Golden horses: the mystery of Batu Khan

Golden horses: the mystery of Batu Khan



Legends about the treasures of ancient rulers — pharaohs, kings, emperors or great khans — have always attracted the attention of people. One of these legends tells about the secret of the golden horses of the grandson of the great conqueror Genghis Khan, Batu Khan.

Batu Khan continued the legacy of his grandfather and conquered vast territories. During his reign, the Golden Horde was known as an incredibly rich country. That is why the legend about gold of the ruler still arouses considerable interest among historians.


One of the legends tells about the “golden horses of Batu Khan”. The commander had a favorite Arabian horse. After the unexpected death of the horse, the khan ordered a full-size copy of the horse to be cast from the precious metal. It is known from the chronicles that the bell maker, who was later captured during the attack on Kyiv in 1240, was entrusted with making the statue.


The life-size figure of the horse was made of 15 tons of gold — that’s the entire tribute (known as dan) collected by the Golden Horde in a year! The craftsman skillfully recreated a copy of the khan’s favorite horse. The eyes of the statue were encrusted with bright rubies. When one golden horse had already been installed at the gates of the capital of the Ulug Ulus — Sarai Batu, Batu Khan ordered to make a second one to add more symmetry. Subsequently, the statues became a real symbol of the untold wealth and power of the Golden Horde. Khan and his successors believed that the golden horses “protected” the empire from enemies.


After the Battle of Kulikovo, the precious statues were lost. There are several versions of where they could have disappeared. Presumably, one of the horses was buried along with the body of Mamai, who inherited the throne of Batu. The second horse may have been stolen by the Cossacks who attacked the army of the Golden Horde. Some historians suggest that, while retreating, they threw the statue into one of the nearby reservoirs.

Scientists and archaeologists are fascinated by not just the mystery of Batu’s golden horses, but also the fate of other treasures of that time. In historical sources one can find information about the search for a large convoy with gold, which is supposedly hidden near Lake Seliger.

In the photo: Sarai Batu, the capital of the Golden Horde, during the reign of Batu Khan.


In the second half of the 19th century, a number of newspapers reported on the sensational discovery of the Golden Horde treasure in the territory of what is now the Rostov region. During the construction of the railway, an underground passage of the ancient city was discovered, where gold coins were kept. However, unfortunately, it was not possible to find Batu Khan’s horses made of the precious metal.

In the photo: archaeological excavations of an ancient city from the times of the Golden Horde.


For centuries, historians, archaeologists, expedition groups and private researchers have tried to uncover the secret of Batu’s golden horses. However, despite their efforts, no one managed to find the Batu Khan’s wealth.

Batu, like his ancestor Genghis Khan, left behind many legends related to gold. What happened to the treasures of the greatest khan of the Golden Horde? Read the article and find out:

Gold of Genghis Khan: myth or reality?