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

This post is brought to you by beloved Patreon backer Colin Wixted. Thanks for helping keep the lights on! If you want to help keep this blog going alongside Colin, head over to the Patreon page – and thank you! The emperor, Möngke Khan, lived in an orda (tent city) larger and more splendid than […]

Emissary to the Mongols

The Catholic powers of Medieval Europe didn’t understand the sudden intrusion of the Mongol Empire into their sphere of influence. Nonetheless, nations must communicate with one another, even those they don’t understand. So it came to pass that in 1253 King Louis IX of France dispatched an envoy to the Mongol Empire. Ostensibly, this was […]

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

Material more than one year old is available to Patreon backers at the DEEP TIME ($2/month) level and higher. If you’d like access to this piece and hundreds more like it, consider becoming a patron! I’ll even write you a handwritten thank-you card.To view this content, you must be a member of The Molten Sulfur […]