The Mamluks defeated the Mongols in the Middle East

As was true with the horse clans that preceded them, the Mongols were good conquerors but not very good government administrators. After Genghis died and his kingdom was divided up among his four sons and one of his wives and endured in that state for one generation before it was divided further among Genghis's grandchildren. At this stage the empire began to fall apart. By the time Kublai Khan gained control of a large portion of eastern Asia, the Mongol control of "heartland" in Central Asia was disintegrating.

As the control of the descendants of Chinggis weakened and as old tribal divisions reemerged, internal dissension fragmented the Mongol empire, and the Mongols' military power in Inner Asia dwindled. The tactics and techniques of the Mongol warrior--who could deliver shock action with lance and sword, or fire action with the composite bow from horseback or on foot--continued in use, nevertheless, through the end of the nineteenth century. The mounted warrior's effectiveness decreased, however, with the growing use of firearms by the Manchu armies beginning in the late seventeenth century. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989]

The decline of Mongols has been attributed to: 1) a series of incompetent leaders: 2) corruption and disgust with the non-tax-paying Mongol elite by tax-paying local people; 3) feuding between Mongol princes and generals and other divisions and fragmentations; and 4) the fact that the rivals of the Mongols had adopted Mongol weapons, horses riding skills and tactics and were able challenge them and the Mongols in turn had become increasing dependent on these people for their own welfare.

There were a number of reasons for the relatively rapid decline of the Mongols as an influential power. One important factor was their failure to acculturate their subjects to Mongol social traditions. Another was the fundamental contradiction of a feudal, essentially nomadic, society's attempting to perpetuate a stable, centrally administered empire. The sheer size of the empire was reason enough for the Mongol collapse. It was too large for one person to administer, as Genghis had realized, yet adequate coordination was impossible among the ruling elements after the split into khanates. Possibly the most important single reason was the disproportionately small number of Mongol conquerors compared with the masses of subject peoples.*

The change in Mongol cultural patterns that did occur inevitably exacerbated natural divisions in the empire. As different areas adopted different foreign religions, Mongol cohesiveness dissolved. The nomadic Mongols had been able to conquer the Eurasian land mass through a combination of organizational ability, military skill, and fierce warlike prowess, but they fell prey to alien cultures, to the disparity between their way of life and the needs of empire, and to the size of their domain, which proved too large to hold together. The Mongols declined when their sheer momentum could no longer sustain them.*

Websites and Resources: Mongols and Horsemen of the Steppe:
Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; The Mongol Empire ; The Mongols in World History ; William of Rubruck's Account of the Mongols ; Mongol invasion of Rus (pictures) ; Encyclopædia Britannica article ; Mongol Archives ; “The Horse, the Wheel and Language, How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes shaped the Modern World", David W Anthony, 2007 ; The Scythians - Silk Road Foundation ; Scythians ; Encyclopaedia Britannica article on the Huns ; Wikipedia article on Eurasian nomads Wikipedia

Mongols and Mamluks

Mamluks at the Battle of Homs

In the mid 13th century, the Mongol army lead by Hulagu advanced on Jerusalem, where a victory would have sealed up their grip on the Middle East. The only thing that stood in their was a division of Mamlukes (a Muslim caste of horse-mounted Arab slaves made up mainly of Mongol-like Turks) from Egypt.

Mamluks (or Mamelukes) were a self-perpetuating caste of non-Muslim slave soldiers used by Muslim states to fight wars against one another. The Mamluks were used by the Arabs to fight the Crusaders, the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, and the Mongols.

Mamluks were mainly Turks from Central Asia. But some were also Circassians and other ethnic groups (Arabs were generally excluded because the were Muslims and Muslims were not allowed to be slaves). Their weapons were the composite bow and curved sword. Their horsemanship, mounted archery skills and swordsman ship made them the world's most formidable soldiers until gunpowder made their tactics obsolete.

Even though they were slaves, Mamluks were highly privileged and some became high-ranking government officials, governors and administrators. Some Mamluk groups became independent and founded their own dynasties, the most famous being the slave kings of Delhi and the Mamluk sultanate of Egypt. Mamluks established a self-perpetuating slave dynasty that ruled Egypt and much the Middle East from the 12th to 15th century, fought a monumental battle with Napoleon and endured until the 20th century.

