The mausoleum of Genghis Khan – found at last?


Archaeology World reports:

Construction workers employed in road building near the Onon River in the Khentii province of Mongolia, have discovered a mass grave containing the remains of many dozens of human corpses lying upon a large rudimentary stone structure.

Forensic experts and archaeologists were called to the site, which was revealed to be a Mongolian royal tomb from the 13th century that the scientists believe to be Genghis Khan’s.

The team of scientists affiliated with the University of Beijing has concluded that the numerous skeletons buried on top of the structure were most likely the slaves who built it and who were then massacred to keep the secret of the location.

The remains of twelve horses were also found on the site, certainly sacrificed to accompany the Great Khan in death.

A total of 68 skeletons were found buried together, almost directly over the top of a rather crude stone structure.

The content of the tomb was scattered and badly deteriorated, presumably due to the fact that the site was located beneath the river bed for hundreds of years until the course of the Onon river changed in the 18th century. The remains of a tall male and sixteen female skeletons were identified among hundreds of gold and silver artefacts and thousands of coins.

The women are presumed to have been wives and concubines of the leader, who were killed to accompany the warlord in the afterlife. The amount of treasure and the number of sacrificed animals and people immediately led the archaeologists to consider that the site was certainly the burial site of a really powerful Mongol warlord.

After realizing an extensive set of tests and analysis, they were able to confirm that the body belonged to a man aged between 60 and 75, who died between 1215 and 1235 AD. Both the age, the date, the location, and the opulence of the site seem to confirm that the tomb does indeed belong to Genghis Khan.

There’s more at the link.

I find it a convincing detail that the tomb site was covered by the Onon River until it changed direction in the 18th century.  That fits one of the early legends about the burial of Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan likely died after either falling from his horse or because of wounds sustained in battle. In accordance with the customs of his tribe, he asked to be buried in secret.

Legend has it that his grieving army carried his body home to Mongolia, killing anyone it met along the way to hide the route, before later dying by suicide themselves in order to fully conceal the secret of his place of rest. When he was buried, the army rode 1000 horses over the ground to conceal any traces of their activity.

. . .

There are numerous legends as to where Genghis Khan’s tomb is. One states that a river was diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find.

Again, more at the link.  If the diverted river was that known today as the Onon, it makes sense;  as does the fact that the Onon changed course again some centuries later.  It’s like the Mississippi River here in the USA.  The Army Corps of Engineers tries to keep it in its man-made waterway, but the river keeps trying to break out and carve a new channel for itself, as it seems to have done every few centuries since it began to flow.  Rivers do things like that, and I guess the Onon is no exception.

I guess now we’ll find out whether the legends of curses placed on the tomb of Genghis Khan have anything to them.  Rumor has it that the curses on Tamerlane’s tomb (he occupied the throne of Genghis Khan more than a century later) were enormously harmful to the Soviet Union.  Perhaps those on Genghis Khan’s tomb might prove… unfortunate… for the Chinese Communist Party, which authorized the excavation?  (Tongue firmly in cheek, of course – I don’t believe in that sort of superstition – but others are less phlegmatic.)



  1. 60-75 years of age and a war lord? In that era? Just doesn't seem plausible that someone so involved in combat would live to such an age. If so, he must have been either *very* skilled or very well protected.

    1. Alexander the Great's primary shock troops were his "Silver Shields"
      They frequently marched 20 miles per day carrying 50 to 100lbs of gear…
      Their ages ranged between 50 to 75

  2. Yes, to both Bob.

    Just like any warlord over the ages.

    Genghis Khan was frankly amazing if you read his history.

  3. I'm wondering why a Chinese team did the excavation and not a Mongolian or Russian one… The Mongols and the Chinese don't get along well.

  4. This may or may not be correct. A friend told me on an e-list that the photo was of a Sarmatian burial found in 2013, cited on in their archives of Sept 18, 2013, and that the headline was from another site in 2015.

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