Karakorum (aka Qaraqorum, modern name: Harhorin) is located in the Orkhon Valley of central Mongolia and was the capital of the Mongol Empire from 1235 to 1263. Ogedei Khan (r. 1229-1241) ordered its construction, and had a walled palace built. He made the city a thriving trade centre by attracting merchants of all nationalities and faiths there.

Karakorum was later replaced as the Mongol capital by Daidu (Beijing) and Xanadu. The city then went into a long decline but is today a major archaeological site and the location of an important 16th-century Buddhist monastery, Erdene Zuu.


The imperial court of the khans had no fixed home as the nomadic roots of the Mongol leaders and their frequent military campaigns meant that they continued to move from camp to camp across their vast empire. Nevertheless, the Mongol administration urgently needed a capital city where revenue could be accumulated and some attempt at a centralised government could be made to govern their conquered territories. Consequently, Ogedei called in skilled artisans, masons, and craftworkers from Persia to China and ordered the building of a walled capital in 1235.

The city might have been compact but it was cosmopolitan with residents including Mongols, Steppe tribes, Han Chinese, Persians, Armenians & captives from Europe.

Karakorum is located in the Orkhon Valley of central Mongolia, 400 km southwest of the present capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. The choice of location was perhaps influenced by its traditional use as a gathering ground and by Genghis Khan (r. 1162/67-1227), who had used the site as a semi-permanent campsite some decades before and may even have earmarked it as a candidate for a future capital in 1220. Long before that the Uyghur Turks had had their capital Qarabalghasun in the Orkhon Valley in the 8th-9th century. Apart from being centrally located within the Mongol Empire as it was in 1235, the site was blessed with a good water supply, nearby mountains for varied pasture for livestock and fresh winds that kept mosquitoes away.

The name Karakorum (often spelt Qaraqorum or Caracorum) may derive from a river of that name which ran to the west of the city, although this may be a misinterpretation by later scholars. An alternative origin of the name is that it derives from the Mongol tradition of holding winter feasts or qurim, a custom especially associated with the 'black' or qara Mongols (those who were not of the elite). A third theory is that the name means 'Black Rock' or 'Black Walls.'

Due to its remoteness and situation in grasslands not suitable for agriculture, hundreds of cartloads of food had to be transported into the city daily in order to feed its population. Despite this drawback, the city was part of the excellent Mongol road and messenger network, the Yam, and it did indeed become an important logistics centre and repository of the empire's resources. In addition, many merchants travelled there, encouraged by its location on the Silk Roads and the khan's generous prices for their goods - often double the figures paid anywhere else. Consequently, the city soon boasted large and regular markets where everything from goats to rent boys were bought and sold.

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Great storehouses were built & filled with treasures & produce taken as tax from peoples the Mongols had conquered.


Karakorum was not large, only 10,000 people at its height resided there (although some scholars prefer a figure nearer 30,000), and this led to a rather disparaging description of it by the historian William of Rubruck (c. 1220-1293). The Franciscan missionary, who travelled to the site in the 1250s, compared it unfavourably with western capitals and described it as no more impressive than a village suburb of medieval Paris.

The city might have been compact but it was cosmopolitan with residents including Mongols, Steppe tribes, Han Chinese, Persians, Armenians, and captives from Europe who included a master goldsmith from Paris named William Buchier, a woman from Metz, one Paquette, and an Englishman known only as Basil. There were, too, scribes and translators from diverse Asian nations to work in the bureaucracy, and official representatives from various foreign courts such as the Sultanates of Rum and India. This diversity was reflected in the various religions practised there and, in time, the construction of many fine stone buildings by followers of Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. Great storehouses were built and filled with treasures and produce taken as tax from peoples the Mongols had conquered. With them, a huge bureaucracy, perhaps involving one-third of the city's population, developed to keep track of everything, and there were law courts to hear special cases from anywhere in the empire and workshops where raw materials were worked into precious goods.

Ogedei Khan visited occasionally, and he had a palace built for those times when he did stop by. This palatial residence featured gilded columns, pavilions, gold and silver basins, and a wine cellar, and its walls were decorated with fine paintings by Khitan artists. One famous feature of the palace served one of Ogedei's passions. The Great Khan was known for his prodigious drinking bouts, and he had a huge silver fountain shaped like a tree set up in his palace that served all manner of alcoholic beverages from fantastically-shaped spouts. William of Rubruck, rather more impressed with the tree than the city, gives the following lengthy description:

In the entry of this great palace, it being unseemly to bring in there skins of milk and other drinks, master William the Parisian had made for him [the Great Khan] a great silver tree, and its roots are four lions of silver, each with a conduit through it, and all belching forth white milk of mares [the alcoholic drink called koumiss]. And four conduits are led inside the tree to its tops, which are bent downward, and on each of these is also a gilded serpent, whose tail twines round the tree. And from one of these pipes flows wine, from another cara cosmos, or clarified mare's milk, from another bal, a drink made with honey, and from another rice mead, which is called terracina; and for each liquor there is a special silver bowl at the foot of the tree to receive it. Between these four conduits in the top, he made an angel holding a trumpet, and underneath the tree he made a vault in which a man can be hid. And pipes go up through the heart of the tree to the angel. In the first place he made bellows, but they did not give enough wind. Outside the palace is a cellar in which the liquors are stored, and there are servants all ready to pour them out when they hear the angel trumpeting. and there are branches of silver on the tree, and leaves and fruit. When then drink is wanted, the head butler cries to the angel to blow his trumpet. Then he who is concealed in the vault, hearing this blows with all his might in the pipe leading to the angel, and the angel places the trumpet to his mouth, and blows the trumpet right loudly. Then the servants who are in the cellar, hearing this, pour the different liquors into the proper conduits, and the conduits lead them down into the bowls prepared for that, and then the butlers draw it and carry it to the palace to the men and women.

(quoted in Lane, 156-7)

This ingenious device perhaps proved too much of a temptation as Ogedei Khan, aged 56, died in Karakorum on 11 December 1241 after a heavy drinking bout likely brought on a stroke or sudden organ failure.

A Political Pawn

In 1263 Karakorum was replaced as the Mongol capital by Xanadu (aka Shangdu), located in Inner Mongolia. The latter would itself be replaced by Daidu (Beijing) in 1273, although Xanadu would continue to function as the Mongol summer capital. As Kublai Khan (r. 1260-1294) bit off larger and larger chunks of Song Dynasty China (960-1279) from 1268 onwards, a more centrally-placed capital was required. Karakorum also had unpleasant associations for Kublai because his great rival as supreme ruler of the Mongols, Ariq Boke (1219-1266), had used the original capital as his base before Kublai captured it in 1262.

There was one problem with Kublai moving his capital further east and that was it became more difficult for him to maintain control of western Asia. Another rival, Kaidu (grandson of Ogedei Khan), mobilised towards Karakorum in 1288 and so Kublai was obliged to send one of his best generals, Bayan to garrison the city from 1290 to 1293.

Later History

Karakorum was not totally abandoned and, even if it was no longer politically or commercially important, it remained a potent symbol of the Mongol control of Asia. After the fall of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) in China, the last Yuan emperor, Toghon Temur (r. 1333-1368) fled to the old capital where he died in 1370. The Mongols might have lost China but at least in 1372 an army of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was defeated near Karakorum, putting an end to any Chinese ambitions in Mongolia. Over the centuries, Karakorum suffered pillaging of its stonework for rebuilding elsewhere, notably the 1586 Buddhist monastery at Erdene Zuu.

Excavations have been carried out, first by Russian archaeologists in 1899, and again in 1948-9 and, more recently, by Mongol authorities, especially at the palace of Ogedei. We know now that the palace was once on a raised platform and surrounded by a wall, it had private apartments, treasuries and storehouses, and an area in one corner for the khan to erect his yurts (gers), the traditional tents of the Mongols. There is evidence that other parts of the city were also used as a site for yurt camps, illustrating that in the mid-13th century, the Mongol elite still continued their nomadic traditions.

The largest single surviving architectural piece from Karakorum is a massive stone turtle from the palace which would have once had a stela on its back. Archaeology has also revealed the remains of a mosque and a Buddhist temple as well as craft stalls. Further indicators of Karakorum's wealth and position as a trade hub include finds of administrative seals, ornate dragon-decorated tiles, copper mirrors, gold objects like finely worked jewellery and high-quality Chinese ceramics. Many of these finds can be seen today in the Kharkhorin Museum, Kharkhorin, Mongolia.


Despite its relatively small size, Karakorum was one of the most important cities in the history of the Silk Road. Although founded by Genghis Khan in 1220, Karakorum's development as capital of the Mongol Empire occurred in the 1230s under his son Ögedei. The Mongols had a profound impact on the history of trade across Central Asia, as their vast empire connected east and west, and trade and exchange were facilitated by the Pax Mongolica, enforcing, as far as possible, peace and a degree of stability across the vast territories under Mongol rule.

Karakorum is strategically located on the most important east-west route across Mongolia, not far from the Orkhon River. This river valley was considered a sacred homeland by steppe peoples who traditionally placed their capitals there, and Turkish, Chinese, Uighur and Sogdian inscriptions from the region, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries AD, suggest that the area had become a flourishing centre not only of local agriculture but also of the cultures of the peoples who lived around the steppe lands.

