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Six kingdoms in Eurasia


This is the last lecture in the Summer of 1991 series on Soviet archaeology delivered at Harvard University by the prominent physical anthropologist Valery P. Alexeev of Moscow. Alexeev begins this lecture with a discussion of six kingdoms in Eurasia during the Iron Age: Vani, Merv, Bactria, Pazyryk Scythians, Huns, and Russia.

The Kingdom of Vani is located in the Caucasus in Georgia and exists from the seventh/sixth century BC to the first century AD. Greek inscriptions are carved on tombstones and the architecture is similar to that of Greece. Both iron and bronze metals are used, but bronze is considered more valuable.

From the Caucasus we move to Central Asia and Alexeev briefly mentions Merv and Bactria. The Kingdom of Merv is located in Central Asia in Turkmenistan. The capital of the Kingdom is also called Merv and is heavily fortified. Numerous seals are found that depict scenes from Iranian mythology and a sculpture uncovered is of a Greek wearing a helmet. Bactria, a Kingdom in Afghanistan, has its capital on the coast of the Amu Darya River. This site continues to be excavated by the French.

The final two Iron Age Kingdoms are located in Siberia. The Pazyryk Scythian Kingdom is located in the eastern part of the Altai Mountains. These great kurgans have produced rich material, so rich that some think this must be the early development of a small kingdom. The Huns Kingdom is located around Lake Baikal and in Mongolia; its people practice small agriculture, have domestic animals, and live in aesthetic places. The great wall of China was constructed to deter the Huns. In the fourth - fifth century AD, the Huns migrate to Central Asia, the northern Caucasus, western Europe, and Italy. The Huns occupy the steppes until the sixteenth/seventeenth century.

Another migration from Central Asia to the Caucasus is by the Alans (Alani) people. The Alans are Iranian people who did not remain in the Caucasus but moved to western Asia, crossed Italy, France, southern Spain and the north coast of Africa. Today there remains one Iranian group in the Caucasus called the Ossets who are descendants of the Alans.

Another migration Alexeev discusses is that of the Slavs. Slavs are located in the eastern section of what is now the Republic of Czech, in southern Poland, and in eastern Ukraine. The Slavs begin to move in a northeasterly direction peopling European Russia.

The final kingdom presented is the kingdom of Russia. The beginnings of the Russian kingdom dates to the ninth century AD and is geographically located in the Dnieper Valley where present day Kiev is situated.

Alexeev mentions two additional migrations, that of Jenghiz Khan in the beginning of the thirteenth century and in the seventeenth century a migration of Russians to Siberia, Alaska, and the west coast of California in the United States. Thus completes the major migrations in Eurasia.

Alexeev ends the lecture with slides, information from which is included in the text. The final slide, indeed symbolic, is of an ancient seal in the shape of a cross. The seal is of silver and covered with gold.

Class ends one hour early. Alexeev gathers his map and briefcase and ... he leaves the room! My classmates and I stare at each other with perplexity. We have been informed that our final examination will be a two hour oral conducted at 102 Quincy House. Each of us will be given one or two questions at the beginning of the exam, we will have a brief time to talk among ourselves and share information, and then we will be examined individually. We also have been told that we can bring whatever information we need to the exam.


Kingdom of Vani

As per Alexeev, the Kingdom of Vani i is in existence in the seventh/sixth century BC and lasts until the first century AD. This kingdom is located in Georgia close to the Black Sea; Vani is also the name of a town. This kingdom is influenced by Greece but it also has its native cultural traditions ii. Linguists do not know which languages were spoken [Arutiunov says the language most probably was early Zanic]; however, inscriptions on gravestones are in Greek. This site has been excavated for thirty years revealing a great square with architecture similar to Greece. The Vani people are metal users. Iron is used for tools, with an occasional implement made of bronze; bronze is considered very valuable. Thus in the early Iron Age there is a mixing of a new tradition of iron with the old tradition of bronze.

Kingdom of Merv

The Kingdom of Merv iii is located in Central Asia south- east of the Caspian Sea in the geographic area known as Turkmenistan. Merv is both an oasis and a town situated on the southern edge of the Kara-kum desert. The great mountain chains of the Hindu-Kush and the Paropamisus that extend from the Caspian to the Pamirs are interrupted 180 miles south of Merv. Near this gap and flowing northwards in parallel courses are the rivers Tejend and Murghab. These rivers lose themselves in the Kara-kum desert. Thus Merv becomes a watch tower over the entrance into Afghanistan in the northwest and a stepping stone between Persia and Bokhara/Samarkand.

Merv is inhabited by Turkomans of the Tekke tribe. The oasis is irrigated by an elaborate system of canals stemming from the Murghab River. The oasis is known for its fertility and produces wheat, millet, barley, melons, rice, and cotton. As well, silk worms are bred. The Turkomans herd horses, camels, sheep, cattle, asses, and mules and are superior silversmiths and carpet weavers (their carpets are finer than the Persian). Summer heat is very oppressive and a gentle breeze fills the air with clouds of fine dust obscuring visibility.

