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Origin of the Alans
#61
The Yuezhi and The Clan of the White Ram: Military & Trade Partners with China. Part I

To learn more about the Aorsi, we take a step back to the borders of China during the Warring States Period from 300 to 200BC. What we find is most unusual-- a tribal coalition dedicated not to raiding but the advancement of trade and military cooperation. Nowhere in a Chinese document do we find any state or dynasty fighting the Yuezhi. How inextricably odd! This contradicts everything written by western historians, all of it colored by episodes of raiding and plundering presumably to a steppe barbarian's self-satisfaction. And this is why the Aorsi were known as excellent traders.

We see another dimension, one of peaceful co-existence. The Yuezhi profited by teaching horse archery and cavalry tactics, by accepting Chinese military positions, and through mutual trade. In so doing, they became the largest steppe culture east of Iran. We already know the Yuezhi population numbered at a half million; and to this we can add chieftains and nobles, each owning herds upward to 5,000 horses (as recorded in the Shiji).

In the reign of Lord Wuling (340-295BC), we know the Yuezhi or a sub-tribe became instructors and military advisors to the Zhao Kingdom. This is the only recorded instance from the Northern Zone, but the other two kingdoms adjacent to the Yuezhi Ordos-- Qin and Yan-- evidently did likewise, hiring cavalry specialists and receiving new military technology. This is exactly how the "Type I Sarmatian sword" came into existence.

At precisely this time, a high ranking commander of the Yan State died. His tomb at the Yan capital of Ji is known as "Elite burial Xinzhuangtou M30." Here are some of the artifacts from his burial site:

   
   
We see the hilt of a dagger, somewhat close to "Pazyrk" style but not Chinese. The lower design of the hilt combines two ram's heads, an actual link to the commander's tribe. Then we have a harness buckle with a Europoid individual embossed upon it; and even a casual glance determines this character is a carbon-copy of the later portraits found in the Kushan state in Bactria, yet a "historical inversion" in time continuum. Smaller pieces of horse-gear are in the shape of individual sheep heads, all of them rams. What tribe did this Yan general come from? Here's a facsimile of his belt ornament:

   
   
   
The buckle (upper photo) is decorated by a central "horse-gryphon," its hind quarters inverted 180-degrees in the classic Pazyryk style but made by an Ordos craftsman. The second photo (middle) is a graphic rendition of a tattoo worn by a Pazyryk chieftain (Kurgan 2)-- same horse-gryphon, same inversion. For skeptics, the third (bottom) photo shows the actual skin and tatoos of the Chieftan. So, what culture did this commander came from? He apparently arrived from the Loufan or Bayan people, two tribes within the Yuezhi confederation. Here are a few specifics from Alexey Kovalev:

"Basing on examination of these artifacts, and of similar gold, silver and bronze objects from Ordos... and on Chinese written sources... a conclusion is made that the discussed tomb belonged to a member of part of the Laufan tribe which had been in Yan Kingdom's service as frontier guards... nomads which had resettled to Ordos and northern frontiers of China from the Altai mountains at the end of the 4th century BC."

Kovalev almost hit it correctly, but we can find the exact tribe of this leader's origin. Voynikov points us in the right direction (still North), "In the Shiji, Loufans are reported together with the Bayan tribe as inhabitants of Ordos." So, we find another Yuezhi subtribe, the Bayan. Their ethnonym translates to bai (white) + lan (ram). Our commander was from the Clan of the White Ram, as testified by the many ram-shaped ornaments on his horse gear.

   
This Warring States Era map shows the three kingdoms dependent on the Yuezhi, Raban, and Bayan for military aid-- the states of Qin, Zhao, and Yan.

Of the two sub-tribes, Zhivko Voynikov gives the pronunciation of Loufan as Rob-han, sounding like "Ruban." Ptolemy mentions people of the "Rubon, together with the Garinei, lived east of the Annibas and north of the Asmirea region." Ammianus Marcellinus places the "Rabans" among the people of Serica. Voynikov adds this, "Ptolemy placed them in the middle-Asian cross-rivers area (between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya), which indicates they migrated with the Yuezhi to Central Asia... In their society, women had a high social standing, including being able to rule." (Voynikov, p. 55). The other sub-tribe, Clan of the White Ram, are not mentioned by Western historians.

