Siege of Bamyan (1221)

The 1221 siege of Bamyan by the Mongol Empire under the leadership of Genghis Khan[2] occurred in what is now Bamyan town in Afghanistan.

1221 Siege of Bamyan
Part of the Mongol invasion of Central Asia
DateSpring 1221
Bamyan town, located in modern-day Hazarajat region of Afghanistan
Result Mongol victory
Bamyan added to the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire Khwarezmian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Genghis Khan Unknown
30,000 men[1] unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown all killed


The siege occurred while the Mongols were pursuing Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, the last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and his newly raised forces in Afghanistan.[3]


During the siege Mutukan (Mö'etüken), son of Chagatai Khan and favourite grandson of Genghis Khan, was killed in battle by an arrow from the besieged walls.[4][5][6] This death, compounded by the heavy casualties sustained by his forces during the siege and the realization of his own mortality, angered Genghis to the extent that once he captured Bamyan he completely destroyed the city and killed its entire and surrounding regions population. The destruction was so complete that even the Mongols referred to Bamyan as "the city of sorrows"(ie. city of woe[6]), while another title was "city of noise (or screams)" - in reference to the cries of its murdered victims.[2][3]


Following the siege, Genghis continued his pursuit of Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu into India.[3]

A common belief, also held among many Hazara,[7] is that after the local Afghan population was wiped out, Genghis repopulated the area with some of his Mongol troops and their slave women, in order to guard the region while he continued his campaign. These settlers would become the ancestors of the Hazara people - with the word “Hazara” most likely derived from the Persian word “yak hazar” (“one thousand”), for the Mongol military unit of 1000 soldiers.[8]

See also


  1. Trevor N. Dupuy and R. Ernest Dupuy, The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History, (Harper Collins Publishers, 1993), 366.
  2. A Historical Atlas of Afghanistan, by Amy Romano, p.25.
  3. Dictionary of Wars, by George C. Kohn, p.55.
  4. Jack Weatherford (2005). Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Crown/Archetype. p. 117. ISBN 9780307237811.
  5. Brendan Cassar; Sara Noshadi (2015). Keeping history alive: safeguarding cultural heritage in post-conflict Afghanistan. UNESCO Publishing. p. 244. ISBN 9789231000645.
  6. Anwarul Haque Haqqi, Chingiz Khan: The Life and Legacy of an Empire Builder, (Primus Books, 2010), 152.
  7. James B. Minahan (10 Feb 2014). Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 99. ISBN 9781610690188. Many Hazara believe that their ancestors who entered the region as part of the armies of Genghis Khan in the 13th century were Mongol soldiers and their slave women who settled to garrison the highlands in central Afghanistan following the 1221 siege of the city of Bamiyan.
  8. Ratchnevsky, Paul. Genghis Khan His Life and Legacy. Cambridge and Oxford U.K.: Blackwell, 1991, p.164.

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