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TIMUR (TAMERLANE) (part IΙ)

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Turcoman-Iran mail and plate armor1450

Turcoman-Iranian mail and plate armor of rider and horse of the Timurid Era (Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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In 1386, Timur invaded the area of Luristan (in western Iran) and then defeated and expelled the Jalayrids from Tabriz, most important city of Azerbaijan. Immediately after that, his army stormed Tiflis (Tbilisi), the capital of Georgia which was also annexed to his realm, thus preventing Tokhtamysh’s expansion in southern Caucasia. In 1387 the latter reacted by invading Azerbaijan, but he was defeated by Miranshah, son of Timur who had sent him to repel the invasion.

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TIMUR (TAMERLANE) (part I)

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TimurTimur’s facial reconstruction from his skull, by Soviet anthropologists.
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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Timur, wrongly quoted in Western literature as “Tamerlane” or “Tamburlaine”, was born around 1336 in Kesh, near Samarkand in Transoxiana (corresponding roughly to modern Uzbekistan). The name “Tamerlane” comes from the Greek-Latin version of Timur’s Persian address as “Timur Lenk’, meaning “Timur the lame”. Timur was a member of the Mongol Barlas tribe (or Barulas) which had been Turkified after settling in Transoxiana in the 13th century AD, following Chagatai (the son of Genghis Khan) in Central Asia. The Barlas with their headquarters at Kesh, had always been allied to Chagatai and his Chagataid successors. During the distribution of the sub-khanates of the Mongol Empire (the Great Khanate) among the Genghisids, namely the descendants of Genghis Khan, Chagatai became the Khagan (Khan) of the Mongol Khanate in Central Asia. The Khanate of Chagatai soon became a Moslem state. Its rulers and their Turco-Mongol followers and fighting men (and ancestors of Timur) embraced Islam in order to tie in religion with the populace of their khanate.

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Phylogenetic Analysis of Haplogroup G1 Reveals Migrations of Iranic Speakers

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Republication from PLOS One

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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

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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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TURANIC ARMS AND ARMOUR (part II)

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Full armor of rider and horse of an Ottoman qapikulu (heavy cavalryman of the “court slaves”, similar to the Mamluks). He also has a metal kalkan shield (Museo Stibbert Florence).

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TURANIC ARMS AND ARMOUR (part I)

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An Ottoman full armor of rider and horse (Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Port Doha, Qatar.).

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In the following images, I present an indicative collection of arms and armour of the Turanic empires and peoples of the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era (according to European chronology) which witnessed the greatest extent of the Turanic realms. They are arms and armour for men and horses, coming from the Sultanate of Delhi, the Mughal Empire in India, the Tatars of the Golden Horde, the Ottoman Empire, the Mamluk Sultanate, the Turkoman-controlled Empires of Iran, the Central Asian Turanic tribes and elsewhere.
The images are taken from museums and organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Furusiyya Art Foundation, Topkapi Palace Museum (Constantinople), Museum of Kulikovo Battlefield (representations by M. Gorelik whom I sincerely congratulate for his lifetime work), Museo Stibbert in Florence, Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the Royal Academy of Arts (London) and others. If I do not know the museum of origin of an image, I mention that in its caption.

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THE JUAN JUAN KHANATE (NOMAD PEOPLES OF THE EURASIAN STEPPES)

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

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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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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THE EARLY MUSLIM ARABS (Part I): Origins, Unification and Warfare

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The expansion of the Islamic Caliphate. The deeper color notes the initial expansion of Islam under Muhammad.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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The Arabs are one of the two main contemporary populations of the Semitic ethno-linguistic group (the Jews being the other one). The other modern populations who constitute that group are the Jews and the Semitic-speaking peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia. However the latter are of Kushite origins. The cradle of the ancient Arabs is the extensive Peninsula still bearing their name (other theories place their cradle in southern Mesopotamia or Armenia). The northern Arabs – the inhabitants of the central and northern Arabian Peninsula – were a nomadic people with mainly livestock economy, who used to raid neighboring countries. Their language became the basis of the later classic Arabic. The southern Arabs whose language differed from the Northern Arabian one, were a settled people living in Southwestern Arabia, with a mixed agriculture and livestock economy. Since the beginnings of the first millennium BC, they developed a remarkable ancient culture (kingdoms of the Sabaeans [Saba, ‘Sheba’], of the Himyarites and others). The pre-Islamic Arabian religion was polytheistic and quite resembled the religions of other Semitic peoples.

