Archaeologists may have found the palace of Genghis Khan’s bloodthirsty grandson, who sacked Baghdad in eastern Turkey in 1258
- Hulagu Khan was the grandson of Genghis, who killed an estimated 40 million people
- After the death of his grandfather, Hulagu controlled the Il Khanate in Asia
- Historical sources describe his great palace, which is believed to be in eastern Turkey
- Archaeologists now believe they have uncovered the site of the Mongol palace
The grand palace that once belonged to Genghis Khan’s grandson may have been discovered in Turkey, archaeologists say.
Hulagu Khan was a Mongol warlord who lived from 1217 to 1265 and conquered much of Southwest Asia.
He is known for the 1258 sack of Baghdad, then the religious and cultural capital of Islam, which destroyed much of the historic city.
Hulagu’s father was the fourth son of Genghis Khan, who founded the Mongol Empire that spanned the Middle East and Asia.
Genghis Khan is said to have killed around 40 million people in his campaigns – around five to ten percent of the world population at the time.
A 14th-century depiction of Hulagu Khan (centre) who ruled the Il Khanate throughout the Middle East in much of what is now Iran, Iraq and Turkey
The Mongol Empire broke up into smaller kingdoms in the years following Genghis Khan’s death, one of which was the Il-Khanate led by Hulagu Khan, which occupied much of modern Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
The sack of Baghdad
Perhaps Hulagu Khan’s most notorious attack was the brutal sack of Baghdad in 1258.
The attack was part of Hulagu’s campaign to bring the Islamic world under Mongol control, particularly in Persia – modern-day Iran.
The sack of Baghdad saw the destruction of the House of Wisdom, one of the Arab world’s great centers of learning, filled with documents collected over 500 years.
Eyewitness accounts state that so many books from the library were thrown into the Tigris River that they formed a bridge strong enough for a man on horseback to ride across.
Others said the river water was black with ink and red with blood.
Some historical sources mention a summer capital in the kingdom with a huge palace, but do not say exactly where it was located.
Archaeologists now believe they have uncovered the site of the Khan’s Palace in the Van province of eastern Turkey.
The 13th-century Armenian historian Kirakos of Ganja and other sources reported that the palace was near Lake Van, but its exact location has never been confirmed.
The excavation team said the palace was badly looted and damaged. They added that they found glazed roof tiles, porcelain and pottery from the palace ruins.
Munkhtulga Rinchinkhorol of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences said the team also uncovered “tamga” or “svastika” symbols – “symbols of power” used by the Mongol khans and other parts of the medieval world before they were appropriated by the Nazis in the 20th century .
Mr Rinchinkhorol told Live Science: “The remains of the Khan’s palace complex [are] now completely ruined.’
He added that the symbols uncovered by archaeologists are a key reason why they believe the palace belonged to Hulagu Khan.
Historical sources suggest that the khan’s palace is in or near Van Province in eastern Turkey, but its location has never been confirmed
Other archaeologists not involved with the project said further research was needed to confirm that the site was the Mongol lord’s stronghold, but that it was very possible.
Timothy May, professor of Central Eurasian history at the University of North Georgia, said while further research is needed, “It’s possible it’s Hulagu’s palace.”
He added: “The scholars involved are very good and may be right.”
Michael Hope, Chair of Asian Studies at Yonsei University in Korea, said: “Whether this is the palace of Hülegu described by Kirakos remains to be seen. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m eagerly awaiting further information.