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Genghis Khan was one of history’s greatest conquerors. But How Tall Was Genghis Khan? Let’s explore what’s known about Genghis Khan’s height.
Who was Genghis Khan?
Genghis Khan is one of the most well-known and impactful figures in world records. As the founding father of the Mongol Empire in the early 13th century, he united several tribes and led his armies to overcome huge swaths of territory across Asia and Eastern Europe.
But even as Genghis Khan’s navy campaigns and empire-constructing achievements are nicely documented, a few non-public details about the man himself stay murky. One of the most intriguing uncertainties is Genghis Khan’s top.
Given his larger-than-life reputation, you might imagine that Genghis Khan was an imposing physical specimen. So exactly how tall was the great Mongol conqueror? Let’s examine the evidence and theories regarding Genghis Khan’s stature.
How Tall Was Genghis Khan?
The average height of Genghis Khan was 5’6″ to 5’8″. Making allowances for Genghis Khan’s supposedly tall stature, estimates put him in the 5’8″ to 5’10” range.
Estimates of Genghis Khan’s Height Based on Historical Descriptions
Genghis Khan lived from around 1162 to 1227 AD. During his lifetime, he had interactions with envoys, traders, and visitors from other lands, some of whom later wrote about their encounters with the famous leader. Analysis of these historical texts provides clues about Genghis Khan’s possible height range.
Persian Historian Estimates Over 6 Feet Tall
The earliest account comes from the Persian historian Ata-Malik Juvayni who met Genghis Khan in Mongolia around 1221. He described Genghis Khan as “a man of tall stature, vigorous build and robust constitution.”
While no exact height is given, Genghis Khan must have been an impressive physical presence to inspire such a description. Being labeled as “tall” for the time period likely indicates a height of at least 6 feet or more. Read also Spoiler on a Truck.
Chinese Diplomat Describes Genghis Khan as “Majestic”
Another early description comes from Yelu Chucai, a Chinese diplomat at Genghis Khan’s court around 1224. He remarked that Genghis Khan had a “majestic aura” with a “stately heroic presence.” This again points to an imposing stature.
European Explorer Marco Polo Writes of Genghis Khan’s Height
Perhaps the most famous account of Genghis Khan’s appearance comes from Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer who traveled across Asia in the late 1200s.
In his book on his travels, Marco Polo described meeting Genghis Khan’s descendants and wrote that Genghis Khan was “a man of great worth, wisdom, and prowess” who was “tall of stature and valiant.”
Marco Polo never met Genghis Khan himself as he had died decades earlier. But his account provides evidence that legends of Genghis Khan’s impressive height endured.
Modern Academic Estimates Based on Archeology: 5’6″ to 5’10”
While intriguing, the historical accounts of Genghis Khan’s height remain anecdotal. In recent decades, scientific analysis has attempted more precise estimates.
Examination of Mongol Skeletons from Period Suggests 5’6″ to 5’10” Range
Anthropologists have studied skeletons from Mongolia dating to the 1160s-1227 AD period when Genghis Khan lived. The average height for men was 5’6″ to 5’8″. Making allowances for Genghis Khan’s supposedly tall stature, estimates put him in the 5’8″ to 5’10” range.
Genetic Analysis Comparing Y-Chromosomes Corresponds with Skeletal Record
In addition to measuring ancient skeletons, Genghis Khan’s stature has been analyzed genetically. A study published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared Y-chromosomes from men in regions once ruled by Genghis Khan to find common ancestry. This genetic line is believed to originate with Genghis Khan himself, supporting the height range indicated by skeletal remains.
Genghis Khan Likely Taller Than Average, But Not a Giant
Both the physical and genetic evidence point to Genghis Khan being taller than the typical man of his era. But he was likely under 6 feet tall and not the towering giant of myth and legend. He achieved an outsized reputation through his deeds and personality, not just his height.
Theories on Why Genghis Khan’s Height Was Exaggerated
If Genghis Khan was around 5’8″ to 5’10”, how did tales of his enormous size take hold? Several factors likely contributed to the exaggeration of his stature over time.
His Imposing Personality and Power Inflated His Physical Reputation
Genghis Khan was renowned for his fierce, commanding personality. His vigorous horseback riding and archery skills added to his aura of dominance. This commanding presence made him appear larger-than-life to the eyes of observers.
Successors Had Political Reasons to Bolster His Image as a Giant
After Genghis Khan’s death, his heirs built up his legend to solidify their dynasty’s rule. Portraying him as a powerful giant reinforced the image of genetic superiority passed on to his lineage.
Epic Poetry and Folklore Morphed Description of His Height
Epic tales and poems spread Genghis Khan’s story across Asia and into Europe over centuries. As with any folklore, aspects of his appearance were gradually exaggerated to heighten drama and tension.
Genghis Khan was undoubtedly an outsized figure who reshaped world history in enduring ways. But when it comes to his actual physical height, the best modern evidence indicates he stood between 5’6″ and 5’10” tall.
While on the taller side for his era, he was not remarkably gigantic based on today’s knowledge. However, through the force of his achievements and personality, Genghis Khan’s stature grew to legendary proportions in the popular imagination.
People also ask
How tall was Genghis Khan compared to the average height in his time?
Based on analysis of archaeological remains, the average Mongolian male in Genghis Khan’s era was between 5’6″ and 5’8″ tall. Genghis Khan was taller than most of his contemporaries, likely in the 5’8″ to 5’10” range.
Could Genghis Khan actually have been 6 feet or taller as some historical accounts suggest?
It’s unlikely but not impossible. Being 6 feet or taller would have been extremely rare for the time period. Most modern scholars believe the historical accounts exaggerating his height were biased and unreliable. The physical evidence points to a maximum height of around 5’10”.
Was Genghis Khan unusually short?
No, based on the most reliable information, Genghis Khan was taller than the typical man of his day. He was not dwarfed or diminutive in any way. The rumors of Genghis Khan being a giant likely took hold in contrast to exaggerated tales of him being implausibly tiny in stature.
How did Genghis Khan use his height and physicality to his advantage?
While not extraordinarily tall, Genghis Khan’s relatively large size, muscular build, and commanding presence helped reinforce perceptions of his authority. His physical vigor and skill at mounted archery and combat also inspired fear and respect as a warrior.
In the centuries since Genghis Khan ruled the largest land empire in history, his appearance and physical characteristics have passed into legend. But modern anthropological and genetic research allows us to estimate his actual height with some degree of accuracy. Genghis Khan stood well above the average man of his time, but the greatest source of his power and reputation was his towering ambition, vision, and charisma as a leader. While his height remains an intriguing question, the undeniable reality is that Genghis Khan stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries in driving historical impact.