Due to the Islamic domination in the countries of the Fertile Crescent (Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia), the Arabs assimilated the preexisting Semitic peoples, namely the Aramaeans, the Canaanites/Phoenicians, the descendants of the Assyro-Babylonians and others who almost all of them spoke the Aramaic language which completely dominated this region from the 2nd century B.C. and was much akin to Arabic. On the other hand, the modern Arabs of North Africa are not Semitic in origin in their overwhelming majority, being Arabicized descendants of Hamites, namely Egyptians and Libyans/Berbers (the latter in Libya and the Maghreb). However the Hamites are the closest relatives of the Semites and the Hamitic peoples have fully adopted the Arabic language and customs: the only exception are the Berbers of Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mali and a few other West African countries that have maintained their Hamitic language and customs but are profoundly influenced by the Arabic culture. The Arabs of Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Zanzibar and other countries are mainly descendants of Arabicized Kushites, Berbers and black Africans.

The Arabs were well known in the Greco-Roman and the Iranian world. Several of their tribes migrated and settled in the Fertile Crescent before the Muslim conquest (until the 6th century AD). Such Arabic peoples were the Ituraeans, Saphaites (possibly a tribal offshoot of the Sabaeans), Nabataeans, Emeseni (of Emesa), Palmyrans, Hirani (of Hira), Gassanids, Lakhmids and others. After all, the Aramaic tribes who had settled in early Antiquity in the same area are considered by some scholars as proto-Arabic colonizers (I do not share this view although the Aramaeans were akin to the Arabs). In other cases, the existing Semitic tribes fused with the Arab newcomers giving them their tribal name, as in the case of the Aramaean Edomites (of Edom) who were Arabicized and became known as Idumaeans (a Hellenized version of the Aramaean “Edom”).
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ON THE SASSANID ARMY – Part II

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

sassanian  cavalry

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A reconstruction of a Sassanian medium cavalryman by Ardeshir Radpour. He bears a mail cuirass, a helmet of composite structure with mail visor adopted by the Romans as well, forearm-guard plates, light lance, a composite bow of the Sacian type (heritage from the Parthian predecessors of the Sassanids) and a cavalry sword (Image by  Ardeshir  Radpour).

CONTINUED FROM PART I

The infantry (and partly cavalry) of the Qadisini and the ‘Immortals’ are also mentioned in the medieval sources (mainly Byzantine) as parts of the Sassanid army. The Qadisini were the Arabo-Aramaic people of Qadisiya (in Arabic), a Semitic region subject to the Persians in modern Western Iraq. The ‘Immortals’ (Varhranigan khvaday in Iranian) were the elite corps of the Persian army, the palace guard of the Great King, corresponding to the homonymous personal guard of the ancient Achaemenid kings of Persia. Xerxes’ ‘Immortals’ had fought against the Greeks in 480-479 BC without success. The Sassanian Empire, claiming steadily the whole Achaemenid heritage had reestablished this unit. Another unit under the direct orders of the Sassanid monarch was called ‘self-sacrificing heroes’. One of the commanders of this unit was of Byzantine origin. This possibly indicates that they were mercenaries or foreign fugitives sheltered by the Persians.

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ON THE SASSANID ARMY – Part I

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

sassanian
A reenactment of a Sassanian horseman by Ardeshir Radpour. Note the common elements of his helmet with the Roman helmets of the Persian group in my article ON THE HELMET TYPES OF THE LATE ROMAN CAVALRY, mainly the strong backing in the eyebrow area and the composite construction. The Romans added cheek-protectors to the original Persian type. Note also the  mail visor of this  helmet (Image by Ardeshir  Radpour).

