28

So, if Genghis Khan's military was so superior to European knights and China's military, why weren't earlier powers, like Rome, crushed by similar weapons and tactics? Genghis Khan was far from the first one to use mounted archers. In the Classical Age, Persians/Parthians were famed for the use of this weapon. And they used it to inflict some painful ...


25

A few points help in answering your question: The History has a Selection Bias The first issue is: Is your question accurate? Keep in mind that we inherited most of our history from the European perspective. There were plenty of cases where Europeans went out and conquered other groups, and the Europeans were just as warlike. The difference is that it ...


20

There is very little truth to this claim, if at all. The fall of Rome is conventionally dated to A.D. 476. By then China had long been overran by steppe nomads. Since 439, the North China plains - heartland of Chinese civilisation - have been united under the Northern Wei Dynasty. This was a nomad empire, founded by a Mongolic tribe known as the Xianbei, ...


17

In this period, the Mongols had a nominal strength of around 100,000 to 130,000. According to the Secret History of the Mongols, Ghengis Khan had an army of 105,000 strong by A.D. 1206. This number grew to 129,000 by A.D. 1227, according to Rashid-al-Din_Hamadani in his Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh. Of the latter figure, 27,000 were new units raised from Manchuria. If ...


17

The questions (answered separately below): So why wasn't the rest of the world, the world off the steppe, using it? I mean, maybe it didn't reach the classical world until the Huns brought it there, but why weren't the Japanese and the Ayyubids and the Byzantines and everyone else in the faintest contact with the steppe using steppe bows, instead of their ...


14

Here is an outline of a few sentences distilled from many long paragraphs at my previously mentioned website. The apparent military superiority of the horse-mounted nomads of central Eurasia during ancient and medieval times was due to: The Scythian, Sarmatian, Alan, Hun, Avar, Magyar, Mongol, et al armies had a tremendous advantage in both strategic and ...


14

I'll try to answer the main (title) question, What is the origin of the Scythians? -- I am not qualified in linguistic classifications. The straight-forward answer is, as steppe nomads, they migrated west from Central Asia to West Asia (Pontic-Caspian steppe) -- their nomadic empire was given different names, Scythians (Greeks), Saka (Persian), etc. ...


14

First the supply issue : The biggest reason for Horse archer scarcity is the training curve in becoming a mounted archer. It's not a simple task, you need to be able to ride and control your horse with only your legs while drawing a bow and accurately firing all while the horse moves...not a simple feat by any means. Roman (and Greek) society were founded ...


12

As I touched in the last paragraph of this answer, we don't really know who the Huns were. Its one of the great mysteries of history, up there with the identity of the Sea Peoples. It appears the initial idea that they were the same people as the Xiongnu in the Chinese records came from an 18th Century French historian who also argued that China was ...


11

When most people think of "Huns" and "Mongols", they are thinking of Atilla's empire of the mid 400's and Genghis Khan's Mongolian Empire of the 1200's. Since there's a good 800 years between them, obviously the answer is "no" on that level. It sounds like what you heard is the story of the Yuezhi. As you can probably tell from the name, we know about them ...


10

You might also ask why these people from the steppes also created so much havoc in CHINA. Because they are really two sides of the same coin. In "economic" terms, there are two reasons: 1) "comparative advantage" and 2) "incentives." To use a model derived from Civilization II (I like to play the Russians and the Mongols on the "real world" map), there are ...


10

The key factors were high mobility and better weapons. The Huns for example were in the beginning almost exclusively mounted. Hunnic infantry appears much later. They were armed with a very powerful composite bow. The Sarmantians also had mainly cavalry, in their case heavily armored and armed with the kontos, a kind of sword on a stick or lance with a long ...


9

Note that the first such peoples from the Eurasian Steppes were the Germans (Goths in particular), so it wasn't the people themselves so much as something about the environment. The period in which this was occurring, roughly 400AD to 1350 (or Andrianople to the popularization of Gunpowder), is what historian Charles Oman referred to as The Age of Cavalry. ...


8

Cost. It takes years of training to become a proficient foot archer, and much longer to become a mounted archer. A cavalryman is always far more expensive because of his mounts (plural; they usually had between 2 and 6 mounts per horseman). Mounted archers is the solution to most of your military problems. Everybody knew that, but most had two huge ...


