Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Return to the Valley of the Khans

The third expedition from the team of Albert Yu-Min Lin has started and we can watch it live at National Geographic's Field Expedition Mongolia and participate by looking for ancient structures on the maps supplied by this site.

Find it out your self!!

Read about daily progress by following the site's blog!!

Return to the Valley of the Khans
Jul 12, 2011 by Dr. Albert Yu-Min Lin

Hello friends!

Today we embark upon the third major expedition of the Valley of the Khans project, with the goal of applying noninvasive technologies to a search for the tomb of Genghis Khan. Over the years we have increased the sophistication of our tools, collected clues, and honed in on this region of interest. We will be carrying with us the most advanced ground-penetrating radar and electro-magnetic detection systems and satellite and aerial drone technologies. Also, thanks to the amazing citizen science platform we will also carry with us the combined efforts of over 1.8 million image analytic contributions from participants like you.

While this search leads us to a physical understanding of a legacy, it has opened our eyes to the metaphysical understanding of a man who changed the world. Mongolia is a place of unending beauty, where grassy steppes wipe away the hands of time. And what remains is a spirit of pride and determination that defined the modern world.

On behalf of our whole team I would like to thank you for your continued effort as each data point generated impacts our decisions in the field! It is an honor to be a part of this massive collaborative effort of exploration!

Albert Yu-Min Lin and the VOTK team

The Trek to Base Camp
Jul 15, 2011 by Dr. Shay Har-Noy

"Time is an uncertain notion in Mongolia."

They say that you should measure distances in Mongolia by hours rather than by kilometers. Over the last two days we have covered maybe 200 km but had to travel 12 hours each day. These aren't 200 km of freeways, city streets, or traffic. Rather, almost that entire distance is composed of muddy roads, river crossings, politicking, logistical maneuverings, thunderstorms, scouting with horses and car break downs. Just lunch alone can be a daunting challenge. Consider having to feed 25 people two to three times a day where there are no restaurants, supermarkets or convenience stores.

Over the last two expeditions we have learned that on travel days, one must carry on their person anything they might need including rain gear, food, and water as we are constantly switching between vehicles, horses, and walking. Nonetheless, during this year's journey we still managed to be caught during high noon with little water or food only to have the sun disappear to a fast moving thunderstorm. These are the times in which the entire team bands together and shares whatever they can find.

As I look outside of our ger (Mongolian yurt) I see our fleet of expedition vehicles: 2 Russian vans, 2 Russian military trucks (aka "the 66"), 2 jeeps, 12 horses, 1 goat, and 1 sheep. I would like to say that it was due to our tenacity we were able to arrive at our main base camp. However, tenacity is only a prerequisite. As the skies parted, we realized that we'd only made it because the mountains had permitted our passage.

Amazing Collaboration
Jul 18, 2011 by Dr. Fredrik Hiebert

Our team is comprised of a diversity of people: engineers, archaeologists, photographers, technology specialists, and historians. Not to mention the horsemen, cooks, drivers, translators and our esteemed co-PI and specialist on Mongol history and culture Dr. Ishdorj.

Between the two authors of this post, one is the oldest of the US group (ha! I’m not going to tell you how old) and one is the youngest at 19. Andrew (computer science) says “this is awesome.” We have the most amazing conversations that cross disciplines and topics – from the history of Mongolia to how to take apart electronic equipment and put it back together better than it was. This is really the best part of the expedition - the exposure to and the immersion in such a variety of ideas and disciplines.

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