The Mongol choice of the location for Karakorum was no accident: ecology, political considerations, steppe tradition and local beliefs all came together there. It is undoubtable that the Mongols were aware of the earlier history of the region and built on its legacy.

Ironically, there are few surface traces of the Mongol capital in today&rsquos city. The town wall enclosed a somewhat irregular rectangle measuring approximately 1.5 by 2.5 kilometres. The walls were sufficient for controlling access to the town but would not have protected it against a major attack. Important economic activities, merchant residences and religious buildings were located within the walls. Given what we know about the settlement and movement patterns of the Mongols, it is clear that at the times when the Khan's court was present, the population of the town would have grown substantially by the temporary residence of Mongols in their gers (yurts) in the adjoining territory.

The Franciscan William of Rubruck in 1253-1255 was the first European to provide an eyewitness description of Karakorum. He was a careful observer, and tells us that:

&ldquoIt contains two quarters: one for the Saracens, where the markets are and where many traders gather due to the constant proximity of the camp and to the great number of envoys the other is the quarter of the Cataians, who are all craftsmen. Set apart from these quarters lie large palaces belonging to the court secretaries. There are twelve idol temples belonging to the different peoples, two mosques where the religion of Mahomet is proclaimed, and one Christian church at the far end of the town. The town is enclosed by a mud wall and has four gates.&rdquo

The archaeological evidence provides further details to this picture of the town's economic life, with particularly rich material continuing to be found in the Chinese commercial section of the centre of the city. Karakorum was a centre of metallurgy, and iron cauldrons, axle rings for carts, abundant quantities of arrowheads, and various decorative metal objects have been uncovered. Local industry produced glass beads for jewellery and other decorative purposes their forms are of a type that was widespread across all of the Mongol Empire. Spindle weights tell us that yarn was being produced - presumably from the wool of the Mongols' own flocks. We know that rich silk fabrics were highly valued by the Mongol elite, and some fragments of imported Chinese silk have been found. While there was limited production of grain in the surrounding region, it seems likely that the demand for grain required much of it to be imported from China. The archaeologists have discovered at least one small millstone.

Of particular interest is the production and importation of ceramics. Recent excavations uncovered ceramic kilns, which produced such objects as roof tiles and finials for the Chinese-style buildings, water pipes, sculptures and a variety of table ware. The evidence suggests that the technology came from China. At the same time, the demand of the elite for high quality ceramic wares was met by imports, including good Chinese porcelain. When the famous blue-and-white porcelains began to be produced in the first half of the 14 th century, they almost immediately found a market in Karakorum.

Evidence concerning commerce includes coinage. For all the fact that the written sources emphasize the significant role of Muslim merchants connecting Karakorum with Central Asia, most of the coins which have been discovered are of Chinese origin and range in date from a few T'ang Dynasty examples up to the Yuan (Mongol) coinage. However, earliest documentary evidence which has survived from Karakorum is a coin with an Islamic inscription minted there in 1237-8. Excavations have also yielded a great many metal weights.

The population of the city also contained a microcosm of the religious diversity of the Mongol empire. Shamanism, the Mongolian indigenous religion, was practiced, as well as Islam brought by Muslim traders in earlier centuries. Buddhism was very popular in the city at this time too, as was Nestorian Christianity.

By the time Marco Polo reached China in the early 1270s, the Qubilai Khan had made Beijing the Empire's capital, replacing Karakorum. Yet throughout much of the 14 th century it retained a symbolic importance as the city 'founded' by the charismatic founder of the Empire, Genghis Khan. Today, Karakorum is the location of one of the important annual Naadam festivals, celebrating Mongolian traditional sports and culture.

The Early History of Karakorum

Karakorum (also spelled as Khara-khorin, Har Horin, Kharakhorum, and Qara Qorum) is a historical site located in the Orkhon Valley of north-central Mongolia. The area was settled before the arrival of the Mongols, and the archaeological records suggest that it was first established as a tent city around the 8th or 9th centuries by the Uighur descendants of the Bronze Age Steppe Societies. It was only later, in 1220, that a permanent settlement at Karakorum was founded by Genghis Khan .

A 13th century stone turtle, one of the few visible remains at Karakorum from the time when it was the capital of the Mongol Empire. (Frithjof Spangenberg/ CC BY SA 2.5 )

The land around Karakorum was not the most agriculturally fertile. Genghis Khan’s choice of Karakorum as his capital, however, was based on the fact that it was located strategically at the north-south and east-west intersections of the Silk Road routes crossing Mongolia. In other words, this city had great potential to grow rich from trade. The city also served as Genghis Khan’s base for his invasion of China.

