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Hun, Alan, Avar, and other Steppe Nomad Movements
#16
That is what happened. Attila was a title given by the Germanic peoples below him that describe him (Atta and -la). Rugila was the same. Very few Huns are actually called by Hunnic names, and then those names are Latinized or Grecized.

We don't know what Attila's name was (although it probably ended in a varaint of -cur). Gothic, according to Priscus, was the lingua franca of the Huns. He does distinguish that there was indeed a Hunnic language.

It is known most good rulers spoke many languages. Greek was rare amongst Huns (as their relationship was predominately with Aetius and the West.) Aetius himself probably spoke Hunnic, along with Latin, Greek, and Gothic. Attila probably knew Latin, Gothic, Slavic, and Hunnic.
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#17
Hello, Evan & Tongar,

Yes, many tribal leaders were multilingual. They had to be, a expedient way of acquiring prestiege and luxury items for their followers... which, in itself, was a multi-ethnic community. Interesting, because this is the very root of "language-spread," how certain languages increased across cultural frontiers. The perfect example is Latin, a stem from old Italic. The Romans had the best land (constantly increasing), luxury goods, etc.; and barbarians and conquered peoples needed to learn Latin to advance their status and living conditions. Latin hung in there for a long time, becoming the official language of science and the Church. Only in the past century did it dwindle but still important in Vatican City... where it more-or-less began, geographically and historically.

The same can be said for both stems of Indo-European. We find the earliest bronze metal-work not in Western Europe but in the North Caucasus... just a few hundred miles below the Indo-European "homeland." The spread of early bronze then ran across the steppe as a valuable commodity for both art and war until it reached China. Indo-European speaking "barbarians" controlled its movement and trade. And to participate in this long-range trade, a motivated non-Indo-Iranian speaking tribal leader had to learn one of the "languages of trade." Too many people believe language-spread was the result of encroaching war, but it can be better-linked to trade, prestiege, and a want for comfort. The Huns are a perfect example of this phenomenon. Confusedmile:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#18
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:

Quote:The Xiongnu were not Huns, I should mention. That idea was discounted and disproved in the 1940's.
Although this thread doesn't seem to be discussing Lamellar armour anymore I still find it interesting as to Hunnic origins & tribal structure so maybe it can be moved or topic name changed. Although I agree with you up to a point that the Xiongnu did not move en masse to Europe I still feel elements of the Northern Xiongnu who probably had a Yeniseian tribal core ruling over various Altaic & Iranian groups migrated west over 2 centuries to become the Huns. Austalian historian Hyun Jin Kim speculates that the heavier concentration of Turkic peoples in the western half of old Xiongnu empire is likely to have contributed to a shift from a Yeniseian core language to a Turkic one & as they moved into Europe probably had a growing Germanic language so yes they would have been multi-lingual. But I wouldn't write off all connections.
Firstly in regard to the name there are the ancient Sogdian letters from early 4th century where the writer, a Sogdian merchant actually called the Southern Xiongnu who sacked the old Chinese capital Louyang in 311AD Huns.
Secondly the placement of European Hunnic cauldrons on the banks of rivers matches the placement of Xiongnu cauldrons near rivers in the Ordos region of Inner Mongolia.
Thirdly the European Huns & the Xiongnu practised a very similar sword cult.
Fourthly the Huns seem to have the same or a very similar military and aristocratic organization to the Xiongnu. Organized into 24 tribes or groups with the top echelon '4 horns' for sons & younger brothers ‘6 horns' Alti (six) Cur (nobles) for close relatives through marriage etc & the other 14 horns for trusted allies. This could explain the Alticurs or Alpicurs or Greek rendering 'Oultizouroi' as a group of tribes rather than one tribe.
Also although both were famed for cavalry they both had heavy sedentary elements. Both also used a growing bureaucracy from the Chinese for Xiongnu & Romans & Greeks for Huns which showed a higher level of sophistication than ancient writers gave them credit for.
By the 4th century he says that there were 2 Central Asian Steppe empires that were neighbours& probably pushed the Huns west. The Rouran (Avars) who were virtually overlord of the whole of Inner Asia & the Kidarite/Hephtalite empires who were pressuring the Sassanid empire & the Indian Gupta empire.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#19
Quote:Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:

