Enlarge / Standing in his stirrups, a Mongolian soldier could shoot even while retreating.

This was a revolutionary battle tactic at the time.
When a man named Temüjin was given the title of Genghis Khan in 1206, the Mongols were a recently united people, tucked away in the northeast corner of Asia.

By the time Genghis Khan died in 1227, they were sunning themselves on the shores of both the Pacific Ocean and the Caspian Sea.

By 1241 they were knocking at Vienna’s door, and they remained the terror of eastern Europe for the rest of the century.

The Mongols claimed the largest consolidated land empire in history.
Seemingly the only way to keep them out was to put the Himalayas between you and them.

And many historians believe their power stemmed from an incredibly simple technological innovation: the stirrup.
No one knows when the stirrup was first invented, but it was a boon to any military that used it.

Even the simplest of stirrups, a leather loop, let mounted soldiers ride longer distances and stay mounted on their horses during battle.

The military success of the forebears of the Cossacks is often attributed to two loops of leather.
Same with the Goths and the Huns.
Some believe the stirrup even shifted the balance of power in Europe from foot soldiers to mounted knights, dubbed the “armored tanks” of the medieval world by historian Roman Johann Jarymowycz.
The Mongols took things further. Historians think they not only had leather stirrups, but metal ones as well.
In 2016, archaeologists at the Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia unearthed the remains of a Mongolian woman dating back to the 10th century AD.

Along with sturdy leather boots and some changes of clothes, she was buried with a saddle and metal stirrups described as in such good condition that they could still be used today.

The stirrups are one continuous thick piece of metal with an open loop for a saddle strap on the top and a wide, flattened, and slightly rounded foot rest.

The stirrups had to be comfortable and tough, because Mongols used them to ride in a way no one else rode.
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