LiveScience: What sort of climate patterns did you see as the Mongol Empire arose?
Hessl: It’s very preliminary, but in the couple of trees we have in that time period we can see that the rings are not only wide, but they’re consistently wide for the time that overlaps with the rise of Genghis Khan.
Our inference there is that this would have been an ideal time for high grassland productivity on the steppe, and that maybe translated into more livestock, especially horses for the Mongols.
To put it in perspective, each Mongol warrior had 10 horses at his disposal. Just right there, that’s a huge amount of biomass that is required. In addition to that, when the Mongols expanded their range in their traveling and marauding, they brought with them large numbers of livestock that they used to feed themselves. Their whole military operation was basically predicated on the fact that they had large numbers of grazing animals. These climate conditions would have given them more energy to fuel their empires.
Story: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience | Photo: Peter Zachar, Dreamstime