   
Bridle fittings from Commander's horse, Tomb Xinzhuangtou M30.

We see a Chinese military leader connected to the Yuezhi, and I believe he was one of several. His occupation forecasts later associations we find between Romans and Alans, the latter as federates and commanders.

Evidently someone is reading this thread; it's getting a lot of silent "hits." In Part II, we'll continue the story, including info on Crafty King Luo, the Yuezhi monarch who became the richest "barbarian" west of China. Wink
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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#62
I will be a less silent reader and say thanks for all this. I know where my next historical reading list is going...
Cheryl Boeckmann
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#63
'Evidently someone is reading this thread'

Never miss a post, great stuff.
Rodger Williams
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#64
Thank you, Cheryl and Rodger

"Signs of life" warm my heart. I find the Yuezhi-Alan connection incredibly interesting, and that's why I'm exploring it... as are a few other RATers who have posted. I thank Michael Kerr for his generous input. This is an amazing story, especially when you consider it starts in the Siberian Altai, then runs its migratory course to Western Europe and down to Africa. Some Alans, about 500 families, moved back to China in the 1100s and became trusted elites in the Yuan army.

The last post took a week to construct, and then I had to go back and correct it after discovering the Yan officer was a member of the White Ram Clan. I also want to figure out their cultural lineage, because it looks like they arrived from the Afanasievo Culture. Basically, I'm trying to connect the dots. At the moment, I have about 60 PDFs to read, and each one is on a particular subject while the author offers NO opinion. Archaeologists hate to offer probabilities, never speak of possibilities, and seldom connect a grave to a specific tribe. Our man in the Yan Kingdom is an exception.
Well anyway, I hope the thread never gets boring. Cool
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
Reply
#65
Quote:Evidently someone is reading this thread

Oh for sure. Wink
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#66
I've kept tabs.
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#67
Thank you, Robert and Evan. Wink

Finding info for this thread has been difficult. It's out there but jumbled and unconnected. We should also thank Martin for bringing up the subject of genetics. Deciphering ethnonyms has certainly helped; and they support Herodotus and our old poet Aristeas. I'm also reaching the conclusion a significant portion of the Yuezhi spoke Tocharian, a view of several linguists. Considering their geographical location, their dealing in jade, and the implied association with Tarim people, we may be looking at bilingual speakers. I'll continue research, and hopefully Michael will feed more info on the final chapters-- when the Alans reach the Bosphorus Kingdom and Europe. Anyway, thanks for following a difficult journey. Shy
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
Reply
#68
Minister Luo of the Qin Court: Military & Trade Partners with China. Part II

The Yuezhi involvement in trade deepens, and also lengthens. The jade trade has been mentioned previously, but an exact date was never given. Xinru Liu supplies additional information, "The minister and economist Guanzi (died c. 645 BC) in his treatise on economics of the Qi state argued that jade supplied by the Yuezhi should be the most highly valued currency (over gold and copper)." (see The Silk Road in World History, Liu, p. 3)

How incredibly early! At this date, Aristeas may have been still alive, about 150 years before Herodotus was born; and it shows how old the Yuezhi confederation was. So far, we have found information on Yuezhi interaction with the Warring States of Zhao, Yan, and Qi. All total, there were 7 states.

   
The 7 Warring States, with Yuezhi territory to the north and west.

   
A typical Warring States chariot, drawn by 4 ordinary steppe horses.

In 221 BC, Qin general Shihuangdi vanquished the other 6 states and formed China's first Empire. During the Warring States period, most states relied on chariots, fielding a limited cavalry. Shihuangdi also used chariots, but he created China's first effective cavalry. To accomplish this, he used "bigger, better" horses... maybe something  like an Ahkal teke. Wink

   
An Ahkal teke type horse, as sold to Emperor Shihuangdi. Notice his mane with 3 crenellations.