Quote:The Xiongnu were not Huns, I should mention. That idea was discounted and disproved in the 1940's.
Although this thread doesn't seem to be discussing Lamellar armour anymore I still find it interesting as to Hunnic origins & tribal structure so maybe it can be moved or topic name changed. Although I agree with you up to a point that the Xiongnu did not move en masse to Europe I still feel elements of the Northern Xiongnu who probably had a Yeniseian tribal core ruling over various Altaic & Iranian groups migrated west over 2 centuries to become the Huns. Austalian historian Hyun Jin Kim speculates that the heavier concentration of Turkic peoples in the western half of old Xiongnu empire is likely to have contributed to a shift from a Yeniseian core language to a Turkic one & as they moved into Europe probably had a growing Germanic language so yes they would have been multi-lingual. But I wouldn't write off all connections.
Firstly in regard to the name there are the ancient Sogdian letters from early 4th century where the writer, a Sogdian merchant actually called the Southern Xiongnu who sacked the old Chinese capital Louyang in 311AD Huns.
Secondly the placement of European Hunnic cauldrons on the banks of rivers matches the placement of Xiongnu cauldrons near rivers in the Ordos region of Inner Mongolia.
Thirdly the European Huns & the Xiongnu practised a very similar sword cult.
Fourthly the Huns seem to have the same or a very similar military and aristocratic organization to the Xiongnu. Organized into 24 tribes or groups with the top echelon '4 horns' for sons & younger brothers ‘6 horns' Alti (six) Cur (nobles) for close relatives through marriage etc & the other 14 horns for trusted allies. This could explain the Alticurs or Alpicurs or Greek rendering 'Oultizouroi' as a group of tribes rather than one tribe.
Also although both were famed for cavalry they both had heavy sedentary elements. Both also used a growing bureaucracy from the Chinese for Xiongnu & Romans & Greeks for Huns which showed a higher level of sophistication than ancient writers gave them credit for.
By the 4th century he says that there were 2 Central Asian Steppe empires that were neighbours& probably pushed the Huns west. The Rouran (Avars) who were virtually overlord of the whole of Inner Asia & the Kidarite/Hephtalite empires who were pressuring the Sassanid empire & the Indian Gupta empire.
Regards
Michael Kerr

The Xiongnu, like the Huns, were an Altaic people (it used to be thought they were Mongoloid but that is not true). I am not against that some of their traditions and hegemony may have had influence on the Huns, however it is more likely that the Xiongnu were influenced by the Turks, and that these patterns between the Xiongnu and Huns were separate.

The Cauldron theory has been discussed to death, and the conclusion is that the evidence is circumstantial at best. Many Turkish groups had similar practices, and it is more likely that this was just commonly shared.

The Alpilcur Huns (Oultizouroi is Greek for Ultinzurs which were a different group), as you said, consisted of multiple "tribes." This gets into hunnic organization and the half-family and friends clan and half military unit called a "Cuneus" which Maenchen-Helfen discusses in his "On the World of the Huns."

At the time of the Hunnic migration the Avars themselves were migrating. This was a combination of factors:

In about 350 the Kidarites/Chionites begin expansion. The "Rouran" or "Juan Juan" which we know as the Avars, begin to move North towards the Aral sea, where various "Huns" reside. The Avars first probably encountered what would become the Saragur and Sabir Huns (the last Hunnic groups to enter Europe) who pushed other tribes, who pressured the Alpilcurs and Ultinzurs. This happened at the same time a drought hit Central Asia (As predicted by the El Nino Cycle) which would have caused the simultaneous expansion and disruptions of other Nomadic tribes in that era.

In 460 the effect begins again, but to a lesser extent, with the Avars pushing the last of the Huns into Europe (other than the Volga Bulgars who were probably related to the Huns). This was caused by a Second drought (the third would result in the Avars themselves moving) and the beginning of Hepthaltite expansion (which reached it's height in 550 when the Avars moved).

It was a combination of factors, but it seemed the Central Asian Empires and Drought coupled to force these peoples to move.
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#20
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:
Quote:The Xiongnu, like the Huns, were an Altaic people (it used to be thought they were Mongoloid but that is not true).

Well so much to cover but let us start with the origins of Xiongnu. Although not denying that there were Turkic elements in the original Xiongnu who formed a confederation of numerous tribes, clans & races eg Turkic, Mongol, Indo-Iranian and possibly some Chinese in 209BC for defence against an aggressive Ch’in emperor who drove them from their original homeland south of the Yellow River bend to the Gobi in 214BC. I still think that the Royal clan the Luan-ti spoke predominantly a Yeniseian/Kettic language but as they expanded north and west over time Turkic probably became the main language as they would have made up the majority of his subjects. Before moving west Motun the shan-yu attacked the haughty Tung-hu to his east. After defeating them he then turned on the Yueh-chih who once held him as a hostage, drove them out and then went on to conquer Lou-lan, Wusun and Hu-chieh tribes as well. He then moved north against various pastoralist tribes and forest dwellers giving him access to furs & the metals of the Altai. So I am not saying that Yeniseian/Mongolian was their only language but I do not think they started as Altaic people and later on as we are talking a few centuries here became predominantly Turkic. But like I mentioned before they were probably multi-lingual. However I am here to learn as well as discuss and do love discussing Steppe societies like the Huns and Alans and maybe just maybe the possibility that in a small way the Huns were influenced by the Xiongnu as mentioned in my previous post so if you have references that state that Xiongnu spoke Turkic only I would be very interested to read them. :-) :? Notice that most of the Han walls seem south and east of Gobi not west.
Map below showing origin of Xiongnu from 'A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia' by David Christian.

[attachment=9162]hsiung-nuloress.jpg[/attachment]
Regards
Michael Kerr


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Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#21
Not Turkic, Altaic. Altaic is a broader group of peoples than Turkic, and Turkic is a part of Altaic. I believe Wikipedia has a few good links about Altaic origins of the Xiongnu. I'm at school so I don't have my sources on me.
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#22
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:
Quote:I'm at school so I don't have my sources on me
Gee, bloody time zones it's 3.30 in the morning in Australia and I am going to bed. :grin: :grin:
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#23
Hello, all

I always thought the Huns stemmed from the Xiong-nu, as the Alans came from the Saka. Just different federation names and (no doubt) language shifts.