In Hindu, Farsi, and Arab tradition, Merv is regarded as the ancient Paradise, the cradle of the Aryan families. As "Mouru", Merv is mentioned in the Zend-Avesta and under the name Margu it occurs in the Behistun inscriptions of Darius where it is referred to as one of the satrapies of ancient Persia. It afterwards becomes Margiana, a province of the Graeco-Syrian, Parthian, and Persian Kingdoms. In the fifth century during the rule of the Persian Sassanian dynasty, Merv is the seat of a Christian archbishopric of the Nestorian Church. In 646 Merv is occupied by the caliph Othman and becomes the capital of Khorasan. In the middle of the eleventh century Merv is overrun by the Turkish tribes of the Ghuzz from beyond the Oxus. In 1221 Tule, son of Jenghiz Khan and chief of the Mongols, butchers most of the inhabitants. From this time forward Merv begins to decline.

On the death of the grandson of Jenghiz Khan in 1380, Merv is included in the possessions of Tamerlane, Mongol prince of Samarkand. Merv is occupied for a brief time by the Uzbegs but remains in the hands of Persia until 1787 when it is captured by the emir of Bokhara and is razed to the ground by the Bokharians. With the destruction of the irrigation system, Merv is converted into a wasteland. The Oasis is occupied by the Russians in 1883.

The ruins of Merv consist of the Bairam Ali Khan "kalah" (citadel) built by a son of Tamerlane and destroyed by the Bokharians and another "kalah", a walled enclosure, called Abdullah Khan. North is the old capital of the Seljuks, the Sultan Kalah, which is destroyed by the Mongols in 1219. The most significant feature is the burial mosque of Sultan Sanjar. East of this capital is Giaur Kalah, the Merv of the Nestorian era and the capital of Arab princes. North of Giaur Kalah are the ruins of Iskender Kalah, likely the capital of the Seleucid dynasty.
From Merv comes the sculpture of a Greek male wearing a helmet. Excavations also have revealed a great number of clay seals possibly used as signs of property. Other seals depict animals, in particular a fantastic figure with a mammal#039;s body and the head of a bird. This creature is typical of Iranian mythology and is called Senvurv-Paskudge iv. Two main principles in ancient Iranian religion are the Ormuzd (god) and Arman (devil); the former representing good and Arman bringing evil. The Senvurv-Paskudge is used to bring Ormuzd. These seals are located in many places. Other seals depicting mythological animals are also found; one seal depicts a seated figure with a staff in hand. There are no letters on this seal.

Kingdom of Bactria

Bactria v is located in Afghanistan. Bactria or Bactriana is the ancient name of the country between the mountain range of the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya (Oxus) River. The capital city is Balkh. The country is mountainous, the climate moderate, water is abundant, and the land is fertile.

Bactria is the homeland to one of the Aryen tribes. It is here that the prophet Zoroaster preaches and gathers his disciples; his religion spreads from here to the western parts now (Iran). The language in which "Avesta" the holy book of Zoroastrianism is written is often referred to as "old Bactrian".

Bactria is also regarded as the cradle of the Indo-European people based on the theory that the nations of Europe immigrated from Asia and that the Aryan languages are prototypes for the Indo-European. In opposition to this theory is another which states that the Aryans came from Europe, lived in Afghanistan as one people, and then divided into Indians and Iranians. Currently, archaeological evidence seems to support the former.

The "Avesta" locates its heroes and myths in Afghanistan and transforms the old gods who fight with the great snake into kings of Ariana who fight with the Turanians. The Avesta also details the conflict between the peasants of Ariana and the nomads of Turan (Turkistan). Turan is the region north of the Oxus and is peopled by those of Ural-Altaic stock who as nomads displace and/or assimilate earlier populations. These people are also known as Turkic or Tartaric; Tartars are of Turkic origin such as Kazan Tatars and are members of one of the numerous Turkic peoples originating in Manchuria and Mongolia and now found mainly in the Tatar republic of the former USSR, the northern Caucasus, Crimea, and sections of Siberia.

At no time did a great Bactrian empire exist; the Bactrians have always been ruled by petty local kings. Bactria is conquered by Alexander with much difficulty. Bactria then becomes a province of the Macedonian empire and comes under the rule of the Seleucis, king of Asia. The Macedonians, especially Seleucis I and his son Antiochus I, founded many Greek towns in eastern Iran and for some time the Greek language becomes dominant. Due to the many difficulties presented to the Seleucid kings including the attacks by Ptolemy II, Diodotus, a satrap of Bactria, declares independence c 255 BC and Diodotus conquers Sogdiana and establishes the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom. Diodotus and his successors are able to contend with the attacks by the Seleucids. Finally, when Antiochus III is defeated by the Romans in 190 BC, the Bactrian king Euthydemus and his son Demetrius cross the Hindu Kush and begin the conquest of the Indus valley. A great Greek empire has arisen in the far East. Soon many usurpers arise in many of the Bactrian provinces undermining the efforts of the Greeks to maintain a centralized control. The weakness of the Graeco-Bactrian kingdoms is shown by their complete overthrow.

