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Exhibition of the largest single collection of 13th century Mongolian artifacts opens at the Field Museum
Full-scale replica of a trebuchet or catapult.
CHICAGO, IL.- An unrivaled conqueror who changed the course of world culture is the subject of new exhibition at The Field Museum. Genghis Khan (Feb. 24 through Sept. 3, 2012) showcases the largest single collection of 13th century Mongolian artifacts ever assembled, and takes visitors on an unforgettable journey into Khan’s legendary empire. The exhibition features more than 200 stunning objects including gold jewelry, weaponry, silk robes, religious relics, and the newly-discovered mummy and tomb treasures of a Mongolian noblewoman–that capture the essence of Genghis Khan’s empire, his military prowess, cultural influence, and lasting legacy.

Two Faces of Genghis Khan: Warrior and Statesman
Through compelling artifacts, engaging videos, and immersive installations, the exhibition tells the story of Genghis Khan’s life–an epic tale filled with brutality, cunning, and intrigue. Born in 1162, and called Temjin, he endured early hardships including his father’s untimely death, his own imprisonment and torture at the hands of a warring tribe, the kidnapping of his young wife, and a deadly rivalry with a sworn blood brother. In 1206, he successfully united the many Mongol clans and earned the title of Genghis Khan, meaning “Oceanic Ruler.” He established a code of law and a written language that brought order to the Mongolian steppes, and prepared the tribes he united to wage war with civilizations beyond Mongolian borders.

Genghis Khan and his descendants merged smaller countries into larger ones, and developed international borders for countries that still stand today, including China, Korea, and India. In just 25 years, Khan’s army conquered more lands and people than the Romans during their entire 400-year rule. At one point, Khan’s Mongol empire spanned more than 11 million square miles across Eastern Europe and Asia.

Genghis Khan’s place in history is fraught with paradox. His warriors reduced cities to ash, eliminated entire populations, and incited fear throughout medieval Europe and Asia. Yet, he was an innovative leader who brought stability and unity to a vast and varied empire, encouraged education and a meritocracy, and opened trade between Europe and Asia.

Visitors to the exhibition can explore how nomads lived on the grasslands of 13th century Central Asia and learn about Genghis Khan’s early influences. They can view a life-size ger (traditional Mongolian dwelling), learn about the role of a shaman, and view elaborate robes and materials used by spiritual leaders.

The rapid expansion of the Mongol Empire was due to the military genius and charisma of its leader. An animated floor map illustrates the vast reach of the empire, which at its peak, stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the gates of Vienna. Murals and video projections place visitors in battlefields to experience the sight and sound of warriors on galloping horses. Visitors will find magnificent weapons, equestrian objects, leather armor and chain mail, and other battle gear including a full-scale replica of a traction trebuchet (used for throwing large stones) and a giant siege crossbow.

Genghis Khan’s Legacy
Genghis Khan's empire changed the world. The great conqueror is credited with creating a passport and postal system, establishing diplomatic immunity, and wilderness preservation parks.

He died in 1227 but is still revered as the founding spirit of the Mongolian nation. Genghis Khan’s burial place is still one of the greatest archeological mysteries of our time. One imaginative account states that 800 horsemen trampled repeatedly over the burial site to obscure its location. Other soldiers then killed the horsemen so they could not disclose the grave site.

Mongol Rule After Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan’s third son and successor, gdei, established the city of Karakorum, on the Mongolian steppes, as the empire’s cosmopolitan capital. Visitors get a glimpse of life in this city through a recreated setting and collection of new archaeological discoveries including jewelry, ceramics, coins, seals, instruments, and textiles.

In the final section of the exhibition, visitors can trace the events that led to the fall of the Mongol Empire and learn about Kublai Khan, the most famous of Genghis Khan’s grandsons, whose own life as a warrior and statesman laid the foundation of modern China.

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