A British researcher scanning through images from Google Earth has discovered a new section of the Great Wall of China.
Surprisingly, this part of the famous wall isn’t in China, but rather Mongolia. The Great Wall is actually comprised of several walls built in various centuries by several different rulers starting in the fifth century B.C., or perhaps earlier.
When Great Wall expert William Lindesay spotted what looked like a wall cutting across a remote part of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia’s southernmost region, he headed out with a team to follow along 60 miles of it. This photo, courtesy Alec East, shows the kind of terrain these modern-day adventurers had to deal with.
The wall varies in construction depending on the terrain and resources. In some parts it’s made of local volcanic basalt, while in others it’s a simple berm of sand and shrub cuttings. Lindesey believes this new portion of the wall is part of the so-called Wall of Genghis Khan, which, despite the name, is not considered a project by the famous conqueror but actually the Han Dynasty of China in 115 B.C.
Lindesay says this is the first time part of China’s defenses has been found outside of the modern boundaries of China. A journalist for the New York Times may have discovered a portion of the same wall in Russia in 2001.
A new exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago spotlights the world’s greatest conqueror.
Genghis Khan brings together the largest collection of 13th century Mongol artifacts ever. The exhibition traces the career of Genghis Khan from his birth in 1162, to a noble but obscure family, through his conquest of an empire that was larger than the Roman Empire. In fact, it was the largest ever, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the gates of Vienna, and he built it in just 25 years.
More than 200 objects are on display including a Mongolian house, silk robes, weapons, and even the mummy of a Mongolian noblewoman.
The exhibition shows that while Genghis Khan was a bloodthirsty warrior, he was a clever statesman too. He established a complex and efficient form of government, a postal system, paper currency, diplomatic immunity, even wilderness preserves and laws against littering. His conquests had a profound impact on the development of Asia and Europe.
Genghis Khan runs until September 3.
Photo courtesy the Field Museum.
It’s time to go to Mongolia! Almost. In winter 2011, the country will welcome the Radisson Blu Hotel Ulaanbaatar, the first Rezidor Hotel Group property to hit Mongolia. This will increase the company’s tally to 61 countries, says Rezidor president and CEO Kurt Ritter. You’ll find the new Radisson Blu right in the heart of the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, walking distance from Sukhbaatar Square and Peace Avenue, and it will be adjacent to the Choijin Lama Temple, which is home to an eighteenth century gold-covered statue of Buddha Shayaryamuni.
The property will have 175 guestrooms, three restaurants (including a microbrewery) and a wellness center – not to mention close to 5,000 square feet of conference and meeting space. Needless to say, this will be helpful in accommodating the increasing number of tourists to Mongolia, which has been growing at a compound annual rate of 15 percent since 2006.
So, if you’re looking to check out the temple or trod some of the same dirt as Genghis Khan, you’re about to get another lodging option.
Mongolia remains one of the world’s last great uncharted territories, a country of seemingly endless grassy steppes, herds of grazing yaks and wandering nomadic villagers. One of the country’s unique traditions is Mongolian wrestling, a sport that has been popular here for hundreds of years, dating back to the days of Genghis Khan. Flickr user AprilWang2009 took this superb action photo of two Mongolian combatants locked in the midst of struggle. I particularly like the sense of the movement and the soft focus blurring of the audience behind them. It has a very theatrical arrangement to it.
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Have some extra time and a wad of cash to spend? Become a treasure hunter. There’s a fun article in WSJ’s Weekend Journal about “Seven Missing Wonders of the World,” plus a treasure map to get you started.
The Holy Grail: Apparently, this wasn’t mentioned anywhere until around 1190 in a poem about something (undescribed) seen by the knight Perceval. But, obviously undergoing a recent surge of interest, and you’ve probably already started your search. Quite possibly being hidden along with the Holy Hand Grenade.
Genghis Khan’s Tomb: Maury Kravitz, retired trader and attorney, has spent over $3m and 15 yrs searching Mongolia for the resting place of this conqueror. Don’t let him beat you to it. Follow him around, and interview locals to see where he’s dug already and don’t dig there.
Amelia Earhart’s Plane: She was lost July 2, 1937, heading from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island. Some think she assumed the identity of NJ banker and pilot Irene Bolam, but I think traipsing around the South Pacific looking is a little sexier.
Nefertiti’s Tomb: Seeing as how Egyptian royalty were usually hidden when buried (because of the nasty habits of grave-robbers), she could be anywhere from the Valley of Kings, to somewhere in New Jersey.
The Shipwreck The San Jose: This Spanish galleon was sunk by the English in 1708, taking gold and silver, estimated to be worth between $150m and $10B, to the bottom of the ocean off Columbia. A 20-yr legal battle with the government of Columbia ended this year, promising the finder would split the loot with the government.
Peter the Great’s The Amber Room: This masterpiece of Baroque art was actually a room given by the king of Prussia to Peter the Great in 1716. It disappeared some time after the Nazi armies carted it off. I’m guessing it is with the Arc of the Covenant.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mural The Battle of Anghiari: Thought to be his greatest work of art, this mural decorated a hall in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, was copied by other artists, was lost, and now some think it was covered by another mural by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century. If you can’t find it, at least have a replica of the mural tattooed on your back.
In case you don’t have the time or cash to do any of this yourself, you can at least buy shares of the most prominent treasure hunter company, Odyssey Marine. Boo-ya!
I see another Hollywood blockbuster or bestseller in the making…