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Asian Invasion: “Genghis Khan: The Exhibition” comes to downtown Raleigh

While Genghis Khan is famous as the ruthless Mongol warlord who conquered half the known world of the early 13th century, he is also revered as an innovative leader and statesman who brought unity, stability and much more to his people. Join us for a spectacular and uniquely interactive exhibition that tells the amazing true story of Khan — his life, his land, his people, his culture and his enduring legacy. Genghis Khan: The Exhibition opens Saturday, November 19 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh, and runs through January 16, 2012.

Genghis Khan: The Exhibition explores the arc of Khan’s dramatic life — from illiterate, tormented child to the millennium’s greatest ruler, coupled with the rise of an unparalleled empire of freedom and innovation which he created. Visitors will come away with a new appreciation of a uniquely inspired reformer wrongly framed as a barbarian in Western culture. Through Khan’s life we see the formulation of his concepts and achievements in creating a nation, a written language, a meritocracy, artistic and religious freedom, and open trade along the Silk Road to host the exchange of ideas and goods ranging from Chinese gunpowder to Islamic art to Mongolian horses. 

Top of horse head fiddleThe exhibition highlights a unique collection of more than 200 rare treasures from jewelry and ornaments to musical instruments to sophisticated weaponry made famous by Khan and his warriors. See models of powerful siege weapons — from a traction trebuchet (an early catapult) to an oversized triple-crossbow — which were vital to the Mongols’ capture of great walled cities. Along with other weapons such as battle axes, curved swords known as scimitars, lances and powerful recurved bows, steel stirrups and even silk underwear were instrumental parts of Mongolian war attire. Steel stirrups allowed warriors to stand in the saddle and deliver devastating blows to foot soldiers and rival cavalry. Silk undergarments were tough and lightweight, not easily torn under heavy armor or the shaft of an arrow. 

A recent addition to this exhibition is a mummified Mongolian princess from the time of Genghis Khan — along with her wood coffin, fine silk robes, pearl earrings and many other tomb treasures. The mummy, on loan from the Institute of Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Science, was discovered by Mongolian archaeologists in the Western Gobi Desert, naturally preserved by the arid conditions of a sheltered cave. 

In the years after he united warring tribes to become leader of the Mongols in 1206, to the time of his death in 1227, Genghis Khan created an empire that stretched from China’s Pacific shore all the way to the Adriatic Sea, approximately 12 million contiguous square miles. Despite the historical significance of the man, the location of Khan’s tomb is one of archaeology’s most enduring mysteries. Perhaps, like the Mongolian princess in the exhibit, Genghis Khan is still out there, mummified and awaiting discovery in the Gobi desert.

This exhibition, developed by Imagine Exhibitions Inc., is the largest collection ever assembled of the treasures of the Empire of Genghis Khan, from the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and private collections. Ticket Prices: $14 for Adults, $10 for Seniors and Students, $8 for Children 5-11, Free to Friends of the Museum.