A genetics study has linked a medieval Mongol queen to the Golden Family of Genghis Kahn.
Temujin was born into the Borjigin clan as a son of Yesugei, who was a grandson of Khabul (or Qabul) Khan (King in the Mongolian language), the first khan of the Khamag Mongol confederation.
In 1206, Temujin annexed and unified many Mongol-Turkic nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia, and was then crowned the “Genghis Khan (the supreme king in the Mongolian language)” at a Kurultai, a general council of Mongol chiefs. Members of the Mongol imperial family (designated the Golden family) are buried in a secret necropolis; none of their burial grounds have been found.
In 2004, archaeologists first discovered 5 medieval graves belonging to a Mongol queen and a mother and three sons or possibly four siblings in Tavan Tolgoi, Now a genetics study has yielded a genetic link to the Great Kahn’s Golden family.
Some of the burial artifacts excavated from the Tavan Tolgoi graves: A-D: MN0105; A-B: a golden ring engraved with a falcon image, C-D: another golden ring engraved with the same falcon image as in A. E-G: MN0125; E: a saddle sheathed in gold dragon-shaped artistic decoration, F: the same golden ornament of boqta as those of the boqtas of Mongol khatuns in the design and shape, G: a golden ornament inside the boqta.
H: Jins of MN0124. I: a golden earring of MN0126. J-K: MN0127; J: a golden earring,
Researchers found the Tavan Tolgoi bodies may have been the product of marriages between the lineage of Genghis Khan’s Borjigin clan and the lineage of either the Ongud or Hongirad clans, indicating that these individuals were members of Genghis Khan’s immediate family or his close relatives.
Historically, Tavan Tolgoi was dominated by Golden family members, including Alaqai Beki, a daughter of Genghis Khan, Sorghaghtani, the wife of Tolui, Genghis Khan’s youngest son, and their descendants or successors
The 7 Tavan Tolgoi graves had similar exterior surface structures surrounded by a ring-shaped stone construction with a diameter of 6–8 m, reflecting a tomb style typical of the Xiongnu era (from about the 3rd century B.C. to the late 1st century C.E.)
The internal structure of the Tavan Tolgoi graves and the style of burial artifacts indicated graves from the medieval Mongolian era This was confirmed by Youn and colleagues, who used 14C radiocarbon dating of their human remains or artifacts to show that the Tavan Tolgoi graves dated between 1130–1250 AD.
A: A map of Tavan Tolgoi (top) and the relative geographical locations (bottom) of the graves excavated there. B: Two headless stone statues called Mongol King and Queen are located at the entrance of Tavan Tolgoi.
Mongolian archaeologists demonstrated that the surface features of the Tavan Tolgoi graves were probably intended to protect the graves from looting and enemies from the contemporary or future world, implying that these individuals were important figures in the society at that time.
Archaeological and radiocarbon dating results strongly suggest that the 7 Tavan Tolgoi graves correspond to the early Mongolian era, when Genghis Khan and his close family members, including his sons, daughters, sons-in-law, and daughters-in-law, were in power.
After founding the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan invaded neighboring lands outward from the Mongolian plateau, ultimately conquering most of Eurasia. The Mongol Empire expanded to be the largest contiguous land empire in human history, covering the area from Eastern Europe to the East Sea/the Sea of Japan.
The vast transcontinental empire allowed for the exchange of cultures and religions between Asia and Europe via the Silk Road. Thus, the Pax Mongolica greatly influenced many civilizations in Eurasia during the 13th and 14th centuries; indeed, its cultural, social, religious, and economic impact on the world remains today.
Geographic distribution of modern-day populations with haplogroup R1b-M343.
To solidify the foundation of the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan employed two major strategies. First, because the Mongol Empire was too large to be controlled by a single ruler, he allocated the territories to his family members and let them rule their own independent territories.
Because his wives were old and his sons were incompetent compared to his daughters, Genghis Khan bestowed upon his daughters, instead of his sons, the heavy responsibilities of shielding the inner territory of the Mongolian plateau and operating the outposts for his world conquest. He distributed the neighboring kingdoms surrounding the inner territory of the Mongolian plateau among his 4 daughters, including Alaqai Beki, “beki” meaning princess in the Mongolian language, who came to dominate the Ongud kingdom, Eastern Mongolia. His daughters faithfully ruled their own kingdoms throughout their lives on behalf of their father.
The genetic study revealed, the Tavan Tolgoi bodies East Asian D4 or CZ matrilineal and West Eurasian R1b-M343 patrilineal origins which reveal a genealogical admixture between Caucasoid and Mongoloid ethnic groups, despite a Mongoloid physical appearance.
In addition, Y chromosomal and autosomal STR profiles revealed that the four D4-carrying bodies bore the relationship of either mother and three sons or four full siblings with almost the same probability
The geographical distribution of R1b-M343-carrying modern-day individuals demonstrates that descendants of Tavan Tolgoi bodies today live mainly in Western Eurasia, with a high frequency in the territories of the past Mongol khanates.
The researchers propose that Genghis Khan and his family carried Y-haplogroup R1b-M343, which is prevalent in West Eurasia, rather than the Y-haplogroup C3c-M48, which is prevalent in Asia and which is widely accepted to be present in the family members of Genghis Khan.
Each circle represents a population sample; the area of the circle is proportional to the sample size. Black sectors denote the relative frequency of R1b-M343-carrying groups identified in the literature.
Genghis Khan’s second strategy was to use quda, the traditional marriage alliance system of Mongolia, to marry his sons and daughters into the ruling lineages of neighboring kingdoms such as the Ongud [3
]. Through this system, Genghis Khan expected his daughters to become regents of the kingdoms once dominated by their husbands (guregens; prince consorts in the Mongolian language); he forced guregens to go to war, leaving their wives (bekis) in charge of running the home according to Mongol tradition.
In doing so, Genghis Khan conferred power to his daughters, and not to the guregens, to rule the kingdoms. Moreover, guregens could not return to their homeland for long periods of time, and were killed at a high rate in Genghis Khan’s war. Through these qudas, bekis, as authoritarian rulers, strengthened alliances among their kingdoms and provided Genghis Khan the solid foundation necessary to conquer many kingdoms outward from the Mongol steppe [2
Citation: “Molecular Genealogy of a Mongol Queen’s Family and HerPossible Kinship with Genghis Khan”
Gavaachimed Lkhagvasuren, Heejin Shin, Si Eun Lee, Dashtseveg Tumen, Jae-Hyun Kim, Kyung-Yong Kim, Kijeong Kim, Ae Ja Park, Ho Woon Lee, Mi Jin Kim, Jaesung Choi, Jee-Hye Choi, Na Young Min, Kwang-Ho Lee Published: September 14, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161622