Genghis Khan, undoubtedly, changed the entire course of world history. We’ve heard intense and detailed accounts of his warfare, his power, and even his personal life. However, his death and final resting place remain shrouded in mystery. We believe he died August 18th, 1227...but that is all we know. Because of the mysterious legends and theories on where and what is buried with Khan continue to swirl centuries after his death.
In addition to not knowing where he is buried, we have no idea how Genghis Khan died which is surprising considering how much information we had of Khan, especially in the last years of his life. We do know that Genghis Khan actually carried quite a bit and his heritage and before his death had requested to be buried following typical Mongol customs - without markings and his body in an open field to be devoured by animals. But because of the mysterious recordings rumors immediately swirled regarding a secret tomb.
The search and evidence for a tomb are prominent enough that National Geographic created a project called ‘Valley of the Khans’ which uses satellite imagery in a gigantic hunt for the gravesite. This is just one of many projects and initiatives of varying sizes that have tried to locate the tomb.
However, recently a break may have been made in the case thanks to folklore. Local folklore in the area asserts that Khan was buried on a peak in the Khentii Mountains (specifically called Burkhan Khaldun). It was on this peak he had hidden from men trying to kill him and vowed to return in his death should he live through the ordeal. BBC quotes Dr. Sodnom Tsolmon, ““It is a sacred mountain,” acknowledged Dr. Sodnom Tsolmon, professor of history at Ulaanbaatar State University with an expertise in 13th-Century Mongolian history. “It doesn’t mean he’s buried there.”
Burkhan Khaldun has been off-limited to researchers (and forbids women), which means that although this may be his final resting place there is no real way of checking.
So, what was his tomb even be like? Well, the most fantastical of stories hold that the tomb would be a vast necropolis nestled deep within the mountains. One of the reasons many theorize that word never got out about the location was because soldiers and those extremely loyal to Khan and his wishes to be left alone is that all the builders were executed. Others say that a forest was planted over the top of the site to completely obscure it.
Like all well-hidden tombs, it is also rumored that if the great Khan had one and it was discovered those who entered would be cursed. We know this is likely as another tomb for a Mongol military leader was inscribed with phrases like: "When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble." and Whomsoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I." The Russian archaeology team that first discovered the tomb ignored these warnings. Three days later Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest military invasion on the Soviet Union. Of course, this may be simply coincidence...but what if it wasn’t?
If the Khan’s tomb exists and was ever found...would you want it opened or not? Thanks to Nolan Bryan L. for this suggestion!
Thanks to Nolan Bryan L. for this suggestion!
The above image is entitled, Burkhan Khaldun mount by Ganzorig Gavaa, licensed under
CC BY-SA 2.0