October 14, 2006

MODERNIZING WITH THE SWORD:

Celebrating Genghis Khan's Big Year: Eight centuries on, the Mongolian conqueror continues to influence culture worldwide. (Eric Powell, September 29, 2006, archaeology)

Instead of the scourge of civilization, Mongolians see Genghis as not just the founder of the Mongolian state, but as a force for progress and development during the Middle Ages, a leader whose legacy still has profound implications today, especially now that Mongolia is a democracy. The Khan was even the consensus vote for "Man of the Millennium" in surveys of historians a few years ago, a development that the Mongolian government still trumpets proudly in promotional material.

This was a big year for the Man of the Millennium. Mongolians celebrated the 800th anniversary of the formation of the Mongolian Empire. The somewhat arbitrary date of 1206 is the year that Genghis unified all the Mongolian tribes, his first step toward establishing the vast empire that eventually stretched from China to the Caspian Sea.

How to celebrate the anniversary? In addition to a number of academic conferences and other events marking the occasion, there is some talk about changing the capital's name to Genghis City. Some 30 miles from Ulaanbaatar, the government has a 130-foot-tall statue of the Khan in the works at the spot where, in 1177, young Temuujin found a horsewhip lying on a hilltop as he rode past. Horsewhips being lucky, he took it as an auspicious sign for his plan to re-unite the Mongols. [...]

[I]t turns out quite a few of us are even carrying the conqueror's DNA around. A genetic study done by Oxford geneticist Brian Sykes shows that 16 million people worldwide, eight percent of Asian men, are descended from the prolific Khan, who it turns out did more than put whole cities to the sword.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2006 8:21 AM
Comments

He apparently used his personal "sword" throughout Asia.

Posted by: Jayson at October 14, 2006 1:21 PM
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