According to legend, when Genghis Khan died in 1227 in what is now northern China, his lieutenants wanted to keep the death a secret from the Mongols’ enemies. So as the party accompanying his body made its way back to Mongolia, they killed every person they saw on the way - more than 20,000 - so news of the death wouldn’t spread. Then, when they buried Genghis, they either redirected a river to cover the site, or set horses to trample the ground so no trace would be seen, or killed all the people who buried him, and then killed those killers.
There is no hard evidence that any of those things happened. It may well be that they are after-the-fact embellishments designed to explain a remarkable circumstance of history: the location of Genghis’ tomb remains a mystery.
The Mongol Empire receded almost as fast as it spread -- a fact that may have played a big role in keeping Genghis’ final resting place a secret. For centuries, the people of Mongolia retained a traditional, nomadic lifestyle that left little time to contemplate the distant past. In the 20th century, the Soviet Union dominated Mongolia and, while it modernized the country, it feared Mongolian nationalism, and so discouraged any deep look into the nation’s history.
But the last 20 years have seen a burst of interest in Genghis Khan. Abroad, his reputation as a bloodthirsty barbarian has undergone a substantial revision, thanks in part to books like the bestselling Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Meanwhile, a new, high-budget museum exhibition is touring the United States that emphasizes some innovations developed by Genghis Khan, including intercontinental commerce, religious pluralism and meritocracy.
Click here to read full article