November 02, 2011

Facts: Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan

  • Mongolia, the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, has an average of just over three people per square mile.

  • The capital city of Ulaanbaatar is home to roughly one million people, nearly half of the population of Mongolia.

  • Early Mongols practiced shamanism—the belief in powerful spirits accessible only to priests. They adopted Tibetan Buddhism in the 17th century but incorporated traditional shamanism into it.

  • Traditionally, Mongolians have lived in gers, portable round dwellings designed to be carried in pieces on the backs of horses or camels. Many Mongolians still live in them.

  • When Genghis was ten years old, he was abandoned on the steppe along with his mother and siblings . From the lowest of the low, he would go on to become one of the most powerful men in history.

  • Temujin was born during a time of great turbulence. Tribes such as the Merkid, the Kereyid, the Tatars and the Naiman were constantly vying for power and the steppe was a place of constant warfare. By 1206, he had defeated these major tribes and united the Mongol nation under his supreme rule, endowing him with the title “Genghis Khan.”

  • By 1280 Genghis Khan’s empire covered 12 million square miles, stretching from the Yellow Sea in the east to the Mediterranean in the west.

  • One of the key elements of the Mongol troops’ military superiority was their ability to control their horses at a full gallop using only their legs, leaving their hands free for fighting.

  • The Mongol army traveled with a corps of engineers who were able to quickly build bridges, ladders, and other equipment from available materials.

  • Because his armies were often dispersed over a large area and many of his officers were illiterate , orders were communicated in song form. The familiar rhythms and rhymes made the contents easy to remember and pass on verbatim.

  • Mongol warriors were forbidden to discuss the possibilities of death and defeat, or even mention the names of fallen comrades. They believed even thinking of death might cause it.

  • The Mongols were enthusiastic users of propaganda. They would often circulate apocryphal stories of their might and cruelty in order to instill fear and confusion in their enemies.

  • Genghis Khan’s Empire connected important European and Asian trading centers and was instrumental in the development of the Silk Road.

  • During the period sometimes known as the Pax Mongolica, Genghis Khan implemented a progressive legal code that protected the environment and freedom of religion.

  • The remarkably efficient Mongol postal system, known as the yam, allowed mail and supplies to be distributed throughout the Mongol Empire. One diplomat recounts traveling over 300 miles in 72 hours, an unheard of transit rate for his time.

  • Genghis Khan probably died in August 1227 during a military campaign, but the circumstances surrounding his death are shrouded in mystery.

  • Legends abound regarding the cause of Genghis Khan’s death, ranging from a fall from his horse while hunting, to an arrow to the knee, to an assassination plot executed by a captured princess.

  • The Mongols were aggressive in maintaining the secrecy of Genghis Khan’s death. According to one account, they went so far as to put to death everyone who witnessed his funeral procession.

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