Getting bored with ordinary trips while fantasizing about an Indiana Jones-level adventure? How about going on a treasure hunt in Mongolia? The land of the nomads has had a formidable history, but a lot has been lost amidst the waves of time, such as…
6. Baron von Ungern’s gold
Roman von Ungern-Steinberg was a nationalist baron coming from the Russian Civil War. He freed Mongolia from Chinese occupation in 1920 and instituted a monarchy in Mongolia before being defeated and executed by the Bolsheviks in 1921.
He also thought Buddhist monks could do Kamehameha. During the expulsion of the Chinese forces he’s purported to have looted the treasure reserve of the Chinese army, and it’s this treasure they never found. People call it the Gold that Baron Buried.
Where is it?
Since Baron von Ungern was based in Urga, the present-day Ulaanbaatar, it could be somewhere the capital. But his cavalry division employed people from all over Eurasia, and the group wandered around a lot, so anywhere in Mongolia is an equally good guess.
The treasure looted was worth 9 million USD at the time. Now it should be a pretty impressive lot.
5. Jade Seal of Genghis Khan
The Imperial Seal of the Mongolian Empire was the stamp on Guyuk Khagan’s letter to the Roman Pope. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, this was the first letter that informed the Western world of the ideology behind the Mongol conquest–
–that it was the God-given right of the Mongols and that they should surrender and pay tribute. You know, kinda like your bank’s letter for overdue bills. But if you ask a Mongolian about this stamp, they’ll say, “Oh, it’s the one that Ligden Khagan lost.”
Where is it?
This is from an old Mongolian film, which is fiction and propaganda, and real sources suggest a different incident. But the seal totally gets misplaced by Ligden Khan while he’s chilling in one of the rocky areas in Mongolia.
We don’t really know anything about evaluation, but it should be as much worth as the Imperial Seal of Korea.
4. The Golden Book
Ok, we don’t know if it was really made of gold, but this work is literally titled Golden Book, and it’s an important work that was only read by the royal families, so it’s surely a valuable item.
Where is it?
The most famous person to access this was the Persian chronicler Rashid Al-Din in Ilkhanate, so this has to be somewhere in modern-day Iran.
Worth as much as the golden plates of the Mormons and of the Nguyen Dynasty Vietnam. But, um, if the title was a metaphor, maybe an honorary medal from the Government of Mongolia for finding a valuable piece of history.
3. Ikh Yassa
We know, another written work instead of real treasures. Yassa or Ikh Zasag was a code of laws that Mongols used to govern the empire. And it was lost, no complete text found.
Yassa was supervised by Genghis Khagan and executed by Chagatai. Compared to the Code of Hammurabi and Moses’ Ten Commandments though, we have some embarrassing clauses, such as “Thou Shalt Not Wash Yer Clothing Until They Get Worn Out.” But the merit of the Yassa is in how it managed to promote unity in different groups, through religious freedom, meritocracy and honor. It’s believed that later Mongol khans ignored the Yassa, which led to the decline of order.
Where is it?
We don’t know where the code is, but there’s a university called Ikh Zasag in Ulaanbaatar–here’s its location.
It would be impossible to set a price for this, because the moment you declare findings, the government would take it.
2. Khara Baatar’s Treasures
The legend goes that there was an old city of Khara Khot in the Gobi, hundreds of kilometers from the Chinese Great Wall, and a mysterious warrior named Khara Baatar lived there. When the Chinese invaded the city, Khara Baatar hid all the treasures in a well, and fought back with black magic.
But he was defeated in the end, and with his dying breath he cursed the city to be a “City of the Dead“, which turned it from an oasis to a desiccated desert. When the Chinese army tried to retrieve the treasure, fire rose out of the wells and didn’t let them near.
Where is it?
Sorry, this one was discovered by Russian geologist Peter Kozolov in 1909. It’s now in the Hermitage. But then again, they only discovered religious items, the said treasure was never found, still waiting in Khara Khot, modern day Inner Mongolia.
The Hermitage exhibitions turned out to be more religious items than jewels, so the treasure is less about monetary value, but more in black magic powers.
1. Genghis Khan’s burial site
This is a very controversial item, and one that deserves the final mention. Obviously, Genghis Khan’s burial site garners a lot of attention, and many international expeditions have tried to find it. But the Mongolians are against it, because 1) Genghis Khan didn’t want any treasure in his burial, but asked for a simple funeral, and 2) digging up a dead person’s grave, much less a khan’s, is an abominable sin.
While we think finding Genghis Khan’s burial site might give us valuable insight about lost aspects of the history, we understand that a graveyard is just that: a graveyard. All the talk about treasures and jewels only came in recent texts.
Genghis Khan didn’t want his final resting place to be known, so during his funeral, anyone or anything that crossed its path was killed. After the burial, the escorts were killed by soldiers, who committed suicide afterwards to hide the location of the tomb. Another legend says the grave was trampled by many horses, or that a river was diverted over it to conceal the site.
Where is it?
According to Jack Weatherford, Ikh Khorig (Great Taboo), a 240 sq.km area near Burkhan Khaldun mountain, might be the location. According to Marco Polo, however, the Great Khan was buried at a mountain called Altai.
The tomb has no literal treasures, but is considered a national treasure. So, it is likely that discovery of the burial site will incite a strong outcry among the locals.
Do you agree? What did we miss? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Natso Baatarkhuu lives in Mongolia and writes in English. His works have appeared in Cracked.com and The UB Post, and he started this website. He dreams of publishing novels and selling screenplays someday.