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Searching for Genghis Khan

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When Highland Park personal injury attorney Maury Kravitz first read Harold Lamb's Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men in 1954, while he was a private in the army, he was instantly drawn to the story of the Mongol emperor who, in the latter part of the 12th century, rose up to conquer most of central Asia. Upon his death, legend has it, soldiers killed all the mourners at his funeral--and then killed themselves--so that the location of his burial site would never be known. Kravitz went on to make a small fortune as a gold broker at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the late 1970s, but he's been obsessed with finding the lost tomb of Genghis Khan--and the booty rumored to be buried within--ever since. After 25 years of searching, he's convinced the grave is located in the Burkhan Khaldun mountain, near the emperor's birthplace in the northeast part of Mongolia, and he's spent the past two summers leading an excavation team--and at times a documentary film crew from Bill Kurtis Productions--to the area. The 2002 expedition, he says, was "a very interesting summer" that included, among other things, several run-ins with deadly Mongolian pit vipers and an anthrax scare that killed several animals in the vicinity. In addition, says Kravitz, "one of our vehicles went off the side of a cliff and rolled over four or five times. It's a miracle nobody was hurt." The expedition also unearthed some artifacts that he won't discuss until an official announcement is made later this year. Kravitz, who is also the subject of an upcoming MGM feature film, will discuss his work and share expedition photos Friday, January 17, at the Adventurer's Club, 555 N. Franklin (312-822-0991). The evening starts at 5:30 with cocktails, followed by dinner at 6 and Kravitz's talk at 7. It's $45. On Sunday, January 19, he'll give a free lecture at 3 at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington in Evanston (847-866-0300).

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