Alans, Huns, Magyars, Mongols.

They were all pastoralists whose material culture and economic life seems more suited to the Asian steppes.

Yet for some reason they migrated into the European land mass and settled into farming.

Why is this the case?

  • 3
    Its warmer in Europe due to the Gulf-Stream.
    – Dale
    Jul 29, 2013 at 0:45
  • What do you mean exactly by "more suited"? E.g. sometimes it may be suitable to move away from ones overlords, etc., etc.
    – Drux
    Aug 2, 2013 at 5:55

2 Answers 2


These migrations occurred as a result of political struggles affecting the nomad groups.

For instance, the Alans were driven out of current-day southern Russia and into central Europe by the fiercer Huns.

The Huns, in turn, had gotten used to the fruits of "civilization" in the form of tribute from Roman rulers. When they tried to collect similar tribute from the Persians, the latter resisted successfully, even counterattaccking them in southern Russia. This led them to greener pastures central (non Roman) Europe, until the Romans combined with groups like the Franks to defeat them.

Similarly, the Magyars migrated to central Europe early in the Dark Ages after an unsuccessful rebellion against their (Bulgar) overlords in southern Russia. Finally, the Mongols moved west after Genghis Khan united them in a search for a better life than the steppes could provide.

  • But there was plenty of political strife elsewhere, especially in the European continent. You don't see mass migrations of Gauls, Greeks or Carthaginians when the Romans started taking over. Aug 2, 2013 at 13:35
  • @SchwitJanwityanujit: But these political shifts affect "pastoral" people in a different way than they do "settled" people. Specifically, they make pastoral people want to "settle down." But they won't make settled people want to "wander."
    – Tom Au
    Aug 2, 2013 at 13:37

Pastoral subsistence pattern significantly depends on migrations, also known as transhumance. They have to keep migrating from one place to another for fresh pasture lands to feed their animals which includes cattle, horses, goats and sheep. There were also constant confrontations in form of wars, strife and upheavals between these groups. So, to avoid such confrontations and to find fresh pastures they have keep moving from one place to another and at one point they reached and Europe and Indian Subcontinent.

The terrain and climate of Indian subcontinent and Europe is more suitable for agriculture. When they arrived here, agriculture was already in practice. So, they settled in these favorable and somewhat peaceful climate.

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