 And this brings us to our good man, Luo. "The Yuezhi had been middlemen between China and Central Asia in ancient times. During the Warring States period, when the northern Chinese desperately needed good horses to supply their cavalries, they naturally turned to the Yuezhi... One chief of the Yuezhi, whose surname was Luo, made a fortune selling good horses to the Chinese. The horses of the Tianshan foothills were taller and stronger than those of the Xiongnu, and Luo sold many of them to Shihuangdi for silks, which he then sold to other chiefs on the steppe." (Liu, p. 4)

   
Reconstructive painting of a Qin cavalryman upon a Yuezhi horse.

Apparently Luo made a fortune. The Shiji   tells us he profited by making, "ten times his original investment with their livestock (acquired from the other chiefs in trade for silk clothing)." Basically, Luo was trading silk at retail in exchange for horses at a jobber price. Fairly, cagy! He became Shihuangdi's trusted confidant; "The first emperor of the Qin showed his appreciation by granting Luo a position of the same rank as the highest ministers in court." (Shiji, 129) So, we have a Yuezhi overlord who could attend Qin court proceedings.

It would seem Luo held this position until Shihuangdi's death, or possibly until the end of the Qin Dynasty, 207 BC. According to Xiang Wan, his full name was "Wushi Luo," corresponding with "Luo the Yuezhi" and described as "an affluent merchant," a horse breeder, and treated as "an important subject"  by the Emperor. (see Wan, The Horse in Pre-Imperial China, p. 157)

   
Emperor Shihuangdi with an early version of the "Type I Sarmatian sword."
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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#69
Wasn't it an Alanic group that first traded Chainmail and introduced it to the Chinese?
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#70
Not sure of the sources but Iranica Online mentions Sogdiana as the origin of the chain mail brought into  China. Whether the Central Asians mentioned were Sogdians, Kuchans or Alans I don't know. Smile




At the end of the Kushan period and in the post-Kushan period (3rd-5th centuries CE), defensive armor underwent radical changes: there appeared a new type—chain mail, which, due to its flexibility and reduced weight, quickly gained popularity. The Central Asian allies of the ruler of Kuchi arrived in China from the west in 384 CE; and according to the Chinese sources (which call the Kucheans “Hu”), the Central Asians “wore armor similar to chains,” that is, chain mail (Liu Mao-tsai, 1969, p. 154). Apparently, these were Sogdian chain mails, since the Sogdian documents of the early 8th century several times mention ʿzγr which means “armor, chain mail” and also “large armor” (chain mail). This term also occurs in the Khwarazmian language as zγryx (Bailey, 1955; Livshits, 1962, pp. 39, nos. 74, 152-53, 176). As E. H. Schaefer writes (p. 261), “early in the eighth century chain mail appeared in China”; Chinese sources witness that a “link armor” was delivered from Samarqand as a present to the emperor in 718. In China, chain mail was introduced as an import and borrowing from the territory of the Iranian peoples, most likely the Sogdians. It was “the only type of armor borrowed and imported directly from a foreign country” (Laufer, 1914, p. 253).


Link here  http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/armor-ii

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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#71
Hi, Evan and Michael

I think you're both correct, if we consider the Yuezhi were Kushans and the Alans extended from the major group. The Kushans arrived at the Jin court wearing chainmail, described as a "delegation from Kucha," in other words-- Kushans, not Sogdians. I find it hard to believe the Chinese waited until 716 to acquire a style of armor they knew about for 3 1/2 centuries. When seeing something new and valuable, the Chinese usually jumped on it. Rolleyes

Among other things introduced to China by the Yuezhi, we can add the sitting Buddha statue/concept. They were the first group on the Indian subcontinent to raise Sakyamuni from a person to a mythical being, the ultimate human sitting on a partially-opened lotus (the lotus a symbol of perfection). Prior to this Yuezhi transmutation, the Buddha was represented as standing... and he was thin.

   
Sakyamuni before he gained weight.
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
Reply
#72
Hi Alanus just some observations on your theory that the Yuezhi were Alans or at least an important component of the Alanic confederation. My knowledge of ancient Chinese history is pretty basic but George Vedansky in his book Ancient Russia wrote that there were close connections between the Yuezhi and the Alans. He mentioned that according to Trogus the ruling dynasty of the Yuezhi was Alanic. (Prologus Libri XLII).

