Karakorum Karakorum also ( Mongolian for " black mountain ", " black rock ", " black gravel ") is an archaeological site at the foot of the Khangai Mountains (Mongolia).

  • 3.1 artisan district
  • 3.2 coins found
  • 3.3 Khan Palace?
  • 3.4 foundation stele
  • 3.5 Erdene Dsuu
  • 3.6 stone turtles
  • 3.7 Official stamp


47.198041666667102.82122222222Koordinaten: 47 ° 11 ' 53 "N, 102 ° 49' 16" E

Karakorum, the capital of the former altmongolische founded by Genghis Khan in the 13th century the Mongol Empire, which represents a 1.5 km long, about 2 km ² Stadtwüstung, the approximately 320 kilometers west of Ulaanbaatar in the valley of the Orkhon River on the east side of the river lies. It is adjacent to the north wall of the monastery Erdene Dsuu. Just south of that is the present settlement Kharkhorin.

In the same river valley there are nearby also of cultural history much older empires. These include Old Turkish Khans tombs, the ruins of the capital ostuigurischen Char Balgas ( 744-840 AD) and the other major cities in different steppe and old Turkish empires.



Later inscriptions link the founding of Karakorum with Genghis Khan in the year 1220. Reconstruction of such an inscription on fragments of a stele speaks of this date and the determination of the place of his residence in the territory of Helin among other residences throughout the country. But the Orkhon was and is the lifeline of the entire region, and on its banks were the centers of large past steppe empires before Genghis Khan. Due to its almost certainly not random location selection for an additional residence and only later city was founded just at this point he remained consciously in the tradition of his predecessors. The centers of ancient Mongol empires in the valley of the Orkhon marked for the Mongols at that time the center of the world.


Only under Ugedai Khan, the son and successor of Genghis Khan, to Karakorum developed the first capital of the Mongol Empire. From him the significant residence was converted into a real city and is additionally provided from 1235 with a strong fortification. This subsequent Khan then converted the Mongol Nation of prey including through the introduction of state offices and the construction of Khan palace in this city ( 1236-1256 ) to a permanently organized polity. For the Mongols Karakorum is still the nucleus and birthplace of their nation-state.

In addition, the city also became a religious center and place of the state cult. Once under Kublai Khan, Buddhism was declared the state religion, the Mongols had everything absolutely necessary for the stability of a large empire in the rule: A capital, a linking book, a high religion.

To exercise the nomads previously unknown activities, the United Khans foreign craftsmen and artists brought to their country, but especially here in this new capital. The Mongols, the knowledge of the strangers were not suitable to, but they let her work for you. The foreign craftsmen and artists came partly voluntarily to them, but in some cases they were also deported here. Just as it happened with the Parisian goldsmith Guillaume Boucher, who was taken prisoner in the battle in 1241 at Muhi in Hungary and was taken by the Mongols to Karakorum. There he was allowed although the city does not want to leave, but he lived in good conditions of life, newly married and with a private house. From the Khan he was commissioned to build for his palace a silver fountain later described in detail by Wilhelm von Rubruk as a great work of art, from its four large silver arms on certain occasions each mead, fermented mare's milk ( Airag ), rice wine and beer bubbled.


In the Karakoram, the Dschinghis Khan subsequent cruel warlike and tyrannical khans showed her second, completely different type face. Through their tolerant attitude to everything new and unknown opposite was their capital in the 13th century not only the control center of imperial administration and a center of trade and crafts, but also a melting pot of different religions, cultures and peoples.

The reports also the Flemish Franciscan monk William of Rubruk, the 1253 on behalf of Pope Innocent IV and King Louis IX. had traveled to Karakorum and arrived there in April 1254: "There are two neighborhood that the Saracens, where the weekly market takes place. The other is the district of the northern Chinese, who are artisan by the bank. Furthermore, since twelve idol temples and two mosques, and at the far end of town are a Nestorian Christian church. "

After further statements that visitor questioned the population of Muslims in the first place, the merchants and the Chinese artisans. In addition, these populations lived in separate districts. As most magnificent building but was the great palace of the Khan, in which the already mentioned top of the imprisoned goldsmith Guillaume Boucher for the Khan created silver fountain was located.

For the supply of the inhabitants of Karakorum intensive agriculture was run out of town. An applied by the Chinese extensive irrigation system made ​​the steppe for arable. Across extensive trade routes, especially the silk road, those goods were brought, with which the people could not take care of himself. Thus, Karakorum also developed into a powerful trading metropolis, as evidenced by archaeological finds.


