Searching for the Tomb of Genghis Khan

An expedition tries to solve a 750-year mystery

Explorers Club president Alan Nichols plans an expedition Sept. 19 thru Oct. 4 to search for the tomb of Genghis Khan (or more properly transliterated as Chinggis Qa'an), founder of the world’s largest empire in history and Mongolia’s most revered figure. The search for the tomb, the location of which is one of the greatest mysteries in the world, will take place within the Yinchuan area of China’s Ningxia Autonomous Region, the Liu Pan Mountains in China, the Ordos Desert in China and the Yin Mountains in Inner Mongolia.

Scientists and adventurers have been searching for his burial site for almost 750 years. Qa’an was reportedly buried secretly in a solid silver casket with extraordinary jewels, weapons, artifacts and scores of warriors, slaves and horses. Nichols believes the tomb holds a treasure trove of history and wealth.

To avoid conflict with China authorities, who currently believe Qa’an was buried in Xinjiang, in the Altai Mountain, the official mission will be to track the last days of the emperor, focusing on sites that are recognized in The Secret History of the Mongols by Paul Kahn (Cheng & Tsui, 2005), and by scholars of events that happened in August 1227 when Qa’an died.Alan Nichols says events and places that are supported by history and can be located on the ground now include Yinchuan, the last capital city he conquered, the area where he died in the Liu Pan Mountains, the Ordos Desert, and the Yellow River that his cortege crossed on the way to Mongolia, and a huge Disneyland-like Genghis Khan Mausoleum in the Ordos Desert where, despite the name, the coffin contains no body, only headdresses and accessories.

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Genghis Khan is believed to have been born in 1162 and by the time of his death his empire stretched from China to the Caspian Sea in south-central Russia. His grandson, Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, expanded Mongolian territories well into Russia and the Middle East, making it the largest contiguous land empire in history.

Nichols and his eight-person team plus drivers, translators and support staff, will hire camels or horses to gauge the distance that the funeral cart might have traveled through the Ordos to test the shaman requirements for prompt burial.

They will cross the Yellow River at the most logical point and investigate the legendary swamp where the funeral cortege cart was "irretrievably" stuck. They will visit the Buddhist temple with the alleged statue of Chinggis Qa'an, interview locals about legends passed down from previous generations, conduct a walking survey of the mountain, and climb the summit of the sacred granite mountain peak where Qa’an is believed to have died.

Nichols expects the expedition will be able to use underground testing equipment to confirm that the location is correct and in the long run, make sure the tomb is protected.

“Although non-Mongolians generally do not want his tomb to be found, we believe it is necessary to find it in order to protect it from looting and indiscriminate excavation,” Nichols said.

The $30,000 expedition is sponsored in part by the Sacred Mountain Foundation and The Ewald Foundation. (For more information: Alan Nichols, (+1) 212-628-8383, anichols@explorers.org)

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