8

First off, I'm going to give you the mainstream view. "Scythian" was the name the ancients applied to the nomadic Iranian-speaking people living in the area north of the Black and Caspian seas (but often stretching as far west as Bulgaria) from about the 8th to the 1st century BC. Their language was quite certainly Iranian*. There is even one descendant ...


6

For Mongols specifically, it was in part their unparallelled-till-20th-century tactical flexibility. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_military_tactics_and_organization


6

Technically speaking, a Khan is the titular sovereign ruler, whereas a taishi is "merely" a high ranking official. They're mutually exclusive positions, but did not always correspond to who was more powerful at a given time. In general, public opinion in Mongolia reserved the title of Khan for the descendants of Genghis Khan, while tribal leaders often took ...


6

Some of this history is still controversial (namely, the actual location of Sarkel). Following is what I have extracted from the book S. Pletneva, "Essays on Khazar archeology," ("Очерки хазарской археологии") Jerusalem, 1999, that was written mostly on the basis of archeological excavations, namely, Artamonov's expedition (Artamonov was Pletneva's PhD ...


5

Allow me to start with a caution: From the Huns to the Mongols, pastoral nomads keep coming up in history books. Entire empires have fallen to them, .... I think we need to be careful here. In general, most of the history books until late-20th century, especially on martial prowess of steppe nomads, were wrong (more below). Question 1: What ...


5

For the first question, dogs were definitely a part of the Yamnaya life and lifestyle. There is concrete evidence of this through items from dogs found in Yamnaya graves. ... no other evidence of domesticated horses is known before c. 1600 BC (Kveiborg 2017). This may or may not be tied to the nomadic Yamnaya culture, which is well-documented despite a lack ...


4

Not really. Portraiture as an art was having a bad couple of centuries in Attila's time. Whatever we know of Attila's looks comes from written descriptions that differ significantly from one another and are oftentimes embellished. It stands to reason that he was short, like most of the great conquerors. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess.


4

Hunnic cauldrons were the same style as the Xiongnu of the 1st century AD. People think that the Huns brought them from Mongolia, to Central Asia and Europe, where they are found. Westward migrations, driven by nomadic warfare or Chinese offensives, were the prevailing trend in Pre-Genghissid Steppe History. There were almost never west-east migrations. ...


4

Yes, there is (was?) such a custom in the Eurasian steppes (i.e. Mongols, focus of the question). I don't know it terribly well because this one is certainly within social anthropology+, not really my interest and reading. But, I'm going to try to explain it. Selective raiding and pillaging between tribes is -- within their context -- a practise that seems ...


4

I am not an expert on the Mongols, but what you describe seems similar to the Irish Tain Bo Cualinge, or the Norse Viking around the period of the Great Heathen Army (that's not the best reference, but it is the one I could find quickly - I'm thinking more of Rollo, and possibly of the Normans in Sicily (I think there is a podcast by Lars Brownnworth, but I ...


4

There was not a "Battle of Worms".This epic poem refers to the destruction of Burgundians of Worms. The battle was, in fact, in Belgica Prima (modern day Trier/Luxembourg). namely, in 436 A.D., Aëtius engaged the Burgundians in the area of Belgica Prima. Avitus (before he became Emperor) was also involved. Burgundians were a Germanic tribe. Worms (...


4

Generally speaking, nomadic invasions succeeded when the political and economic conditions were bad enough to allow it. When conditions improved, the nomads were dealt with. The border of China with Mongolia was the site of the most intense nomadic warfare because of their proximity and lack of practical barriers. China was an ongoing target of nomads in ...


3

I'm not sure how useful this is to you, but there is a second-hand contemporaneous description of what Atilla looked like. The original source is Priscus, who visited Atilla's court in 449 as a diplomat. There are no originals of his description known, but there are later authors who make reference to it. Here's what Jordanes said in the 6th Century, ...


3

There are very few sources on Pechenegs, and they do not tell us the details of their religious situation. By analogy with other tribes which inhabited this area in the Middle Age, one can guess that they had a variety of religious beliefs. Some of them could be Manichean, others Christian, Muslims or pagan. It was normal for that times and that place to ...


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