Thursday, 28 February 2013

Subutai and Jebe


It had taken time to establish Mongol dominance over the expanse of Persia. The value of Persian jewels, gold and silver as bounty was beyond calculation. In addition border countries like Uzbekistan had also provided the Khan with more wealth. Transporting that treasure safely back to the Karakorum , the Mongol capital, was a major undertaking requiring much planning with many trips and soldiers for protection . 

Once that operation was underway, Genghis Khan being both wise and shrewd returned to his conquests of new lands. Making sure that his army was totally organized as well as disciplined was his first priority. To ensure that the army was thus prepared he delegated the tasks to his officers.

Subutai was the foremost General and military strategist in Genghis Khan’s army. Like the Great Conqueror he was born near the Onon River and had known him all his life. As a result he was the most trusted advisor of the Mongol ruler.

Subutai convinced Genghis Khan to lead part of his army to Afghanistan and then on to India. Subutai with another General Jebe would take the remaining force towards the West. He had learned much about siege weaponry from Chinese and Muslim engineers and saw the great advantage of its utilization in battle.

So it was that Subutai and Jebe took their troops into Persian Iraq. The nations of Azerbaijan and Armenia were the next to fall. Later after being stymied by the Bulgars, they headed into the Georgia where they staged a successful raid utilizing brilliant tactics. Moving through the Caucasus Mountains Subutai and Jebe then they targeted Russian Kiev. In a major battle there they defeated and killed the Prince of Kiev and several other Russian princes with allied territories.

Their spoils were immense sending even more enormous quantities of gold, silver and jewels to Karakorum. After securing rule over these lands and the promises of huge annual tributes, the Generals headed back to rejoin Genghis Khan.

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Shah and Persian Gold


Genghis Khan’s external victories were mounting. He had invaded and defeated the armies of Western Xia, the Jin Dynasty, Korea and the Khanate of Kara-Khitan. He held sway over a very large population in a huge geographic area. He chose not to use his resources to govern and administer these lands but rather extract enormous wealth. He had allowed many of the local leaders of each area that submitted to him to rule, collect taxes and deliver huge annual tribute to him. This was an offer that they could not refuse if they wished to avoid certain death.

Genghis Khan now sought to increase trade with other empires as yet another source of income. Consequently he sent a caravan of approximately 500 men loaded with trade items to the Persian Empire. Ancient custom was that caravans and ambassadors were given safe passage by foreign countries. However, the governor of the Persian border area (now Uzbekistan) suspected them of being spies. Instead, he seized the caravan and slaughtered the Mongols.

Genghis Khan received word of the caravan’s fate and was enraged. Relatively unknown outside Asia, Genghis Khan sent ambassadors directly to the Shah of Persia demanding that the Shah turn over the official responsible for the massacre to him. Not realizing what the repercussions would be, the Shah chose to execute the Mongol ambassadors.

Genghis Khan had always understood the value of good spies and indeed had some in Persia. When they reported the Shah’s killing of his ambassadors, Genghis Khan went to war and attacked.

At that time the Persian Empire occupied around one million square miles. The Mongols initially took several rich towns and cities without really penetrating very far. Then an audacious Genghis Khan directed his generals to go after the Shah himself in Persia. There was no stopping the path of destruction their armies laid down on the way to their goal. Soon the Shah fled his country, dying in exile and poverty. The immense wealth of Persia was now the property of the Mongol ruler.

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Genghis Khan's Push West

Wikipedia Map of countries prior to Genghis Khan

After ten years of fighting in China against Western Xia and the Jin Dynasty the Mongol army was tired. But in the earlier defeat of the Naimans in Genghis Khan’s consolidation of the tribes into the Mongol Empire the Naiman leader Kuchlug had fled to Western Liao. There he proclaimed himself Khanate of the Kara-Khitan taking over a sizable area (965,255 square miles). This did not sit well with the Mongol ruler.

Genghis Khan believed in the principle of promotion by merit departing from the Mongol custom of rank by inheritance. Men earned their way up the ladder by proving themselves in battle demonstrating their intelligence, courage and skill. One young man Jebe, nicknamed “Arrow”, had done just that.

So Genghis Khan dispatched his General “Arrow” with just 20,000 men to invade the land and conquer the Khanate of the Kara-Khitan . Being outnumbered “Arrow” decided not to attack directly, but rather create internal unrest thus fomenting a rebellion against Kuchlug. This proved to be a successful strategy weakening Kuchlug’s hold on power. Soon Kuchlug’s army was defeated and once again he ran away. This time the Mongols pursued and killed him.

