Researchers Set Out to Find Genghis Khan's Tomb

Scientists at UCSD’s Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) are hoping to use advanced visualization and analytical technologies to pinpoint Genghis Khan’s secret tomb and conduct a noninvasive archaeological analysis of the area in which he is believed to be buried — a region bordered by Mongolia’s Onon River and the Khan Khentii mountains, near Khan’s birthplace in Khentii Aimag.

Legend has it that the ancient Mongolian emperor’s men took extraordinary pains to ensure that the location of his tomb would never be discovered. But Dr. Albert Yu-Min Lin, an affiliated researcher for the CISA3, says that by using unparalleled technology available from CISA3 and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, scientists may be able to pinpoint the location of Khan’s tomb — and even develop a virtual recreation of it using various methods of spectral and digital imaging.

“Genghis Khan was one of the most exceptional men in all of history, but his life is too often dismissed as being that of a bloodthirsty warrior,” Lin said. “Few people in the West know about his legacy. But as great a man he was, there are few clues and no factual evidence about Genghis Khan’s burial, which is why we need to start using technology to solve this mystery.”

Lin and several colleagues — including professor Maurizio Seracini, the director of CISA3 and the man behind the search for Leonardo da Vinci’s lost “Battle of Anghiari” painting — plan to establish a position at UCSD that will allow him to spearhead the three-year Valley of Khans project, which will require $700,000 in funding for eight researchers.

“Once we’ve narrowed down this region in Mongolia to a certain area, we’ll use techniques such as ground-penetrating radar, electromagnetic induction and magnetometry to produce nondestructive, noninvasive surveys,” Lin said. “We’ll then work with people in UCSD’s electrical engineering department to develop visual algorithms that will allow us to create a high-resolution, 3-D representation of the site.”