Just for laughs and entertainment, rent a copy of the Chinese version of Mulan. In this film, Zhou Wei is Mulan the woman "general," and the adversaries are the Rou-ran, the Avars. The whole thing is based on an original poem that may have had a base in fact (or maybe not). Apparently in Chinese legendary tradition, exceptional women fought against foes along the Chinese borders. This is seen again in Legendary Amazons, a remake of an old Shaw Brothers film that isn't much better than the original. Another better film-- actually quite good-- is The Princess & the Warriors, more of the same theme, another Chinese woman leading troops against invaders, plus a fight-to-the-death by Donnie Yen. Pardon my digression, but I love Chinese films. They're better than Hollywood drivel. And they're not DARK and all CGI "washed out".... so you have turn on a light to see the movie.

Another one on the same theme-- actually close to The Perfect Movie-- is Painted Skin 2, the Resurrection, which will blow you away, filmed in just two primary colors (blue and gold), heightened reality crossed with fantasy, as the border Chinese are confronted by the Tien Lang barbarians. This movie is a work of art. All of these films have far more imagination than the old Hollywood "Roman" epics, plus you still get a cast of thousands.

While this may seem off-topic, it gives you an idea of how the Chinese of today perceive the very tribes we are discussing on this re-named thread. :lol:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#24
Hi, I watched Mulan on your suggestion earlier on this thread & quite enjoyed it. I haven't had time to watch Painted Skin 2 yet, but got out Red cliffs which I did enjoy. Acting is a bit over the top but enjoyable.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#25
Based on Maenchen Helfen, Peter Heather, and other recent works, this is what I think happened regarding Hunnic origins.

In the 2nd Century AD Ptolemy mentions a group called the Chunni between the Maetois and the Dniester, North of the Black Sea and near the Bastarnae and other Dacian peoples. It is likely this group was Daco-Germanic. The name coincides with other peoples recorded by Pliny, Tacitus, and Armenian Scholars (Uenni, Ons, Hons, Unnoi, etc.) but these people are mixed up - Maenchen-Helfen suggests that later copyists took the names of different tribes and associated them with something similar sounding and Familiar.

The difference between Ptolemy and Tacitus/Pliny/etc. is that the Chunni are listed below the middle of the list of his minor tribes. Had this been the doing of a copyist, they would have listed them in the major tribes, and likely at the end of the list. (A good example of this is the 6th century scholar Marcian, who uses Ptolemy and calls the Chunni the same as the Huns, and equates the Acatziri with the Agathyrsi who had disappeared in Aristotle's time).

The Chunni disappear from Roman Sources afterwards: they were likely "overrun" by the emigrating proto-Goths and proto-Heruls who form their groups in the early 3rd century. But a new people pop up in the mid-3rd century: the Urugundi. These people are sometimes equated as another group of Burgundiones, who chose to head East instead of West. However, the evidence shows otherwise as Mamertinus (a 3rd century Scholar) even implies that the Urugundi (which he calls Burgundi) and the Burgundiones are not related. Maenchen-Helfen suggests that the Urugundi are equivalent with Agathias in his mention of the two extinct hunnic tribes (the Vurugund and Ultizuri, the latter of which may have been Attila's tribe but I will elaborate on that later). The term "Urugundi" and "Burugundi" was a common change in translation (The B being a V, and an ending added); it was done a lot with "Scythian" tribes. Theophanes and Porphyrogenitos also use a very similar term to "Burgundi" or "Vurugundi" (I cannot read Greek though, but Helfen mentiones it.) The literary evidence points to the Vurugunds being the first "Huns." How and why the Huns came to be called Huns is unknown, but it is possible the Vurugunds may have occupied the same territory of the old "Chunni" and as such came to be called "Chunni" (or the equivalent in their languages) by the native Goths etc. The Huns likely never adopted the name "Hunni/Chunni" themselves.

The Vurugunds are "almost completely annihalated" by the Goths after the raids of the 250's, and disappear. It's likely this was because they did not have the same military capacity as the later "Huns". The 7-lathe asymmetric bow had likely not yet been invented, or they might not have been predominately horsemen. But they probably were a mix of Altaics and Europoids (more or less "Huns" or "Scythians" as the Romans called many Eastern Barbarians). But we cannot be certain in such matters.

Now we shall look at Heather's works. Peter Heather has done excellent research into the Huns stationed in Europe, and is rally the first scholar to have made serious contributions to research on the Huns since OMH (many came out of former Soviet Russia, but their works were heavily corrupted by Russian historical propaganda and lack of access to recent scholarship, but some made some worthwhile contributions in the intervening time). Heather, however, does not really try to address their origins: instead he simply says that Maenchen-Helfen never comes to any real "conclusion" about whether or not the Huns were Turkic (and he does not make such a conclusion) and Heather merely states they were Altaic at best.

But Maenchen-Helfen and Heather's works are both needed to understand the beginning of Hunnic "migration" in the 4th century. As I have already said, the first reference to Hunnic tribes were the "Vurugundi." Prior to this, any "huns" in the area around the Aral sea west to the Black sea seem to have had no cohesion, and were simply passed over by Sarmatians and Alans. In other words, they were entirely serf class and did not seem to have any significant family or clan dynasties to be mentioned as "tribes." They did, however, develop these.

