There are several characteristics that define a civilization. Social classes, architecture, religion, trade are all necessary components. Mongol civilization was an exception to these things

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Mongols DBQ exemplar

There are several characteristics that define a civilization. Social classes, architecture, religion, trade are all necessary components. Mongol civilization was an exception to these things. Despite their obvious success in conquering land, their barbaric habits caused many to believe that were not truly civilized, but this is quite debatable. Due to the sheer volume of land and people the Mongols controlled effectively and their efficient leadership off the battlefield, the Mongol empire is truly civilized.

First of all, the Mongols conquered 4,860,000 square miles of land under their Genghis Khan. This amount of territory has never been centrally controlled by any other civilization. It’s more than what Napoleon, Hitler, and Attila the Hun conquered combined (Doc.1). The main issue though is the methods they used to conquer. For example, when the conquered Nishapur in Persia, “They then drove all the survivors, men and women, out onto the plain, and it was commanded that the town should be laid to waste in such a manner that the site could be ploughed upon and that not even cats and dogs should be left alive… They severed the heads of the slain from their bodies and heaped them in piles, keeping those of the men separate from those of the women and children” (Doc. 4). That is one of many examples that lead historians to question the humanity of the Mongols. The Persian manuscript “Book of Kings” even displays a picture of Mongols burying Persian citizens alive (Doc 5). Through the Persian’s eyes the Mongols were out of control barbarians, but there is also evidence that suggests otherwise.

While their methods of conquering may be considered barbaric, the Mongols put thought into their battle tactics and used well planned strategies. First of all “Genghis Khan ordained that the army should be organized in such a way that over ten men should beset one man…” It was a rule that if one or two or three out of a group ran away, they would all be sentenced to death. This strategy led to strength and loyalty leading to their success in conquering so much land (Doc 2). Where battle tactics were concerns, the Mongols would surround their victims so they couldn’t escape. They also attacked with catapults, arrows and Greek Fire. While this may be brutal, it’s also proof that Mongols weren’t simply mindless barbarians who went around and killed as they pleased.

Of course, Mongols had other elements to their society besides just battle tactics. After they conquered nearly all of Asia, they took up residence among their new subjects. They promoted diversified economic development. They built canals for trade, were patrons of the arts, and even created tax free customs zones protected by the Pax Mongolia (Doc 6). They had strict laws against bodily harm, thievery and murder as well (Doc 7). Ghengis Khan even setup a messenger system (called a yam) which improved communication within his empire (Doc. 8). The Mongols also had religion. “We Mongols believe that there is but one God, by whom we live and by whom we die and towards him we have an upright heart” (Doc 9).

So despite their barbaric methods of conquering land, the Mongols had rules, religion, communication, trade, and guidelines for behavior. Many may only see the Mongols for their brutal massacres. But once they obtained land, they developed a very civilized empire. If you think about it, there was even a strategy behind the ways they went about conquering foreign lands. All these elements led them to have one of the most successful civilizations in history.
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