 Even when Ammianus Marcellinus was writing about the extent of the lands of the Alans he mentioned that he heard they extend all the way to the River Ganges which pretty well covers the Kushan kingdom of the Yuezhi (Ta Yueh-chih). Vedansky thinks that some elements of the Yuezhi penetrated South Russia with the Alans as part of the Alan confederation. Marriage and treaties and the typical steppe system of "lateral succession" which was both a strength and a weakness for leadership of steppe tribes throughout history. Eldest sons did not necessarily succeed the clan chief and quite often the king or chief's brothers or uncles succeeded on the death of a king or chief, usually marrying the widow as well, as ancestry was important to steppe people either through family bloodlines or if not your own family through marrying a woman of noble ancestry. It happened so much with ties with Bastarnae, Greutungi Goths, Huns, Vandals and Gepids so the same would apply to Central Asian steppe tribes and as Trogus wrote maybe the Yuezhi had a Saka/Alan ruling family. As you mentioned in an earlier post the Ashini were the ruling family of the Gokturks but mysteriously had a Saka/Wusun origin. The Ostrogothic Amal clan possibly had a Central Asian origin according to Hyun Jin Kim.
 
  Another interesting theory was mentioned by Hyun Jin Kim in his book The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe when writing about how “Sarmaticized” neighbouring peoples had become after contact with them. Kim mentions in his notes about the historian B. Philip Lozinski whose paper “The Parthian Dynasty” in Iranica Antiqua 19 raised the hypothesis that the Massagetae mentioned first by Herodotus in the fifth century BC were actually the Ta/Da Yueh-shih. At $159 Australian for 20 pages I passed on the paper but luckily Kim’s notes were pretty detailed. Lozinski argues that Yuezhi is an inaccurate transcription of the Early Medieval Chinese reading which gives Gweti, Gwoti, Goti, add the word Da/Ta and we get “Great Goti” which is identical to Massagetae (Great Getae). Only a theory though as the question what happened to the Massagetae is a mystery. The one problem I have with this theory is the Massagetae were around a few hundred years before the Yuezhi/Yueh-shih were driven from Gansu before dividing into Great (Ta) who moved west & Lesser (Hsia) Yueh-shih which moved south I think. by the Hsiung-nu, before that they were just Yuezhi/Yueh-chih. On another note the Chinese mirrors found at Pazyryk seemed to be dated from the middle of the Warring States period in China as mirrors of a similar style were found in China from that period. So were the Pazyryk people Yuezhi? Horse breeders and astute traders, who even traded silks with Indian traders on the bank of the Ganges who then shipped them to Egypt for Roman consumption. Some writers say the Massagetae were attacked by the Issedones, so were the Issedones Wusun? and they in turn drove the Scythians west. Maybe the Massagetae confederation broke up like a lot of steppe groups after acute crises like the invasions of Cyrus or Alexander had passed. If they were part of Yuehzi and the Yuezhi were part of the Alans then maybe old Ammianus Marcellinus was right when he wrote that the Alans were Massagetae. I am not really sure of the movements of steppe peoples during the time of but it seems that the reforms of King Wuling coincided with Greek colonization of Central Asia under Alexander the Great which possibly caused the eastern movement of Saka/Massagetae tribes pushing onto the borders of Zhao. I don’t think the Hsiung-nu were as powerful a force as they were 100 years later when they in turn pushed the tribes on a westward path.  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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#73
Hi, Michael

That's a very informative post! I can't review all the connections you mentioned, but a few hit the nail and some are "reachers." I can't agree with Lozinski's interpretation that the Yuezhi were Massagetae, the latter being swamp-dwellers and fishermen while the Yuezhi preferred high ground. I will stick with the geographic positioning of this confederation in the Altai and to the southwest down to the bend of the Yellow River and Gansu. Taishan Yu connects their name to Indo-Iranian, if we identify them by using arima (lover) and aspa (horse) = "horse-lovers." Of course, that wasn't their ethnonym, but an informal name applied to them by the Issedones.