In the west the Arsacid empire has risen and Mithradates I and Phraates II begin to conquer areas to the west, especially Areia (Herat). In the west a new group of Mongolian tribes called Scythians by the Greeks appear. The most important of these Scythian tribes is the Tochari (also known as the Yueh-Chi of the Chinese). In 159 BC, according to Chinese sources, the Tochari enter Sogdiana, in 139 BC they conquer Bactria, and during the next generation they end Greek rule in eastern Iran. Only in India do the Greek conquerors, Menander and Apollodotus, maintain themselves for a while longer.

In the middle of the first century BC, Afghanistan and western India belong to the Indo-Scythian empire. The ruling dynasty is the Kushan (Kushana). The most famous of the Kushan kings was Kanishka the protector of Buddhism. The principal seat of the Tochari and Kushan dynasty is in Bactria, but they also maintain eastern Afghanistan and Baluchistan while the western regions of Areia (Herat), Seistan, and part of the Helmund valley are conquered by the Arsacids. In the third century AD the Kushan dynasty begins to decay and in 320 AD the Gupta empire is founded in India. Thus the Kushanas are reduced to eastern Iran where they have to fight against the Sassanids. In the fifth century a new people come from the east, the Ephthalites (Huns), who conquer Bactria c 450 AD. The Ephthalites are followed by the Turks who appear in 560 AD and subjugate the country north of the Oxus. Most of the Kushan and Tochari principalities are overthrown by the Ephthalites. When the Sassanian empire is overthrown by the Arabs, the conquerors move eastward and subjugate Bactria and the entirity to the banks of the Jaxartes. The entire region thus is under control of the rule of the caliph and of Islam.

The capital is located in northern Bactria on the coast of the Amu Darya River which marks the border between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. The capital is possibly in the town of Ai-Hanum, a site excavated in the early 1920#039;s by M.I. Rostovtsev (Rostovzeff) vi of Harvard University. Today the site continues to be excavated by the French.

Scythian Kingdom of Pazyryk

The Kingdom of Pazyryk is located in the eastern section of the Altai Mountains close to the border of Mongolia vii. This kingdom has great kurgans with such rich material that many believe that it had to have been the first step in the political organization of a small kingdom. This is likely a Scythian kingdom.

The burial ground at Kuturguntas, located 2,090 m above sea level, is located in a small mountain valley where the rivers Ak-Alaka, Kara-Bulak, and Ak-Kil merge. Kuturguntas is being excavated by the Russian archaeologist, N. Polos#039;mak viii and contains five kurgans dating to Scythian times.

The burial ground of Ak-Alaka, also excavated by Polos#039;mak, contains six kurgans and one funeral complex consisting of seven stone rings arranged one adjacent to another. Each ring consists of seven stones. These rings form a chain which ends in the southwest in a structure of small stones arranged in a radial fashion with a diameter of 5 m. To the northeast are two "Balbals" (gravestones) of grey-black flagstone. The interment at Ak-Alaka produces two larchwood coffins containing the "frozen" remains of a 45 year old male of the European type and a 16 year old female, also of the European type.

The interment at Kuturguntas also produces a female corpse preserved in permafrost. Known as "The Lady", she has been submitted for DNA testing. This excavation has been the subject of a documentary filmed by The National Geographic Society and first televised by The Society in 1994. "The Lady" is also a feature article in the Society#039;s journal, October 1994. It is hopeful that the DNA test results will answer significant questions concerning the origins of the Pazyryk Culture on the Eurasian steppes.

Kingdom of Huns

Located in Mongolia and around Lake Baikal is the Huns Kingdom ix. This kingdom is known from both it graves and settlements. The Huns Kingdom has domestic animals, practices small agriculture, and its people live in aesthetic places. Because the Huns are so rich and strong, they pose a serious danger to China. China constructs the Great Wall to serve as protection against the Huns.

The Hsiung-nu (early Huns), according to Chinese chronicles, battle the Chinese in the Ordos area of Inner Mongolia. This occurs at the close of the Zhou (Chou) in the third century BC i.e. the eastern Zhou Dynasty ends in 221 BC giving way to the Qin and Han Dynasties.

The Hsia dynasty is the first of the dynasties at 2205-1766 BC according to Li Chi (record of rites); Mo Ti; Lu Pu-wei; and Shu Ching (book of history). These are the earliest historical references [As per Arutiunov, the Hsia dynasty is legendary and precedes the Shang]. After this time there are fragmentary accounts of wars and migrations until the close of the Zhou Dynasty 2000 years later when the nomadic tribes in the Ordos are the Hsiung Nu. HOLLIS relates Huns to Hsiung-nu and Arutiunov confirms that the initial Huns are Hsiung-Nu.

