the layers of cultural and political exchange that circulated among Eurasian societies during the Mongol era, resulting in the expansion of social and intellectual conceptual boundaries that ultimately redefined civilizational agendas.

Finding Mongolia: Arts, Artifacts, and Early Historiography
, Columbia University

Abstract: This presentation starts with a brief consideration of the American pioneers of research on Mongolian history and culture and their invaluable scholarly contributions, as well as their efforts to promote Mongolian studies in the U.S. It describes the fields they focused on, which has led to the present status of knowledge about the Mongols. The lecture then offers a glimpse of the achievements of research on the Mongols to the present. Illustrations will provide a partial assessment of the value of the arts and material culture in understanding Mongolian history and culture.

Portraits of Chinggis Khaγan: Ancestral Connections Re-Examined
Uranchimeg TSULTEM
, UC Berkeley

Abstract: A well-known thirteenth-century portrait of Chinggis Khaγan (1162?-1227) is housed at the Taipei Palace Museum and have been published in numerous occasions in mostly historical books. The portrait is the major image of the Great Khaγan made closer to his lifetime during the Yuan dynasty. Lesser attention, however, was given to the painting from the perspective of portraiture and art-historical analysis.

Several scholars, including Marsha Weidner, Saysiyal, Nyam-Osoryn Tsultem, Shang Gang (尚刚), and Isabelle Charleux, have agreed that the portrait of Chinggis Khaγan is the work by Ho li Huo Sun or Qorγosun (和禮霍孫 fl. 1268-1303), a high ranking Yuan-court government official and a senior member of Hanlin Academy (翰林院) who was known for his achievements during his service. Whereas Weidner was the first scholar to reveal the authorship of this portrait in her Ph.D. dissertation at UC Berkeley in 1982, an Inner Mongolian historian Saysiyal (1987) specifically mentioned the existence of two portraits, identical in imagery, one in Taipei and the other one in Beijing. The scholars agree that Qorγosun was a Mongol, and the deviations of this portrait from Chinese imperial images before and after Yuan are explicit. How can we understand these deviations in relation to Mongol statues of stonemen from Yuan period which Isabelle Charleux (2010) sees as ongon? How were the Chinggis Khaγan portraits different from, and similar to ongon? Offering another reading of these portraits, this paper will discuss how these images were important to the establishment of portraiture as an ancestral connection for preservation of Mongol identity not only in modern days (Alicia Campi 2006) but also historically, both within and outside of modern political borders of Mongolia.

Tibetan Lamas at the Mongol Court
, Harvard University

Abstract: Forthcoming.



Reuven Amitai is Eliyahu Elath Professor for Muslim History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and studies the history of the pre-modern Islamic world and the adjacent areas. He is interested in the medieval history of the Turks and Mongols, especially the history of the Ilkhanate; the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and Syria; the Crusades in the Levant and Muslim responses; the military history of the medieval Middle East World; conversion to Islam; late medieval Arabic epigraphy; and, Palestine in the late medieval period. Until the end of September 2016 he is a senior fellow at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg: History and Society during the Mamluk Era (1250-1517).

His publications include Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260-1281 (Cambridge University Press, 1995); The Mongols in the Islamic Lands: Studies in the History of the Ilkhanate (Ashgate, 2007); and Holy War and Rapprochement: Studies in the Relations between the Mamluk Sultanate and the Mongol Ilkhanate (1260-1335) (Brepols, 2013). He has co-edited The Mongol Empire and its Legacy (with David Morgan, Brill, 1999); Mongols, Turks and Others: Eurasian Nomads and Their Sedentary Neighbors (with Michal Biran, Brill, 2005); Nomads as Agents of Cultural Change: The Mongols and Their Eurasian Predecessors (with Michal Biran, University of Hawaii Press, 2015). A forthcoming volume, "Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, 11th to 15th Centuries," co-edited with Christoph Cluse, will be published by Brepols.

Christopher Atwood is Professor of Mongolian and Late Imperial/Early Modern Chinese History at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, Atwood taught for two decades at Indiana University, serving as department chair and interim director of the Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region. He received his by A.B. from Harvard University in 1986 and PhD from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1994. He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Peking University, Minpaku, Inner Mongolia University, and Inner Mongolia Normal University, and served as academic consultant for the History Department of Mongolia National University.

Atwood’s research has centered on the relation of culture (especially history writing and religion) and the formation of political power in the Mongolia-Chinese border area. His publications include the Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, Young Mongols and Vigilantes in Inner Mongolia Interregnum Decades, 1911-1931, and translations of Chinese and Mongolian sources for class use. Major current projects include: 1) the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual historiography of the Mongol Yuan dynasty; 2) the Mongol empire, its religious and personnel policy, and the “early modern.” He is also working on a Source of Mongolian Tradition reader (with Johan Elverskog) and a new translation of the Secret History of the Mongols.

