Has Genghis Khan's tomb beeen spotted from SPACE? Online 'explorers' narrow down the location of the grave using satellite images
- Final resting place of Mongol leader has remained a secret for 800 years
- His tomb is said to be near Burkhan Khaldun mountain in north Mongolia
- Scientists used crowdsourcing to scour 84,000 satellite images of the area
- More than 10,000 volunteers surveyed more than 2,300 square miles
- They identified 55 archaeological sites that could be Genghis Khan's tomb
- Archaeologists believe they are closer than ever to finding his burial site
He may have been the ruler of an empire that covered most of Asia, but the final resting place of Genghis Khan remains a mystery.
After dying of a sudden illness in 1227 at the age of 72, the Mongol leader was buried at a secret location that has yet to be uncovered.
Legend says that as his body was carried to its final resting place, anyone encountered along the route was put to the sword before those escorting the body also killed themselves
More than 10,000 volunteers tagged stuctures, roads and rivers on satellite images as part of the project
But now scientists, aided by a team of amateur archaeologists, believe they are close to finding the final resting place of the first Mongolian emperor.
By scouring more than 84,000 satellite images of the area where he suspected of being buried, more than 10,000 volunteers identified sites that looked like they might be of archaeological signficance.
A FATHER TO 16 MILLION MEN
The crowdsourcing project allowed the researchers to survey an area of 6,000 sq km (2,316 square miles), an area twice the size of Yosemite National Park.
In a paper published in the journal Public Library of Science One, they claim to have identified 55 potential archaeological sites that could be home to the remains of Genghis Khan.
The team were then able to visit some of the sites in Northern Mongolia to carry out ground surveys and use drone aircraft to take pictures from above.
Dr Albert Yu-Min Lin, the researcher who led the project at the Calfiornia Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, in San Diego, and a self-confessed Genghis Khan obsessive, said the work has brought them closer to finally answering the question of where Genghis Khan is buried.
Dr Yu-Min Lin said that using the help of the public through crowdsourcing helped his team plough through enormous quanities of information that would would have taken years for a single archaeologist to survey all the satellite photos.
He added: 'Looking at the data size challenge, we have surveyed a historically significant area of roughly 6,000km2.
'A ground survey of this detail for the entire range would have been prohibitive.
'A single archaeologist would have had to scroll through nearly 20,000 screens before covering the whole area.'
Legendary: The Mongol leader built one of the largest empires ever seen in just 80 years but the location of his final resting place after he died remains a mystery (actor playing Ghengis Khan pictured)
While the tomb has still to be found, monuments and statues like the one above exist all over Mongolia
The satellite images helped the archaeologists find 55 sites that were archaeologically interesting like a circular khirigsuur burial mound (labelled A and B), and stone megaliths known as 'deer stones' (labelled C)
Most experts believe Khan was buried somewhere in a valley near the sacred Mongolian mountain of Burkhan Khaldun, near his birthplace in Khentii Aimag, northeastern Mongolia.
Despite building up an empire that stretched from the Kaspian Sea to the Yellow Sea, little more is known about where his remains were buried.
Recent research has shown that one in every 200 men on the planet is genetically related to Genghis Khan, yet his tomb remains a secret.
His direct descendants who followed him as Khan are also thought to have been buried alongside him.
Accounts by traders such as Marco Polo who served with the Khublia Khaan in the 13 Century describe how the great Mongol Lords were buried.
He described how they were taken to a great mountain called Altai and anyone encountered on the route was killed.
It is said that when Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, died more than 20,000 men were put to the death after encountering his body.
Popular legend also says that the area around the tomb where Genghis Khan was buried was also trampled by horses for month to obliterate signs of the grave.
Genghis Khan was initially called Temüjin when he was born in 1155 or 1162 near Burkhan Khaldun mountain
The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan (above), built in Xinjie Town in Inner Mongolia in 1954, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, but the location of the actual tomb that contains his remains has been lost
In an attempt to find this legendary Valley of the Khans, and the tomb of their first great leader, volunteers were asked to tag modern and historic features and structures on satellite images.
Within six months 10,000 people had spent a total of 30,000 hours, or 3.4 years, tagging more than 2.3 million sites as part of the project, that was conducted with National Geographic.
From these the research team were able to narrow down the list to 100 accessible locations, of which 55 appeared to have archaeological significance.
These included circular 'khirigsuur' burial mounds and rectangular burial mounds ranging from the Bronze Age to the Mongol period.
The search also found stone megaliths and ancient city fortifications.
Genghis Khan is thought to be buried in the legendary Valley of the Khans near to Burkhan Khaldun mountain
The researchers visited some of the 55 sites and surveyed them from the air using drone aircraft
Although the researchers visited the sites identified, digging at these locations is highly controversial and previous attempts to excavate potential tombs in Mongolia have been deeply unpopular with the public.
Instead the researchers may have to use ground penetrating radar and other equipment in an attempt to narrow down their search further.
Dr Yu-Min Lin said: 'In total, a wide variety of archaeological material was identified from the crowd based analytics, ranging from 10 meter diameter rock piles to 200 meter wall structures.'
He added that their project had also shown the power of using crowdsourcing to help scientific and archaeological studies.
He said the recent attempt to locate the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, where 8 million participants surveyed satellite images for signs of the plane showed the power of such techniques.
He said: 'The shear mass of participation in this example provides a glimpse of the potential of our networked society.
'These crowdsourcing activities help us dive into the unknown and extract the unexpected.'