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distinguishing nomad ethnic origins

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    Posted: 19 Jun 2009 at 20:53
Regarding the steppe peoples of the ancient era, many scholars have speculated about their ethnic origins, that tend to fall 4 categories:
- Iranic
- Turkic
- Mongol
- tibetan

Considering that most of the nomads prior to the Gokturk era left little or no written records, there would be no concrete evidence whatsover to the language that they spoke; and that the peoples of both the eastern and western steppe led very a very similar horseback lifestyle, lived in yurts, dressed in sheepskin, and fought and hunted with horse-archery; based on what criteria do scholars distinguish between Mongol, Turkic, Iranic, and Tibetan?

The only source I could think of would be the contemporary records written by sedentary cilizations. these were often unreliable; as most Byzantine and Medieval European sources described the Magyars as a "Turkic people".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 01:19
Nice topic Calvo, however, being that we have a special category for ethnicity topics I'll move the thread 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 01:42
Now as far as answering your question as to the type of criteria used in differentiating among the Central Asian nomad tribes, you do acknowledge a trace back to the Orkhon Inscriptions.

Linguists are aware of a different typology between Altaics and Chinese. The former is highly polysyllabic and not a tonal language (Chinese is); instead, Altaic is one of rich vowel harmony.

The Chinese were aware of these different peoples of the north. Military, economic and governing relationships dominated their interactions over the centuries. We have to base our current knowledge on the written record of the Imperial House. Without it, Altaic people before the Gokturks would be based on historical Persian and Roman limitations.

How did scholars differentiate among the diverse Altaics themselves? Sarmat, and Temujin may have to guide us further.


Edited by Seko - 20 Jun 2009 at 01:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 21:52
Turkic and Mongol are twins, i would of preferd to group that as Altaic. How are tibetans included in this? Tibet is something quite peripharel from the steppe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:16
Originally posted by Leonidas Leonidas wrote:

Turkic and Mongol are twins, i would of preferd to group that as Altaic.
 
It's still although very likely, but still a hypo.
 
Originally posted by Leonidas Leonidas wrote:

How are tibetans included in this? Tibet is something quite peripharel from the steppe
 
A sizeably part of the Tibetian tribes historically and culturally has been a part of the Great Steppe. Tibetian Qiang nomades played a very important part in Chinese history.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:22
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

Regarding the steppe peoples of the ancient era, many scholars have speculated about their ethnic origins, that tend to fall 4 categories:
- Iranic
- Turkic
- Mongol
- tibetan

Considering that most of the nomads prior to the Gokturk era left little or no written records, there would be no concrete evidence whatsover to the language that they spoke; and that the peoples of both the eastern and western steppe led very a very similar horseback lifestyle, lived in yurts, dressed in sheepskin, and fought and hunted with horse-archery; based on what criteria do scholars distinguish between Mongol, Turkic, Iranic, and Tibetan?

The only source I could think of would be the contemporary records written by sedentary cilizations. these were often unreliable; as most Byzantine and Medieval European sources described the Magyars as a "Turkic people".
Yes, this is a very good observation Calvo. Unfortunately, almost all the records about ancient nomades come from their sedentary neighbors. So, most of the classification, systematizations etc. are very hypothetical at best.
 
Archeology faces the same problem it sometimes very hard to distinguish between Turkic, Ugric and Mongolic cultures, Scythian and Sarmatian and almost impossible between different nomadic tribes belonging to a larger entity. We know, for example, that Kumans/Kipchaks were divided into a great number of different tribes, but hardly archeology can give us more information on that matter.


Edited by Sarmat - 21 Jun 2009 at 07:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:50

The origins of the "White Huns" and the Avars are an eternal debate. I've read theories that they were Turkic, Mongol, or Iranian. I've even heard Tibetan theories.

The most concrete evidence on the Iranian origins of Scythians and Samartians could be from the Persians - if the could communicate with each other. Roman and Greek scholars, however, applied the name "Samartian" to any nomad tribe from the East after the Scythias and before the arrival of the Huns.
 
The origins of the Bulgars are speculated to be Turkic or Iranian... although most people tend to go with the former.
 
Magyar language is definitely Ugric, yet all contemporary sources described them as Turkic. Strangely enough, many modern Hungarians insist that "Magyars are Turkic" based on traditional beliefs and folk traditions.
 
