By  Periklis    Deligiannis1

an  Avar  horseman,  armed  with  a  composite  bow  and  a  nomad  cavalry  spear  (copyright:  V. Vuksic).

The  first  European  mention  of  the  Hephthalites  or  White  Huns  comes  from  the  Byzantine  chronicler  Procopius,  a  contemporary  of  Emperor  Justinian.  Procopius  recorded  related  comments  of  a  Byzantine  envoy  to  the  Sassanids,  who  traveled  to  eastern  Iran.  The  Chinese  chronicles  mention  the  Hephthalites  as  “Ye-ti-i-li-do”  or  simpler  as  “Ye-ta”.   It  seems  that  the  Hephthalites  were  originally  a  Hunnic  tribe,  which  was  mixed  deeply  with  the  Iranians  and  Tocharians  of  central  Asia, concluding  as  a  mixed  hunnic-iranian-tocharian  people.  This  explains  the  possibility  of  adopting  around  500  AD  the  Iranian  language  and  several  Iranian  personal  names.

The  powerful  Hephthalites  managed  to  establish  two  nomadic  “empires”  in  central  Asia,  eastern  Iran  and  India.  In  390,  their  relatives,  the  Khionite  Huns  (known  to  the  Romans  as  “Kidarites”)  paved  the  way  for  their  expansion,  when  they  defeated  the  Sassanid  Persians  and  settled  in  Bactria  and  Sogdiana  (roughly  modern  Uzbekistan  and  northern  Afghanistan).  In  420-427  AD,  the  Hephthalites  unleashed  from  their  Central  Asian  cradle,  murderous  raids  in  Persia  reaching  the  city  of  Ragai  (modern  Tehran),  until  they  were  defeated  overwhelmingly  by  the  Sassanids  (427).  But  they  came  back  and  in  454  managed  to  defeat  the  Sassanids,  intensifying  again  their  raids  in  Iran.  In  464,  new  Hephthalite  raids  forced  the  Sassanian  King  Phiruz  to  deal  with  them  in  a  series  of  wars.  The  wars  ended  in  475  with  a  peace  treaty,  which  provided  for  an  annual  payment  of  ransom  by  the  Sassanids  to  the  Hephthalites.  Meanwhile,  in  468  the  Sassanids  attacked   the  Khionite/Kidarite  Huns  slaying  them  en  masse.  The  Hephthalites  took  advantage  of  the  destruction  of  the  threatening  Khionites  and  expelled  their  remnants  from  Bactria-Sogdiana,  which  they  annexed  (473-475).  Continue reading


Phylogenetic Analysis of Haplogroup G1 Reveals Migrations of Iranic Speakers

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Republication from PLOS One


Fig 1. Ancient migrations of Iranic-speaking populations.

A) Area populated by Iranic speakers in the middle of the first millennium BC. States whose languages belonged to the Iranic and Armenian linguistic groups are shown in red (modified from [39]). B) Homeland and migration of Iranic speakers according to the major competing theories (modified from [34]).   doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122968.g001


Y-chromosomal haplogroup G1 is a minor component of the overall gene pool of South-West and Central Asia but reaches up to 80% frequency in some populations scattered within this area. We have genotyped the G1-defining marker M285 in 27 Eurasian populations (n= 5,346), analyzed 367 M285-positive samples using 17 Y-STRs, and sequenced ~11 Mb of the Y-chromosome in 20 of these samples to an average coverage of 67X. This allowed detailed phylogenetic reconstruction. We identified five branches, all with high geographical specificity: G1-L1323 in Kazakhs, the closely related G1-GG1 in Mongols, G1-GG265 in Armenians and its distant brother clade G1-GG162 in Bashkirs, and G1-GG362 in West Indians.



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(photo found at Pinterest, Copyright: The Bulgarian School of horseback archery)


By  Periklis    Deligiannis


The vast Asiatic steppes from Manchuria to the Ural River had always been the cradle of nomadic peoples of intense mobility and warlike character. Dashing from this cradle, they used to debouche in order to gradually form nomadic “empires” (sometimes as far as the Hungarian plains) and invade the territories of sedentary peoples such as China, India, Iran, the Greco-Roman regions of the Mediterranean and later the Christian countries of Europe. The European World was equally exposed to the lethal hordes of these horseback warriors of the steppes, as well as the Chinese, the Indian and the Iranian World, paying a heavy toll in human lives and material damage, from the Early Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages. The Iranian Saka (Eastern Scythians) were perhaps the first nomadic people who formed a powerful tribal union (rather a confederation) in Central Asia, the “Great Horde of the Saka” (Ma-Saka-ta), whose name the ancient Greeks linguistically Hellenized and quoted in their writings as Massagetae. This tribal union was followed by other nomadic confederations of Tocharian, Turkic, Mongol, Tungusic, Yeniseic and other origins, such as the Wu Sun (Wusun), the Hsiung Nu (Xiongnu, the Huns?), the Yue Chih (Yuezhi), the Hsien-pi (Xianbei), until the emergence of the Juan Juan (Rouran, Avars).


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