When Westerners such as ourselves and people native to Europe are asked what they know of the Mongols the answer is usually ruthless barbarians intent upon world domination. After all these years you would expect that the educational points presented to the different generations in school would have given a different view of the Mongol civilization. Leaving this vision instilled upon generation after generation is detrimental to learning the different positive aspects left behind by such a powerful empire. The nomadic lifestyle that the Mongols endured empowered them to become hardy warriors. The Mongols began their conquests in response to Ghengis Khans personal missions as well as a disruption in trade and the ecology of the land upon which they inhabited.
The Mongolian nomads relied heavily on the animals that they kept upon the steppes for survival. Throughout the year they would move their camps regularly in search of water and grass for their animals. The constant migrations prevented them from transporting reserves of food or other essential necessities. Living upon the steppes left them vulnerable to the elements as well. Heavy snows, ice, and drought could afflict the many animals that were essential to survival upon the steppe. Disease also played a deadly role in eliminating flocks and herds that the nomads were dependent upon.
All of these factors made the Mongolian nomads into very hardy, independent people. Moving a whole tribe of people constantly upon the steppe takes coordination and cooperation among the people living in the community. Part of that is what makes them so coordinated in their attacks. When your tribe is depending upon you to accomplish your task so to move on to another site on the steppe is the same as trusting the person beside you to do there job when attacking other civilizations.
The weather turned these nomads into very tough, rugged people as well. Having to deal with such cold temperatures most times of the year would turn anyone into a very stalwart person. The constantly changing storms also helped to mold the Mongolian nomads into very stout people. The heavy snows and ice on the steppe made these people into the unyielding warriors we imagine when reading about the Mongols. Drought conditions on the steppe are hard to imagine but did occur. This would mean moving the large flocks and herds of animals in search of water. The constant, lengthy moves in search of water would take the cooperation of the whole tribe again. This would test the whole clans patience and dedication to each other as they moved the whole camp once again in search of water.
Another aspect of living on the steppe in such harsh conditions were the dwellings in which they resided. The Mongolian nomads lived in a circular felt covered dwelling. Picture an Indian teepee and instead of a warm environment place it someplace very cold. That is what the nomads of the steppe lived in during such harsh weather conditions. The idea behind the dwelling was that it could be assembled and dismantled quickly for travel. To live in such a dwelling in a harsh environment takes a very headstrong person. This aspect also helped to mold the Mongolian nomads into such hardy people.
The Mongols rode out of Mongolia during the thirteenth century to begin a conquest of the world in turn creating one of the largest land empires in history. Throughout Mongolia from 1180 to 1220 there was a decrease in the temperatue. The temperature was estimated to have dropped an average of 10 degrees (Prawdin, 1940). This drop in temperate would mean a shorter growing season for the grasses on the steppe. A shorter growing