Mamluks Defeat the Mongols

Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260

Hulegu returned to Mongolia upon receiving news of Mongke's death. While he was gone, his forces were defeated by a larger, Mamluk, army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 1260. This was the first significant Mongol defeat in seventy years. The Mamluks had been led by a Turk named Baibars, a former Mongol warrior who used Mongol tactics. [Source: Library of Congress]

During the attack on Jerusalem a detachment of Crusaders was nearby. The question on everyone's minds was whether or not the Christian crusaders assist the Mongols in there assault on Muslim-occupied Jerusalem. Just as the battle was getting ready to take shape, Hulagu was informed of Khan Mongke's death and went back to Mongolia, leaving behind a force of 10,000 men.

The Mamlukes tried to enlist the Crusaders in their fight against the Mongols. “The Crusaders only offered token help by allowing the Mamlukes to cross their territory to attack the Mongols. The Mamlukes were also assisted by Berke---Batu's younger brother and khan of the Golden Horde---a recent convert to Islam.

In 1260, the Mamluk sultan Baibars defeated the Mongol Il-Khans at the Battle of Ain Jalut, where David reportedly killed Goliath in northern Palestine, and went on to destroy many of the Mongol strongholds on the Syrian coast. The Mamlukes employed a battle tactic the Mongols were famous for using: an attack after a feigned retreat and surrounding and slaughtering their pursuers. The Mongols were routed in a couple of hours and their advance into the Middle East was brought to a halt.

Impact of the Mamluke Defeat of the Mongols

Mamluk in an Egyptian shadow play

The defeat by the Mamlukes kept the Mongols from moving into the Holy land and Egypt. The Mongols, however, are able to keep the territory they already had. The Mongols initially refused to accept the defeat as final and destroyed Damascus before finally giving up on other ambitions in the Middle East and later abandoning what is now Iraq and Iran and settling in Central Asia.

The Mongol defeat at Ain Jalut in 1260 led directly to the first important war between grandsons of Genghis. The Mamluk leader, Baibars, made an alliance with Berke Khan, Batu's brother and successor. Berke had converted to Islam, and he thus was sympathetic to the Mamluk for religious reasons, as well as because he was jealous of his nephew, Hulegu. When Hulegu sent an army to Syria to punish Baibars, he was attacked suddenly by Berke. Hulegu had to turn his army back to the Caucasus to meet this threat, and he made repeated attempts to ally himself with the kings of France and England and with the Pope in order to crush the Mamluks in Palestine. Berke withdrew, however, when Khublai sent 30,000 troops to aid the Ilkhans. This chain of events marked the end of the Mongol expansion in Southwest Asia. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

Neither Khublai nor Hulegu made a serious effort to avenge the defeat of Ain Jalut. Both devoted their attention primarily to consolidating their conquests, to suppressing dissidence, and to reestablishing law and order. Like their uncle, Batu, and his Golden Horde successors, they limited their offensive moves to occasional raids or to attacks with limited objectives in unconquered neighboring regions.

Decline of the Mongols in China

Incompetent leaders like the Yuan-Mongol Emperor Temur Oljeitu contributed to the decline of the Mongols in China

The high point of Mongol achievements was followed by gradual fragmentation. The Mongol successes throughout the first half of the thirteenth century were eroded by overextension of lines of control from the capital, first at Karakorum and later at Daidu. By the late fourteenth century, only local vestiges of Mongol glory persisted in parts of Asia. The main core of the Mongolian population in China retreated to the old homeland, where their governing system devolved into a quasi-feudalistic system fraught with disunity and conflict. [Source: Robert L. Worden, Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

After the death of Kublai Khan the Mongol empire stopped expanding and began its decline. The Yuan dynasty became weaker and the Mongols began losing control over khanates in Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

After Kublai Khan died in 1294, the empire became corrupted. Their subject despised the Mongols as an elite, privileged class exempt from paying taxes. The empire was dominated by factions that fought against one another for power.

Toghon Temür Khan (1320-1370) was the last of the Mongol emperors. Boorstin described him as “a man of Caligualan dissoluteness.” He took ten close friends into the “palace of deep clarity" in Beijing, where “they adapted the secret exercises of Tibetan Buddhist tantra into ceremonial sexual orgies. Women were summoned from all over the empire to join in functions that were supposed to prolong life by strengthening men and women's powers."