Thanks for bringing up the subject of widows marrying a brother or cousin of the deceased. Eastern Iranian tribes appear to be matrilineal, so tribal "power" remained within the family. This appears how outsiders also rose to power-prestige. One of Pazyryk's high nobles (a king?) had Mongoloid features (an "outsider") yet his wife was Caucasian (member of the longstanding "royal" family); in other words, she held the "tribal reins"... sort of speaking. Wink

My stance on the Altai as the Yuezhi "homeland" is based on the specific horses and cultural paraphernalia found in the kurgans. To me, they just "reek" of Yuezhi-Wusun. A number of historians-- Professor Yu and Barry Cunliff among them-- place the Issedones to the southwest. Yu says this, "The Issedones tribe, who originally lived in the Ili and Chu river valleys, migrated to the west, driving the Massagetae to Sogdiana along the southern bank of the Syr Darya. The migration happened between 529 and 521 BC... This shows that the Massagetae had already settled in Sogdiana as early as 521 BC when Darius I came to the throne." (CIAA Newsletter, Issue #16, Dec. 2002)

Where did Yu get that from? What kind of proof could he, or Professor Cunliff, or anybody, have that would place the Issedones in the Ili Valley in 529 BC? This is speculation beyond "possibilities." Anyone who can walk a straight line can follow the Northern Steppe Trade Route from the Bosphorus straight to the Altai on a course of 40 to 50-degrees Latitude. Fifty years ago, Karl Jettmar hit fairly close, writing about the Yuezhi and Wusun, "Their appearance in the borderlands of western China may have [resulted from] repercussions in their native areas, which may be traced in the civilizations of the Sakian north of the Tian-shan and the Altai at Pazyryk V." (Jettmar, Art of the Steppes, 1966, p. 187). Altai findings are the closest match to known Yuezhi artifacts, as is the Chinese Altay Prefecture... directly above the Tian-shan and Takla Makan... right were Jettmar presumed they might have been.

I'm inclined to believe the Yuezhi (and their spin-off culture of the Wusun) were the easternmost extension and inheritors of the Andronovo culture. There is a connectivity from the Karasuk and Tagar cultures, but our closest match is found in the Arzhan and Pazyryk-Ukok kurgans of the Altai. I'll end this post with some illustrations.

     
Arzhan II kurgan, Tuvan Republic, c. 659-622 BC, mortise and tenon chamber construction, occupants-- The "'Tzar" and his wife. The kurgan's diameter was 120 meters. A small herd of horses and two dozen attendants were buried with the king and queen... at the approximate time Aristeas visited the Issedones. (edit, 3/9/16: Aristeas made no contact with Arzhan, but ended his eastward trek near Lake Zayan at the southwestern corner of the Altai.)

   
The "Tzar" as reconstructed using remaining artifacts and clothing. He bow is "Scythian," as were all bows during the 7th century BC.

   
The "Tzarina" with her akinakes hanging from her right hip. Both she and her husband wear short capes, evidently presaging those worn by the Alans.

   
Arshan II kurgan was built from 6,000 larch timbers covered by successive layers of stone, plus a megalithic stone enclosure around its circumference. This is a "bird's-eye" view of the construction's skeleton.

The "Tzar" and "Tzarina" of Arshan are the cultural candidates for Issedone leadership during the 7th century BC. Most likely they dealt in gold and horses; and they were far richer than Wushi Luo, wheeling-dealing minister of the Qin Court.

More to come... as we discover the precise location of the Yuezhi royal tombs. Smile
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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#74
Beyond the Issedones, beyond the Arimaspi, to the Hyperborians who lived at the Edge of the Earth.

In the above post, I placed the Issedones within the Arzhan complex, perhaps both Arzhan I and II, the latter approximate to the last "outpost" visited by Aristeas. Before we turn to the Arimaspi (Yuezhi) who "steal gold from the Gryphons," I like to locate the eastern-most people recorded by Aristeas-- the elusive Hyperborians.

The Northern Trade road followed by Aristeas didn't stop at Arzhan, but continued to the south, passing through the Arimaspian Altai down to the "hump" in the Yellow River (still Arimaspi territory, as identified through the Yuezhi). From that point the road went east, passing above the Yellow Sea, and ended on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula-- the land of "the Hyperborians who extend to the sea." [Herodotus, Book IV, Chap. 13] Today, the descendants of the Hyperborians live in modern Korea and still speak an Altaic language.

