Nomadic empire

A horserider of probable Xiongnu origin: the rider wears a hairbun characteristic of the oriental steppes, and his horse has characteristically Xiongnu horse trappings. 2nd-1st century BC. Excavated in Saksanokhur (near Farkhor), Tajikistan. National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
Distribution of "Thraco-Cimmerian" finds.
Scythia
Xiongnu Empire
Kushan Empire
Xianbei Empire
Hephthalite Empire
The Hunnic Empire, at its height under Attila.
Bulgars led by Khan Krum pursue the Byzantines at the Battle of Versinikia (813)
The migration of the Bulgars after the fall of Old Great Bulgaria in the 7th century.
The Rouran Khaganate, c. 500 CE
The Kyrgyz Khagnate at its peak
Asia in 800 CE, showing the Uyghur Khanate and its neighbors.
"Khitan State"
Expansion of the Mongol Empire
Timurid continental map
Mongol residual states and domains by the 15th century
Map showing Dzungar–Qing Wars between Manchu Dynasty and Dzungar Khanate
Khitans, originally a nomadic steppe people who ruled northern China as the Liao dynasty

Nomadic empires, sometimes also called steppe empires, Central or Inner Asian empires, were the empires erected by the bow-wielding, horse-riding, nomadic people in the Eurasian Steppe, from classical antiquity (Scythia) to the early modern era (Dzungars).

- Nomadic empire
A horserider of probable Xiongnu origin: the rider wears a hairbun characteristic of the oriental steppes, and his horse has characteristically Xiongnu horse trappings. 2nd-1st century BC. Excavated in Saksanokhur (near Farkhor), Tajikistan. National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.

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Scythia and other Eastern Iranian speaking lands (shown in orange) c. 170 BC

Scythia

Region of Central Eurasia in classical antiquity, occupied by the Eastern Iranian Scythians, and encompassing Central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe east of the Vistula River, with the eastern edges of the region vaguely defined by the Greeks.

Region of Central Eurasia in classical antiquity, occupied by the Eastern Iranian Scythians, and encompassing Central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe east of the Vistula River, with the eastern edges of the region vaguely defined by the Greeks.

Scythia and other Eastern Iranian speaking lands (shown in orange) c. 170 BC
Scythia et Serica, 18th century map.
Scythian king Skilurus, relief from Scythian Neapolis, Crimea, 2nd century BC

Scythia was a loose nomadic empire that originated as early as the 8th century BC. Scythian culture centered around equestrianism and a free-riding way of life.

Frontispiece of Leviathan, 1651

Polity

Identifiable political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources.

Identifiable political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources.

Frontispiece of Leviathan, 1651

The historical Steppe Empires originating from the Eurasian Steppe are the most prominent example of non-sedentary polities.

Eurasian steppe belt (turquoise)

Eurasian Steppe

Vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome.

Vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome.

Eurasian steppe belt (turquoise)
The site of Por-Bazhyn
Mongolian yurt
Plowing with tractor on the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld), Hungary
Steppe fire in the Kostanay Region, Kazakhstan
Hungarian invasions of Europe in the 9–10th century
Territories of the Golden Horde under Öz Beg Khan.
Devínska Kobyla, Bratislava, Slovakia
The Pannonian steppe in Seewinkel, Austria
The Pannonian steppe in Devínska Kobyla, Bratislava, Slovakia
Danube-Auen National Park, Austria
The Pontic–Caspian steppe near Krynychne, Ukraine.
The Pontic–Caspian steppe in Henichesk, Ukraine.
Steppes in Gagauzia, Moldova.
Steppes in Gagauzia, Dezghingea, Moldova.
Wooded Ural Mountains of Beloretsky District, Russia.
The Bashkiriya National Park is situated in the southern end of the Ural Mountains, Russia.
The Bashkiriya National Park, Ural Mountains, Russia.
The Bashkiriya National Park, Ural Mountains, Russia.
The steppe in Akmola Region, Kazakhstan.
The steppes in Akmola Province, Kazakhstan.
The Kazakh Steppe in the Ayagoz District, Kazakhstan.
The Kazakh Steppe in the early spring.
Uvs Lake Basin, Tuva Republic, Russia.
Dus-Khol lake, Tuva Republic, Russia.
The grassland in Tuva Republic, Russia.
Dus-Khol Lake, Tandinsky District, Tuva Republic, Russia.
The Daurian forest steppe
The Mongolian-Manchurian grassland in the Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia.
Grass steppe in the Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia.
Daursky Nature Reserve in the southern part of the Zabaykalsky Krai in Siberia, Russia, close to the border with Mongolia.
The Mongolian-Manchurian grassland in Inner Mongolia, China.
Przewalski horse
Corsac fox
Saiga antelope
Onager

