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The Turks and Mongols

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The Turks and Mongols

In order to discuss the movements of Asiatic peoples into Europe from the first inroad of the Huns to the conquests of the Osmanli Turks in the sixteenth century, it will be necessary to review briefly the events in central and eastern Asia which preceded and precipitated these incursions.

From the time that the Irano-Aryan ancestors had arrived in Russian Turkestan in anticipation of their descent into the hills of northwestern India, much of this grassy plain had been the home of those Iranians who remained behind while their kinsmen climbed the mountains which would take them into India and the Irano-Afghan plateau. These Iranians apparently developed, or borrowed, a high degree of adaptation to their steppe environment, and especially through the perfection of pastoral nomadism with the horse as chief instrument of mobility. They expanded through the passes to the eastward, which took them to Kashgaria, and there came in contact with the Chinese Empire. On the other side, they expanded westward into Europe, where we have already studied them in the form of Scythians and Sarmatians.

To the northwest of the vast Iranian domain, in Mongolia, a number of semi-agricultural, semi-pastoral tribes, possessing the sheep, probably also cattle, and perhaps wagons, but apparently not the horse, came in early times to the attention of the Chinese historians. By 800 B.C. we hear of a people called the Hiung-Nu, who gradually grew in importance until they came to dominate all of Mongolia.8 At a fairly late date, set by McGovern between 541 and 300 B.C., the Hiung-Nu presumably obtained horses, and learned to ride them. They seem to have acquired these animals from the Iranians or from Turkish-speaking peoples, along with the whole complex of horse nomadism. Chinese accounts of the Hiung-Nu later than the third century B.C. refer to them as typical plainsmen, strikingly similar in many cultural respects to the Scythians.

The six centuries, more or less, from 400 B.C. to 200 A.D., formed the period of greatness of the Hiung-Nu in Mongolia, during which they constantly harried China, and took possession of Chinese Turkestan. Despite their conquest, however, Iranian languages, and the mysterious Tokharian B, persisted in the towns until 800 A.D. or later. At length the Chinese took measures to rid themselves of this nuisance, and succeeded in defeating the Hiung-Nu so completely that they abandoned their territory and disappeared to the westward.

The last mention of the Hiung-Nu in Chinese sources is about 170 AL. and, exactly two hundred years later, the Huns appeared on the banks of the Don in Russia. McGovern has presented a convincing argument to prove that the two were the same people; that their passage across Asia took them across a space sterile of historians, between the spheres of Chinese and of Byzantine chroniclers. Only one glow of light appears in this interim; in 290 A.D. Tigranes the Great of Armenia hired some such people as mercenaries.

The history of the Huns in Europe does not require elaborate treatment. Having defeated the Ostrogoths and sent them and their kinsmen scurrying westward, the Huns moved to the present Hungary, which they made their headquarters. From here they sent expeditions to Rome, to Germany, and to France, where Attila was defeated in the battle of the Catalonian fields in 451 A.D. After his death two years later, the Runs retired to eastern Europe, and many of them united with their relatives the Bolgars, who had settled between the Ugrian and Finnic tribes of the middle Volga and Kama rivers, where, under Bolgar leadership, a great state arose, which flowered between the eighth and fourteenth centuries.

In the meantime, the Huns in central Asia raided Mesopotamia, Persia, Afghanistan, and India; presumably the Turkish penetration of central Siberia dates likewise from the period between 200 and 400 A.D. This span of two centuries marks the beginning of the great expansion of Turkish-speaking peoples, for the Huns, and their allies and relatives, must have spoken various forms of speech related to Turkish, many of which are now extinct.

When we view the Hunnish inroad into Europe in the light of the total context of Old World history, it ceases to be a strange inruption of hideous and invincible barbarians darting out of nowhere, as it at first appeared to the Byzantines and Romans. The Huns were a people who had been exposed to a high civilization that of China; they were cultured if illiterate, and in every sense the match of the frightened adversaries whom they met in Europe. When we examine the details of these invasions, we see that it was not one simple inroad, but a series of them in which a perplexing confusion of names is involved. Chief of the newcomers, after the Huns, were the Avars, who arrived in the sixth century. The Huns considered these their kinsmen and equals, and later amalgamated with them after the Avars had, in the eighth century, been defeated by Charlemagne and had retreated, some to Hungary and others to the Don country.

From the fall of the Huns until the rise of the Mongols some thousand years later, the history of central Asia is simply a repetition of the same theme; some obscure sub-tribe would become important, win leadership over the others, and head new invasions of increasing complexity. The history of southern Russia became extremely complicated, for the steppes of the Don country served as a terminal point for all but the most serious of these movements.

After the Avars came the Turks, called T'-K'e, hereditary iron-work-ers, who had been an old clan of the Hiung-Nu. They defeated the Avars in 546 A.D., and settled about the Caspian Sea; from here they conducted their raids and expanded, and gave their name to the whole linguistic sub-stock of Altaic which all of them, Huns included, seem to have spoken. It is probable that their speech superseded many older allied forms.

In the guise of Petchenegs and Kumans, in the tenth and eleventh centuries new waves of Turks moved across the southern Russian steppes as far as the Danube. As Seljuks, the Turks took charge of Asia Minor and fought the Crusaders; as Osmanlis, they conquered the Seljuks, withstood the Mongol advance, captured Constantinople, and swarmed over the Balkans and up to Vienna. But meanwhile, in the thirteenth century, other Turks under Mongol leaders, now for the first time called Tatars, had covered southeastern Europe ahead of the Osmanlis; and, in the fourteenth, hordes of true Mongols had followed, leaving permanent settlements in the Caucasus, the Kalmuck Steppe, and the Crimea.