"The discovery of the Ukok (Altai) mummies created a stir in world archaeology, arousing huge interest in Korea and Japan, where popular theory holds that their civilizations emerged from southern Siberia (aka Hyperborians). An exhibition featuring the [Ukok] Princess toured Asia. In South Korea, she was met like a diva, with vast crowds, admirers on their knees, and bouquets of red roses." (Mail & Guardian, Africa's Best Read, 21 Nov. 1997)

   
Early Korean history isn't well recorded, but we do find a kurgan culture-- the Silla Kingdom, as founded in 60BC. 

   
Silla archers on a hunt. They're reminiscent in style to archers portrayed in Altaic petroglyphs.

   
A Silla "Wolf-Gryphon" sword pommel, the animal style very similar to Karasuk, as well as Minusinsk Tagar and Altai Saka.

   
A late Silla Kingdom cataphact. There's hardly any difference between this heavy horseman and those found on the Orlat Plaque, the descriptions of the Roxolani, or even pictorial Sassanian versions.

The Hyperborians must have also included the Xiongnu and emerging Turkic tribes, all of which spoke a version of the Altaic language. We discover the Arimaspi as the easternmost speakers of Indo-Iranian... and the easternmost people of the "Scythian" culture.  Big Grin
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
Reply
#75
The "Argali" Charioteers: Part 1

If we discover the origin of the Yuezhi, we will find the ultimate origin of the Alans. That seems to be a popular consensus: the Alanic "royalty" extending from the Yuezhi. How far back can we go? I suggest going to the "beginning," even if it's conjectural and based on pictographs and strange, out-of-place, skull types in Bronze Age China.

The early Bronze Age is typified by an unprecedented migration (east and west) resulting in a huge geographical distribution of Indo-European languages. At the very beginning, we find the Sintashta and Arkeim complexes... where "bent-wood technology" developed the composite bow and chariots (2,000-1,800 BC).

   
Chariot burial of an Arkeim warrior. The tomb is "tiered," the chariot at the bottom, the warrior on the second level, the two horses at the top. The famous Ukok Priestess (well-loved in Korea) was also buried in a tiered tomb, her two servants on a platform above her. This uncommon grave style gives us a connection between Arkeim (below the Urals) and Ukok in the Altai.
 
Quote:At the crest of this period we find the "Seima-Turbino Phenomenon," a rapid spread of advanced bronze technology incorporating a lost-wax process (1,900-1,500 BC.) (see Prof. David Anthony; The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, pp. 443-447) 

By 1,500-1,300 BC, the direct ancestors of the Yuezhi reached the Minuminsk Basin, the Yenisi River, the Altai, and even Western Mongolia. At the same time, a western Chinese tribe, fleeing from Shang Dynasty expansion, migrated 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers northwest, settling in the Minuminsk basin where they adopted the lost-wax process. This "culture" has been designated as Karsuk, predominantly Mongoloid with a "European" admixture. Strangely enough (or not), peculiar "Karasuk knives" begin to appear in Shang Dynasty graves almost precisely in 1,2500 BC.

   
Two Karasuk bronze knives found in a Shang chariot burial in Anyang. The left-hand knife finial represents a male argali sheep, the Altai ibex. I believe these belonged to members of the "Argali Clan." These are not "realistic," as the horns arch back to allow a hand-grip. The right-hand horn appears to represent an immature argali or domestic ram. In either case, the owners used sheep totems, just as the Yan officer (in a previous post) identified himself with the White Ram.

   
An Anyang chariot burial. The chariot in size and construction is nearly identical to the Sintashta-Arkeim originals. The charioteer is a tall Europoid, I believe a member of the Altaic Argali family.

   
One of the Caucusoid skulls from Anyang chariot burials, discovered in 1928.

Where did these chariot drivers come from? They arrived in downtown Anyang from the northwest, bringing chariot technology to King Wu Ding, ruler of the Shang Dynasty at its height. Here is a reconstruction of the chariot drivers on their homeground, the Minusinsk Basin and Western Mongolia:
   

I need to take a break. But I'll be back with the conclusion of this story... and how it connects to ancestors of the Yuezhi. Wink
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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