The status as the capital of the Mongol Empire under Kublai Khan lost, who chose Beijing as its capital. When the Chinese in 1368, the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty overthrew the Mongols fled back into the northern steppe and made Karakorum back their capital. For them, there was the Yuan dynasty continued and they called them the remainder after the expulsion from Beijing and China territory the " Northern Yuan". But the resurgent Chinese translated in the following years their attacks unabated, and in 1388 they succeeded eventually, even the Karakoram completely destroy. Nevertheless, the city retained its importance as a national symbol. In 1415, a Mongol empire Assembly decided to rebuild. The city fell finally in the late 16th century and became a quarry for the 1586 built Buddhist monastery Erdene Dsuu, which was established proven in part from the stones of the ancient capital.


From a Soviet- Mongolian expedition in 1948/ 49 and in other excavations under Mongol leadership were parts of the city and - as previously thought - the Khan Palace Ugedai Khan unearthed. Since 2000, archaeologists excavated including the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures of the German Archaeological Institute, together with Mongolian scientists in the area of the suspected Khan Palace and the artisan neighborhood in the former city center.

With modern methods a digital terrain profile of the entire city suspected area was created and compiled to these results, a model of the complete former city facility.

Artisan district

During excavations in the artisan district of an iron forge, one silver and goldsmith workshop, a bronze foundry and one workshop were detected in glass production and processing each bone. In this area also a piece of the main road located at the edge and within the stone pavement expansion joints was exposed wooden. These joints to compensate for the changes in volume of the stone pavement at the usual in the Central Asian steppe severe temperature fluctuations. Of adobe brick or waste water channels has also been discovered.

Coins found

Finds of coins of different countries to demonstrate a lively inter-regional trade, with the conspicuous accumulation of Chinese coins in the previously assumed, Chinese artisan district of the situation the same now quite clearly confirmed.

Khan Palace?

However, excavations in the area of the suspected as Khan palace quarter could not confirm the previously in archeology regarded as well-founded interpretations of Kiselev. New excavation findings indicate much more likely to point out that the goal here was found on the remains of the located also outside the city center " Temple of the rise of the yuan ." All Fund labels are now consider much more likely with the characteristic of this pavilion of the rise of the Yuan Dynasty as the first Erdene Dsuu very long construction period of 1236 to about 1256 in Concord, but suggest other hand, on a much earlier presence of Buddhist Lamaist monks than previously thought.

Foundation stele

In the foundation of another ancient temple they found a second Mongolian interpreter stone, with a short text in Chinese characters on one side and the same text in Mongolian script on the other side. The late 19th and early 20th century was found already another eight fragments, which all belong together to a stele. This overall findings can be identical portions of text to recognize the heard of the " Collected Works" of Xu Yuren (1287-1364) is known to the researchers in its complete form. This stele text proves for the first time the year 1220 as the date of the residence determination of Karakorum by Genghis Khan. This stele was then crushed in a later period and used to build the Erdene Dsuu in Karakoram.

Erdene Dsuu

The monastery Erdene Dsuu, also called Erdeni Joo, was built in 1586 by Prince Abtai Sain Khan. Within its square outer wall on a large site in 1870 about 62 temples in the Sino- Mongolian mixing style have found. The monastery was therefore one of the most important Buddhist centers in Asia. In the period of the Communist government of Mongolia, however, most temples have been completely destroyed. Some buildings have been reconstructed in recent years, however, the full recovery of the system appears not financially viable for the foreseeable future. The interior of the monastery is currently archaeologically investigated for evidence of the former Khan 's palace.

Stone turtles

In the vicinity of the said monastery three large stone turtles were found. Researchers are now sure that the turtle was the symbol of Karakorum then. Even in the Chinese tradition, the turtle has a great symbolic significance. The domed tank symbolizing the heavens and the flat underside of the earth. In addition, the turtle is a male symbol that embodies all four directions and is considered to be particularly durable.

The turtles are considered to be remnants of Khan's Palace.

Official Seal

During excavations in the city also official seal with some Chinese and Phags -pa script ( also square script Mongolian ) was found. This seal proves the existence of the " Northern Yuan" and their administration for example, under Biligtü Khan in Karakorum before the destruction of the capital by the Chinese.