Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
Map of the earth showing areas where lights can be seen from space at night

World Light Map

In "38 maps that explain the global economy", Matthew Yglesias has captured for Vox the prominent features of our contemporary global economy and society. For example, this map from NASA is a composite satellite image that shows how each region of the world appears at night.

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Painting shows king and queen at court

Sorghaghtani Beki and Tolui

In this illustration from Rashid al-Din’s Compendium of Chronicles Sorghaghtani Beki and Tolui sit together on a pillowed throne. Here the artist depicts different aspects of ideal Mongol masculinity than do illustrations of warriors, as Tolui interacts in a dignified way with the court ladies and officials surrounding him.

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Sorghaghtani Beki in the eyes of court historians

Sorghaghtani Beki, the wife and then widow of Chinggis Khan’s youngest son Tolui, appears in many contemporary written sources about the Mongol Empire, and is always viewed positively.

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The Anda Bond

Along with practices of male bonding that are shared with other times and places, such as membership in all-male groups with distinctive uniforms or clothing or socializing in places where women are not allowed or do not go, the Mongols also had a specific type of male bonding, the anda bond.

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Chinggis Khan and his wife Börte in The Secret History of the Mongols

Chinggis Khan had four sons by his principal wife Börte, though there is some question as to his eldest son Jochi’s true father. Börte and Temüjin were married as children, and shortly afterward, she was abducted by the rival Merkid confederation, and stayed with them several months before Temüjin recovered her.

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Chinggis Khan’s mother Hogelun in The Secret History of the Mongols

The Secret History of the Mongols, the story of the rise and rule of Chinggis Khan and his son and successor Ogodei produced by an anonymous court scribe in about 1240, is full of close mother-son relationships. One of these is the relationship between Temujin (the future Chinggis Khan) and his four brothers and their mother Hö’elun (or Hogelun).

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Painting shows mounted warriors armed with bow and arrows in combat

Mounted Mongol Warriors

In this watercolor illustration from the Compendium of Chronicles, the enormous hemispheric history by the learned official Rashid al-Din finished around 1310, mounted Mongol warriors shoot bows and arrows while riding, a military tactic perfected by steppe warriors. The soldiers they are chasing are also Mongol dress, so this may represent a conflict between different Mongol groups.

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Chinggis Khan on his father Yesügei

This comment of Chinggis Khan about his father appears in the learned official Rashid al-Din’s Compendium of Chronicles, finished about 1310, so it was probably first handed down orally. In the first part of the comment, Chinggis Khan seems to be extolling his father’s toughness: he had great skills and did not suffer from hunger or thirst.

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Frontispiece of Sir Thomas Roe

Frontispiece of Sir Thomas Roe

This image is the frontispiece of Sir Thomas Roe (ca. 1581-1644) from the book The Negotiations of Sir T. Roe in his Embassy to the Ottoman Porte from the year 1621 to 1628, a collection of his correspondence during his time as the English ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Roe advanced England's mercantile interests in Asia throughout the early seventeenth century.

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The Archbishop's Palace of Alcalá de Henares

The town of Alcalá de Henares is located outside of Madrid, the current capital of Spain. In the late-fifteenth century, it served an important purpose as the home of the archbishop. His lavish palace was lavishly decorated, but considerably smaller than other royal homes. Yet, it still occasionally hosted other dignitaries, such as Queen Isabella (1451-1504).

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