Tartarian Ruins of Mongolia and Karakorum

The same area as depicted on the Fra Mauro's map dated with 1450 looks something like this. It's hard to figure out the exact location of the contemporary Mongolia on this map, but I think it was in the vicinity of Serica. May be slightly north of it.

The same area portrayed on the 1587 Urbano Monte's map shows the following.

There are tons of different older maps of Asia showing cities and towns in the area. Unfortunately, their existence on the maps does not explain when and who built them. Relying on the conventional historians is not an option, as far as "who" and "when" goes.

It's been close to 175 years since Évariste Régis Huc traveled to the area formerly occupied by Tartary. Who knows if the ruins he was talking about are still around today.
Looking for the Mongolian ruins we, for the most part, run into the so-called Karakorum ruins. Whether these really belong to the former "base camp" of Genghis Khan is unknown. in my opinion. There is plenty of evidence that city names were getting switched around left and right. Our science corp says that this is Karakorum.

  • Like many cities in Mongolia, Karakorum started life as a nomadic camp - and a nomadic city leaves few ruins behind. In fact, of the old city, only a stone tortoise remains.

Meanwhile, they are digging out stuff like this.

And want to convince us that on top of the stone pillars were meant to support this reconstructed structure: The Great Hall of Karakorum (Mongolia)

By the way, this here is Kublai Khan giving financial support to Marco Polo. For looks and sizes.

Outside of Karakorum we can find some decently looking ruins, but those will always be either stupas, pagodas, fortresses, temples, or palaces. They will never call those factories, power stations or universities. Meanwhile 30% of the Mongolians live in yurts today.

White House of Choghtu Khong Tayiji

Of course we need to remember that Tartaria, in all its vastness, was formerly known as Scythia, or so the old map says.

Central Karakorum National Park

The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The Central Karakoram in the Gilgit-Balitstan region of Pakistan is an extreme mountain area between Skardu and Gilgit. It was declared as the Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP) in 1993 and today it is the largest protected area in Pakistan, covering over 10,557.73 km2 in the Central Karakorum mountain range. The area is part of the Asian high-mountain system of Hindukush- Karakorum-West Himalaya, and is the highest park in the world.

The park is in a highly active tectonic zone. About 60 million to 20 million years ago, the Indian continental plate subducted under the Eurasian plate and, with the effects of extrusion and uplift of the Indian plate, several immense mountains were formed. Huge tectonic forces stemming from this collision of one plate with another have progressively thrown up the Karakoram Mountains making it one of the most tectonically-active locations in the world.

The Park encompasses the longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions, making up 40% of the park area. This forms the most important and fragile ecosystem of the entire region. Famous glaciers such as Hispar, Biafo, Baltoro and Chogo Lungma form complex glacial systems occupying valleys and in some cases entire watersheds.

In an area of such intense geomorphological activity, it is not surprising that landslides are a common occurrence. The region of the park has an ambivalent relationship with these events, on the one hand they bring disaster and destruction, but at the same time they reconfigure the landscape, creating new landforms with potential for habitation and agriculture. For example, villages and their fields are often located directly on land resulting from former landslides.

The Karakorum Range lies in a transitional zone between the arid Central Asia and the semi-humid tropics of South Asia. Within the CKNP there is a variety of ecosystems, from rock cliffs to juniper shrub land, conifer and broadleaf forests and alpine pastures, home to a very high level of biodiversity. These diverse ecosystems provide a refuge for threatened species of mammals such as arkhor, musk deer, snow leopard, Ladakh urial and Marco Polo sheep, and also for important “flagship” species including the Himalayan Ibex and Lynx, Blue Sheep and Grey Wolf.

This environmental “hotspot” is also reflected in one of the most diverse avifauna of the mountainous regions of the world, with approximately 90 species of birds in 13 families known to occur in the CKNP. Alpine and moraine lakes are important stopovers on the Indus flyway and are part of one of the largest migratory bird routes in the world.

There are 230 settlements of approximately 115,000 people living immediately adjacent to the park, the borders of which have been designed to exclude all villages and pasture lands. However, these communities have traditional rights in the park area to access seasonal pastures for grazing, hunting, collecting firewood, timber and medicinal plants.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Central Karakorum National Park is a place of superlatives: the highest park in the world, containing within its borders sixty peaks over 7,000 m. and ten of the world’s highest and most famous mountains including four peaks more than 8000 m.a.s.l. and K2, the second highest peak in the world. This density of exceptionally high peaks is an important attribute of the park’s OUV.

From a geological and structural point of view, the CKNP is located in an area of very active seismicity, one of the main triggering factors in the occurrence of landslides. To live in such a high risk environment, it is necessary to learn to cohabit with extremely dangerous phenomena and to identify the safest areas for the habitation. In this regard the Central Karkorum has international scientific and geomorphological hazard significance because of the on-going geological processes influencing its stability.

