are a large group of peoples of the Eurasian Steppe
. This generic title encompasses the ethnic groups inhabiting the steppes
of Central Asia
, and Eastern Europe
. They domesticated the horse
, and their economy and culture emphasizes horse breeding
and horse riding
. They developed the chariot
, and horse archery
, introducing innovations such as the bridle
, and stirrup
, and often appear in history as invaders of Europe
, 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:
- Amitai, Reuven; Biran, Michal (editors). Mongols, Turks, and others: Eurasian nomads and the sedentary world (Brill's Inner Asian Library, 11). Leiden: Brill, 2005 (ISBN 90-04-14096-4).
- Drews, Robert. Early riders: The beginnings of mounted warfare in Asia and Europe. N.Y.: Routledge, 2004 (ISBN 0-415-32624-9).
- Golden, Peter B. Nomads and their neighbours in the Russian Steppe: Turks, Khazars and Qipchaqs (Variorum Collected Studies). Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003 (ISBN 0-86078-885-7).
- Hildinger, Erik. Warriors of the steppe: A military history of Central Asia, 500 B.C. to A.D. 1700. New York: Sarpedon Publishers, 1997 (hardcover, ISBN 1-885119-43-7); Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2001(paperback, ISBN 0-306-81065-4).
- Kradin, Nikolay. Nomadic Empires in Evolutionary Perspective. In Alternatives of Social Evolution. Ed. by N.N. Kradin, A.V. Korotayev, Dmitri Bondarenko, V. de Munck, and P.K. Wason (p. 274-288). Vladivostok: Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; reprinted in: The Early State, its Alternatives and Analogues. Ed. by Leonid Grinin et al. (р. 501-524). Volgograd: Uchitel', 2004.
- Kradin, Nikolay N. 2002. Nomadism, Evolution, and World-Systems: Pastoral Societies in Theories of Historical Development. Journal of World-System Research 8: 368-388
- Kradin, Nikolay N. 2003. Nomadic Empires: Origins, Rise, Decline. In Nomadic Pathways in Social Evolution. Ed. by N.N. Kradin, Dmitri Bondarenko, and T. Barfield (p. 73-87). Moscow: Center for Civilizational Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.
- Kradin, Nikolay N. 2006. Cultural Complexity of Pastoral Nomads. World Cultures 15: 171-189
- Littauer, Mary A.; Crouwel, Joost H.; Raulwing, Peter (Editor). Selected writings on chariots and other early vehicles, riding and harness (Culture and history of the ancient Near East, 6). Leiden: Brill, 2002 (ISBN 90-04-11799-7).
- Shippey, Thomas "Tom" A. Goths and Huns: The rediscovery of Northern culture in the nineteenth century, in The Medieval legacy: A symposium. Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 1981 (ISBN 87-7492-393-5), pp. 51–69.