Brian Baumann holds a Ph.D. in Mongolian Studies from Indiana University. His pursuit of Mongolian Studies stems from a two-year tenure in Mongolia with the Peace Corps, from 1991 to 1993. His dissertation concerns a specific text, a manual of Mongolian Buddhist astral science, which he transcribes, translates, and analyses in terms of the art and science to the making of an almanac and the function almanacs serve in Mongolian Buddhist tradition. Currently he is working on a book project concerning a Mongolian verse treatise on salvation in Sa skya pa tradition.

Dr. Baumann is the Mongolian language Professor at UC Berkeley's Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. He is specialized in Mongolian Buddhist science (astrology, astronomy, and mathematics), and is fluent in Mongolian as well as in reading Chinese (modern and classical), old Turkic, Manchu and Tibetan.

Bayarsaikhan Dashdondog holds MSt in Armenian Studies (University of Oxford, UK) and DPhil in Oriental Studies (University of Oxford, UK). At present, she is a Lecturer at the National University of Mongolia, Department of History, teaching a History of Mongol Empire and Central Asia. She is a part of the international scholarly project of the Cambridge History of Mongol Empire (eds. Michal Biran and Kim Hogong).

Michal Biran is a historian of Inner Asia and a member of the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities. She is The Max and Sophie Mydans Foundation Professor in the Humanities at the Hebrew University, where she teaches in the Department of Asian Studies and in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Currently she is the director of The Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she also leads the ERC-funded project “Mobility, Empire and Cross-Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia.” She has published extensively on Mongol and Pre-Mongol Central Asia; the Mongol Empire; nomadism; and cross-cultural contacts between China and the Islamic world. Her books include Qaidu and the Rise of the Independent Mongol State in Central Asia (Curzon, 1997), The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World (Cambridge University Press, 2005, 2008) and Chinggis Khan (Oxford: OneWorld Publications, 2007). She has co-edited (with Reuven Amitai) Mongols, Turks and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World (Leiden: Brill, 2005) and Eurasian Nomads As Agents of Cultural Change (Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2015). Together with Hodong Kim she is now editing The Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire (2 volumes) as well as working on a book on The Cultural History of Ilkhanid Baghdad.

Bettine Birge is a professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures with a joint appointment in History at the University of Southern California. She received her B.A. from Princeton, an M.A. from Cambridge, where she studied as a Marshall scholar, and her PhD from Columbia University. Her research focuses on Chinese and Inner Asian social and cultural history, especially during the Mongol-Yuan dynasty (1260-1368). Her current interests include marriage law, gender relations, and constructions of ethnic identity, with particular focus on how these were influenced by Mongol rule in China.

She is the author of Women, Property, and Confucian Reaction in Sung and Yüan China (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and "Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Cases from the Yuan dianzhang" (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2017) as well as numerous articles. She is also a contributor to the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History and the Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire. Currently, she is working on a book titled "Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Order in China under Mongol Rule." Her research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Fulbright program at the U.S. Department of State.

Dr. Birge is the English-language editor of the trilingual journal Studies in Chinese History (Chūgoku shigaku, Zhongguo shixue), published in Tokyo, and she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Song-Yuan Studies.

Nicola di Cosmo is the Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies (Princeton, USA). He holds a PhD from Indiana University, and a BA from the University of Venice (Italy). He is also Visiting Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. Professor Di Cosmo has previously taught at Harvard University and at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). He lectures at Princeton University, and was a visiting professor at New York University-Shanghai in the Spring, 2015.

His research interests are in the history of Chinese and Inner Asian frontiers from the ancient to the modern periods, history of nomadic peoples, and history of the Qin dynasty. His books include Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge), Manchu-Mongol Relations on the Eve of the Qing Conquest (Brill), The Diary of a Manchu Soldier in Seventeenth Century China (Routledge). He has also edited the following books: Military Culture in Imperial China (Harvard), The Cambridge History of Inner Asia (Cambridge), Warfare in Inner Asian History (Brill), etc.

His most recent research focuses on the use of palaeoscientific data as historical sources, with special reference to the history of China, Central Asia, and Mongolia. He has been working on several articles that integrate high-resolution palaeoclimatic data with historical analysis.

Johan Elverskog is Altshuler University Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is the author and editor of eight books on the religious history of China and Inner Asia, which have won several awards and also been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Russian. All of this work focuses on historical interactions across Asia.

Matthew W. Mosca is a historian of the Qing Empire, concentrating on its political and intellectual history. After receiving his PhD (Harvard, 2008), he has held fellowships at the Center for Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley, the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, and the Institute for Advanced Study. After teaching at the College of William & Mary, he is currently assistant professor at the University of Washington, with a joint appointment in the History Department and the Jackson School for International Studies. In addition to his monograph, From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy: The Question of India and the Transformation of Geopolitics in Qing China (Stanford, 2013), he has published on Qing geographic worldviews and foreign relations. He is currently researching the historiography of the Mongol Empire in the Qing period.

