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.
While Afghanistan may not be high on your places-to-go list, the government is trying hard to offer more sightseeing opportunities.
A giant citadel overlooking the city of Herat has just reopened after several years and $2.4 million of restoration. The citadel dates back to when Alexander the Great’s armies marched across Afghanistan on their way to India in 330 BC. It was used by a succession of dynasties and cultures before being destroyed by the Mongols. Most of the current citadel dates to the 14th and 15th centuries.
The restoration was done with the help of the U.S. and German governments and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The National Museum of Herat has opened inside the citadel, showcasing artifacts from the region’s long history.
The citadel was a favorite stop on the old Asian overland hippie trail in the 1960s and 70s popularized by Lonely Planet. While Afghanistan is courting tourists once again and a few hardy adventure travel companies such as Hinterland Travel are offering tours, only a trickle of visitors are coming to this ancient region.
Afghanistan has always been at the top of my list of places to go. I visited Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province in the 1990’s and spent several pleasant weeks among the Afghan communities there. Afghanistan’s long history and varied cultures would make a great Gadling series. I gave you Ethiopia, I gave you Somaliland, and I’d love to give you Afghanistan. . .
. . .but I can’t afford it. So I’m asking for your help. If you’d like to see a boots-on-the-ground series on Afghanistan written by yours truly, say so in the comments section and tell AOL to be my sugar daddy. I really want to go, and if enough of you vote, maybe they’ll send me! Tell your friends to vote too!
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]