It has been home to nomadic empires and many large tribal confederations and ancient states throughout history, such as the Xiongnu, Scythia, Cimmeria, Sarmatia, Hunnic Empire, Chorasmia, Transoxiana, Sogdia, Xianbei, Mongol Empire, and Göktürk Khaganate.

Scythian shield ornament of deer, in gold

Eurasian nomads

The Eurasian nomads were a large group of nomadic peoples from the Eurasian Steppe, who often appear in history as invaders of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia, and South Asia.

The Eurasian nomads were a large group of nomadic peoples from the Eurasian Steppe, who often appear in history as invaders of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia, and South Asia.

Scythian shield ornament of deer, in gold
Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of distribution of Eastern Iranian languages (shown in orange) in the 1st century BCE.
Cuman–Kipchak confederation in Eurasia c. 1200
The boundary of 13th century Mongol Empire and location of today's Mongols in modern Mongolia, Russia and China.

Scythia was a loose state or federation covering most of the steppe, that originated as early as the 8th century BCE, composed mainly of people speaking Scythian languages, and usually regarded as the first of the nomad empires.

Mongolia

Landlocked country in East Asia, bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south.

Landlocked country in East Asia, bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south.

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7th-century artifacts found 180 km from Ulaanbaatar.
Mongol Empire expansion (1206 till 1294)
This map shows the boundary of the 13th-century Mongol Empire compared to today's Mongols. The red area shows where the majority of Mongolian speakers reside today.
The Northern Yuan at its greatest extent.
Genghis Khan the first Mongol Emperor
Altan Khan (1507–1582) founded the city of Hohhot, helped introduce Buddhism and originated the title of Dalai Lama
The eighth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, Bogd Khaan
Map of unified Mongolia in 1917
Khorloogiin Choibalsan led Mongolia during the Stalinist era and presided over an environment of intense political persecution
Mongolian troops fight against the Japanese counterattack at Khalkhin Gol, 1939
Mongolian Premier Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal was the longest-serving leader in the Soviet Bloc, with over 44 years in office
The southern portion of Mongolia is taken up by the Gobi Desert, while the northern and western portions are mountainous.
Mongolia map of Köppen climate classification zones.
The Khentii Mountains in Terelj, close to the birthplace of Genghis Khan.
Bactrian camels by sand dunes in Gobi Desert.
Mongolian steppe
Ulaanbaatar is the capital and largest city of Mongolia
In settlements, many families live in ger districts
Amarbayasgalant Monastery
State Great Khural chamber in session
Mongolia's President Tsakhia Elbegdorj with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, June 2016
Mongolia's President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, September 2017
Mongolian, Chinese and Russian national flags set on armored vehicles during the large-scale military exercise Vostok 2018 in Eastern Siberia
Historical development of real GDP per capita in Mongolia
A proportional representation of Mongolia exports, 2019
View of Ulaanbaatar with the Blue Sky Tower
Oyu Tolgoi employs 18,000 workers and expects to be producing 450,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2020
Train in Zamyn-Üüd station in Dornogovi aimag
While the Mongolian horse continues to be revered as the national symbol, they are rapidly being replaced by motorized vehicles.
Mongolian ferry Sukhbaatar on Lake Khovsgol in Khovsgol Province
A ger in front of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains
Musician playing the traditional Mongolian musical instrument morin khuur
Mongolian media interviewing the opposition Mongolian Green Party in 2008. The media has gained significant freedoms since democratic reforms initiated in the 1990s.
Naadam is the largest summer celebration.
Riders during Naadam festival
Kazakh hunters in Mongolia with eagles
1236-1242 Mongol invasions of Europe

The territory of modern-day Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Rouran, the First Turkic Khaganate, and others.

Scythian comb from Solokha, early 4th century BC

Scythians

Important role in the political developments of the region.