The first Huns to enter Europe were the Alpilcurs (Alpil - cur or Alp - il -cur). The reason we know they were on the fringes of Gothic and Alanic Europe is that they were closely tied in literary references to the Tungurs, Boisci, and Itimari. The Tungurs are probably Denghzich's Tongurs of the 460's, being one of the groups that would form the Great Hun confederation in the Carpathian and Pannonian basin in the 5th century. The Boisci are the same as the earlier Rhobasci, and the Itimari were also some sort of Daco-Germanic peoples. This at best places the first Huns in the general area where the Alans were (around the River Volga and River Don: after all Barbarians did not have borders, and especially not steppe nomads) in the 350's, when they began "harassing" the Alans.

The reason for Hunnic movement is unknown: however, in understanding Hunnic origins we have to at least guess. Around the same time as Hunnic movement began, the Chionite/Kidarite Confederation to the south was exerting pressure on more or less all sides, "pushing" the Rou-Ran (Juan-Juan) or "Avars" North. The Avars began pressuring the Southeastern Huns - that is probably the (proto) Sabirs and (proto) Saragurs, who we know were fleeing from the Avars in the 460's onwards. These Huns were forced to move North to the area between the Aral and Caspian seas, in turn pressuring other Huns.

There is another reason as well - just before the Huns appear in Roman sources in the 370's, there was a severe drought caused by the El Nino cycle (a recent book was published on this) in Central Asia. This same drought occured twice more (but not as severely) - once in about 460 (when the Avars, Saragurs, and Sabirs migrated again, coupled with Hepthaltite expansion) and again in 550 (when the Avars finally migrated into Europe and at the height of the Hepthaltite raids). The co-incidence of dates cannot be a coincidence.

These Huns (likely including the Acatziri of Priscus whose name translates back into Lir-Turkic as Akatir) pressured the Tongurs and Alpilcurs, who pressured the Alans. Most Alans seem to have chosen to "migrate" so to speak, otherwise their presence would have influenced Hunnic naming conventions (as it later would in the 6th century). Obviously, not all Alans migrated, probably just the noble and military castes of those who were effected. The presence of Alpilcur, Tongur, and Akatir Cunei (that is a combination of both a Tactical unit and Family/Friend/Clan Ties, as suggested by OMH) probably explains the presence of Huns on both sides of conflict between the Grethungi/Heruli (who probably began feeling Hunnic pressure in 360) and the Alans/Huns themselves. This would be supported by Priscus' description of the Akatir (who were still Nomadic at his time) which had a system of many independent kings that determined their leader (Maenchen-Helfen says the title is Alik or "Al - ik") by prestige. Many kings with many political and fiscal motivations, to fight on many sides. This was probably the same with other Hunnic groups (although they did not at the time have the same prestige system to determine a chief king.)

It should be mention that the Huns likely still did not, and likely never would, actually call themselves "Chunni." The name was an equation of some kind given to the Romans by the "terrified Gothic refugees." Ammianus obviously had read Ptolemy when he says they are sparsely attested in ancient sources.

Although the front of the "Hunnic invasion" (which was probably mostly Hunnic mercenary warbands fighting on both the sides of the emigrating Alan upper classes and the Grethungi/Heruli) was West of the Maetois, the Huns themselves now dominated the area of the River Don, with Alans and Armenians to their south. In 395, from this more fertile grazing land, they had reached the military capacity to launch a serious raid through the Caspian gates (a passage way they would later control for the next 200 years).

In 408, however, one group of Huns seems to have arrived at the Dniester. Uldin (whose name probably translates to Ultzin, being one of the few Hunnic names) may have been part of the Ultinzur Huns (OMH does not suggest this, it is my own theory), a group mentioned to have been under Dengzich, Attila's son. If so, this could possibly narrow down Attila's "tribe." The reason is such: Aetius remained in the Hunnic court upon Uldin's death (although it is known there was a period of disorganization between 411 and 413), whic subsequently sees Charaton as "ruler of the Huns" (as mentioned by Olympiodorus). If Aetius remained in the same Hunnic court, that means the Huns the Western Romans established a treaty with under Uldin, must have been the same Huns to have maintained said treaty with Charaton (possibly Qaraton, as OMH suggests). Another period of discord occurs with Charaton's death (after 425 but before 427, so 426) and then Octar and Rua are found as joint rulers (Mundzuck and the 4th brother who was alive in the time of Priscus' expedition had no power) and this seems to occur as a theme. It's likely they were of the same Cuneus, but Rua in the East (in Dacia Mutenia and parts of modern Wallachia) and Octar in the West (the Titza basin). However, this is not certain that the Ultinzurs were Attila's tribe - it is just a theory. They were destroyed under Dengzich though, and considering Agathias calls them one of the "Great extinct tribes of the Huns," it is entirely possible.

Either way, in 420 the Huns have moved to the Pannonian/Titza Basin, with the Huns East of the Dniester being the Akatir, Kutrigur/Utigur/Onogur, and then the Saragur and Sabir (the latter two still around the Aral sea.) West of the Dniester seem to be the Tongur, Alpilcur (as they are not listed as extinct), Ultinzur, Bittugur, and Bardor (the first and the last 3 being under Dengzich in the 450's/460's). The Huns now establish their Hunnic confederation, which seems to take place in multiple steps.