"All who found most pleasure on intercourse with men." a rumor recounted, "were chosen and taken to the palace. After a few days they were allowed out. The families of the common people were glad to receive gold and silver. The nobles were secretly pleased and said: "How can one resist, if the ruler wishes to choose them?" [Source: "The Discoverers" by Daniel Boorstin]

Collapse of the Mongol Empire

Mongols hunting rather than conquering

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “By 1260 these and other internal struggles over succession and leadership had led to a gradual breakdown of the Mongol Empire. Because the basic organizing social unit for the Mongols was the tribe, it was very difficult to perceive a loyalty that went beyond the tribe. The result was fragmentation and division. And added to this was yet another problem: As the Mongols expanded into the sedentary world, some were influenced by sedentary cultural values and realized that, if the Mongols were to rule the territories that they had subjugated, they would need to adopt some of the institutions and practices of the sedentary groups. But other Mongols, traditionalists, opposed such concessions to the sedentary world and wanted to maintain traditional Mongolian pastoral-nomadic values. [Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University ]

“The result of these difficulties was that by 1260, the Mongol domains had been split into four discrete sectors. One, ruled by Kublai Khan, was composed of China, Mongolia, Korea, and Tibet [See Yuan Dynasty and Kublai Khan China]. The second segment was Central Asia. And from 1269 on, there would be conflict between these two parts of the Mongol domains. The third segment in West Asia was known as the Ilkhanids. The Ilkhanids had been created as a result of the military exploits of Kublai Khan's brother Hulegu, who had finally destroyed the Abbasid Dynasty in West Asia by occupying the city of Baghdad, the capital city of the Abbasids, in 1258. And the fourth segment was the "Golden Horde" in Russia, which would oppose the Ilkhanids of Persia/West Asia in a conflict concerning trade routes and grazing rights in the area of contemporary Azerbaijan. Still, despite all these fissures within the Mongol empire and the various sections of its domains, the reign of the Mongols would still help to usher in the beginnings of what could be called a "global" history.

For a comprehensive look at the rise and fall of the Mongols: "The Mongols: Ecological and Social Perspectives," by Joseph Fletcher, in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 46/1 (June 1986): 11-50.

Last Years of Mongol Empire in China

After the death of Kublai Khan, the Yuan dynasty became weaker and the Yuan dynasty leaders that followed him were rather aloof and they were assimilated into Chinese culture. In the last years of Mongol rule, skittish Khans placed in informers in the households of rich families, forbade people to gather in groups and prohibited Chinese from carrying arms. Only one family in ten was allowed to possess a carving knife.

A rebellion against the Mongols was launched by Zhu Yuanzhang (Hung Wu), "self-made man of great talents" and the son of a farm laborer who lost his entire family in an epidemic when he was only seventeen. After spending several years in Buddhist monastery Zhu launched what became a thirteen year revolt against the Mongols as the head of a Chinese peasant insurgency call the Red Turbans, made up of Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists and Manichaeists.

Mongols cracked ruthlessly on the Chinese but failed to suppress the Chinese custom exchanging little round full moon cakes during the coming of the full moon. Like fortune cookies, the cakes carried a paper messages. The clever rebels used the innocent-looking moon cakes to give instructions to the Chinese rise and massacre the Mongols at the time of the full moon in August 1368.

The end of Yuan dynasty came in 1368 when the rebels surrounded Beijing and the Mongols were ousted. The last Yuan emperor, Toghon Temür Khan, didn't even attempt to defend his khanate. Instead he fled with his the Empress and his concubines — first to Shangtu (Xanadu), then to Karakoram, the original Mongol capital, where he was killed when Zhu Yuanzhang became the leader of the Ming Dynasty.

Timur and the Mongol Decline in Russia and the Middle East

Tamerlane defeated the Mongols in Central Asia

Contributing to the eventual Mongol decline in Eurasia was a bitter war with Timur, also known as Tamerlane or Timur Lenk (or Timur the Lame, from which Tamerlane is derived). He was a man of aristocratic Transoxianian birth who falsely claimed descent from Genghis. Timur reunited Turkestan and the lands of the Ilkhans; in 1391 he invaded the Eurasian steppes and defeated the Golden Horde. He ravaged the Caucasus and southern Russia in 1395. Timur's empire disintegrated, however, soon after his death in 1405. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

The effects of Timur's victory, as well as those of devastating drought and plague, were both economic and political. The Golden Horde's central base had been destroyed, and trade routes were moved south of the Caspian Sea. Political struggles led to the split of the Golden Horde into three separate khanates: Astrakhan, Kazan, and the Crimea. Astrakhan--the Golden Horde itself--was destroyed in 1502 by an alliance of Crimean Tatars and Muscovites. The last reigning descendant of Genghis, Shahin Girai, khan of the Crimea, was deposed by the Russians in 1783.*

