Tech Team Zeroes In on 'Genghis Khan's Tomb'

But University of California experts don't want to excavate

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 3, 2012 4:50 PM CST

(Newser) – Everyone from archaeologists to grave robbers have been seeking Genghis Khan's tomb for the past 800 years—and now a team of techies from California may have found it, Newsweek reports. Using satellites, radar scans, and thousands of volunteers, Albert Lin's crew at the University of California in San Diego have built 3-D reconstructions of a large underground structure in northwestern Mongolia. But they won't dig it up, despite legends of the vast treasure Khan acquired as ruler of an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea. “We do not want to excavate the site,” says Lin. “We believe it should be protected as an UNESCO World Heritage site."

Lin fears it would be looted by grave robbers, who already steal relics from around Mongolia that sell for thousands of dollars in antique shops. Harsh economic conditions, worsened by a decade of dry summers and cruel winters, no doubt increase the likelihood of looting. But Khan's status as a quasi-god to some Mongolians complicates matters; "If [his tomb] is opened, the world will end," says one herder. And geopolitics may come into play, because China is still seeking mining rights in Mongolia and regards the breakaway nation as its own: "Genghis’s tomb might become a focal point for political ambitions, the like of which we have never seen," says one analyst. Click for Newsweek's full cover article.

A Mongolian horseman holds a national flag in Khui Doloon Khudag, on the outskirts of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Thursday, July 12, 2012.
A Mongolian horseman holds a national flag in Khui Doloon Khudag, on the outskirts of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Thursday, July 12, 2012.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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