In 771 BC the Quanrong Tribes from the Ordos force the Zhou to move their capital eastward from Shaanxi to Luoyang. This marks the decline of centralization and the rise of regional power i.e. a large number of feudal states. During the Shang and western Zhou, the northern tribes are agricultural. During the eastern Zhou, the tribes practice husbandry and decorated their artifacts with zoomorphic motifs.

Shang: 1700 - 1050 BC
Western Zhou: 1050 - 771 BC
Eastern Zhou: 771 BC - 221 BC
Qin and Han: 221 BC - AD 220

The term "Huns" applies to at least four different people: those under the leadership of Attila who invade the East Roman empire from about 372 - 453 AD; the Hungarians (Magyars); the White Huns (Ephthalites) who trouble the Persian empire from c 420 - 557 AD; and the Hunas x who invade India during the same period. The Huns appear in Europe at the end of the fourth century and the Ephthalites and Hunas in western Asia about fifty years later. Likely some defeat in China had sent them westward some time earlier. One group push their way through the mountains into Afghanistan and India, as the Yueh-Chi have done before them. Another group moves westward and settles in the northern end of the Caspian Sea and the southern section of the Ural Mountains. It is from here that the Huns under leadership by Attila invade Europe.

The physical characteristics of the Huns is very variable since they continually increase their number by adding slaves, women, and mercenaries. The language of the Magyars is Finno-Ugric and most nearly allies with the speech of the Ostiaks now found east of the Urals [HOLLIS relates the Ostiaks of the Ob with the Khanty; and the Ostiaks of the Yenissei with the Kets]. The warlike temper of the Huns has led many scholars to regard them as Turks.

HOLLIS lists Yueh-Chih (Yue-Chi) and relates Yueh-Chih to both the Ephthalites (White Huns) and Kushans (Kushans in Afghanistan and India). HOLLIS relates Tokhari with the Yueh-Chih and the Tokharian language with the Yueh-Chih language xi.

Backtracking, HOLLIS relates Indo-Scythians with Yueh-Chih and Saka. Hollis relates Saka with the ancient city of Khotan (in Chinese Turkestan) xii and relates the Saka Language with the Khotanese language. HOLLIS also categorizes Khotan China, Khotan Saka language, and Khotan Sinkiang (Xingjiang) xiii.

Backtracking again, HOLLIS relates Scythians to the Alani and Indo Scythians (the Alani or Alans are synonymous with the eastern Sarmatians and the Ossets in the Caucasus).

As per Arutiunov: "very often similar names are applied to slightly or totally different people. Huns of Attila are probably a separate part of Hsiung-Nu (Khunnu) of northern China. White Huns (Ephthalites) and Hunas are probably interacting;
they speak either Tokharic or Scythian. Huns of Attila and Hsiung-Nu are probably Turkic at the core, but their league of tribes certainly include other tribes who speak Uranian, Ugric, south Samodic, maybe Ket and other languages. Physically there are both Mongoloids and Europoids among them. The Saka definitely speak Scythian (North Iranian), the component "SK" is determinant in all Scythian ethnonyms. Ostiaks are Khanty par excellence but Selkups are often called Ostiak-Samoyeds, and Kets are called Yenissei-Ostiaks. Please do not mix identically sounding names of Khotan Indians of Hsiunguiang (Xingjiang) and Khotana Indians of Alaska".

In the fourth - fifth century AD, the Huns migrate to Central Asia, the northern Caucasus, western Europe, and to Italy. This is the first of the migrations in the Christian era. Following this first migration, there are two or three other migrations from southern Siberia and eastern Russia. These peoples occupy the steppes and live there until the sixteenth/seventeenth century.

Alans People

As per Alexeev, there is one migration of Iranian people from Central Asia to the northern Caucasus. These Iranian people are called the Alans (Alani) People xiv. The Alans are the easternmost division of the Sarmatians and are Iranian nomads with some Altaic admixture. From north of the Caspian and spreading into the steppes of Russia, the Alans make incursions into the Danubian and Caucasian provinces of the Roman empire. The Alans are cut into two sections by the Huns: the western group joins the Germanic nations in their invasion of southern Europe, and following the fortunes of the Vandals, disappear in North Africa; the eastern section is dispersed on the steppes until late medieval times and by invading hordes are forced into the Caucasus where they remain as the Ossetes. At one time partially Christianized by Byzantine missionaries, they almost relapse into heathenism, but under Russian influence return to Christianity.