Roxann Prazniak is an Associate Professor of History, Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon. She is the author of Dialogues Across Civilizations: Sketches in World History from the Chinese and European Experiences (1996) and Of Camel Kings and Other Things: Rural Rebels Against Modernity in Late Imperial China (1999). She has published numerous articles including “Siena on the Silk Roads: Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the Mongol Global Century [1250-1350],” Journal of World History (2010), “Ilkhanid Buddhism: Traces of a Passage in Eurasian History,” Comparative Studies in Society and History (2014), and “Artistic Exchange and the Mongol Empire” for the forthcoming "Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire" (2017). She recently presented papers on “Sengge Ragi (1283-1331) and the Mahaprajapati scroll by Wang Zhenpeng (1275-1330): Eurasian Positionality in Reconfiguring Visual Culture,” for a conference on Mobility and Transformations: Economic and Cultural Exchange in Mongol Eurasia at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, June 29-July 5, 2014, and “Maragha Observatory: A Star in the Constellation of Eurasian Scientific Translations,” for Found in Translation: World History of Science Conference, University of Pittsburgh, October 10-12, 2015. Her current book project is "Sudden Appearances: Visuality and Belief in Mongol Eurasia."

Morris Rossabi born in Alexandria, Egypt, received his Ph.D. at Columbia University and has taught Mongolian and Chinese history at Columbia and at the City University of New York. Author of Khubilai Khan, Modern Mongolia, and Voyager from Xanadu, and other scholarly books, he has also written such other works as The Mongols: A Very Short Introduction and The Mongols and Global History to introduce Mongol history to a larger audience. He has written chapters on the Mongols and Inner Asia for three volumes of the Cambridge History of China and two chapters for the forthcoming Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire. His current research focuses on Mongolian posters, the Yuan maritime administration, and a book on global history, 1150-1400 for Oxford University Press. As a former Chair of the Committee on Arts and Culture for the Soros Foundation, he received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Mongolia.

Uranchimeg (Orna) Tsultem is a scholar of Mongolian art and culture. She received her Ph.D. in History of Art from UC Berkeley in December 2009. She served as an Assistant Professor at the Mongolian University of Arts and Culture from 1995 to 2002, Associate Professor at National University of Mongolia from 2012 to 2013, and as a James Gray Lecturer at UC Berkeley from 2010 to 2014. She also taught at Yonsei University in South Korea from 2015 to 2016. She has curated Mongolian art exhibitions internationally at Kasumi Center (Tsukuba, Japan, 1997); E & J Frankel Gallery (New York, NY, 2000); Frauen Museum (Bonn, Germany, 2001); HanArt Gallery (Hong Kong, 2011); 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012), and 56th Venice Biennale (2015).

Dr. Tsultem’s publications include four books in Mongolia, exhibition catalog essays for two museums in Finland (2010-11); Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (1999, 2012); Ethnography Museum in Warsaw, Poland (2011). Her academic articles were published in Japanese in Arena (Kyoto University, 2012), Vesna Wallace ed., Buddhism in Mongolian History, Culture and Society (Oxford University Press, 2015), Orientations (Hong Kong, 2016), Mongolian Studies (Bloomington: Mongolia Society, 2013) and forthcoming in Cross Currents in fall 2016. Dr. Tsultemin was a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress in 2013, and received a Collaborative Research Award from the American Council of Learned Societies/Ho Foundation during 2014 to 2015. She is currently working on two book manuscripts on Mongolian Buddhist art.

Leonard van der Kuijp is professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies and chairs the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies at Harvard University. Best known for his studies of Buddhist epistemology, he is the author of numerous works on Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. Recent publications include An Early Tibetan Survey of Buddhist Literature (Vol. 64, Harvard Oriental Series, 2008), coauthored with Kurtis R. Schaeffer, and In Search of Dharma: Indian and Ceylonese Travelers in Fifteenth Century Tibet (Wisdom, 2009). Van der Kuijp’s research focuses primarily on the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist thought, Tibetan Buddhist intellectual history, Tibetan Buddhism, and premodern Sino-Tibetan and Tibeto-Mongol political and religious relations. Van der Kuijp received his Master's degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and his doctorate at the University of Hamburg in Germany. He joined the faculty at Harvard in 1995. He is the former chair of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies (now the Department of South Asian Studies). In 1993 van der Kuijp received the MacArthur Fellowship for "pioneering contributions to the study of Tibetan epistemology, biography and poetry." Van der Kuijp worked with the Nepal Research Center of the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1999, he founded the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC), together with E. Gene Smith.



The Thunder from the Steppes: New Perspectives on the Mongol Empire conference will be held at 180 Doe Library on the central UC Berkeley campus. See section C4 on this large campus map.

Doe Library

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