Important role in the political developments of the region.

Scythian comb from Solokha, early 4th century BC
The approximate extent of Eastern Iranian languages circa 170 BC.
Scythian vessel from Voronezh, 4th century BCE. Hermitage Museum.
Gold Scythian belt title, Mingachevir (ancient Scythian kingdom), Azerbaijan, 7th century BC
The 5th-century BC Greek historian Herodotus is the most important literary source on the origins of the Scythians
Reliefs depicting Saka soldiers in the service of the Achaemenid army, Xerxes I tomb, circa 480 BCE. The Achaemenids referred to all nomads to their north as Saka, and divided them into three categories: The Sakā tayai paradraya ("beyond the sea", presumably the Scythians), the Sakā tigraxaudā ("with pointed caps"), and the Sakā haumavargā ("Hauma drinkers", furthest East).
Scythian king Skilurus, relief from Scythian Neapolis, Crimea, 2nd century BC
The territory of the Scythae Basilaei ("Royal Scyths") along the north shore of the Black Sea around 125 AD
Scythian defence line 339 BC reconstruction in Polgár, Hungary
Arzhan kurgan in Tuva Republic, southern Siberia, Russia
The famous gold stag of Kostromskaya, Russia
Distribution of Scythian kurgans and other sites along the Dnieper Rapids during the Classical Scythian period
West side of the Kozel Kurgans
Remains of Scythian Neapolis near modern-day Simferopol, Crimea. It served as a political center of the Scythians in the Late Scythian period.
Kurgan stelae of a Scythian at Khortytsia, Ukraine
Scythian archers using the Scythian bow, Kerch (ancient Panticapeum), Crimea, 4th century BC. The Scythians were skilled archers whose style of archery influenced that of the Persians and subsequently other nations, including the Greeks.
Scythian bronze arrowheads, c700-300 BC
Gold pectoral, or neckpiece, from a royal kurgan in Tovsta Mohyla, Pokrov, Ukraine, dated to the second half of the 4th century BC, of Greek workmanship. The central lower tier shows three horses, each being torn apart by two griffins. Scythian art was especially focused on animal figures.
An Attic vase-painting of a Scythian archer (a police force in Athens) by Epiktetos, 520–500 BC
Scythian warrior in bronze scale armour
Scythians at the Tomb of Ovid (c. 1640), by Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Romantic nationalism: Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs (Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881)
Eugène Delacroix's painting of the Roman poet, Ovid, in exile among the Scythians

: "When we speak of Scythians, we refer to those Scytho-Siberians who inhabited the Kuban Valley, the Taman and Kerch peninsulas, Crimea, the northern and northeastern littoral of the Black Sea, and the steppe and lower forest steppe regions now shared between Ukraine and Russia, from the seventh century down to the first century B.C [...] They almost certainly spoke an Iranian language [...]" and practiced a variant of ancient Iranian religion. Among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare, the Scythians replaced the Cimmerians as the dominant power on the Pontic steppe in the 8th century BC. During this time they and related peoples came to dominate the entire Eurasian Steppe from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to Ordos Plateau in the east, creating what has been called the first Central Asian nomadic empire. Based in what is modern-day Ukraine and southern Russia, they called themselves Scoloti ( Skṓlotoi) and were led by a nomadic warrior aristocracy known as the Royal Scythians.

Kazakhstan

Transcontinental landlocked country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe.

Transcontinental landlocked country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe.

Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of distribution of Eastern Iranian languages (shown in orange) in the 1st century BC
Cuman–Kipchak confederation in Eurasia circa 1200. The Kazakhs are descendants of Kipchaks, Nogais and other Turkic and medieval Mongol tribes
Ural Cossacks skirmish with Kazakhs (the Russians originally called the Kazakhs "Kirgiz")
Map of the Kazakh Territory in 1903
Stanitsa Sofiiskaya, Talgar. 1920s
Young Pioneers at a Young Pioneer camp in Kazakh SSR
The International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978, known as the Alma-Ata Declaration
The Monument of Independence, Republic Square, Almaty
Satellite image of Kazakhstan (November 2004)
The Kazakh Steppe is part of the Eurasian Steppe Belt (in on the map)
Karaganda Region
Kazakhstan map of Köppen climate classification
Corsac fox
Ak Orda Presidential Palace
Parliament of Kazakhstan
Nur Otan Headquarters in Nur-Sultan
President Nazarbayev with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2012
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev with 
Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019
Member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
Kazakhstan Republican Guard
A Kazakhstan Sukhoi Su-27
Downtown Nur-Sultan
GDP per capita development, since 1973
A proportional representation of Kazakhstan exports, 2019
Aktau is Kazakhstan's only seaport on the Caspian Sea
A map of Kazakhstan's imports, 2013
Kazakhstan has the largest proven oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region.
Grain fields near Kokshetau
Map of Kazakhstan railway network
Train 22 Kyzylorda – Semipalatinsk, hauled by a Kazakhstan Temir Zholy 2TE10U diesel locomotive. Picture taken near Aynabulak, Kazakhstan
Borovoe, view from Mount Bolectau
A ski resort in Almaty
Astana Expo 2017 "Nur Alem" Pavilion
Almaty
Trends in research expenditure in Central Asia, as a percentage of GDP, 2001–2013. Source: UNESCO Science Report: 2030 (2015), Figure 14.3
Group of Kazakhstan physicists in collaboration with Uzbek researchers working at the ion accelerator DC-60
Baikonur Cosmodrome is the world's oldest and largest operational spaceport
Population pyramid, 2020
Central Asian ethnolinguistic patchwork, 1992
Kazakhstanis on a Lake Jasybay beach, Pavlodar Region
Ascension Cathedral in Almaty
Khazret Sultan Mosque is the biggest mosque in Kazakhstan
Kazakh National University of Arts
A Kazakhstan performer demonstrates the long equestrian heritage as part of the gala concert during the opening ceremonies of the Central Asian Peacekeeping Battalion
Kanysh Satpayev, one of the founders of Soviet era metallogeny, principal advocate and the first president of Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences
1965 Soviet stamp honouring Kazakh essayist and poet Abai Qunanbaiuly
Nowruz on stamp of Kazakhstan
A-Studio was created in 1982 in Almaty, then called Alma-Ata, hence called "Alma-Ata Studio"
Astana Arena opened in 2009
Nikolai Antropov
International Astana Action Film Festival, 2010
Timur Bekmambetov, a notable Kazakh director

The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic groups and empires.

Timur facial reconstruction from skull, by Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov

Timur

Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in and around modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia, becoming the first ruler of the Timurid dynasty.

Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in and around modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia, becoming the first ruler of the Timurid dynasty.

Timur facial reconstruction from skull, by Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov
Genealogical relationship between Timur and Genghis Khan
Emir Timur feasts in the gardens of Samarkand.
Timur commanding the Siege of Balkh
Timur besieges the historic city of Urganj.
Timur orders campaign against Georgia.
Emir Timur's army attacks the survivors of the town of Nerges, in Georgia, in the spring of 1396.
Timur defeats the Sultan of Delhi, Nasir Al-Din Mahmud Tughluq, in the winter of 1397–1398, painting dated 1595–1600.
I.O. Islamic 137 f.284v Timur's Defeat of Amlu Khan and the Capture of Delhi, from the 'Zafarnama' by Sharaf al-Din, 1533 (vellum)
Timur defeating the Mamluk Sultan Nasir-ad-Din Faraj of Egypt
19th century painting depicting Bayezid I being held captive by Timur.
Timur had aligned himself with the remnants of the Northern Yuan dynasty in his attempts to conquer Ming China.
The fortress at Jiayu Pass was strengthened due to fear of an invasion by Timur.
Timurid Empire at Timur's death in 1405
Timur's mausoleum is located in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
A Timurid-era illustration of Timur
Letter of Timur to Charles VI of France, 1402, a witness to Timurid relations with Europe. Archives Nationales, Paris.
Emir Timur and his forces advance against the Golden Horde, Khan Tokhtamysh.
Statue of Tamerlane in Uzbekistan. In the background are the ruins of his summer palace in Shahrisabz.
Ahmad ibn Arabshah's work on the Life of Timur
A wax statue of Timur made in Turkey
Geometric courtyard surrounding the tomb showing the Iwan, and dome.
View of the Registan.
Timurid Mosque in Herat.
Goharshad Mosque
Green Mosque (Balkh) is a Timurid mosque that inspired Shah Jahan.
Bibi-Khanym Mosque
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi
Deep niches and diverse muqarnas decorate the inside of the Gur-e Amir.
Shakh-i Zindeh mosque, Samarkand

