Getting to know Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was arguably the most successful conquerer in human history. I have a strange fascination with Mongolia and years ago I read (and was mezmerized) by a book that talked about why Genghis Khan was so successful. As I read, and in order to remember key events, I found myself sketching out the strategies and systems he used as he swept across Asia and Eastern Europe. As I sketched, I noticed that Genghis Khan’s decisions were founded in his staunch belief that his empire was a complex system of relationships and scenarios. His innate tactical ability combined with his understanding of the range of human emotion were two of the primary tools he used to expand his influence.

This project picks apart behaviors of key figures in the Mongol empire, visualizes common tactics and decision points, and culminates with a flow diagram that outlines the probability of a person's execution in 13th century Mongolia. Here are a few of my sketches:


Life and death in the Mongol Empire

(click to enlarge)


Traditional Mongol Tactics Result in Cyclical Patterns

Battles on the Steppe were motivated out of a need for raw goods, materials, wealth, and wives. Because of this, raiding tribes would loot villages, allowing enemy warriors and leaders to flee. If these leaders escaped, both sides would prepare for counter attack, thus perpetuating an endless cycle of warfare and unrest until one of the Khans was killed


Genghis Khan changes traditional tactics

Genghis Khan recognized the flaw in this traditional system and altered his battle tactics. Mongol warriors were ordered to kill all enemy warriors and leaders before plundering the wealth of a town or city. The assured and end to inter-tribal fighting and gave Genghis Khan control over the distribution of all looted materials.


Weather and environment impacted patterns of warfare in Mongol Territories