Human Journey

“Valley of the Khans” Experts Meet in D.C.

Two of the world’s greatest scholars of Mongol history joined their collaborators NG Emerging Explorer Albert Lin and NG Archaeology Fellow Fred Hiebert in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss their findings on the Valley of the Khans project, to meet with the Mongolian Ambassador to the U.S. Khasbazaryn Bekhbat, and to engage in other conversations around their exciting work.

For the past few years, Albert has been using cutting-edge technology and innovative crowd-sourcing methods to survey the vast openness of Mongolia in search of the area where Genghis Khan was buried. His collaborators have been uncovering the history of the Mongol leader quite a bit longer.

Professors Shagdaryn Bira and Tsogt-Ichiryn Ishdorj are internationally recognized as leaders in Mongol historical research, based on the decades of intense research they have done on the subject, helping to flesh out the story of the famous conqueror, and restoring a knowledge of the rich cultural impacts of his surprisingly modern empire–one that included free trade of goods and ideas, and freedom of religion for all.

Albert Lin, Profs. Bira and Ishdorj, and Fred Hiebert discuss recent findings from their multi-year search for the burial place of Genghis Khan. Photo by Andrew Howley.

Over the years, Bira and Ishdorj’s research has been difficult at times because of the scant clues in the written record and sensitive politics surrounding the legacy of  Genghis Khan.

Professor Bira is now Secretary General of the International Association for Mongol Studies, and laureate of the state prize of Mongolia for his scholarly work on the history of the country. In particular, he has won international acclaim for his multifaceted research, including papers comparing modern and Mongol-era versions of globalization and warfare in the Middle East.

Professor Ishdorj is Deputy Director of the International Association for Mongol Studies, as well as Co-Principal Investigator and Mongolian Expedition Leader on the Valley of the Khans project. Together these scholars bring an incredible amount of historic information, cultural perspective, experience, and personal passion to the project.

2012 marks 850 years since the birth of Temujin, the Mongolian man who would unite his neighbors and conquer the known world under the title of Genghis Khan. After decades of research, years of hi-tech data gathering, and months of archaeological analysis, one more chapter in the long history of this man and his legacy is nearing completion. Stay tuned to discover what secret whispers may yet rise from the silent steppes.

 

 

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.
  • Shayan

    While I greatly admire Genghis Khan’s tactical skill and legal codes, I can’t help but notice that the article paid little attention to the literally millions of people his armies killed. Glorifying such a man is akin to glorifying Stalin.

    Iran, for example, didn’t recover to its pre-Mongol population levels for 700 years, according to the Cambridge History of Iran.

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