Friday, 22 July 2011

A Window into the Past

From Field Expedition Mongolia / Valley of the Khans

A Window into the Past
July 20, 2011 by Dr. Kostas Stamatiou

We are back to the sacred lands of Northern Mongolia, after a relatively smooth journey from Ulaan Baatar (we only got stuck a couple of times and no sheep jumped off the truck to save themselves from impending doom). For a third year in a row, we are looking for the clues that will open the window to the 13th century. We have learned a lot, but many questions remain unanswered. Why is this landscape considered sacred in the hearts of the Mongol people to this very day? Is it actually the homeland of Genghis Khan, where he prepared and prayed before starting his campaigns?

The clues are hidden in historical records that span eight centuries. Searching through the files of the Royal Geographical Society, we discovered the accounts of explorers that ventured into Mongolia in the beginning of the previous century. Even at that time, they noted that the magistrate of Ulaan Baatar would visit the sacred lands, with a retinue of considerable size, to pray to the great nature spirits. This tradition has continued unchanged to this day.

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