Almost half of the park comprises glaciers which are famous for the extent of the regular upsurges they undergo. In the last century, 26 surges were detected in the Karakoram Range, rapid advances that involved at least 17 glaciers. In 1955, Kutiah glacier advanced 12 km. in only three months, the fastest glacial surge ever recorded. Glacier tongues enlarge and push forward at a rapid pace, becoming devastating flows of ice and rock, blocking valleys, closing roads and caravan routes and creating lakes.

This trend in upsurge is part of a complicated phenomenon known as the "Karakoram Anomaly," where glaciers in the Karakoram mountains have overall remained stable and even increased in mass, in contrast to many glaciers nearby and worldwide which have receded during the past 150 years, particularly in recent decades. New studies reveal that the area has a unique weather pattern that keeps the ice cold and dry during the summer months. Unlike the rest of the Himalayas, the Karakoram region is not negatively affected by summer monsoon season, when although the ice melts a little, the melting is offset by heavy snowfall in the extremely cold winters.

Criterion (viii): Central Karakoram National Park is an outstanding example representing major stages of earth’s history, including past and continuing geological processes in the development of the Himalayan massif the dramatic growth and formative action of some of the world’s most important glaciers and the continuous cycle of landform change brought about by the dynamic force of landslides.

Criterion (ix): As a regional priority area for conservation of bird and animal species, CKNP is an outstanding example of significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of mountain ecosystems.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

CKNP includes within its boundary all the key interrelated and interdependent elements necessary to express its Outstanding Universal Value. The national park is of more than adequate size to ensure compete representation of these features and natural processes, spanning over 10,333.3 km2 of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers. It represents the great range of geological forms, altitude and climatic conditions that have carved out distinctive ecological zones, from alpine dry steppe to permanent snow fields and cold deserts, with their associated rare and in some case threatened species.

It comprises a Core Zone area protecting the major geological, glacial and environmental elements, surrounded by a Buffer Zone which is discontinuous, delineated only in those areas where its function is necessary. The property has been delineated to exclude nearby permanent human settlements while allowing sustainable traditional uses and a fundamental role for local communities in the management and protection of the park. The CKNP does not suffer from adverse effects of development and/or neglect it is essentially pristine and an integrated park management plan has been developed to provide continuing care and protection.

Comparison with other similar properties

The World Heritage List includes properties which share some of the values expressed in the Central Karakorum National Park: The first of these, Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park in India highlights biodiversity of its alpine meadows and peaks. The OUV of Tajik National Park (Mountains of the Pamirs) lies in its exceptional beauty, and two main habitat types of Continental Cold Winter Deserts and Vavilov Centers which are important gene pools of wild relatives of cultivated plants. Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area in India is a compact area for conserving habitat and biological diversity which offers the best chance for survival of numerous temperate and subalpine species. The OUV of Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal, in the eastern Himalayas, is based solely on its superlative and exceptional natural beauty embedded in the dramatic mountains, glaciers, deep valleys and majestic peaks.

There are three comparative properties on the World Heritage Tentative List. The OUV of Kangchendzonga National Park, India.is a mixed nomination, based on cultural and natural criteria (iii), (vii) and (x). It is the highest of the countries high altitude parks with a wide variety of ecological conditions. However, the emphasis for nomination is placed on the deep Buddhist cultural associations that set the property apart. Similarly, the Cold Desert Landscape of India, between the Greater Himalayas of India and the main Tibetan Plateau, is a cultural landscape with exceptional intangible Buddhist cultural resources ranging from performing arts, crafts, literary works, customs, myths and beliefs.

The Karakorum - Pamir in China includes the most important tectonic suture lines of the Pamirs, which are unique to the Pamirs and a drier and quite different environment from the southern slopes than that included in the proposed site in Pakistan.

None of these properties carries OUV based on the same combination of attributes seen in Central Karakorum National Park: the density of exceptional peaks and dramatic range of elevations and ecosystems of global value, concentration of dynamic geological forces, active seismicity and exceptional glacier growth and movement.


Karakorum je veliki planinski lanac koji se prostire pograničnim dijelovima Pakistana, Indije i Kine dok se krajnji sjeverozapadni dijelovi ovog masiva protežu do Afganistana i Tadžikistana. Počinje od afganistanskog Wakhanskog koridora na zapadu, obuhvata veći dio Gilgit-Baltistana (Pakistan) i proteže se do regije Ladak unutar indijske savezne države Jammu i Kashmir i spornog regiona Aksai Čin koji je pod kontrolom Kine. Drugi je najviši planinski lanac u svijetu i dio je planinskog kompleksa koji uključuje i Pamirske planine, Hindukuš i Himalajske planine. [1] [2] Karakorum obuhvata osam vrhova visine iznad 7.500 metara od kojih su četiri preko 8.000 m i to: [3] K2 (8.611 m), drugi najviši vrh na svijetu, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak i Gasherbrum II.