The Sarmatae (Sarmatians) xv are a people whom Herodotus locates on the eastern boundary of Scythia beyond the Don. He says they are not pure Scythians but are descended from young Scythian men and Amazons, speak an impure dialect, and allow their women to take part in war. Later writers call some of them "woman-ruled Sarmatae". Hippocrates clasifies them as Scythian. The barbarian names occurring in the inscriptions of Olbia, Tanais, and Panticapaeum are likely Sarmatian. By the third century BC the Sarmatae appear to have supplanted the Scyths in the plains of south Russia where they remain dominant until the Gothic and Hunnish invasions. Their chief divisions are the Phoxolani, the Iazyges, and the Alani. The term Sarmatia is applied by later writers to what is now Russia, including that which older authorities called Scythia. The term Scythia is then transferred to regions farther east.

Even today there is one group of Iranian people in the Caucasus called the Ossetes xvi. Most of the Alans People did not stay in the Caucasus; rather, they moved to western Asia, crossed into Italy, France, and southern Spain, and the north west coast of Africa. Thus, as per Arutiunov, "the Alans (Alani) were first displaced by Huns in the 4-6 centuries AD and later in the 13-14 century AD. The Alani were later diplaced by Mongols in the 13-14 century AD".

Slav People

According to Alexeev, the Slavs are located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, southern Poland, and western Ukraine in the Karplash Mountains; they are the most numerous people in Europe. Also they are the Russians of Eurasia and many have migrated to the United States.

Geographically and linguistically the Slavs are divided into three groups: Eastern, North-Western, and Southern. The Eastern group is comprised of Russians and extends from the East European plain to the Urals (Finnish and Tatar tribes are only a small proportion of the population). Further east the Slavs are located in central Siberia and in narrow bands along the rivers to the Pacific. To the west, the Ruthenians of Galicia form a wedge between the Poles and Magyars.

The North-Western group includes the Poles, Kashubes, High and Low Sorbs, Czechs, and Moravians. In the north of Hungary, are the Slovaks who are related to the Ruthenians and Poles but most closely akin to the Moravians. As well are the now teutonized Slavs of central Germany. Historically the North-Western group has been surrounded by Germans.

The southern Slavs: Slovenes, Serbo-Croats, and Bulgarians are seperated from the main body by the Germans of Austria and the Magyars both of whom occupy soil once Slavonic. Also Slavic are the Rumanians of Transylvania and the Lower Danube. Their southern boundary is very poorly defined with various nationalities being closely intermingled. To the south west the Slavs march with the Albanians and to the south east with the Turks. Along the Aegean coasts they have Greeks as neighbors. Geographically, the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula is occupied by the Bulgarians and the western half by the Serbo-Croats. The Serbo-Croats are the most divided of the Slavs having three religions and three alphabets. The Serbs and Bosnians are mostly Orthodox and use the Cyrillic alphabet but include many Moslim people. Croats are Roman Catholic and use the Latin alphabet; the Dalmatians are also Roman Catholic but use the ancient Glagolitic script for their Slavonic liturgy.

Linguistically the southern Slavs are not sharply divided; however the political boundaries are clearly marked: the kingdom of Serbia; the kingdom of Montenegro; the Turkish provinces of Old Serbia and Novibazar; Bosnia and Herzegovina; the coastline and islands of Istria and Dalmatia; the kingdom of Croatia; and outlying colonies in Hungary and in Italy. In the extreme northwest of the peninsula, in Carniola, in southern Styria and Carinthia, and in Italy in the province of Udine and the Vale of Resia live the Slovenes who are much divided dialectically.

Between the Slovenes and the Croats there are transition dialects and in c. 1840 there is an attempt to establish a common literary language called Illyrian. In Macedonia and along the border are varieties of Bulgarian some of which are similar to Serbian. Akin to the Macedonians are the Slavs who once occupied the whole of Greece and left traces in place names. Akin to the Slovenes are the inhabitants of Austria and southwest Hungary before the intrusion of the Germans and Magyars.

When the Slavs formed one people, they settled to the northeast of the Carpathians in the basins of the Vistula, Pripet, and Upper Dniester. To the north, their nearest relatives are the Baltic peoples: Prussians, Lithuanians, and Letts. To the east are the Finns. To the southeast are the Iranian population of the steppes of Scythia. To the southwest and on the other side of the Carpathians are various Thracian tribes. To the northwest are the Germans. Between the Germans and the Thracians the Slavs seem to have some contact with the Celts, but their first contact in this area is with the Illyrians, Greeks, and Italians.

There is no evidence that the Slavs make any considerable migration from their first home in the region of the Carpathians until the first century AD. Their first Transcarpathian seat is, in fact, remote from the Mediterranean peoples. Herodotus possibly mentions the Slavs a people whose home is on the upper waters of the Dniester. Other classical writers including Strabo tell us nothing of eastern Europe beyond the immediate area of the Euxine.

The sudden appearance of names for the Slavs in sixth century writers means that at this time the Slavs become familiar with the Graeco-Roman world. The gradual spread of the Slavs is masked by the huge migrations of Goths. Ptolemy identifies the Slavs as being subservient to the Goths and occupying the same territories. This domination of the Slavs by the Goths may explain the large number of Germanic loan words common to all the Slavonic languages including: "King, penny, house, loaf, earring".

