News FocusPaleoclimatology

Roots of Empire

Science  28 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6102, pp. 1596-1599
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6102.1596

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Summary

Genghis Khan conquered a territory extending from Korea to the Balkans—the largest contiguous land empire in the history of the world. Yet little is known about how he rose from obscurity to lead an army that claimed more territory in 25 years than the Romans conquered in 400. To uncover clues to this puzzle, researchers are spearheading a multidisciplinary project bridging climate science, energetics, and history—part of a growing body of work connecting climate change to centuries-old societal and political shifts. That research could expand the climate record for a poorly understood region. Samples collected last year hint at an intriguing history that researchers say could overturn the prevailing wisdom on the Mongol empire.