Sunday, 10 March 2013

Genghis Khan and the Silk Road

File:Silk route.jpg

The Silk Road-image courtesy of Wikipedia

It was Genghis Khan’s plan to conquer all of the Silk Road. The importance of the Silk Road to him and the Mongol Empire would be hard to overstate. The trade along this economic superhighway connected the exchange of goods not only between Asia and Europe but also with Africa. The prosperity created from trade on the Silk Road had fostered the development of the civilizations in all three continents and in particular China, India and Arabia. Jewels, gold and silver that flowed among the connected traders there were in unimaginable quantities. In his wisdom he knew it would be impossible to control all of it for very long. But the amount of short term wealth it would bring to him and Mongolia was staggering. Within his plan long the long term trade would continue to benefit his nation for many generations after his death.

Genghis Khan had made substantial progress in capturing the rich trading centers along its northern routes. Still a few in Afghanistan and Iran remained untouched. So in 1221 after dividing his forces and separating from his generals Subutai and Jebe, Genghis Khan took his army and headed into the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan.

The city of Herat was one such trading center. After overcoming its defenses the Great Conqueror spared the inhabitants. Shortly afterward they rose up in revolt against the Mongols. Then Genghis Khan showed no mercy. He was quoted as saying "Since the dead have come to life, I command you to strike their heads from their body." Well over a hundred thousand were slaughtered with only a few survivors.

A similar rebellion in Nishapur in Iran had resulted in a reported half million dead in 1219. Genghis Khan was not a master to be trifled with.

The people of “the Mother of Cities”, Balk, in Afghanistan were killed in mass. Only craftsmen and artisans that were of value were saved and transported back to Mongolia.

Some scholars, engineers, artisans and craftsmen had been spared previously in the conquest of ancient Ghazni, Iran for their knowledge and use back in the Mongol capital.

Besides the depopulation of these trading centers, the Mongol destruction of irrigation systems took place. 


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Since 1227, finding the Tomb of Genghis Khan has been the obsession of tyrants, adventurers and treasure hunters. All have failed to find it. It is a Genghis Khan fact that, looking at a map today, he had conquered a geographic area which would include 30 countries and 3+ billion people.

The legend says that, in order to keep his tomb’s location secret, Genghis Khan slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of his captives after they had been forced to dig his burial site. He had amassed untold wealth with enormous quantities of jewels, gold and silver from his conquests that are believed to be buried with him.

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