pastoral nomads

Eurasian nomads

Eurasian nomads are a large group of peoples of the Eurasian Steppe. This generic title encompasses the ethnic groups inhabiting the steppes of Central Asia, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe. They domesticated the horse, and their economy and culture emphasizes horse breeding and horse riding. They developed the chariot, cavalry, and horse archery, introducing innovations such as the bridle, bit, and stirrup, and often appear in history as invaders of Europe, Anatolia, and China. Horse people is a generalized and somewhat obsolete term for such nomads.

The Roman army hired Sarmatians as elite cavalrymen. Europe was exposed to several waves of invasions by horse people, from the Cimmerians in the 8th century BC, down to the Migration period, and the Mongols and Seljuks in the High Middle Ages, and the Kalmuks and the Kazakhs down into modern times. The earliest example of an invasion by a horse people may have been by the Proto-Indo-Europeans themselves, following the domestication of the horse in the 4th millennium BC (see Kurgan hypothesis). Cimmerian is the first invasion of equestrian steppe nomads that we can grasp from historical sources. The "Huns" of the Migration period were not a single ethnicity, but a conglomerate of Mongolian, Turkic, Iranian and Germanic and Slavic warbands. Hermannus Contractus in the entry for the year 379 in his Chronicon lists Gothos, Hunnos, Alanosque as virtual synonyms.

The concept of "horse people" was of some importance in 19th century scholarship, in connection with the rediscovery of Germanic pagan culture by Romanticism (see Viking revival), which idealized the Goths in particular as a heroic horse-people. J. R. R. Tolkien's Rohirrim may be seen as an idealized Germanic people influenced by these romantic notions. These peoples gave rise to the myth of the Amazons from the practise of some women being horse archers.

They can be divided into several large groups, on linguistic grounds:

Chronological list:


See also

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