1. Olympiodorus mentions Charaton as king of the Huns (more or less). It must have been under his reign that the West-Dniester Hunnic groups were united, and upon his death their rule was divided between Octar and Rua. It should be noted that the Scirii are under Hunnic sway at this time (and since the time of Uldin, who was likely "king" of the Ultinzur and whose method or fule was likely based on the same prestige system as the Akatir.)

2. Octar and Rua begin subduing Germanic tribes. Upon Octar's death, Rua (by the way these names are Germanic) becomes the sole ruler (at this point the addition of -la may have been given to his name hence the Germanic Rugila). He seems to unite most of the Carpathian Basin, and Pannonian Basin Germanics including the Amalic Goths, Several other Gothic Groups, the Gepidae, Heruls, Scirii, likely local Slavs, (hence the three "Hunnic words" we supposedly know which are actually Gothic and Slavic words, not Hunnic at all), and others.

3. Attila and Bleda (both Germanic names - like Rugila Attila is based on Atta which means "father" and is a Gothic pet name given to a notable leader evidently.) They take what Rua built and put it to use - with Bleda in the East and Attila in the West. We know this because Attila was the one who received Western Embassies, and his war on the Eastern Empire did not go much farther than Moesia (and Pannonia Secunda which had come under Eastern Jurisdiction at some point - possibly prior to 425). Prior to this, they undergo a series of pacifications of their subjects, lest they overthrow Hunnic rule (like they did in 454.) In 441, they are ready to and indeed make War on the Romans, destroying Aetius' attempt to retake Africa. (Around this time Attila also has a treaty with the West established - either in 439 or 443.) After the war ends in 443, Attila assassinates Bleda sometime around 444 or 445, and in 446 Hunnic raiding on the East (evidently outside of Attila's control; possibly the Akatir Huns), along with push by his own Huns for war, force him to declare it again. After the war of 447, Attila uses his prestige to exploit a rift in Akatir "kingship" (which Priscus says was his common tactic and supports the theory of the reason for the war of 451 being the Frankish succession) and he subdues them. The Akatirs were, unlike the Carpathian and Pannonian Basin Huns who had become semi-sedentary, still nomadic, and Attila obviously wanted to expand his control to the East Hunnic groups.

Then begins Hunnic collapse, which I won't discuss as the topic is moreso on their origins. This seems to be triggered by a second movement of Huns though, coupled with the collapse of their ability to maintain their "prestige" ranking system of kingship upon Attila's death.

So where did the Huns come from? Based on this reconstruction, prior to their movements in the 350's-370's, the Huns were a mix of Altaic peoples (with some Europoids), probably predominately Turkish, extending from the area of the River Volga, to the area East and South of the Aral Sea, and possibly as far north as the Volga Bulgars. The Huns themselves were probably Turks, or at least Altaics, but upon the beginning of their invasion in the 370's they must have already included a significant number of Iranians and Finno-Ugrians, possibly (but remotely) even a few "Mongols." This is my best Guess for the Origin of the Huns.

I will again remind you that my reconstruction here is based on prior work, and is mostly hypothetical. There are likely flaws and feel free to point them out so we may better understand this subject.
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#26
Hi Evan, thanks for your reply. I can see you put some time & effort I nto your reply so forgive me if I take a while to read & digest it before replying. I am not an expert on the Huns so I am not out to hit your theories over the head with wild alternate theories because I don't have any, it's just an interest, but any new information on how Attila could weld & maintain an empire out of groups of disparate tribes & nations containing various races with different cultural habits & religions that nearly brought the Western Roman Empire to its knees would make your proposed book more interesting although I know it is mainly about the lead-up to the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields. I acknowledge that Maenchen-Helfen is the "man" when it comes to the study of the European Huns but Kim has thrown open some insights on Central Asian links between Huns & Hiongnu & even European feudalism after the death of Attila, he doesn't mind mentioning historians on both sides of the argument not just ones who agree with him. Just on the name Attila being a Turkic or Germanic name, I was reading that the Germans in their legends referred to him as Edsel but I only read that from the internet. If you get the opportunity to read Kim's book I thoroughly recommend it.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#27
I'll try and find a copy of it.

Attila's name is Atta and -la which is basically the equivalent of Patricius Noster (in terms of literal meaning) in Gothic. This would later become Aetzel, Etzel, Edzel, etc. in the various German, Hungarian, Austrian, and Frankish dialects (notably the Niebelungenlied). Rugila's name is Rua/Ruga and -la, to which I cannot remember the meaning.

Quote:but any new information on how Attila could weld & maintain an empire out of groups of disparate tribes & nations containing various races with different cultural habits & religions that nearly brought the Western Roman Empire to its knees would make your proposed book more interesting

That will be covered in the chapter "Flagellum Dei" where I discuss Attila, the Huns, and Hunnic mechanics (Prestige Ranking, etc. Peter Heather covered a lot of this in his The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History and his Empires and Barbarians (specifically "Huns on the Run" where he discusses the collapse of the Hunnic machine.)

I honestly don't have much new insight to offer into the Huns. I can and will probably draw some new conclusions as I read more (my brain has an amazing capacity to cross reference other texts on the fly) but we know rather well how the Hunnic war machine, government, and even their economy worked.