Are Kipchaks and Cumans the same people? Or are Cumans only the Kipchaks that emigrated to Hungary and Rumania?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 07:25
Cumans and Kipchaks and also Polovitsians are supposed to be just different names for one people. Though, I believe that Cumans perhaps were a little different from Kipchaks. Looks, like Cumans were a designation for the tribes that were in the West more precisely in Prepontic Steppe while Kipckaks lived in the steppes of the modern Kazakhstan, the whole region actually at that time was desginated as "Desht-i-Kipchak" - "Kipchak Steppe."
 
Perhaps a good analogy would to say that. Cumans related to Kipchaks in the same manner as Herodotus Scythians related to Sakas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2009 at 20:36
Did the western Turkic nations such as the Bulgars, Onogurs, and the later Kipchaks, Pechenges, and Khazars ever form part of the Gokturk Khanate? Or were they simply independent tribes speaking Turkish?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 07:06
Onogurs, Bulgars (Utigurs) and Khazars were a part of Gokturk Khaganate. Kipchaks and Pechenegs appeared on the historical arena later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 11:20
..and to make matters of context more interesting the peoples who led later day off shoots of the Gok Turks also had supposedly A-shih-na overlordship (Gok Turk royals). 

Edited by Seko - 25 Jun 2009 at 11:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jun 2009 at 18:22
The "ethnic identity" of nomad nationalities also depend to a great deal on nationalistic sentiments.

Not long ago I met a Hungarian girl who actually studied a PhD in Anthropology. Curiously, she insists that the Magyars were, and still are, a "Turkic" people; based on traditional folklore, family-kin structure, cuisine, and a few words. In fact she says that the "Hungarians in Transylvania" have retained more "Turkic" traditions than the Hungarians of Hungary.

The Volga Tatars, on the other hand, claim to decend from the Volga Bulgars. ¿Are any Tatar cities or villages inherited directly from the Bulgars? ¿Could any Tatar families trace their anscendancy directly to the Bulgars? Other than Islam, what other continuity is there from "Bulgar" to the "Kazan Khanate"? Why do they not claim to be a descendant nation of the Kipchaks instead?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jun 2009 at 03:47
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

The "ethnic identity" of nomad nationalities also depend to a great deal on nationalistic sentiments.

Not long ago I met a Hungarian girl who actually studied a PhD in Anthropology. Curiously, she insists that the Magyars were, and still are, a "Turkic" people; based on traditional folklore, family-kin structure, cuisine, and a few words. In fact she says that the "Hungarians in Transylvania" have retained more "Turkic" traditions than the Hungarians of Hungary.
 
 
In fact, different Turkic nations have although similar but different folklore, different family-kin structure, cuisine etc. n The main reason for grouping them into "Turkic" is language affinity. And Hungarian although having a large number of Turkic loan words is not a genetically Turkic language.


Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

The Volga Tatars, on the other hand, claim to decend from the Volga Bulgars. ¿Are any Tatar cities or villages inherited directly from the Bulgars? ¿Could any Tatar families trace their anscendancy directly to the Bulgars? Other than Islam, what other continuity is there from "Bulgar" to the "Kazan Khanate"? Why do they not claim to be a descendant nation of the Kipchaks instead?
 
Most of the old Volga Tatars' cities and villages are continuation of Bulgar settlements. Recently, there are indeed claims by some Tatars aimed to prove their direct ancestry from ancient Bulgar clans. I, however, don't know how reliable these claims could really be. Volga Tatar historians usually talk about the direct continuity from Bulgar culture, customs, folklore, artisanship, agricultural methos to Volga Tatars. It's true that Volga Bulgaria was a cultural center of the Ancient Volga region, it's also a fact that, usually, Volga/Kazan Tatars are educated and culturally developed people. Regarding the relations to Kipchaks, some Tatar historians claim that Volga Bulgar language was already in close linguistic relation with the language of Kipchaks. It's also claimed that modern Volga Tatar language retains a lot of linguistic elements from Old Bulgar inscriptions.
 
Most of the Volga Tatars want to be associated with the "civilized" Volga Bulgaria, rather than with "wild" Kipchak tribes. Perhaps, it indeed makes sense because Volga Tatar culture is rather a city culture compare to nomadic Kipchak culture the best modern representative of which would be Kazakh culture.
 