The Huns succeed the Goths as masters of central Europe and when the Hunnish power wanes, the eastern Goths and Gepidae move southwards and westwards, and the Lombards and Heruli follow in their tracks. In this early half of the first century AD, the whereabouts of the Slavs are difficult to ascertain due to the ethnocentricity of the historians. German writers deny the possibility of the Slavs having forced German tribes to leave their homes and assume that the riches of southern Europe attracted the Germans and that they willingly gave up the northern plains. Most Slavonic authors have also taken the same view and preserve this idealistic picture of the peaceful, kindly, and democratic Slavs who contrast so well with the savage Germans.

The Slavonic languages belong to the Indo-European family. Within this family they are closely related to the Baltic group: Old Prussian, Lithuanian, and Lettish. The Balto-Slavs have much in common with the northerly or German group and with the easterly or Aryan group. The Aryans likewise split into two divisions, Iranian and Indian. The Iranians as Sarmatians remain in contact with the Slavs until after the Christian era and the southeastern or Thracian group (Armenian) and the Illyrian (Albanian) share common linguistic specializations not present in other European groups.

The Baltic group and the Slavs are separated by the marshes of White Russia and do not have much communication until the Slavs begin to spread. After the Aryans move eastwards, Slavonic is left in contact with Thracian. On the other side, the Germans, neighbors to the Balto-Slavs, never cease to influence them and give them loan words and receive a few in return. In 6-7 centuries, they begin to move to the northeast, peopling European Russia.

Russian Kingdom and Mongol Conquests of Eurasia

As per Alexeev, the Russian Kingdom begins in the tenth century AD in the Dneiper Valley where Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine is located. Archaeology in Kiev reveals that the area is inhabited in the mid first millennium BC; however, Bzyantine and Greek sources and Russian writers of the twelvth century inform us that a kingdom is not established until the tenth century. When Kiev is actually established, there remain several different independent kingdoms in the southern part of European Russia.

In the beginning of the thirteenth century there are still migrations, possibly conquests, from western Europe. A conquest by the Mongol troops of Jenghiz Khan occurs in the thirteenth century AD. Mongols are one of the main ethnographic divisions of Asiatic peoples; however, the early history of the Mongols is very obscure. From Chinese histories of the seventh century AD, the original Mongol campgrounds are located along the banks of the Kerulen, Upper Nonni, and Argun rivers. As to the origins of the Mongols people, legends are created when history is lacking and legend has it that they sprang from a blue wolf. This origin plus the authority given to Budantsar, from whom Yesukai, father of Jenghiz Khan, was eighth in descent, paves the way for the great Mongol conqueror, Jenghiz Khan. When Jenghiz Khan is laid to rest in 1227 he leaves to his sons an empire that extends from the China Sea to the banks of the Dnieper.

To the family of his deceased eldest son Juji, Jenghiz Khan leaves the country from Kayalik and Khwarizm to the borders of Bulgar and Saksin; to his eldest surviving son, Jagatai, he gives the territory from the borders of the Uighur country to Bokkara; to Tule his youngest son, he leaves the home country of the Mongols, the care of the imperial encampment, and the state archives. As chief khan (khakan) he places his second surviving son Ogotai as ruler over the entire region. True to Mongol tradition, when Ogotai ascends to the throne he distributes presents from his father#039;s treasures to his peoples and in his father#039;s honor he sacrifices forty maidens and numerous horses.

Chief khan Ogotai, following the lead of his father, gathers a large army and marches southwards into China to complete the ruin of the Kin or "Golden" dynasty. The Kin dynasty falls in 1234 after ruling over the northern portion of China for more than a century.

Continuing his exploits, Ogotai focuses his attention on the kingdom of Khwarizm which his father had captured from Jelal ed-din, after driving him into India. Apparently Jelal ed-din had returned to Khwarizm with the support of the sultan of Delhi. With force, power, and might Ogotai descends upon Khwarizm, forces Jelal ed-din into the Kurdish Mountains and establishes his sovereignty over Khwarizm.

Without a moments delay, Ogotai and his army pushes still farther westward and with little opposition overruns the districts of Diarbekr, Mesopotamia, Erbil, and Kelat and then marches upon Azerbaijan. At the same time Ogotai dispaches three armies each in a different direction. One he directs against Korea, another against the Sung dynasty which rules over the provinces of China south of the Yangtsze Kiang, and the third is sent westward into eastern Europe.

