Team hopeful of finding Genghis Khan’s grave

Reuters, DAWN, Friday 17 August 2001

CHICAGO, Aug 16: A team searching for Genghis Khan’s elusive grave site said on Thursday it discovered a promising walled burial ground 322 kilometres northeast of the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, which may contain the conqueror’s remains.

We plan to explore this site further with additional experts from the US and Mongolia, said University of Chicago history professor John Woods, who directed the summertime expedition organized by former Chicago commodities trader and lawyer Maury Kravitz, an amateur explorer who has studied Khan for 40 years.

The location of this site is intriguing, Woods said in a statement. This is an unprecedented discovery; however, we need to investigate the area archaeologically before we can confirm this exciting finding.

Legend has it that Khan, whose conquests created an empire spanning two-thirds of the civilized world from the Caspian Sea to present-day Hong Kong, was buried in 1227 by 2,000 servants who were slaughtered by 800 soldiers, who in turn were killed upon their return to the capital to preserve the secrecy of his resting place.

Khan’s undiscovered tomb became known as the Ikh Khoring, or the Great Taboo. Kravitz’s team, which is called the Genghis Khan Geo-Historical Expedition, said the hilltop site discovered near the Mongolian town of Batshireet in Hentii Province contains at least 20 unopened tombs apparently associated with persons of high status.

It is bordered by a 3.2 kilometres wall 3-4 metres high and may lie near Khan’s probable birthplace, and possibly near where he was proclaimed emperor of all the Mongols in 1206, the statement said.

A preliminary survey of the site shows it contains roughly 40 more graves at a lower elevation and an ancient roadway connecting the upper and lower levels. Pottery shards found on the surface may predate Genghis Khan’s birth in 1162.

The walled burial ground is known locally by a variety of names such as the Almsgivers Castle, Chinggis’ Castle, and Red Rock, the team said. Kravitz launched his initial expedition in 1995 with the grudging approval of the Mongolian government, but he does not have digging rights. He has said he turned up clues to Khan’s grave site during his years of study.

Kravitz has said he believes the grave—which he said would be the find of all finds—could contain an enormous treasure, citing the absence of any spoils of war from Khan’s conquests in the world’s museums or private collections. Mention of treasure has raised Mongolian suspicions of Kravitz, though he said anything found would belong to the country.-Reuters