Dužine je oko 500 km i sadrži najveći broj ledenjaka izvan polarnih područja. Ledenjaci Siačen sa 76 km i Biafo sa 63 kilometra dužine su drugi i treći najveći ledenjaci izvan polarnih područja. [4]

Naziv ovog planinskog lanca vodi porijeklo iz turkijskog termina koji znači crni šljunak. Trgovci iz Srednje Azije prvobitno su koristili naziv Prolaz Karakorum. [5] Rani evropski istraživači i putopisci, uključujući i Williama Moorcrofta i Georgea Haywarda, počeli su da koriste termin za planine zapadno od prelaza, iako su takođe koristili i termin Muztag (što znači ledena planina) za područje koje se danas zove Karakorum. [5] [6] Kasnija terminologija bila je pod uticajem istraživanja Indije, kada je istraživač Thomas Montgomerie 1850-ih uveo oznake K1 do K6 (K kao Karakorum) za šest visokih vrhova koji su bili vidljivi sa njegove stanice na planini Haramuk u Kašmiru.

U drevnim sanskritskim tekstovima (Purana) za opisivanje ovog planinskog lanca koristio se termin Krishnagiri (crne planine). [7] [8]

What To Do

Walk Around An Ovoo

In Mongolia, Karakorum has always held religious significance.

Below you can see an ovoo - a shamanistic monument. Travelers wish for a safe journey by walking around the shrine three times. These days, people often drive round three times instead.

Spin A Prayer Wheel

If you can't find an ovoo, try spinning a prayer wheel at Erdene Zuu Monastery.


The Orkhon River hosts thirteen types of fish including Baikal, Sturgeon and Taimen. You don't need expertise to catch them.

I bought some line and a hook from a local market, picked up a broken stick, dug up a grub.

And managed to catch something. but it got away ) No, I really did!

Meet The Locals

The local nomads will give you a warm welcome should you visit their dwellings. If you're feeling brave, they may allow you ride a horse.


A Karakorum és a Himalája számos okból különös jelentőséggel bír a földtani kutatók számára. Geológiailag nagyon aktív területek ezek, lévén két kontinens ütközési vonalában helyezkednek el, így nagyon fontosak a lemeztektonikai kutatásokban. A gleccserek pedig az éghajlatváltozások nyomon követésében játszanak kiemelt szerepet, mivel kiterjedésükkel-összehúzódásukkal jól követik a terület hőmérsékletében és csapadékosságában hosszú távon bekövetkező változásokat. De a vonulat - létrejöttekor - akár okozója is lehetett bizonyos éghajlatváltozásoknak. A légköri hatásoknak közvetlenül kitett, nagy tömegű szikla elaprózódásakor szén-dioxidot von el a levegőből az üvegházhatást okozó gáz légköri mennyiségének csökkenése pedig hozzájárulhatott a föld klímájának hűvösödéséhez, mely eljegesedések sorozatát indíthatta el, ez a kainozoikumi eljegesedés.

A Baltoro-gleccser a Karakorum középső vidékén, a Gasherbrum I és II hegycsúcsokkal

New Book: A Layered History of Karakorum. Stratigraphy and Periodization in the City Center.

The volume presents the chronological system for the sequence of settlement layers in the middle of Karakorum, the first capital of the Mongol Empire in Mongolia from the 13th and 14th century documented during the excavations of Bonn University . This system served not only as a basis for the discussion of the workshops (Reichert 2020) but will also be the authoritative foundation for future works on other material groups. The immense depositions of layers in the city center allowed for establishing a chronological sequence of Karakorum. This relative sequence is supported by a cognitive sequence that results from a feasible combination of building structures, a reconstruction of room ground plans. Dendrochronological analyses, radiocarbon dates, coins, as well as a dated seal of 1372 feed into the absolute dating of the relative system.

Bonn Contributions to Asian Archaeology, Volume 8. Mongolian-German Karakorum Expedition, Volume 2 (Bonn 2019).

Orders: to be placed by email at [email protected] Book stores, institutes and university members may order on invoice without pre-payment.

The Silver Tree of Karakorum

Of all the things described in William of Rubruck's account of his travels through 13th-century Asia, perhaps none is so striking as the remarkably ornate fountain he encountered in the Mongol capital which — complete with silver fruit and an angelic automaton — flowed with various alcoholic drinks for the grandson of Genghis Khan and guests. Devon Field explores how this Silver Tree of Karakorum became a potent symbol, not only of the Mongol Empire's imperial might, but also its downfall.