The campaign against eastern Europe is executed with savage cruelty. This force is commanded by Batu, the son of Juji, Ogotai#039;s deceased elder brother. The army captures Bolgari, the capital city of the Bulgars, and pushes on over the Volga to the "beautiful city" of Ryazan where the inhabitants and the city are ravaged in a most cruel way. The horrors of Ryazan are repeated at Kozelsk and Kiev ("the mother of cities") as Batu continues his "carnival of death". The army then splits into two divisions. One goes to Pest, Hungary which Batu takes with the same savage bloodshed as before, and on Christmas Day 1241 crosses the Danube on the ice and takes Esztergom by assault. The second division plunders Poland. While Batu#039;s army is laying waste to the country, they recieve the announcement of the death of Ogotai and a summons for Batu to return to Mongolia.

Succeeding Ogotai to the throne is his son Kuyuk about whom little is known except that he reigns for only seven years, two of his ministers are Christians, and a Christian chapel stands before his tent. Upon the death of Kuyuk dissentions between the houses of Ogotai and Jagatai break out into an open war and after the short and disputed reigns of Kaidu and Chapai, grandsons of Ogotai, the lordship passed away forever from the house of Ogotai and goes not to the house of Jagatai but to that of Tule.

On 1 July 1251 Mangu, eldest son of Tule is elected khakan and among his subjects are Christians, Mahommedans, and Buddhists. Two years later his court in Karakorum is visited by Rubruquis and other Christian monks who are hospitably received. The description of the Khakan#039;s palace as given by Rubruquis is much different from the tent-living life of Mangu#039;s forefathers:

"surrounded by brick walls...its southern side had three doors. Its central hall was like a church ... here the court sat on great occasions. In front of the throne was placed a silver tree, having at its base four lions, from whose mouths there spouted fine refreshment into four silver basins. At the top of the tree a silver angel sounded a trumpet when the reservoirs that supplied the four fountains wanted replenishing".

Shortly after his ascension to the throne, Mangu receives word that dissensions have broken out in the province of Persia. Mangu dispatches an army under command of his brother Hulagu to punish the Ismailites (Assassins). Marching by Samarkand and Karshi, crossing the Oxus and advancing by way of Balkh, Hulagu and his troops enter Kohistan. The terror of the Mongol name causes the chief of the Assassins, Rukneddin Gurshah II, to present offers of submission including the dismantling of fifty of the fortresses in Kohistan. Once the country has been left to the mercy of the invaders, Hulagu and his men exterminate every man, woman, and child.

Hulagu then marches across the snowy mountains in the direction of Bagdad to attack the last Abbasid caliph and his Seljuk protectors. Hulagu arrives at Bagdad and demands surrender. When this is refused he lay seige to the walls. Finding resistance hopeless, the caliph surrenders and opens the gates to his enemies. Hulagu lays siege to Bagdad and then with much strength and energy moves onward into Syria.

Hulagu storms and sacks Aleppo, Damascus surrenders, and while plans are being made to attack Jerusalem and return it to the Christians, Hulagu receives news of Mangu#039;s death. Hulagu leaves at once for Mongolia and places Kitboga in command of the Mongol forces in Syria.

Hulagu is now recognized as ruler of all the conquered provinces. He assumes the title of ilkhan although acknowledging the khakan as supreme lord. This title is borne by his successors who rule over Persia for about a century.

While Hulagu is conquering western Asia, Mangu and his next brother Kublai are conquering areas in southern China. Southward they avance into Tong-king and westward they cross the frontier into Tibet. Mangu and Kublai#039;s campaign differs greatly from that of Hulagu. All indiscriminate massacres are forbidden and the inhabitants of captured cities are treated with humanity. While continuing the war in the province of Szech#039;uen, Mangu is taken ill with dysentery which proves fatal. His body is carried back to Mongolia and in pursuance of the custom of slaughtering every one encountered on the way, 20,000 persons are put to the sword.

At Shang-tu, Kublai is elected khakan and for thirty-five years he sits on the Mongol throne. Kublai Khan dies in 1294 and is succeeded by his son Timur Khan (Uldsheitu Khan or Chinese Yuen-cheng). Uldsheitu is able to heal the division which has seperated the families of Ogotai and Jagatai from that of the ruling khakan. Uldsheitu is succeeded by his nephew Khaissan whose reign is very brief. His successor is his nephew Buyantu (Chinese Yen-tsung) who was a man of considerable culture. Bunyantu among other things rescues the inscription-bearing "stone drums" from decay and ruin and places them in the temple of Confucius in Peking. These drums date to the Zhou Dynasty, first millennium BC.

After a reign of nine years, Buyantu is succeeded by his son Gegen (Chinese Ying-tsung) who is killed by the knife of an assassin. Yissun Timur (Chinese Tai-ting-ti) is the next sovereign who devotes himself to the administration of his empire. He divides China, which until this time has been apportioned into twelve provinces, into eighteen provinces and rearranges the system of state granaries. His court is visited by Friar Odoric who presents this description:

"Its basement was raised about two paces from the ground, and within there were twenty-four columns of gold, and all the walls were hung with skins of red leather, said to be the finest in the world. In the midst of the palace was a great jar more than two paces in height, made of the certain precious stone called merdacas (jade)...When the Khakan sat on his throne the queen was on his left hand, and a step lower two others of his women, while at the bottom of the steps stood the other ladies of his family. All those who were married wore upon their heads the foot of a man ... and at the top of the foot there were certain cranes#039; feathers, the whole foot being set with great pearls, so that if there were in the whole world any fine and large pearls they were to be found in the decoration of those ladies".