The Mongols' influence and their intermarriage with the Russian aristocracy had a lasting effect on Russia. Despite the destruction caused by their invasion, the Mongols made valuable contributions to administrative practices. Through their presence, which in some ways checked the influence of European Renaissance ideas in Russia, they helped reemphasize traditional ways. This Mongol--or Tatar as it became known--heritage has much to do with Russia's distinctiveness from the other nations of Europe.*

End of Mongol Empire in the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia

The defeat of the Mongol Ilkhanate in Baghdad by the Mamlukes shattered their reputation of invisibility. Over time more and more Mongol converted to Islam and were assimilated into the local cultures. The Mongol Ilkhanate in Baghdad ended when the last of Hulaga's line died in 1335.

New Sarai (near Volgagrad), the Golden Horde's capital, was sacked by Tamerlane in 1395. Little is left except a few bricks. The last remnants of the Golden Horde were overrun by Turks in 1502.

The Russians remained Mongol vassals until they were thrown out by Ivan III in 1480. In 1783, Catherine the Great annexed the last Mongol stronghold in Crimea, where the people (Mongols who had intermarried with local Turks) were known as Tartars.

The Moscow princes colluded with their Mongol overlord. They extracted tributes and taxes from their subjects and subjugated other principalities. Eventually they grew strong enough to challenge their Mongol overlords and defeat them. The Mongols burned down Moscow a couple of times even after their influence had waned.

The Grands Dukes of Muscovy formed an alliance against the Mongols. Duke Dmitri III Donskoi (ruled 1359-89) defeated the Mongols in a great battles at Kulikovo on the Don River in 1380 and drove them from the Moscow area. Dimitri was the first to adapt the title of Grand Duke of Russia. He was canonized after his death. The Mongols crushed the Russian rebellion with a costly three-year campaign.

Tamerlane's (Timur's) campaign against the Golden Horde (Mongols in Russia)

Over the decades the Mongols became weaker. Tamerlane's battles with the Golden Horde in the 14th century in southern Russia, weakened the Mongol hold in that region. This allowed Russian vassal states to gain power but unable to completely unify, the Russian prince remained vassals of the Mongols until 1480.

In 1552, Ivan the Terrible drove the last Mongol knanates out of Russia with decisive victories in Kazan and Astrakhan. This opened the way for the expansion of the Russian empire southward and across Siberia to the Pacific.

Legacy of Mongols on Russia: The Mongol invasions distanced Russia further from Europe. The cruel Mongol leaders became the model for the early tsars. The early tsars adopted administrative and military practices similar to that of the Mongols.

Mongols After the End of the Mongol Empire

After the collapse of the Yuan dynasty, many of the Mongol elite returned to Mongolia. The Chinese later invaded Mongolia. Karakorum was destroyed by Chinese invaders in 1388. Large parts of Mongolia itself were absorbed into the Chinese empire. Tamerlane defeat of the Mongol army in the 1390s for all intents and purposes ended the Mongol empire.

After collapse of the Mongol empire the Mongolians returned to nomadic ways, and dissolved into tribes that fought among themselves and occasionally raided China. Between 1400 to 1454 there was civil war in Mongolia between the two main groups: the Khalkh in the east and the Oryat in the west. The end of the Yuan was the second turning point in Mongol history. The retreat of more than 60,000 Mongols into the Mongolian heartland brought radical changes to the quasifeudalistic system. In the early fifteenth century, the Mongols split into two groups, the Oirad in the Altai region and the eastern group that later came to be known as the Khalkha in the area north of the Gobi. A lengthy civil war (1400-54) precipitated still more changes in the old social and political institutions. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Oirad had emerged as the predominant force, and, under the leadership of Esen Khan, they united much of Mongolia and then continued their war against China. Esen was so successful against China that, in 1449, he defeated and captured the Ming emperor. After Esen was killed in battle four years later, however, the brief resurgence of Mongolia came to an abrupt halt, and the tribes returned to their traditional disunity. *

Unification of the Mongols Under Tibetan Buddhism

The powerful Kalkha Mongol lord Abtai Khan (1507-1583) finally unified the Khalkhs and they defeated the Oyrat and unfied the Mongols. He attacked China in a hopeless effort win back former Mongol empire territory that accomplished little and then set his sights on Tibet.