By the time Friar William of Rubruck arrived at the camp of Möngke Khan in the last days of 1253, he had pushed his body to its breaking point. The trip from Acre had taken him by way of Constantinople, across the Black Sea, and then on a punishing overland journey featuring extreme cold, a demon-haunted pass, and little enough food that his travel-companion, Bartolomeo of Cremona, had been close to tears, exclaiming “It seems to me I shall never get anything to eat”. And then there had been the Mongols themselves. Passing into their territory was like passing “through one of the gates of hell”, and leaving their presence comparable to escaping “the midst of devils”. Safe to say that the Mongols seemed quite alien to this Flemish friar.

William grumbled at their (in his view) incurable greed, commented repeatedly on his distaste for the women's noses, and spoke of the foolishness of their religion. Though in many ways a clever traveller and, despite this xenophobia, an at times astute observer, he was in other ways a fish out of water, even going about at first in bare feet on the frozen winter ground. But not everything was so unfamiliar, so strange to him.

There at the heart of the Mongol Empire, he found a surprisingly cosmopolitan scene comprised of Hungarians, Greeks, Armenians, Alans, Georgians, and more. In the capital of Karakorum, he found a “Saracen” quarter with its markets and a “Cathayan” one with its artisans he found temples and mosques, and he found a church. He met a Christian from Damascus who represented the Ayyubid Sultan, a woman from Metz named Pacquette who had been captured while on business in Hungary, and the son of an Englishman named Basil. Most helpful to him during his stay was an artisan from Paris named Guillaume Boucher. This Parisian smith created several pieces which William saw — an altarpiece, a kind of mobile oratory, an iron to make communion wafers, and, perhaps his most significant mark left at Möngke’s capital, the Mongol khan’s wonderfully elaborate drinking fountain.

Now the words “drinking fountain” might evoke high school hallways and awkwardly hunching over to bring your face to the faucet, but this was something else entirely. Crowned by a trumpet-wielding, angelic automaton, the main structure formed a magnificent silver tree, wrapped in silver serpents and complete with branches, leaves, and fruit. At its roots sat “four lions of silver, each with a conduit through it, and all belching forth white milk of mares.” Up in the branches, four pipes emerged to splash a different alcoholic beverage down to silver basins waiting below. There was grape wine, fermented mare’s milk, rice wine, and honey mead, all to be ready when the khan so desired. This so-called “drinking fountain” was, for all intents and purposes, a most convoluted and extravagant bar.

Möngke Khan's fountain, as depicted in Pierre de Bergeron's “Voyages faits principalement en Asie” (1735)

Sadly, this curious creation, completed while William was at the camp of the Mongol khan, has not survived for us to admire. We are left with only the friar’s words to go on and, subsequently, with many questions. Was it as imagined in the eighteenth-century edition of geographer and poet Pierre de Bergeron’s work? Most visual representations since have been based on Bergeron's, but did it really tower so high and appear so baroque? Was it even actually as William described? Have we correctly translated from his Gallicised Latin? Might his “lions” have been tigers or his “serpents” in fact dragons? How did it all work?

A press a button, lean down, and sip affair it was not. Originally, bellows had been placed within the tree to pipe air through the angel’s trumpet whenever the khan called for a drink, but that hadn’t worked out. There was a flaw in the fountain. The bellows simply hadn’t been powerful enough, so in a slightly comedic twist, a man was placed in a space beneath the tree instead, a space which may or may not have been large enough not to be nightmarishly claustrophobic.

When the call came, the man would blow, and the angel would raise the trumpet to its lips. The sound produced was loud enough to bring servants scurrying from the cavern outside the palace where drinks were stored. They would pour liquids into the tree’s roots that would quickly siphon up and pour out from above and into the basins. From there the drink would be collected by cup-bearers and delivered, in great style, to the khan and his guests.

An audience with Möngke, from Ata-Malik Juvayni's “Tarikh-i Jahangushay”, 1438

It was all quite unnecessary and inefficient. Simply carrying skins of milk and other beverages directly into the palace would have been quicker, with no pipes or angels required, but then, as William noted, it would be "unseemly to bring in there skins of milk and other drinks", even common one might say. Basic function aside, the khan’s drinking fountain was a wonderfully grand, eye-catching piece. It had certainly caught the eye of William, who otherwise unfavourably compared the Mongol palace to the village of Saint-Denis.