The Huns as a whole may be something I decide to write about in the future (nerry a volume as complete as On the World of the Huns has been written in the intervening time), but one step at a time Tongue
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#28
Hi Evan, sorry to have taken so long to reply but the history of the Huns is not something that can be covered in a few paragraphs. Even my reply can’t cover everything so reply is probably shorter than it should be.
While I agree with a lot of what you wrote in your earlier reply, there are a couple of points where we differ.
Firstly the Chunni, while there is a possibility of them being Daco-Germanic, they would have been thoroughly Sarmatized by then, but Kim writes in his book that these Chunni were hired by the Greuthungi king Vithimiris to aid in his fight against the Alans fighting alongside the Huns, invading his lands in about 376AD & these Chunni who may have included some elements of Turkic tribes such as Alpidzuri, Alcidzuri etc. were already living west of the Volga at the time of the main Hunnic invasion. However these so called Huns were independent tribes of Turkic speakers who had been living there since 2nd century AD.
As to the tribes, rather than being serf class as you say maybe these tribes such as Alipzuri, Alcidzuri, Itimari, Tuncassi and the Boisci lived peacefully amongst the Eastern Alans and in some cases probably acknowledged Alan leadership west of the Aral Sea, they would have been the Eastern neighbours of the Western Alans who lived between Caspian and Black Seas and lived peacefully and probably had family links and alliances with the Eastern Alans who ruled north and east of the Caspian Sea according to Sulimirski. But both groups of Alans over time were being pushed west by developments in the Siberian-Kazakhstan steppes, particularly the expansion of the Huns but as you suggested the effects of climate change (El Nino) and overgrazing which occurred regularly in pastoral economies which contributed to the ebb and flow of herd sizes and led to disputes over water and grazing land. Priscus mentions that the Huns subdued these tribes and then they subdued the Alans, who worn out by constant warfare with a race which was equal to them in war but unlike them in civilization, mode of life or appearance. So through conquest they had now become part of the Hunnic Empire & would be part of the later Hunnic attacks on the Goths.
But who were these Huns that posed such a threat to the status quo and where did they come from? It would appear that they were mainly Turkic speakers in a tongue which modern Chuvash probably descended from. I have read a lot of Peter Heather’s material like you suggested but to me he seems to underestimate the Huns saying that other than under the leadership of Attila and Bleda, the Huns were a disparate group of individual tribes that were not really a threat to Western Empire like the Visigoths, Vandals and other German tribes like Franks, Alamans and Burgundians. But the Huns were more than a disparate group of bloodthirsty tribes with no centralised leadership but to the contrary, a quite centralised empire with both pastoral and sedentary elements with a highly organised political and military setup based on the old nemesis of the Han Chinese, the Xiongnu who used a system of Dualism or a system of dual kings. And both empires were expert standover merchants who knew how to squeeze every last sesterces out of what to them were weak sedentary empires namely Han China and both Eastern and Western Empires of Rome. They needed all the riches they could get their hands on to keep all the tribes and leaders happy and things only went wrong for them when the sedentary empires said enough is enough.
Even the Alans to a certain degree seemed to practice a form of Dualism with the Eastern and Western Alans and even in 406AD before crossing the Rhine the minor Alan king Goar’s group broke with the main group led by Respendial and joined the Romans. I know you feel that any connections between the Huns of Attila and the Xiongnu have been discredited since the 1940s maybe you are right but I try to keep an open mind on this but when the Northern Xiongnu were defeated by the Han they disappeared from history while the Southern Xiongnu continued on for a few centuries after.
Kim argues in his book that although the leadership of the Huns may not be related to the Xiongnu the methods of the Xiongnu on how to form and hold an empire were passed on through till the 5th and 6th centuries and probably even to the time of the Mongols

Firstly a quick rundown on the political & military leadership system of the Xiongnu. Most of what we know about the Xiongnu is based on Chinese sources. But even these do not cover their origin. From these sources we know the names of three perhaps four royal aristocratic clans, the personal names of their supreme chief “Shanyu” or “Chanyu” and the titles of the top positions in their government. Hyun Jin Kim states “In that time despite their nomadism the Xiongnu managed to achieve an astonishing degree of centralization and pioneered the classic model of imperial rule for later steppe empires to imitate.”
In their organization the supreme power rested in the hands of Shanyu/Chanyu meaning Emperor who was assisted in his duties by the Gu-du. These were the kings of the Left (looking at it from a Northern aspect while the Chinese looked at the Xiongnu from a southern aspect), or the Eastern ruler(usually the main ruler or emperor) and the Right or the Western ruler who was subordinate to the king of the Left. then flanking these would be the four principal, regional governorships in the East and West called in the Hou Hanshu, “the four horns” or “angles” usually the Shanyu’s sons or brothers and these constituted the highest ranking aristocrats in the empire. Maybe around 97BC they gradually added six more aristocratic titles (the six horns or angles). Polygamy was normal amongst steppe rulers so there would be many sons and younger brothers. These were the kings of the Left and the Right.
Below these top-ranking nobles were the so-called twenty-four imperial leaders/ministers(each titled Ten Thousand Horsemen), who acted as Imperial governors for the major provinces of the empire most were probably close relatives of the Shanyu or members of the Xiongnu aristocracy. These princes were divided into Western and Eastern groups (dualism) and the successor to the throne was usually appointed the Wise king of the Left i.e. the ruler of the Eastern half of the empire. At the bottom of this administrative hierarchy was a large class of subordinate or vassal tribal leaders (sub-kings, prime ministers, chief commandants and household administrators all under the command of the twenty-four imperial governors but enjoying some level of local autonomy.
They had a non-decimal system of ranks used for the political administration of tribes and territory within the empire which included groups of different sizes. However a more rigid system of decimal ranks (thousands, hundreds, tens) was used in times of war when large armies were formed from different parts of their empire under a single command structure. (This sounds similar to what you were saying about Cunei organizations in the Huns.) But this system worked for over one hundred and fifty years till civil war split the Xiongnu. The Rouran followed a similar organization with a system of dual kings, East and West with the Eastern being the senior king but like Attila was to do with the Huns the western king overthrew the Eastern one.
In regard to the Western Huns having a similar organization to ancient Xiongnu, in the Alice Horton (1898) translation of the Song of the Nibelungs below. Adventure XXII-How Etzel espoused Kriemhilda ( quatrain 1342). I would not use a Germanic poem as proof of Huns having a similar hierarchy or court of 24 princes or high officials (Fursten), but it is an interesting aside. Maenchen-Helfen talks about Attila’s logades or his prominent or distinguished men.
https://archive.org/stream/laynibelungs0...earch/XXII (1342)