Part of this newly conquered territory was good for agriculture and raising livestock thus becoming another source of the food necessary to feed Genghis Khan’s growing army and people. Chinese coins were the currency and gold mines there provided him more of the precious metal. Foodstuffs were plentiful and trade gave the economy a boost. But it was taxation than gave Genghis Khan a major ongoing income stream. 

Culturally there were Mongol, Turkish, Persian and other Islamic elements to the population. 

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Genghis Khan's War with the Jin Dynasty


Not long after being declared Overlord of Western Xia, Genghis Khan received emissaries from Emperor Xuan Zong of the Jin (or Jurchen) Dynasty. The Jin with a population of 20 million had an army of 600,000 to 700,000 men. It was a wealthy nation that controlled the trade along the Silk Road. Arrogant in his approach the Jin Emperor demanded tribute and submission from the Mongols as his vassals.

Genghis Khan was not yet thinking about war again, but his people over time had suffered much at the hands of the overbearing Jin. Plus he needed some money to provide for his troops and grow his force. The Jin had plenty of it and used silver as their currency Furthermore his spies had reported to him of Jin internal discord caused by their harsh rule of conquered peoples. He knew from other intelligence that the Jin army was busy fighting wars against the Chinese and Tanguts on other fronts. So he prayed on it and came to his soldiers announcing that ‘Heaven had promised him a victory’.

Approximately seventy thousand Mongols led by Genghis Khan attacked the Jin Dynasty in 1211. Using clever military tactics combined with a divide and conquer strategy they were able to pillage the rural areas forcing refugees into the cities. Soon these cities were overcrowded and were lacking sufficient food to feed everyone. As a result the Jin troops started murdering their peasants pushing the remaining populace towards revolt.

With the help of Chinese and Muslim engineers the Mongols build siege engines. These enabled them to successfully capture and sack the Jin cities. When they besieged the Jin capital of Zhongdu (now Beijing) the Emperor agreed to give the Genghis Khan huge amounts of gold, silver, silk and horses to avoid the same fate for his city. Soon the Emperor moved his court away to Kaifeng. Feeling double crossed the Mongol leader tore Zhongdu apart.

From there he took his men deep into China raiding as they went. The spoils were enormous and the Jin defections added to his army.

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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mongol Empire from Wikipedia

    Where did Genghis Khan's Wealth Come From?

To comprehend Genghis Khan's wealth you must understand the full extent of his ambition. In order to do this it would be helpful to know the chronology of his wars. To look at this in today's terms his conquests would span 30 nations and 3+billion people.

Above is a map of the burgeoning Mongol Empire from 1206 to 1294. Although Genghis Khan died in 1227 and the size of the then Mongol occupied lands is shown, he and his generals raided and plundered kingdoms well beyond that enormous territory. It must be realized it was he who first gave Mongols the taste for conquest and his empire that expanded for decades after his passing.

As was mentioned earlier in order to consolidate power and create the Mongol Confederation it was necessary for Genghis Khan to unite by conquest. He did this by defeating the tribes such as the Merkits and the Naimans. Once this was done he set about securing new sources of food and land for his drought plagued people.

Genghis Khan knew his two main rivals were Western Xia and the Jin. He wagered that the stronger Jin would deny Western Xia any support if it was attacked. Thus he invaded the Western Xia Dynasty of the Tangut Empire.  His bet had turned out to be a good one. He had conquered the Tanguts by 1209.

Although the Tangut population was considered nomadic it had realized the importance of irrigation channels and had good grasslands and large cattle herds as a result. Iron, woolen products, pottery, and porcelain were its primary economic resources. 

Equally important was that Western Xia had within its borders the Hexi Corridor, a vital trade route connecting North China and Central Asia at that time.

The people of Western Xia had made strides in literature, architecture, the arts and music. All of this was assimilated into the Mongol culture. In my next post I will discuss Genghis Khan’s war with the Jin.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Archaeologists are worried! Can they protect the Tomb?

Can they keep treasure hunters away from what some of them believe is an estimated $1,000,000,000,000(one trillion dollars at today’s prices) in treasure?
In an article from Newser-“Everyone from archaeologists to grave robbers have been seeking Genghis Khan's tomb for the past 800 years—and now a team of techies from California may have found it, Newsweek reports. Using satellites, radar scans, and thousands of volunteers, Albert Lin's crew at the University of California in San Diego have built 3-D reconstructions of a large underground structure in northwestern Mongolia. But they won't dig it up, despite legends of the vast treasure Khan acquired as ruler of an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea. “We do not want to excavate the site,” says Lin. “We believe it should be protected as an UNESCO World Heritage site."

