- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 16, 2005

FREDERICK, Md. — Tired of the hordes at the beach? Why not head to Mongolia this August to help find the tomb of Genghis Khan?

For about $4,800, not including airfare, a Frederick-based company is offering 12 amateurs a chance to assist a U.S.-Mongolian team in excavating a burial site that may contain the remains and treasure of history’s greatest conqueror.

The tourists will sleep in one-room cabins, drink fermented mare’s milk and brave horseflies while searching for the grave of the warrior king, who died in 1227. Witnesses to Khan’s funeral are said to have been slain to prevent the tomb’s being found and looted. But leaders of the Genghis Khan Expedition believe their nine-year-old search has brought them close.

The Frederick firm, Skybrite Expeditions, is headed by Luvsantseren Orgil, a former Mongolian diplomat. He and David Urubshurow, the company’s Mongolian-American marketing director, say the vacation package will help the economy of the northern Asian nation while exposing visitors to one of the world’s last horse-based societies.

Some of the proceeds would go to the Genghis Khan Expedition to continue its work.

The Aug. 15-28 tour is offered exclusively through IExplore, a Chicago-based adventure-tourism marketer. It includes two days at the excavation site in Khentii province, more than 200 miles east of the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator.

Maury Kravitz, the Chicago lawyer and former commodities trader who leads the Genghis Khan Expedition, said the tourists would help a crew of perhaps six scientists and workers expected to dig this summer at the site.

He also said if all goes well, a series of such tours will be offered next summer.

“We probably will have our biggest year of excavations in 2006,” Mr. Kravitz said. “We have a number of different places that have shown an interest, and we’re very enthusiastic about it.”

The team includes scholars from the University of Chicago, the Field Museum in Chicago and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. In 2003, they uncovered skeletons carbon-dated to the 13th century, when Khan lived and died, inside a circular area surrounded by a stone wall two miles long.

Last year, a Japanese-Mongolian team unearthed the site of Khan’s palace about 50 miles farther east and said it believed his tomb was nearby. Mr. Kravitz disputed that theory, saying, “We believe we are much closer to the discovery of the tomb than any other group.”

He and the Skybrite leaders say any treasure found would belong to Mongolia.

Mr. Orgil, a Mongolian citizen, said Khan’s grave may never be found, but there is unending fascination with the warrior who united the Mongol tribes and built an empire sprawling from China to Eastern Europe. “The interest in Genghis Khan never dies,” he said.

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