Just on Steppe or Central Asian societies, Kim says a lot of importance was placed in colours and heirachy and the importance of tribal groups, usually white signifying west, blue east, black north, red south. Blue and Black carried more connotations of greatness and superiority. White Huns (Hephthalites), Black Huns (Hara Huna), Red Huns (Kermichiones), Blue Huns (Gokturks being blue or celestial). Attila’s Huns were the northernmost Huns so black is probably right in regard to Attila’s huns as even Ammianus thinks they arrived from the north.
Is there evidence that the Hunnic empire existed as a political unit before Attila’s rule in the 5th century in our sources. The first mentioned Hunnic king was Uldin or Uldes who was probably the Western ruler or minor king, as he was called a regulus(minor or sub-king) who ruled from 390-411AD so there was probably an unknown eastern king although maybe Charaton was the Eastern or major king at that stage. Then there was Charaton (Karaton) This name is likely to have been a title rather than a personal name possibly meaning “Black people” (qara tun) who seems to have been the Eastern king and ruled from 410-422AD who is mentioned by Olympidorus of Thebes because the Western minor king Donatus who more than likely succeeded Uldin, was murdered by Roman agents. Charaton had to be soothed by gifts from the Romans. Then there is Octar and Ruga with Ruga probably the Eastern King while Octa was the Western King and Attila and Bleda with Bleda the Eastern King until he died or was murdered by Attila and Attila breaking tradition and obtaining sole leadership and trying to install his son as leader of the Acitziri who revolted after the death of Bleda with some Roman help. Priscus mentions that on the death of Ruga, Bleda and Attila demanded that the Romans hand over the sons of one of their uncles, but we don’t know who but probably the western king Octar. These boys were Mama and Atakam who must have escaped when the brothers took over or more than likely were hostages in Rome to guarantee good behaviour of the previous kings. They must have been converted to Christianity while hostages because they were immediately crucified when handed over by the Romans according to Priscus. As the Huns conquered the German tribes they placed Hunnic princes or nobles in charge of these tribes to bind them to the empire like Edeco who was put in charge of the Sciri and married a Sciri princess. This is just a quick rundown on events as I am already up to 1700 words but am interested in continuing topic later with more details if required. Tribal names, language and leaders’names etc. Maenchen-Helfen mentions that there was a possible revolt of some Alan and Germanic tribes and logades j(tribal chiefs) against Uldin including the Vandals, Suevi and Alans which crossed the Rhine in 406AD but details would take up too much space. This is mainly how the Huns were organised to take on Rome. Smile :-)
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#29
Is there any info as to whether or not the "Chunni" of Ptolemy were still existent at the time of the Hunnic Invasions in 376? AFAIK they were wiped out in the 2nd century, or early 3rd. It is interesting. I think the first Huns were Vurugnds.

The Alpilcur Huns (The correct name of your Alipzur or Alcidzur Huns) were a conglomeration of Hunnic peoples, who along with the Tongurs, lived on the Don and the Volga intermingled with the Alans, and seem to have had a relationship with the Sarmatian Boisci (Rhobasci) and Itimari.

What I am saying in regard to the serfs is the same as yours: they were rather disorganized peoples and did not have the power to challenge Alan leadership. Essentially making them serf-class.

As for Kim's suggestion that the Chunni were Turks, if this is the Kim I am thinking of I will warn you that his work is HEAVILY influenced by Ex-Soviet Pseudoscience and Pseudohistory. There was a cut-off of learning that led to the former Soviets being stuck with the Xiongnu concept for like 60 years.

The Chuvash Language is part of the Lir-Turkic group, which is thought to include Hunnic, and known to include Bulgar, Avar, Magyar, and Khazar. Hepthaltite was Gok-Turk or Al-Turk, not sure which.

There were indeed "Four Groups of Huns" as is later recorded by Central Asian Sources - but it is generally accepted that these four groups are only distinguished after they had risen to prominence and collapsed. The White Huns were the Hepthaltites, Black Huns the Attilanic Huns, and the Red Huns and Yellow Huns I do not know.

