Bloody Hunts and War Games of the Armies of Khan: The Mongol Military – Part II

Bloody Hunts and War Games of the Armies of Khan: The Mongol Military – Part II

(Read the article on one page)

Mongol military organization based on decimal lines under Genghis Khan was nothing new. Other steppe peoples, like the Khitan and Jurched had been using the same system for many years beforehand. Genghis Khan was introduced to this military system during his time with Ong Khan. The system introduced by Genghis Khan to the Mongols was structured as arban, jagun, minqan , and tumen.

Mongol military leadership started with the arban at the bottom of the chain. Every Mongol warrior belonged to an arban. An arban consisted of 10 men with one being the commander. Ten arbans equaled one jagun (plural jaghut) consisting of 100 men. Ten jagunt consisted of 1000 men and formed a minqan (plural minqat). Ten minqat formed one tumen (plural tumet) consisting of 10,000 men.

10 men = 1 arban

100 men = 1 jagun

1000 men = 1 minqan

10000 men = 1 tumen

100000 men = 1 Tuc

The military organizational structure was divided into three corps that consisted of the baraghun ghar (right flank), je’un ghar (left flank), and tob or gol (center or pivot). To move this large army the command structure of course started with the Great Khan, who issued orders to three commanders in charge of the three tumen. See the figure below.

Chart showing command structure of Mongol leaders.

Chart showing command structure of Mongol leaders.

To break down the chain of command further, Marco Polo provides more detail:

You see, when a Tartar prince goes forth to war, he takes with him, say, one hundred thousand horse. Well, he appoints an officer to every ten men, one to every hundred, one to every thousand, and one to every ten thousand, so that his own orders have to be given to ten persons only, and each of these ten persons has to pass the orders only to other ten, and so on; no one having to give orders to more than ten. And every one in turn is responsible only to the officer immediately over him; and the discipline and order that comes of this method is marvelous, for they are a people very obedient to their chiefs.

Even though Marco Polo wrote this during the time of Kublai Khan, the document indicates that the military organization Genghis Khan had set in place was still in use and relatively unchanged. Furthermore, Marco Polo’s description shows how well organized the Mongol military staff was, and indicates the effectiveness of this system to rapidly relay orders from the top down and information from the bottom up. This allowed swift changes to be made during the thick of battle. 

The Mongols at war. (

The Mongols at war. ( Public Domain )

With such a large army on hand, every Mongol preformed certain duties within the camp. Some were in charge of carrying bows and arrows. Others were responsible for the manufacturing of the arrows. Some were responsible for food and drink. Others were responsible for watching over the sheep and horses in the pasturage. Carts were of great importance and men were assigned to prepare, repair, and watch over them. Carrying swords was another duty. Overseeing the domestic staff was another. Lastly, two men would serve as guardians of the assembly. Overall, every Mongol soldier had a duty to perform and most likely rotated out to perform other tasks once or every two weeks. Leaving one Mongol unit for another was unheard of. The Persian historian and bureaucrat Juvayni (1226–1283) noted, “No man may depart to another unit than the hundred, thousand, or ten to which he has been assigned, nor may he seek refuge elsewhere.”

Military Training and the Great Hunt

When it came to military training, the Mongols would take part in a great hunt called the Nerge. The Nerge was a way for the Great Khan, starting with Genghis Khan, to see how well his commanders led their men on a hunting expedition and how well the soldiers performed…

READ MORE…

This is a free preview of an exclusive article from Ancient Origins PREMIUM.

To enjoy the rest of this article please join us there . When you subscribe, you get immediate and full access to all Premium articles , free eBooks, webinars by expert guests, discounts for online stores, and much more!

Top Image: Deriv; Illustration of Yesugei, Temujin’s father ( CC BY-SA 3.0 ) and a battle between Mongols and Chinese ( Public Domain )

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Himmerod Abbey and Church building
Himmerod Abbey, a Cistercian monastery that's existed for almost 900 years in what is now western Germany is closing down for good, due to running expenses and also a shortage of monks. Notably, the monastery was used during the 1950’s in a distinctly non-monastic capacity, as a secret meeting point of former Wehrmacht high-ranking officers discussing West Germany's rearmament.

Myths & Legends

Sak K'uk'/Lady Cormorant – Public Domain, Palenque, Mexico, Jiuguang Wang - CC BY SA 2.0
In the mountain rain forest of Chiapas, México, sits the ruins of Palenque, considered the most beautiful ancient Maya city. Silhouetted against a backdrop of natural hills and valleys, the elegant pyramids and palace offer fine Maya bas-relief carvings of high-grade limestone and stucco.

Human Origins

Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot
The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to Gordon Childe, however, the predominant racial element in the earliest graves in the region from Elam to the Danube is the ‘Mediterranean’.

Ancient Places

Himmerod Abbey and Church building
Himmerod Abbey, a Cistercian monastery that's existed for almost 900 years in what is now western Germany is closing down for good, due to running expenses and also a shortage of monks. Notably, the monastery was used during the 1950’s in a distinctly non-monastic capacity, as a secret meeting point of former Wehrmacht high-ranking officers discussing West Germany's rearmament.

Opinion

The ancient and mysterious Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
In 1995, NBC televised a prime-time documentary hosted by actor Charlton Heston and directed by Bill Cote, called Mystery of the Sphinx. The program centered on the research and writings of John Anthony West, a (non-academic) Egyptologist, who, along with Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology at Boston University, made an astounding discovery on the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article