Palace Intrigue with a Teenage King

The great conquerer Babur (1483-1530) is best known as the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, but he got his start a thousand miles away. He was born in what is today Uzbekistan, and at the age of eleven was thrust into the snake pit that was Central Asian geopolitics. His time as a […]

A Disastrous Game of Buzkashi

Buzkashi is a Central Asian sport analogous to polo, if polo were played in a wild scrum of thousands of mounted players, all shoving one another aside to grab hold of a decapitated calf carcass. It’s an intense game! Our source, G. Whitney Azoy, studied buzkashi in northern Afghanistan before the communists seized power in […]

Patrocles’ Caspian Exploration Fraud

The Hellenistic Greek geographer, government official, and military officer Patrocles conducted two voyages of exploration in the Caspian Sea. His account of what he saw had a major influence on European geographers into the Middle Ages. The only problem is that most of the important stuff he reported was flat-out wrong. How he got to […]

Wild Adventures Mapping the Khorasan Border

An 1880s joint expedition to map the border between Russia and Iran provides an amazing template for a surveying adventure. “Surveying?” you say. “How dull!” But hear me out! This joint expedition is full of smuggling, religious confrontations, international incidents, small-scale domestic politics, pride, feuds, and maybe even a secret villain operating from the shadows. […]

The Court of the Khan

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Emissary to the Mongols

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Darvaza Crater

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Shrine of the Cloak

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The Wall Against Gog and Magog

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Standoff in the Mud

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The Tomb of Genghis Khan

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