The following years see great natural and political devastation. Floods, earthquakes, and in many parts of the empire, revolts occur. Under various leaders, the rebels capture a number of cities in the provinces of Kiang-nan and Honan, and take possession of Hang-chow, the capital of the Sung emperors. At the same time pirates ravage the coasts and eliminate imperial vessels from the sea.

In 1355 Chu Yuen-chang, a Buddhist priest, became so outraged with the misery of his countrymen that he throws off his vestments and enrolls in the rebel army. His military genius is soon recognized, he is given position of leader, and with his crudely trained troups he overcomes the trained legions of the Mongol emperor. Toghon Timur Khan is unable to deter the rebels and when they capture Peking, Toghon Timur hastily flees to the shores of the Donon-nor in Mongolia. In 1368 the ex-Buddhist priest ascends the throne as the first sovereign of the Ming dynasty. He is called Hung-wu.

The Ordos desert of Inner Mongolia is one of the first regions of conquest by Jenghiz Khan; during his rule, a tribe of Mongols (Tartars) moved into this area from the north. They are called the Ordos Mongols. Chinese sources refer to this area as Honan or south of the river.

The Tatars are inhabitants of the Russian empire and are chiefly Moslem and of Turkish origin. The majority in European Russia are remnants of the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century. Those who inhabit Siberia are descendents of the Turkish population of the Ural-Altaic region mixed to some extent with Finnish, Samoyedic, and Mongol peoples. The name is derived from that of the Ta-ta Mongols who in the fifth century inhabited the northeastern Gobi and after subjugation by the Khitans in the ninth century migrate southward and form the Mongol empire under Jenghiz Khan.

Under the leadership of Jenghiz Khan#039;s grandson, Batu, the Mongols move westward driving with them many of the Turkish Ural-Altaians toward the plains of Russia. The ethnographical features of the present Tatar inhabitants of European Russia as well as their language show that they contain no admixture of Mongolian blood, but belong to the Turkish branch of the Ural-Altaic stock. Thus only Batu, his warriors and a limited number of his followers were Mongols; the great bulk of the thirteenth century invaders are Turks.

Thus the name Tatars is originally applied to both the Turkish and Mongol peoples who invaded Europe in the thirteenth century and gradually extend to the Turkish people who mix with the Mongols or Finns in Siberia. In a more restricted sense, the term refers to Mahommedan Turkish-speaking tribes, especially in Russia, who never form part of the Seljuk or Ottoman Empire, but make independent settlements and remained cut off from the politics and civilization of the rest of the Mahommedan world.

The term "Turk" ("Turkish") is used in three ways: political, linguistic, and ethnological. Politically the term refers to a subject of the sultan of Turkey. The term is not used in speaking of Christians. Linguistically the term references a well established division of the Ural-Altaic languages and their speakers. Ethnographically the use of the term is difficult because it is not easy to differentiate the Turks by physique or customs from other tribes such as Mongolians or Manchus. However, until fairly recently the following practical distinction could be made between Turks and Mongols: Turks speak Turkish languages, are Moslems by religion, live in the western part of Eurasia and fall within the Arabic and to some extent European sphere of influence while Mongols speak Mongolian languages, are Buddhists by religion, live in the eastern half of Eurasia and fall within the Chinese influence.

Finally a great migration in the seventeenth century distributes Russians on Siberian territory, in Alaska, and the west coast of the United States to California. There are some traces of Russian Culture in California and on the Commander Islands (the Commander Islands consist of Bering Island and Copper [Medny] Island).

Aleuts live on the Aleutian Islands, Pribiloff Island, and the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. They are brought to the Commander Islands by Russians. Today there are about 600 people; most of the Aleuts in America have Russian names and practice an Orthodox religion.

Excavations at Novgorod xvii, located on the Volhov River, have been conducted for forty years and reveal an eleventh century town. From Novgorod comea the first written documents made on "beresta", the skin of a birch tree. "Beresta" is used as paper; pens are made of bone. More than four hundred documents have been found, many of personal correspondence. The language is quite similar to Russian and can be translated without any special training. Houses are large and constructed of logs. Ovens have been preserved and the streets are covered with wooden logs. The town also contains a church with a great dome. As per Alexeev, from Novgorod comes an ancient seal in the shape of a cross. Many seals have been found made of bone, but this cross is made of silver and covered with gold.

Haji Mohammad Rahat

Library:

Haji Mohammad Rahat

Author:

Geraldine Reinhardt











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