The first question is have they really found the tomb? Here’s why they think so. Newsweek reports- "They were rewarded with the thrilling discovery of arrowheads, ceramics, roof tiles, and bricks, suggesting human activity in the remote, uninhabited area. “When we extended the search area and looked more closely, we identified hundreds of artifacts scattered on the surface. We knew there must be something significant there,” says Fred Hiebert, archeology fellow with National Geographic and one of the other principal investigators on the project.
When they carbon-dated their finds, the results were exciting and full of promise, seeming to fit around the time of Genghis’s life and death. “Material dating of some samples indicates 13th- and 14th-century origins, though the full analysis of data is still underway,” says Hiebert.”

If I were them I’d be doubtful.  However, the publicity that they have received will undoubtedly attract legions of thieves to their site. This easily could be the gravesite of one of Genghis Khan’s four sons! Follow
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Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Gold Trader Who Spent Millions Searching

While the French,Germans, Japanese, Americans, Russians, and Brits have all been determined to find Genghis Khan’s Tomb none did. But no chronicle of  the searches for Khan’s treasure would be complete without discussing Maury Kravitz, a multimillionaire of Jewish Russian heritage. Kravitz while dimly viewed by some was no slug. He had attended the University of Illinois and The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. An extremely successful gold merchant, attorney, Army veteran and amateur historian he had done his homework over the years. The Chicago Tribune stated “Mr. Kravitz assembled a library of more than 400 volumes on Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Empire”.

In the earlier 1994 Chicago Tribune story it was reported that “his admiration for Genghis Khan grew out of his ability to overcome obstacles to become the most important ruler of his era”. He was convinced that the Great Conqueror had taken it with him and was buried with the most immense treasure ever accumulated. Subsequently he spent forty years and led four expeditions trying to get it. Maury Kravitz had carefully examined the words of a 15th century Jesuit who wrote about the details of a battle. Genghis Khan was reported to have said that battleground near the Bruchi and Kherlen rivers was his favorite place. Kravitz believed that was where he had chosen to be buried.

Kravitz sought out support in the person of John Woods. The Chicago Tribune article recounted that relationship "I got a call in early 1995 … about some cockamamie scheme to look for a burial site in Mongolia of Genghis Khan," said John Woods, a professor of history at the University of Chicago, adding that the call led to a lunch with Mr. Kravitz.
"Although the scheme seemed strange, he was so magnetic that I couldn't turn away," said Woods, who soon got involved in an effort to raise funds for an expedition. Though that early effort didn't raise any money, Mr. Kravitz by 2000 had convinced a small group of investors to put $1.2 million into funding expeditions over four summers.
The expedition located a grave site in Mongolia with artifacts from Genghis Khan's time, Woods said. But the professor also said he didn't know if it is "the right place." Woods said that if time, money and the political climate had allowed, there were other likely sites to explore.

Maury Kravitz died at the age of 80 in 2012. He had befriended Mongolia and its people.

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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Have They Found the Tomb and Treasure?

This is where Genghis Khan grew up.

This is why I’m cautioning about premature celebration over the enthusiasm of the current search team and their statements about the possible discovery of the tomb.Although the reasoning of today’s team seems solid and their evidence is encouraging, below are the news reports from 2004 about another group. That joint team of Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists was mistaken.              

From (2004)-                 

                      Was Genghis' Tomb Been Found?
“After four years' work, a joint team of Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists announced on October 4 that they had found what they believe to be the true mausoleum of Genghis Khan (1162-1227). 
The ruins, dated to between the 13th and 15th century, were found at Avraga, around 250 kilometers east of Ulan Bator, the capital of the People's Republic of Mongolia. Team members said that they expect the discovery to provide clues to the whereabouts of the khan's actual burial site, which they believe may be within 12 kilometers of the mausoleum.
There is a preexisting mausoleum in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, rebuilt by the government in 1954. Most historians agree that Genghis Khan died in 1227 when going out to battle in the Liupan Mountains in today's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, but they do not agree on where he was buried.
The Chinese mausoleum is located on the vast Ordos Plateau, 30 kilometers south of Ejin Horo Banner. It comprises four palaces covering an area of over 50,000 square meters. Two huge flagpoles decorated with nine galloping steeds stand aloft before the 26-meter-high main palace, symbolizing the Mongol's prosperity and happiness. There is a tomb here, but it only contains the khan's personal effects and not his actual remains.

