What a naughty boy den?
The Great Ghengis Khan (d. 1227) is a fascinating character from history. A man who founded the greatest contiguous empire in history and was responsible for the deaths of about 40,000,000. A 2003 genetic study established that 0.5% of the world's male population are descended from this man. Mayhap he acted with foresight and therefore was keen to replace the folk he murdered. Or it could be a consequence of a surfeit of wives/concubines and between merciless sweeps across Eurasia, he could be found in his bed-chamber. He is revered by the Mongol nation today and statues, of the Khan, riding atop his gallant steed, 'Shagger' can be seen adorning the windswept tundra throughout the Mongolian steppe.
I started one of my famous 'Trilogy in Fours Parts' regarding the abstruse (nay, unfathomable) Huns and as the 'series' develops I will be specifically writing about 'Atilla the Hun' and his ambivalent relationship with the Roman Empire. I mention this here because, like Atilla and his hordes, Ghengis and his tribesmen were horse archers. As I develop my theme about Atilla in future posts, I will raise the issue of how Western rulers coped with the horse archer's mode of warfare, or to be exact, why they struggled to counter this, for them, an alien approach to war. That'll do for now. My readership will have to wait, no doubt with keen anticipation and bated breath for the continuation of the 'Atilla Saga'- but only if I can be bothered.
Today, I would like to consider the final resting place of the 'Great Khan'. Like many famous men throughout history, Ghengis' burial has accrued legends. And in contradiction to what you may find on YouTube, his final place of eternal repose remains a mystery, wrapped in a conundrum and seeped in a cauldron of enigma juice (lightly seared).
Scholars surmise that the most likely location of the tomb is in the sacred region of Burkhan Khaldun in Mongolia. Fantastic myths became prevalent soon after Ghengis' death. For instance, there is a story that the several thousand slaves who toiled in constructing the tomb were slain by their guards. In turn, the soldiers were killed by a second contingent. To make sure, anyone encountered by the burial party, on the way, was killed leaving a bloody wake. You would think that anyone wishing to locate the tomb just had to follow the trail of corpses or even the smell. This was Ghengis' last wish to maintain the location of the tomb a secret. Of course, the rampant implementation of death could go on forever. Perhaps the final survivors were killed only after returning to their base. Just as in life, his death was steeped in blood. As legends go, this is eminently plausible and in keeping with Ghengis' savage nature. If the Khan was buried according to the custom, of the time, he would have been interred in a wooden structure about 20 feet below the ground. A degree of opulence would be expected to follow the 'Great Khan' in his afterlife, together with sacrificed horses, wives and servants. It is said that after the burial a thousand horses ran rampant across the site erasing all signs of the location. Another tale relates that a river was diverted to submerge the area in keeping and reminiscent of the burial of 'Alaric the Toff/Sloth' (apparently he was a dapper fellow but indolent), he of sacker of Rome fame/renown. In the 'Travels of Marco Polo' (13th century), the peregrineous (not a real word) eyetie, related that the place of burial was unknown to the Mongols of the day.
Modern scientists and engineers have employed an array of expensive technology in an effort to unearth the 'mauselium' and it is thought that the grave belongs to the sacred region, as fortold, about 240 square miles in extent. In keeping with the inhabitant's sensibilities, the researchers/searchers use non-invasive imagery together with roaming drones in order to locate ground anomalies consistent with historic soil disturbance. In 2004 the palace of Ghengis was found in this area strongly suggesting that the tomb is within the vicinity. The government keeps a strict watch on the region and limits, not only access to the area, but also research activity. This policy continues to hamper the search and it is considered likely that Ghengis Khan's final resting place will remain forever a secret, unless it doesn't.