However, I also might suspect here a slight complex of "inferiority" created by the Westernization of Volga Tatar intilligentia, who would like to see themselves as Europeans and members of "European cultural family". In the typical Western cultural view, Nomades are barbarians as a rule. So, based on that Volga Tatars intellectuals usually try to emphasize their direct links with "advanced and developed" Bulgar civilization and downplay the connection with the "uncivilized world" of Nomadic Kipchaks. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2009 at 01:42
Originally posted by Leonidas Leonidas wrote:

Turkic and Mongol are twins, i would of preferd to group that as Altaic.


 Are turkic and mogols  really that close? .I  always thought that they were two close but different ethnic groups. ofcourse i could be mistaken
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2009 at 01:47
There is an Altaic language group theory that argues that Mongolic and Turkic peoples both originate from the same ancestors.
 
However, generally speaking traditional nomadic Mongolic and Turkic cultures, beliefs, customs etc. are indeed very close.
 
Languages are quite close as well. However, there is an argument whether the similarities exist due to the common genetic origin or just a very long history of co-existence and mutual influences.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2009 at 08:16

If Turkic and Mongol were really that similar; based on what criteria do historians speculate that the Xiongnu were a Turkic people rather than a Mongol people?

 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2009 at 08:22
It's mostly linguistic evidence and also an obvious continuity from Xiongnu to Turkic tribes as described in Chinese chronicles. It is believed that based on Chinese chronicles, the ancestors of Mongolic people were Donghu, Xiongnu Eastern neighbors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2009 at 08:27
What about the Huns, Avars, and the Hephthalites?
 
Having left no written records, the Huns could have been Finno-Ugric, Iranian, or Mongol as language is concerned; so why do historical records describe them as "Turkic"?
 
"Iranian" would probably be a little far-fetched as the Huns exited at the same time as the Iranic Alans; and Roman sources clearly distinguished them as 2 very distinct people.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2009 at 08:51
With Huns it's less clear. But most likely they were Turkic, at least their elite was Turkic based on linguistic analysis. Regarding Ephtalites the majority consensus is that they were Indoeuropean Yuezhi. Avars, are claimed to be Turkic but it's very disputed as well. Claims vary from calling them Mongolic to Iranic.
 
My own 5 cents is that the confusion possible was created due to the fact that those tribal confederations included tribes of different ethnic origins and were not totally homogeneous, that's why, perhaps, we never will be able to say with 100% certainty who they really were.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2009 at 04:00
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

With Huns it's less clear. But most likely they were Turkic, at least their elite was Turkic based on linguistic analysis. Regarding Ephtalites the majority consensus is that they were Indoeuropean Yuezhi. Avars, are claimed to be Turkic but it's very disputed as well. Claims vary from calling them Mongolic to Iranic.
 
Do Hephthalites have any connections to the people that the Chinese referred to as "Jie"?
As the "Jie" formed part of the Xiongnu federation; at the same time Indian and Persian sources described the Hephtalites as a "branch of Huns".
 
Regarding Avars, do they have anything to do with a Mongol people known to the Chinese as the Rouran, or Juan-Juan? Apparently, these people were tribes of the Xianpei who remained nomadic.
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The Mongols are said to have descended from the Xianbei, as for the Turks it gets real confusing and names start overlapping, Dingling, Gaoche, Tiele tribal groups are used interchangebly, the Dingling are thought to be the oldest. These three groups are said to have spoke the same language as the Xiongnu, or at least their elites. So we have four groups who spoke the same language, Xiongnu had a large empire, the other were tribal group names who were either linked, the same tribes under a different confederation name or different confederations all together. The GokTurks are said to be descended from the Tiele who in turn are said to be related/descended from the Xiongnu and Dingling and all these groups get mixed up in different accounts.

Its likely these were proto-Turkic people who had many tribes and were called by different names in different eras.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AyKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 00:34
It would be easier to understand the tribal confederations and groupings of Inner Eurasia if we look at them as political in nature rather than ethnic.  I think this would help reduce disputes over what ethnicity they belonged too.  As soon as something that may indicate some other origin than the base ethnic group or dominant group is claimed arguments arise over the origin of the whole group, like the Gothic origin of the Huns or the Aryan origin of the Bolgars.

A tribal confederation that is ethnically homogenous seems to be truly rare.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AyKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 01:34
The descendants of the Volga Bolgars would be found throughout the Volga region, including but not exclusively, the Tatars.  Linguistically the Lir-Turkic spoken by Onogur, Ogur, Sarigur and other Turkic peoples in the region, is only survived by the Chuvash language.