From the associated press-updated 10/6/2004 10:35:37 AM ET
“TOKYO — Archaeologists have unearthed the site of Genghis Khan's palace and believe the long-sought grave of the 13th century Mongolian warrior is somewhere nearby, the head of the excavation team said Wednesday.
A Japanese and Mongolian research team found the complex on a grassy steppe 150 miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said Shinpei Kato, professor emeritus at Tokyo's Kokugakuin University.
Genghis Khan built the palace in the simple shape of a square tent attached to wooden columns on the site at around 1200, Kato said.
The researchers found porcelain buried among the ruins dated to the warrior's era, helping identify the grounds, Kato said.  A description of the scenery around the palace by a messenger from China's Southern Tang Dynasty in 1232 also matched the area, he added.”
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To read the December 2012 Newsweek article concerning the present search in its entirety go  to

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Searching for the Tomb

The Current Search 

The searchers have become believers. Quoting the December 3, 2012 Newsweek article-

“A multidisciplinary research project uniting scientists in America with Mongolian scholars and archeologists has the first compelling evidence of the location of Khan’s burial site and the necropolis of the Mongol imperial family on a mountain range in a remote area in northwestern Mongolia.
Among the discoveries by the team are the foundations of what appears to be a large structure from the 13th or 14th century, in an area that has historically been associated with this grave. Scientists have also found a wide range of artifacts that include arrowheads, porcelain, and a variety of building material.
“Everything lines up in a very compelling way,” says Albert Lin, National Geographic explorer and principal investigator of the project, in an exclusive interview with Newsweek.

For 800 years the Khentii mountain range, where the site is located, has been off-limits, decreed thus by Genghis Khan himself before his death. If the findings bear out, this will be one of the most significant archeological discoveries in years. Using drones and surface-penetrating radar, and enlisting the help of thousands of people to sift through satellite data and photographs, the team has searched the mountain range, systematically photographing 4,000 square miles of landscape.

In a laboratory at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at University of California, San Diego, Lin and his team combed through the massive volumes of ultrahigh-resolution satellite imagery and built 3-D reconstructions from radar scans in their search for clues to where Genghis Khan may be buried. As part of an unprecedented open-source project, thousands of online volunteers sifted through 85,000 high-resolution satellite images to identify any hidden structures or odd-seeming formations.”
My question is what is so “compelling” about this evidence? Yes more technological resources have been utilized than ever before but what specifically links it to the Great Conqueror? The time frame is not narrow enough to claim with certainty that it is Genghis Khan’s whose death came in 1227. The artifacts while of his era have not been proven to belong to him or his entourage. In short there is no “smoking gun” proving this to be the location of the tomb. Could it be? Yes, possibly. But other searches have also offered promising clues but in the end came up empty. In my next blog entry I will give you an example of just such a search! Remember click on to have my free blog delivered to you by email.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Factors Motivating Genghis Khan's Conquests

Why did Genghis Khan begin to conquer nations and accumulate vast treasures?  The real reason is surprisingly simple- Survival! The weather over time had brought drought that devastated the grasslands of Mongolia. Farming was almost nonexistent and game was extremely scarce. His father had been murdered when he was a small boy and their tribe cast him and his family out.  As a teen he even killed his half-brother over food that the brother had stolen from the family. The tribes fought over the remaining grasslands and the meager food supplies.  After coming to manhood Temujin (aka Genghis Khan) made alliances with his father’s friends eventually becoming the leader of their tribe. He fought on and prevailed uniting the nation. 

Still there was extreme hardship so he looked beyond the country’s borders. First he chose to conquer states and Dynasties to the east and south. He believed the wealth of their people had made them weak.  The Mongol warriors had been toughened by a harsh life had taken to his military training, advanced tactics, and strict discipline

Then he sought trade and trade partners with the leaders of rich lands along the Silk Road only to have his caravan attacked and his ambassadors murdered. These arrogant rulers had taken him lightly which was a huge mistake because it enraged Genghis Khan who went on to destroy their cities and kill their people. Genghis Khan grew up at a place and time when nothing was wasted so he stripped these nations of everything of value! Several other western conquests followed these wars.

From that point more and more peoples offered their allegiance to the Mongol ruler whose power grew daily. Soon even the enormously rich states like the Jin and Western Xia (now part of modern day China). The spoils and plunder were immense and were taken back to the Mongol capital. History detailed how Genghis Khan believed gold, silver and jewels had softened the peoples that defied him and that he slaughtered.

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