3 Things You Didn’t Know We Owe To The Mongols Essay

The Mongols. Everyone loves them these days. And not without good reason, not only are they fierce and fascinating warriors, they also ushered in the first era of globalization by creating an enormous free trade zone everywhere they ruled. They made possible a transfer of goods and ideas on a level unequaled until today. Here are three things we owe to the Mongols that most people don’t know about.

1. Pants

That’s right. You owe your pants to the Mongols. Before the Mongols swept across Asia and initiated a glorious era of trade and cultural exchange, men in Europe more or less wore the Roman tunic.

While tunic worked out OK for the Romans (and the Greeks who they borrowed it from), there is no denying that they went about creating their empire in an outfit that suspiciously resembled a mini-skirt.

The Mongols had no time for such silliness. After all, in 25 years they would conquer as much territory as Rome did in 400 years, and then go on and conquer even more. Expert horsemen who could ride for days, the Mongols knew the dangers of chaffing, and so wore pants.

Sadly, the advent of pants didn’t make it to Europe in time to prevent Robin Hood: Men in Tights from being made.

2. Hurray!

According to Jack Weatherford and his amazing book Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, the word “Hurray!” comes from the Mongol “Hurree!” which was more or less their version of “Amen!” 

3. Passports

The Mongol Empire was… umm… large. Like 12.7 million square miles, which is about the size of the United States plus the Sahara Desert plus all of Europe.

Despite being illiterate nomads, the Mongols were surprisingly adept empire managers. Mongol armies moved infamously fast, so their messengers needed to be even faster. To do this, they created the yam system to keep tabs on their vast holdings. A series of outposts, about 140 miles apart, where messengers would find, food, shelter and a fresh horse. To get access to the system, you had to have a bronze disk known as a Paiza.

Flashing the paiza certified that you were legit, and guaranteed you access to all the goodies waiting for you at the Yam station. Ever loving of trade, the Mongols even issued paizas to foreign merchants, and so became precursor to the passports we use today.

High School
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