Uldin's name appears to have been Ultzin, hence why I correlate him with the Ultinzur Huns. He was supposedly succeeded by Donatus, but there isn't any evidence for that and he may have merely been an interem ruler. It is, however, known that Ultzin, who likely only led his tribe again, possibly the "Ultinzurs" ), was the same tribe as Charaton (Qaraton, although I do not know the Etymology). The evidence is that Aetius was still in the court of Charaton, meaning that Charaton had to be from the same group of Huns as Uldin. Otherwise he would have been sent back.

It seems Charaton attempted to unite more Huns under his rule. He was also the first one to move the Huns into the Carpathain and Pannonian Basins - in the time of Ultzin Hunnic power extended no further than the Dniester, or maybe the Wallachian Plain.

As for the Xiongnu connection, there isn't any evidence the Xiognu explicitly developed that system of political organization - it is more likely that some Altaic group developed the organization and the Xiongnu borrowed it.

Prior to Uldin, Charaton, Rua, and Octar, the evidence suggests the Huns had a prestige system: lots of kings in each group (e.g. the Alpilcurs) and the most prestigious was the defacto leader (for example, the Al-ik of the Akatir, also recorded by Priscus who describes the Akatir ranking system).
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#30
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:
Quote:Is there any info as to whether or not the "Chunni" of Ptolemy were still existent at the time of the Hunnic Invasions in 376?
There is not much I can add to your question but these are the authors in Hyun Jim Kim's footnotes on whether elements of Turkic tribes settled and mixed with local tribes or whether they existed up to 376AD.
F. Altheim 1959 Die Hunnen in Osteuropa v1. 3-6, 12-13 in German
P.B. Golden 2000 Article “Nomads of the Western Steppes, Oyurs, Onoyurs and Khazars” in book “History of the Turkic Peoples in the Pre-Islamic Period” Pgs 282-302.
G. Vernadsky 1951”Der sarmatische Hintergrund der germanischen Volkerwandrung” in Saeculum 2 pgs 340-92 (347) in German I think.
W. Haussig 2000 Article “Herkunft, Wesen und Schicksal der Hunnen” ” in book “History of the Turkic Peoples in the Pre-Islamic Period” Pgs 256-281. German.
R. Batty 2007 Rome and the Nomads: The Pontic Danubian Realm in Antiquity p 360.
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:
Quote:As for Kim's suggestion that the Chunni were Turks, if this is the Kim I am thinking of I will warn you that his work is HEAVILY influenced by Ex-Soviet Pseudoscience and Pseudohistory.
I think you are mistaken with this author (Full name Hyun Jim Kim) who is Korean born Australian and I can assure you he is quite an accomplished scholar, etymologist, researcher and author and his work is recent. Among his mentors and people who have encouraged him to write this book are Doctor Timothy Rood of Oxford, Professor Peter Golden, Professor La Vaissiere, Professor Dan Potts & Professor David Christian, all experts in Inner and Central Asian & Turkish history and I can go on so I can only suggest that you are thinking of someone else.
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:
Quote:It seems Charaton attempted to unite more Huns under his rule. He was also the first one to move the Huns into the Carpathain and Pannonian Basins - in the time of Ultzin Hunnic power extended no further than the Dniester, or maybe the Wallachian Plain.
As the political system of the Huns liked to keep the leadership in the family and installing family members as leaders of various conquered tribes then I have to agree with you that Charaton was in some way related to Uldin. However I think that even by Uldin’s time that the Huns were occupying parts of Hungary at least which puts them much further west than the Dneister. By 378AD Goths, Alans & Huns had overrun Valeria the easternmost province of Pannonia but were probably bought off later by the Romans. But by 387AD even Maenchen-Helfen admits on page 46 of his book that Eastern Hungary was Hun land. While on Charaton and Donatas, we only have a few lines from a fragment of Olympiodorus but I find it interesting that rather than saying all Huns were good archers, he states that the Kings of the Huns were good archers which to me indicates that the Huns had a system of installing relatives or close family members of the leadership over assorted conquered tribes. I can go into more detail later on if you want.
Magister Militum Flavius Aetius wrote:
Quote:As for the Xiongnu connection, there isn't any evidence the Xiognu explicitly developed that system of political organization - it is more likely that some Altaic group developed the organization and the Xiongnu borrowed it.
Do you have any evidence to support that statement. Mounted nomads were not recorded in Chinese records until the 4th century BC but they were not a united group and recorded them under the generic name Hu. With the founding of the Ch’in dynasty, these various groups were differentiated under three small groups on China’s northern border. They were the Yueh-Chih in the west, the Xiongnu in the Ordos region and the Tung-hu in the east. But these groups were not organised. The Xiongnu only became organised and developed the system after the Ch’in emperor attacked them to drive them north of the Yellow River. The Xiongnu were considered the weakest of the three groups and it was only after this aggression that they formed a federation and eventually overwhelmed their neighbours absorbing the Tung-hu and driving the Yueh-chih west before becoming more than a nuisance for the Han Chinese. I have not read anywhere that they borrowed the system of anyone else except maybe the Chinese and their imperial system would not be suitable for a mainly pastoral enterprise, .but as they used Chinese bureaucrats maybe the system developed over time. :-)
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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