At the height of his genocidal reign of terror, Genghis Khan ruled over 16 per cent of the world and bore witness to the slaughter of an estimated 40 million people.
His Mongol Empire was so expansive, at one time, Genghis Khan presided over one in every four humans that walked the Earth. The so-called Universal Ruler united the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia and is subsequently considered one of history’s greatest – and most brutal – military leaders.
His strategy of killing has been documented by scholars and even Oscar-nominated films, such as Mongol:
[ooyala code=”8wd283YzE6zkWOV0VFknl2UryPWn-eEM” player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ auto=”true” width=”1280″ height=”720″ autoplay=”true” pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l”]
But his own death – in 1227, around the age of sixty-five while leading the fighting against the Tangut – is shrouded in mystery and it seems the warlord left a trail of bloody murder, even after he had been relieved of his mortal coils.
The Mongol leader’s demise is up for scholarly debate, with some historians claiming he was killed by an infected arrow wound, and others pointing to Khan falling from his horse and dying from injuries.
A less respected account says he had his penis ripped off and bled to death when a kidnapped princess inserted a blade into her vagina prior to sex.
Either way, Mongol folklore tells a tale of murder and sorrow that goes far beyond the singular death toll of a warlord.
The guards tasked with burying their leader, who was born with the name Temüjin, were ordered to exterminate every innocent bystander who crossed the path of the funereal procession.
The slaves who built the tomb were then massacred by the soldiers, who were in turn all killed by another group of soldiers.
Those soldiers finally took their own lives in the ultimate sacrifice, laying waste to hundreds of men all in the name of concealing Genghis Khan’s grave from desecration.
It is believed these acts were committed to protect the location of Khan’s eternal resting place.
The alleged measures were nothing short of extreme and barbaric, and now Genghis Khan’s tomb is as hidden, mysterious and contentious to the Western world as his true history.
Historians, explorers and treasure hunters have long wanted to uncover the grave of Genghis Khan, presuming the leader would have been buried with some of his far-flung empire’s riches.
However, the much misunderstood Mongol army largely fought for land and looted their claimed land, and they were more concerned with spoils than senseless murder and pillaging.
So, it’s thought the leader’s burial site, believed to be his birthplace somewhere in the Khenti Province, close to the Onon River and the sacred mountain of Burkhan Khaldun, will be a veritable treasure trove of riches.
The spot is dubbed Ikh Khorig by the Mongolian people, which translates literally to the ‘great taboo’ – or for outsiders, ‘The Forbidden Zone’.
One treasure hunter, who has visited the supposed tomb site, which lies just 40 miles south of the Russian border has now launched a project to uncover the mystery, The Valley Of The Khans.
Dr Albert Yu-Min Lin, researcher at the University of California at San Diego and ‘modern day Indiana Jones’ writes:
The story of Genghis Khan has until now been spliced together through a collection of almost entirely secondary source text.
It has become understood that throughout his rule, he had introduced an alphabet and central currency, united a kingdom of warring tribes, and had conquered the majority of the known world.
He created an influence that stretched from Poland to Japan, leaving a legacy of unsurpassed proportions.
Yet the sources of this history have decidedly originated from the fearful pens of his enemies.
The mystery that surrounded his death and burial during the summer of 1227 still eludes the world today.
His tomb remains undiscovered, a time capsule into the days of the birth of the modern world.
Lin described the project on his website, adding:
The Valley of the Khans project is an international collaboration between the University of California at San Diego, the Mongolian Academy of Science and the International Association for Mongol Studies, and the National Geographic Society to perform a high-tech, non-invasive remote sensing investigation for the tomb of Genghis Khan.
The goal of the project is to identify the site of Genghis Khan’s Tomb using noninvasive methodologies utilizing technologies ranging from aerial and satellite imaging, human computation, non-invasive geophysical surveying such as ground penetrating radar, magnetometry and electro-magnetometry and 3D data visualization.
You can watch their hi-tech search unfold in the footage below:
By providing a physical location for the site through these non-invasive tools Lin hopes to introduce protective measures through UNESCO World Heritage and achieve long-term sustainable conservation.
Then – and only then – will Genghis Khan be able to rest in peace, having had the record of his powerful but terrible reign set straight.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.