In 1578, in the midst his campaign, Abtai Khan became fascinated with Buddhism and converted to the religion. He became a devout believer and bestowed the title of Dalai Lama for the first time to the spiritual leader of Tibet (the 3rd Dalai Lama) while the Dalai Lama visited the Khan's court in the 16th century. Dalai is the Mongolian wor for “ocean.”

In 1586, Erdenzuu Monastery (near Karakorum ), Mongolia's first major center of Buddhism and oldest monastery, was built under Abtai Khan. Tibetan Buddhism became the state religion. More than a century before Kublai Khan himself had been seduced by a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Phagpa perhaps it is reasoned because off all the religions welcomed into the Mongol court, Tibetan Buddhism was most like like traditional Mongol shamanism.

Links between Mongolia and Tibet have remained strong. The 4th Dalai Lama was a Mongolian and many Jebtzun Damba were born in Tibet. Mongolians traditionally provided the Dalai Lama with military support. They gave him sanctuary in 1903 when Britain invaded Tibet. Even today many Mongolians aspire to make a pilgrimage to Lhasa as Muslims do to Mecca.

The Mongols were finally subdued by the Qing dynasty in the 17th century. Mongolia was annexed and Mongolian peasants were brutally repressed along with Chinese peasants. Mongolia was made a frontier province of China from the late 17th century to the fall of Manchu Empire in 1911.

Contributions by the Mongols

"Dalai Lama" is a Mongolian term

According to Columbia University’s Asia for Educators: “Most Westerners accept the stereotype of the 13th-century Mongols as barbaric plunderers intent merely to maim, slaughter, and destroy. This perception, based on Persian, Chinese, Russian, and other accounts of the speed and ruthlessness with which the Mongols carved out the largest contiguous land empire in world history, has shaped both Asian and Western images of the Mongols and of their earliest leader, Genghis (Chinggis) Khan. Such a view has diverted attention from the considerable contributions the Mongols made to 13th- and 14th-century civilization. Though the brutality of the Mongols' military campaigns ought not to be downplayed or ignored, neither should their influence on Eurasian culture be overlooked.[Source: Asia for Educators, Columbia University ]

“The Mongol era in China is remembered chiefly for the rule of Kublai Khan, grandson of Kublai Khan. Kublai patronized painting and the theater, which experienced a golden age during the Yuan dynasty, over which the Mongols ruled. Kublai and his successors also recruited and employed Confucian scholars and Tibetan Buddhist monks as advisers, a policy that led to many innovative ideas and the construction of new temples and monasteries.

“The Mongol Khans also funded advances in medicine and astronomy throughout their domains. And their construction projects — extension of the Grand Canal in the direction of Beijing, the building of a capital city in Daidu (present-day Beijing) and of summer palaces in Shangdu ("Xanadu") and Takht-i-Sulaiman, and the construction of a sizable network of roads and postal stations throughout their lands — promoted developments in science and engineering.

“Perhaps most importantly, the Mongol empire inextricably linked Europe and Asia and ushered in an era of frequent and extended contacts between East and West. And once the Mongols had achieved relative stability and order in their newly acquired domains, they neither discouraged nor impeded relations with foreigners. Though they never abandoned their claims of universal rule, they were hospitable to foreign travelers, even those whose monarchs had not submitted to them.

“The Mongols also expedited and encouraged travel in the sizable section of Asia that was under their rule, permitting European merchants, craftsmen, and envoys to journey as far as China for the first time. Asian goods reached Europe along the caravan trails (earlier known as the "Silk Roads"), and the ensuing European demand for these products eventually inspired the search for a sea route to Asia. Thus, it could be said that the Mongol invasions indirectly led to Europe's "Age of Exploration" in the 15th century.

Mongol Legacy

Genghis Khan on the Mongolian money

The Mongol Empire was relatively short lived and their impact and legacy are still a matter of considerable debate. The Mongol non-military achievements were minimal. The Khans patronized the arts and sciences and brought together craftsmen but few great discoveries or works of art that are with us today were made during their reign. Most of the riches accumulated by the Mongol empire went to paying soldiers not artist and scientists.

