A team of American and Mongolian scholars may have discovered the final resting place of one of history’s greatest warriors, Genghis Khan. The discovery, if confirmed to be true, could prove to be problematic for a variety of reasons. Khan is still revered in Mongolia, and disturbing his tomb in the name of science would upset many Mongolians. The Chinese government fear that the site could be a touchstone for troublesome political action.
Altan Khuyag, a 53-year-old herder and forest ranger, offers us a cup of warm milky tea, insisting that we stay the night, in a typical display of Mongol friendliness. Among the nomads, reciprocal hospitality is a vital part of life on the steppe. When I ask about Genghis, he dips his ring finger into a bowl of vodka, flicking a drop to the sky, towards Tengri, the god of the blue heaven.