The fountain’s possible religious meaning is somewhat difficult to parse between French creator and Mongol client (and through the veil of William’s report), but there are possible readings. The serpents and fruit, with an angel hanging above them all, are suggestive of the Tree of Knowledge, its four liquids the four rivers of Eden. And, indeed, the designer of the fountain was a Christian who was at times called upon to play the role of priest in his community. Yet these and other elements do each yield to other interpretations, ones rooted in Chinese symbology, in Mongol Tengriism, or in Buddhism. What Guillaume’s creation perhaps expressed most clearly was riches and imperial power.

One of the laundry list of items that bothered William about the Mongols was their incredible arrogance in assuming that he must be there to beg for peace, but they had every reason to expect it. Their empire was, arguably, at its peak, and envoys, kings, and sultans from far afield did indeed often come to them to do just that. They brought gifts, and the Mongol rulers would, in turn, put their tokens of imperial might on display.

An example of this was the costly chapel-tent made of fine scarlet cloth and featuring Christian imagery that King Louis IX had sent to the Mongols as part of a 1249 diplomatic mission. It and other items, including fragments of the cross, were intended as gifts, but they were reported to have been received as tribute, the chapel-tent an object to be displayed and to proclaim “See? Even the Franks, as distant as they are, submit to us.” The drinking fountain, pouring Persian grape wine and Chinese rice wine from the empire's conquered territories, would have transmitted a similar message.

Conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258, an illustration from Rashid-ad-Din's Jami' “al-tawarikh (Compendium of Chronicles)”, early 14th century

Unlike the chapel-tent, the fountain had been created on-site. It had not been carried there from afar, but of course, its creator had. He had been captured by the Mongol armies that had pierced central Europe and then withdrawn in 1242, and he had neither been taken nor survived at the center of the Mongol world by chance. His captors recognized the value of skilled craftsmen and, in their conquests, would set them aside and collect them. Just as they had the tremendous wealth of an empire, so too did they collect our Parisian metalworker, Guillaume Boucher.

Guillaume created something wonderful for them, an imposing testament to the reach of the Mongol Empire in the craft of a metalworker plucked from the other end of the Eurasian landmass. He, with the help of an unknown number of unknown assistants, created a towering spectacle for the khan and his guests that dispensed liquids as if by magic, a seemingly endless torrent of drinks for their enjoyment.

They wouldn’t sit down to enjoy it throughout the year. It was more of a seasonal delight. Friar William reported Möngke’s court travelling in a circuit and only at times coming to the settled capital, to the palace, to the site of Guillaume’s work where they would feast and drink. And Mongol royalty did not do such things daintily.

In William’s narrative, the Mongols’ drinking habits form something of a low background hum against which events are set. He doesn’t linger over the topic, but it’s always there. At each audience, he noted the bench with drinks and goblets to the side. His first audience with Möngke had been encumbered by his interpreter’s drunkenness. Making the rounds of the royalty meant drinking with all of them, often a great deal to drink. Sometimes, as the khan spoke, William would count the number of times he drank before he finished. It was not, to say the least, a dry society, and health issues among the Mongol leadership were predictably prevalent.

Guyuk Khan, cousin to Möngke, feasting an illustration from Ata-Malik Juvayni's “Tarikh-i Jahangushay”, 1438

Möngke's uncle, Ogedei Khan, had problems with alcoholism recognized even within his social milieu, and he died from them despite the efforts of those around him to slow his drinking. Of Ogedei's son Guyuk Khan’s death, it was sometimes said he had been killed or poisoned by a family member, but it’s often thought that he succumbed instead to his unhealthy lifestyle. A bit of a pattern was developing, and it was one that was going to haunt Genghis Khan’s dynasty for quite some time to come. It is striking then that the fountain, a symbol of wealth and empire, was also a symbol of something that so troubled that empire.

Friar William’s time among the Mongols would ultimately prove a frustrating experience for him. The goals of his trip — whether you take them to be diplomatic on the part of King Louis IX or, as William would frequently claim, those of a simple missionary — were left largely unachieved. There was to be no Mongol military assistance coming Louis' way, and William himself admits to having baptized a grand total of six souls. His travelling companion, fearful that he could never survive the return journey, remained behind in Karakorum with Guillaume, at least temporarily, his host.

Guillaume seems to fall off the map after William’s account of their time together. Artifacts have been found which may or may not have been his creations, but little else is known of him or his fate. Presumably, he ended his life there at the center of what was then the most powerful empire on earth. Likely, he lived long enough to see it cease to be the center, as Möngke’s brother Kublai moved it in the direction of China and the vast empire broke up into khanates that were largely independent of one another and, increasingly, at war. For his part, Guillaume had succeeded in creating a grand symbol of a far-reaching empire and an impressive accessory to the khan’s courtly binging, an expression of wealth and power but also of the unhealthy habits that would continue to eat away at the Genghis dynasty.

This article by Devon Field originally appeared in The Public Domain Review, and was reproduced here under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license

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