Stefano Carboni and Qamar Adamjee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “The legacy of Genghis Khan, his sons, and grandsons is also one of cultural development, artistic achievement, a courtly way of life, and an entire continent united under the so-called Pax Mongolica ("Mongolian Peace"). Few people realize that the Yuan dynasty in China (1279–1368) is part of Genghis Khan's legacy through its founder, his grandson Kublai Khan (r. 1260–95). The Mongol empire was at its largest two generations after Genghis Khan and was divided into four main branches, the Yuan (empire of the Great Khan) being the central and most important. The other Mongol states were the Chaghatay khanate in Central Asia (ca. 1227–1363), the Golden Horde in southern Russia extending into Europe (ca. 1227–1502), and the Ilkhanid dynasty in Greater Iran (1256–1353). [Source: Stefano Carboni and Qamar Adamjee, Department of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art \^/]

“Although Mongol conquests initially brought devastation and affected the balance of artistic production, in a short period of time, the control of most of Asia by the Mongols created an environment of tremendous cultural exchange. The political unification of Asia under the Mongols resulted in active trade and the transfer and resettlement of artists and craftsmen along the main routes. New influences were thus integrated with established local artistic traditions. By the middle of the thirteenth century, the Mongols had formed the largest contiguous empire in the world, uniting Chinese, Islamic, Iranian, Central Asian, and nomadic cultures within an overarching Mongol sensibility.

The Mongols developed a written script for the language which was passed on other groups and established a tradition of religious tolerance. In 1526, Babur, a decedent of the Mongols founded the Moghul empire. Fear of the Mongols lives on. In places raided by the Mongols, mothers still their children “Be good of the khan will get you.”

The Mongols initiated the first major direct contact between East and West, in what later became known as Pax Mongolica, and help introduce the Black Plague to Europe in 1347. They kept the military tradition alive. Describing the arrival of Mongol unit of the Red Army at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a Jewish Holocaust survivor from France told Newsweek, "They were very nice. They killed a pig. cut in pieces without cleaning it and put it in a large military pot with potatoes and cabbage. Then they cooked it and offered it to the sick."

Genetic Legacy of Mongols

Studies by Chris Tyler-Smith of Oxford University, based on a DNA marker linked with the Mongol ruling house found in Y chromosomes, found that 8 percent of the men dwelling in the former Mongol Empire — around 16 million men — are related to Genghis Khan. The finding is not that surprising when you consider that Genghis Khan had 500 wives and concubines and the ruling khans in other parts of the Mongol Empire were equally busy and they have had about 800 years to multiply. Still its an amazing achievement that just one man and a small group of conquerors could plant their seed into so many people. None of Genghis Khan’s DNA exist. The DNA marker was determined through deduction and studying the Hazaras people of Afghanistan (See Hazaras).

Chinese researchers Feng Zhang, Bing Su, Ya-ping Zhang and Li Jin wrote in an article published by the Royal Society: “Zerjal et al. (2003) identified a Y-chromosomal haplogroup C* (×C3c) with high frequency (approx. 8 percent) in a large region of Asia, which constitutes approximately 0.5 percent of the worldwide populations. With the aid of Y-STRs, the age of the most recent common ancestor of this haplogroup was estimated to be only ca 1000 years. How can this lineage expand at such a high rate? Taking the historical records into account, Zerjal et al. (2003) suggested that the expansion of this C* haplogroup across East Eurasia is linked to the establishment of the Mongol empire by Genghis Khan (1162–1227). [Source: “Genetic studies of human diversity in East Asia” by 1) Feng Zhang, Institute of Genetics, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, 2) Bing Su, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, 3) Ya-ping Zhang, Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resource, Yunnan University and 4) Li Jin, Institute of Genetics, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University. Author for correspondence (, 2007 The Royal Society ***]

“Genghis Khan and his male relatives are expected to bear the Y chromosomes of C*. Considering their high social status, this Y chromosome lineage was probably enlarged by the reproduction of numerous offspring. In the course of expeditions, this special lineage spread, partially replaced the local paternal gene pool and developed in the subsequent rulers. Interestingly, Zerjal et al. (2003) have found that the boundaries of the Mongol empire match the distribution of the C* lineage well. It is a good example of how social factors, as well as biological selection effects, can play an important role in human evolution.” ***

Eurasian frequency distributions of Y chromosome haplogroups C

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wikipedia, BBC, Comptom’s Encyclopedia, Lonely Planet Guides, Silk Road Foundation, “The Discoverers “ by Daniel Boorstin; “ History of Arab People “ by Albert Hourani (Faber and Faber, 1991); “Islam, a Short History” by Karen Armstrong (Modern Library, 2000); and various books and other publications.

Last updated February 2019

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from, please contact me.