The Sassanids or Sassanians were a Persian priestly dynasty of Fars (Pars, Persis, the cradle of the Persians) who in 224-226 AD overthrew the Arsacid  royal dynasty of the Parthians and occupied the whole Parthian Kingdom thus turning it into Sassanid Kingdom. The Sassanid Empire was stronger than the Parthian, relying on a strong and large army. In this way, the Sassanians successfully dealt with a number of powerful enemies at their borders, mainly the Kushans (Tokharians), the Romans/Byzantines and the Hunnish tribes, especially the dangerous Ephthalites. The empire was maintained until the early 7th century, when a suicidal war of King Khosroes II against the Byzantines brought its exhaustion. Thereby when the armies of Islam appeared on the western border of the Sassanid Kingdom, its exhausted and dwindling army was almost unable to repel the invaders. By 649 AD, the whole Sassanid territory except the small Daylami country, was conquered by the Arabs and the last Sassanid prince took refuge in China of the Tang Dynasty. There the renowned Persian dynasty faded away from home. Later the Daylami people became Muslim as well.
Like their predecessors the Parthians, the Sassanid Persians relied heavily on cavalry. However they did not commit the same error as the first who ‘annihilated’ the role of the infantry. Generally, their army was more aggressive and more effective comparing to the Parthian.

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THE FIRST ARAB ATTACK ON CONSTANTINOPLE (AD 674-678)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

Walls of Constantinople

The Walls of Constantinople today.

In 661 AD, the new caliph Muawiyah (Muāwiyah ibn Abī Sufyān AD 602–680)became the absolute master of the Islamic-Arab Caliphate after the murder of his antagonist, Ali. He made Damascus the Arabic capital, while Syria became the new political center of the Islamic world. The advanced peoples of Syria-Palestine and Egypt were the main supporters of the new Ummayad Dynasty (AD 661-750) of caliphs founded by Muawiyah. The new caliph based his power on the old Byzantine administrative officials, because the Arabs had not yet the required experience in governance issues. The Ummayad Caliphate had its political-administrative center in former Hellenistic Syria and used the Greek of the former Byzantine rule as its administrative language (and also used the Greek/Byzantine administrative infrastructure), thereby closely resembled to a more extensive Seleucid Kingdom. The main politico-military supporters of the Ummayads were the pre-Islamic local Arabs of Syria and Palestine (the Arab tribes of the Ituraeans, Palmyrans, Gasanids and others), who had become Muslims.
After the proclamation of Muawiyah as caliph, the Arab forces moved again against Byzantium (Eastern Roman Empire), following two directions of attack. A portion of them was carrying out devastating raids in Asia Minor, while another portion attacked the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa (modern NW Africa). One by one the Byzantine fortresses and the (Berber) tribes of the Numidians, Mauri and Maurusians were subjugated by the Arab invaders.

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GREEK FIRE: THE SECRET WEAPON OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE

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A  Byzantine  depiction  of  Greek  fire  in  a  miniature  from  the  manuscript  of  Skylitzes.
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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The  “Greek  fire”  or  “sea  fire”  or  “liquid  fire”  (as  it  was  usually  called  by  the  Byzantines  themselves)  or  “Median  fire”  was  one  of  the  strongest  and  most  mysterious  weapons  of  the  Byzantine  Empire  (considering  their  composition).  The  Arabs  used to call  “naphtha”  (‘naft’)  their  own  corresponding  incendiary  substance  for  military  purposes,  a  term  which  usually  means  the  natural  unrefined  oil  or  the  refined  products  of  its  distillation.  The  use  of  flammable  substances  in  military  operations  on  land  and  sea,  was  known  to  the  Greeks  as  early  as  the  Classical  Period,  who  developed  it  especially  during  the  Hellenistic  Period.  The  term  “Median/Medic  fire”  which  was  synonymous  to  the  “Greek  fire”  in  the  Byzantine  written  sources,  indicates  that  the  Southern  Iranians  (Medes  and  Persians)  used  an  early  form  of  it  (already  from  the  pre-Achamenid  Median  period  according  to  literary  evidence).  The  Chinese  of  the  same  period  also  used  their  own  corresponding  incendiary  substances.  Moreover,  the  burning  of  the  enemy  fortifications,  troops,  ships and others,  was  one  of  the  main  military  pursuits  already  from  the  high  antiquity.  Concerning  the  Iranian  peoples,  the  development  of  inflammatory  substances  as  weapons  of  war,  was  aided  by  the  presence  of  abundant  reserves  of  crude  oil  in  Iran,  Mesopotamia  and  the  North  Arabian  Peninsula,  areas  which  were  under  the  control  or  the  political  influence  of  the  Medes  and  the  Persians.

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