The royal Ashina clan is the most interesting aspect. 
The ruling dynasty of the Bolgars were the Dulo.  Kubrat Khan seceded from the Gok Turks when he took over his clan and overthrew the Avars to create Volga Bolgaria.  The Dulo clan descends from the Tele tribe of the Xiongnu. 
The Dulo had the same tamga and motifs as the Ashina and possibly the same Tele descent and this is where the link between the Dulo and Ashina is made.
Its more likely the Dulo were a faction of the Ashina clan who broke of from them than a continuation of the Ashina.
It is possible the break up of the Gok Turk Khaganate could of been a royal split among the Ashina.  We know the civil war was over lines of secession and during the divisions in the Gokturk Khaganate Kubrat seceded and began uniting the Oghuric tribes.  That would mean the Western Gokturks, Bolgars and Khazars were all lead by the Ashina clan as a fall out of the civil war in the first Gokturk Khaganate.

Also, if true, the genealogical claim that Kubrat is a descendant through the paternal line of Atilla would make the Huns a creation of the Ashina too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pebbles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 20:59
Originally posted by mbek mbek wrote:

 

Are turkic and mogols  really that close ? .
 
I always thought that they were two close but different ethnic groups.
 

 
No ...
 
They belong to 2 different racial groupings,the Turkic people are Caucasoid and Mongols are Mongoloid.They shared a nomadic lifestyle and have interacted for centuries in antiguity.
 
Nowadays,a small percentage of " general " population in Outer Mongolia has Turkic admix.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AyKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 21:20
Originally posted by pebbles pebbles wrote:

No ...
 
They belong to 2 different racial groupings,the Turkic people are Caucasoid and Mongols are Mongoloid.They shared a nomadic lifestyle and have interacted for centuries in antiguity.
 
Nowadays,a small percentage of " general " population in Outer Mongolia has Turkic admix.
 


Turkic populations have traditionally spanned across Eurasia giving them pluralistic appearances.  Historically however the earliest Turkic peoples had and have Mongoloid physical characterisitcs of the South Siberian type.
As has been stated earlier the traditional habits of Turkic peoples of forming alliances with non Turkic peoples together with the customs of marrying outside the clan has strengthened the blood by diversifying the genepool.  This has lead to different appearances among Turkic peoples for over 2 thousands years now making any general classification of their appearance impossible.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pebbles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 21:28
Originally posted by AyKurt AyKurt wrote:

 


Historically however the earliest Turkic peoples had and have Mongoloid physical characterisitcs of the South Siberian type.

 
 
Based on what concrete physical archaeology evidence ?!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AyKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 21:32
Originally posted by pebbles pebbles wrote:

Originally posted by AyKurt AyKurt wrote:

 


Historically however the earliest Turkic peoples had and have Mongoloid physical characterisitcs of the South Siberian type.

 
 
Based on what concrete physical archaeology evidence ?!

common sense.  However since you made the claim that Turkic peoples are caucasoid its you who should be backing up your claim with evidence.  And the odd rare burial site with caucasian bodies isn't evidence.  Its the exception rather than the rule.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pebbles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 21:40
bullsh*t !
 
DNA studies suggested otherwise.
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AyKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2009 at 21:57
Which ones?  DNA studies aren't very good at determinging physical characteristics.  Also the DNA in ancient bodies are extremely hard to find, unless something fluke of nature happens it will likely be destroyed over time.
Haplogroups dont necessarily tell what you look like, unless its almost exclusive to a particular type then its not much help.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2009 at 00:16
Originally posted by pebbles pebbles wrote:

bullsh*t !
 
DNA studies suggested otherwise.
 
 


Could you site the source?
I thought that following a recent genetic study of the earliest known "Turkic" populations - the Xiongnu in Mongolia 2300 years ago; the bodies in the graves have revealed that 89& of their halogroups is of East-Asian sequence, while 11% is of European (or West Eurasian); which means that "Turkic" people at that time were already mixed, yet they were predominantly East-Asian; which is understandable, as geographically they lived in Mongolia.

By the time of the GokTurk empire, the Turkic peoples have absorbed several other peoples that their physical appearance would have greatly varied from region to region; just as much as the Central Asian peoples today.

Pebbles, long time no see. But how many times must ALL OF US repeat to you that classifying inner-Eurasian populations by "racial type" is completely invalid.
Turkic, Mongolian, Iranian, Tocharian, Finno-Ugric, Tocharian are all linguistic identities, not racial ones.
Mongoloid Yakuts in Central Siberia are as "Turkic" as Anatolian Turks in Turkey.


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