Finding Genghis Khan’s Tomb from Space

Due to the public outcry, however, none of the sites were excavated. It was an impasse: Genghis Khan’s tomb is archaeologically important; knowing its location is important for protecting it from illegal mining in the area. At the same time, due deference must be paid to those for whom the Valley of the Khans means most.

Counterintuitively, an elegant solution to this problem bubbled up from two unlikely sources: a man described as. a “modern day Indiana Jones” and amateur archaeologists. After all, if there’s one archeologist less qualified to work in a sensitive area than a total amateur, wouldn’t it be Indiana “This Ancient Site’s Going to Collapse and the Native Inhabitants of the Area Will Chase Me Out” Jones? You wouldn’t want either one anywhere near someone’s holy place. Fortunately, they didn’t have to be.

Despite his nickname, Albert Yu-Min Lin, from the Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture, and Archaeology at the University of California, San Diego, devised a way to hunt for Genghis Khan’s tomb without touching or toppling anything: Have anyone who’s interested in doing so tag potential sites of investigation from the comfort of their own homes, on images taken from the respectful distance of satellite orbit.


Google maps, crowd sourcing archeology, and the Great Kahn.

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