Timur was the last of the great nomadic conquerors of the Eurasian Steppe, and his empire set the stage for the rise of the more structured and lasting Islamic gunpowder empires in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Clear script on rocks near Almaty

Dzungar people

The name Dzungar people, also written as Zunghar (literally züün'gar, from the Mongolian for "left hand"), referred to the several Mongol Oirat tribes who formed and maintained the Dzungar Khanate in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The name Dzungar people, also written as Zunghar (literally züün'gar, from the Mongolian for "left hand"), referred to the several Mongol Oirat tribes who formed and maintained the Dzungar Khanate in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Clear script on rocks near Almaty

The Dzungars who lived in an area that stretched from the west end of the Great Wall of China to present-day eastern Kazakhstan and from present-day northern Kyrgyzstan to southern Siberia (most of which is located in present-day Xinjiang), were the last nomadic empire to threaten China, which they did from the early 17th century through the middle of the 18th century.

Xinjiang

Landlocked autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest of the country at the crossroads of Central Asia and East Asia.

Landlocked autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest of the country at the crossroads of Central Asia and East Asia.

Dzungaria (Red) and the Tarim Basin or Altishahr (Blue)
Northern Xinjiang (Junggar Basin) (Yellow), Eastern Xinjiang- Turpan Depression (Turpan Prefecture and Hami Prefecture) (Red) and Altishahr/the Tarim Basin (Blue)
Physical map showing the separation of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Altishahr) by the Tien Shan Mountains
Map of Han Dynasty in 2 CE. Light blue is the Tarim Basin protectorate.
Old Uyghur/Yugur art from the Bezeklik murals
The Tarim Basin in the 3rd century AD
A Sogdian man on a Bactrian camel. Sancai ceramic statuette, Tang dynasty
Mongol states from the 14th to the 17th centuries: the Northern Yuan dynasty, Four Oirat, Moghulistan and Kara Del
The Dzungar–Qing Wars, between the Qing Dynasty and the Dzungar Khanate
The Battle of Oroi-Jalatu in 1756, between the Manchu and Oirat armies
The Qing Empire ca. 1820
Scene from the 1828 Qing campaign against rebels in Altishahr
Yakub Beg, ruler of Yettishar
19th-century Khotan Uyghurs in Yettishar
Kuomintang in Xinjiang, 1942
Governor Sheng Shicai ruled from 1933 to 1944.
The Soviet-backed Second East Turkestan Republic encompassed Xinjiang's Ili, Tarbagatay and Altay districts.
Close to Karakoram Highway in Xinjiang.
Pamir Mountains and Muztagh Ata.
Taklamakan Desert
Tianchi Lake
Black Irtysh river in Burqin County is a famous spot for sightseeing.
Kanas Lake
Largest cities and towns of Xinjiang
Statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar
Nur Bekri, Chairman of the Xinjiang Government between 2007 and 2015
The distribution map of Xinjiang's GDP per person (2011)
Ürümqi is a major industrial center within Xinjiang.
Wind farm in Xinjiang
Sunday market in Khotan
Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport
Karakorum highway
This flag (Kök Bayraq) has become a symbol of the East Turkestan independence movement.
"Heroic Gesture of Bodhisattvathe Bodhisattva", example of 6th-7th-century terracotta Greco-Buddhist art (local populations were Buddhist) from Tumxuk, Xinjiang
Sogdian donors to the Buddha, 8th century fresco (with detail), Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin
A mosque in Ürümqi
People engaging in snow sports by a statue of bodhisattva Guanyin in Wujiaqu
Christian Church in Hami
Catholic Church in Urumqi
Temple of the Great Buddha in Midong, Ürümqi
Taoist Temple of Fortune and Longevity at the Heavenly Lake of Tianshan in Fukang, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture
Emin Minaret
Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, largest mosque in China
Erkin Tuniyaz, the incumbent Chairman of the Xinjiang Government

The Mongolian Dzungars were the collective identity of several Oirat tribes which formed, and maintained, one of the last nomadic empires.