A Tale of Two Rulers

This is a story of two powerful rulers. They stand apart from most other rulers because of their achievements; they differ from each other for many reasons. One ruler was much respected, the other was feared. Archaeologists know of the whereabouts of one ruler’s tomb, although they have not excavated it. The location of the other ruler’s tomb is unknown, but that could change. This rather enigmatic introductory paragraph refers to Genghis Khan and Qin Shi Huang, China’s First Emperor.

Genghis Khan ruled over the world’s largest contiguous empire about 800 years ago. (The term “contiguous” is important here; as the British ruled over more territory during the heyday of their empire. However, those territories were dispersed across the globe).

Genghis Khan, or Temuchin (the spelling varies) as he was first called, had a very eventful childhood. Born in 1165 AD, he was betrothed at a very early age. His father was poisoned by the Tartars and his bride was abducted. Genghis was able to regain his wife with the support of other steppe tribes. Temuchin officially became Genghis Khan in 1206. It is thought that this title means “Oceanic ruler,” or “Firm, Resolute Ruler.”

Mongolian
Creative Commons License photo credit: asobitsuchiya

By that fateful year of 1206, Genghis Khan had united the tribes of Mongolia into one tribe. The stage was set for him to embark on one of history’s most astonishing campaigns of conquest. Historians suggest that there may have been several reasons why Genghis Khan went down this road: a quest for treasure, seeking revenge for past offenses, even megalomania. His conquests would take him into China and Tibet, as well as farther west into the Khwarazm empire which ruled over most of what is now called Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

In 1226, during a campaign against the Xi Xia in northern China, Genghis Khan fell from his horse. He died from his injuries in 1227 and was buried in a secret location. Numerous scientific expeditions have been mounted to try to locate his tomb. Currently yet another attempt is being mounted to find Genghis Khan’s last resting place.

The Mongol Empire continued after Genghis’ passing and his descendants continued to expand it. By the late 13th century, it reached from Hungary to the Sea of Japan. By that stage, the empire was divided into four nearly autonomous areas called khanates: China, central Asia, Persia, and Russia.

In 1294, after the death of Kublai Khan, the empire broke apart. There was a brief resurgence in the late 14th century when Timur (the Lame), who claimed to be descended from Genghis Khan, conquered Persia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and parts of Russia. On the way to attack China, however, Timur died, and the Mongol era was finished.

Pre-dating Genghis Khan by fourteen centuries, an individual by the name of Qin Shi Huang, rose to prominence in what is now China. In 246 BC, when he appeared in the scene, China was going through what historians call its “Warring States” period. In about twenty years, Qin Shi Huang managed to unify the country under one ruler. Qin Shi Huang became China’s First Emperor.  The old feudal system was replaced with a central government. China’s writing and currency was standardized. Commerce benefited from a vast new network of roads and canals. Last but not least, gigantic construction works got started during this emperor’s reign; among them the Great Wall (which would be extended many times in later years) and the Emperor’s mausoleum.

Soldiers
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SmokingPermitted

The mausoleum complex was – and still is – huge, covering approximately four square miles near the modern city of Xi’an. While the tomb itself is not excavated yet, the accompanying army of terracotta soldiers was found and partially excavated.

Both men have left lasting legacies. Without Genghis Khan, there would be no Mongolia today. Moreover, it is said that about 16 million men today can retrace their ancestry back to Genghis Khan. This has led to some people getting their 15 minutes of fame, occasionally incorrectly. China looks back at Qin Shi Huang as its founding father. Many aspects of modern Chinese culture can be retraced to this time period, more than 2200 years ago.

But there is more.

Aside from both rulers featuring in Hollywood made movies – one more recent than the other – both Genghis Khan and the First Emperor are soon taking up residence at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Come see for yourself what made these two individuals so special.


Offshore Technology Buffet

Amelia-A
Creative Commons License photo credit: Strocchi

OTC – these letters announce the biggest event each year for people in the offshore petroleum industry, the Offshore Technology Conference at Reliant Center. It is actually one of the 10 largest conferences in the world with over 24,000 companies displaying their wares. Last year, over 67,000 people attended from all over the world.

So what would you expect to see at OTC?  I expected to see pumps,  pipes, valves, and safety devices – in other words, I expected very boring metal things that I would have no clue as to what they were used for. 

Well, I did see all of that, but there was so much more!  You know the old saying – the only difference between the men and the boys is the size of their toys.  That certainly applies to this field.

There were not only models of everything imaginable, but also life-sized items as well.  There was a truck whose tires alone were almost as tall as I am. (I stand at about 5 feet.)

There were all kinds of chains,  rope, valves, gear, pipes, containers as large as rooms, shoes, gloves, sign makers, decking, hooks, rope and gears larger than you could imagine using.

There was so much technology that it was like visiting a gigantic Wiess Energy Hall!  You could learn all about offshore exploration,  production,  transportation – you name it.   One of my favorite things to see were the bunches of cables bound together and then sliced—they looked like sushi.   They are truly works of art,  yet created simply for their usefulness. 

 

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Creative Commons License photo credit: fawke

You could hear every language possible. I picked out Chinese,  Nigerian, Japanese,  Arabic, French,  Spanish  and several British accents, so I imagine there were many more.  Several cities were mentioned over and over – Houston,  Singapore,  Aberdeen, Dubai,  Stavanger.

Scattered throughout were two-story structures with meeting rooms below and open space above for attendees to relax. The needs of attendees were well accommodated,  from shoeshine stalls to restaurant guides to airline information.  

I wouldn’t expect the average person to attend the OTC,  but if you ever get the chance,  do.  You will be dazzled by the sights. It is valuable to our community,  and the world as a place to stay up to date on developing materials and technology in a field that is vital to our sustainability as a nation.