In the fifteen hundreds, the tide commenced to turn in eastern Europe; the Muscovites grew powerful, and the Asiatic invaders began to draw eastward as the steppes were peopled with Slays. Under the rule of the Turks and Mongols, the older population had not entirely disappeared; colonies of Alans persisted until the thirteenth century, and Russian colonies lived under the protection of the Turkish Khazars. In the same fashion, the Turks and Mongols did not disappear with the Slavic advance, and their colonies in the midst of Slavic territory are still numerous.

There is an abundance of documents dealing with the invasion of Europe by the Huns and by their relatives the Avars. These inroads took place shortly after the expansion of the Germanic peoples to the east, and formed a primary reason for the failure of the Goths and Vandals to found a permanent home in the former Scythian country. They took place, also, before the major expansion of the Slavs, who moved eastward in the interim between the invasion of central Europe by the Huns and the wholesale westward migration of the Magyar ancestors under 'rp'd.

They are purely dolichocephalic, with a cranial index of 71.7. On the whole, they are just what one would expect from a Danish Iron Age - Upper Palaeolithic cross, with the latter in the majority, and this explanation agrees well with the archaeological data. The stature, 169.5 cm., fits both types. There is another possibility, however, that they had a strong Corded element. That some Corded blend entered into this mixture was indeed likely, but it is impossible to substitute the Corded for the Palaeolithic element, since the high vault of the former is not in sufficient evidence, and the faces of the Norwegians are wider than either Corded or Nordic.

That the Huns came in great numbers cannot be questioned, and that they introduced a completely alien racial type onto European soil is vividly attested by the accounts of numerous contemporary historians, among whom may be mentioned Jordanes, Sidonus, Appolinaris, and Priscus. These authors unanimously describe the Huns as being short, broad shouldered, thick-set, swarthy, flat-nosed, slit-eyed, nearly beardless, and bandy-legged. The Avars are described by some authors as being identical with the Huns, but by others as being less horrible of aspect. According to that Byzantine wit, Jordanes, the Avars defeated the Iranian-speaking Alans, who were the descendants of the Sarmatians, by frightening them with their faces and not by valor.

The careful studies of Bartucz, on whose work this following part is almost entirely based, has disclosed, in unquestioned manner, the exact racial composition of these invaders.9 (See Appendix I, col. 51.) Many of the Hunnish and Avar cemeteries are very extensive, containing, in all, thousands of skulls. In many of these cemeteries, particularly in that of Mosonszentj'nos, purely mongoloid skeletons have been found, unaccom-panied by European followers or European mixture.

Bartucz finds two clearly differentiated mongoloid types in these cemeteries. The first, which he designates as type A, is dolicho- to mesocephalic with a mean index of 75.5 for the males and 77.0 for the females. These skulls are of great length and considerable size. The forehead is very narrow, the temples sharply curved, and the zygomatic arches laterally bowed. The occiput is narrow and conical at the end. From the side profile, the forehead appears exceptionally low and slanting. The vertex falls well back of bregma, and the profile is curved through the extent of its length. In the occipital region the line of neck muscle attachment forms a powerful torus.

The vault of this type is lower than that found in any European group. It is, in fact, near the low point for mankind, with a range in height from 120 to 130 mm. The browridges, accentuated by the extreme slope of the forehead, are heavy, but the glabella region is flat, the orbits are rounded, and with the lower border often projecting farther forward than the upper. The nasal bones are long, narrow, and flat; so that the nasal skeleton sometimes fails to project in front of the malars. The lower borders of the nasal opening are smoothly rounded. The malars are extremely large and prominent, the canine fossa completely lacking, and the maxillary sinus, which overlies it, is so blown out that the surface of the bone is at this point often raised. The dental arch of the palate is U-shaped. The mandible is heavy, but the chin, however, but slightly developed. The whole sub-nasal portion of the face is enormous. The stature of this type, calculated from the long bones, is 164.4 cm. for the males, 153.1 cm. for the females.

Type B is also purely mongoloid, but it is brachycephalic, with a mean index of 83 for both sexes. The forehead is also low, but much broader and more sharply curved, the occiput is rounded and broad, and the skull as a whole is globular, although the vault is still low. The face is broad and low, the orbits are lower, the nose less leptorrhine, the malars and zygomata less pronouncedly mongoloid, than in the case of type A. The nasal bones are shorter, the palate broader and rounder, the chin more prominent. This type is characterized by shorter stature; 160.9 cm. for the males, and 152.8 cm. for the females.

Thanks to the industrious researches of the modern Russian school of physical anthropology, it is not difficult to discover the Asiatic relationships of these two types. Type A is found today among the living Tungus,10 and it has likewise a long history in Siberia, for it is found among many Siberian peoples, including Palaeasiatics, and it is characteristic of many of the Neolithic skulls excavated in the neighborhood of Lake Baikal.11 Type B belongs to the Mongol-speaking peoples, and is found in especial purity among the Buryats, who represent, culturally and probably racially, the Mongols before the time of their expansion. Modern Buryat skulls are among the largest in capacity known.

In most Hunnish and Avar cemeteries, type B is more in evidence than type A. Type A, however, predominates in the cemeteries which are known to have been used by the Huns, type B in those which belong to Avars. The Avar cemeteries contain also, in many cases, intermediate types which show that these people had begun to mix with members of the white stock, either in central Asia, in Europe, or both, and other cemeteries in which the white element is in the majority. The leading classes of the Huns and Avars, however, appear to have kept themselves apart, and to have preserved their mongoloid racial types pure throughout the centuries of their political domination. In the graves which are most richly furnished, and which show that the occupants were men of power and ...

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Keywords: the turkish mongols, who defeated the mongols in turkey

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