Were the Xiongnu under Maodun the largest empire in the world?

Feb 2019
612
Thrace


^The above is supposed to be the territorial extent of the Xiongnu empire during Modu Chanyu's reign, around 205 BC. That definitely looks bigger than Han China and the Seleucids to me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: macon

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,487
This source made some very elementary mistakes (such as the Tibetan Empire existing after 842 or the Toba existing in 550 as one polity), and I have problems with almost all of the data given for eastern empires (the Tang smaller than the Han because the author ignored Tang control of places like Mongolia, the Toba larger than the Southern dynasties etc.), but I won't go through them in detail. The Xiongnu should already be larger than the Han in 200 BC, as it already controlled Mongolia, Siberia, Hexi, and Inner Mongolia. Total area: ~4.5 million sq km (this is not including loose vassal tribes like the Qiang). Adding the Tarim Basin, the Xiongnu should be ~6.1 million sq km at its height. The Wusun was a Xiongnu vassal, but seem to have already been relatively independent after establishing itself near Balkash, if we include the Wusun as well, then the Xiongnu Empire was around ~6.6 million sq km. Not only was it the largest empire on earth, it was the largest empire on earth up to its time.
Even in 100 BC, after losing Inner Mongolia, the Hexi corridor, and much of the Tarim, the Xiongnu should still have around 2.6 million sq km, larger than Parthia or Rome.

By 40 AD, the Xiongnu have retaken the Tarim and most of its former empire outside of the Hexi corridor and the Ordos region, becoming ~5.8 million sq km again; probably the largest empire on earth. By 50 AD, the Xiongnu lost its southern half to the Han, but still retained the Tarim Basin. Total area: ~4.7 million sq km, still the second largest empire on earth (the author probably mistakenly thought the Han still had the Tarim Basin, when its in fact under the Xiongnu until 73 AD, when Han Mingdi send an expedition to capture it, only by 93 AD did the entire Tarim fall under Han control).
 

Dreamhunter

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
7,503
Malaysia


^The above is supposed to be the territorial extent of the Xiongnu empire during Modu Chanyu's reign, around 205 BC. That definitely looks bigger than Han China and the Seleucids to me.
That looks really vast, man. But it was sparse in population, I reckon. Mostly steppe grassland, quite likely. Or I could be wrong.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,991
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
That looks really vast, man. But it was sparse in population, I reckon. Mostly steppe grassland, quite likely. Or I could be wrong.
Yes, the contemporary Seleucid, Mauryan, Roman, and Han empires might have been smaller but they were probably much better in terms of population, wealth, and power than the Xiongnu.
 
  • Like
Reactions: macon
May 2017
278
China
That looks really vast, man. But it was sparse in population, I reckon. Mostly steppe grassland, quite likely. Or I could be wrong.
it is only look big because high latitude map distortion.

Mercator projection
Mercator projection - Wikipedia

Why do some areas/countries appear larger on world maps than others despite in reality being smaller?
https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-areas-countries-appear-larger-on-world-maps-than-others-despite-in-reality-being-smaller


These maps will show you why some countries are not as big as they look
Maps that show why some countries are not as big as they look



and most steppe are no man's land, barely lived by any people, so claiming and conquering no man's land are easy, piece of cake, everybody can do it. xiongnu are the only steppe khanate at it's time, no challange from other nomads.
 
May 2017
278
China
Yes, the contemporary Seleucid, Mauryan, Roman, and Han empires might have been smaller but they were probably much better in terms of population, wealth, and power than the Xiongnu.
nomadic steppes, pieces of cake to conquer and claim it for xiongnu. most of this steppe are empty, barely any body live in it.
1F3pvBp.jpgmongolian_steppe_adventure-max.jpgNomadic-Family-201.jpgyurt-mongolia.jpgyurts-mongolian-steppe-couple-green-100085547.jpg
 
Jan 2016
1,146
Victoria, Canada
Google Earth gives the Xiongnu confederacy as shown in the map in the OP (no clue how accurate it is) about 5.3 million square kilometres, larger than the contemporary Seleucid Empire and Han Dynasty, and roughly equal to the Roman Empire at its height, but significantly smaller than the earlier Achaemenid Empire's roughly 6.9 million square kilometres:



 
May 2017
278
China
Google Earth gives the Xiongnu confederacy as shown in the map in the OP (no clue how accurate it is) about 5.3 million square kilometres, larger than the contemporary Seleucid Empire and Han Dynasty, and roughly equal to the Roman Empire at its height, but significantly smaller than the earlier Achaemenid Empire's roughly 6.9 million square kilometres:




this map that you create not accurate, during han dynasty height of power, han dynasty owned northern xinjiang of dzungar basin, during han dynasty peak of power are roughly 6.500.000km2 ++

Eastern_Han_Dynasty_Map.jpg0_6DOUqTUYJls5oU15.png
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,487
Yes, the contemporary Seleucid, Mauryan, Roman, and Han empires might have been smaller but they were probably much better in terms of population, wealth, and power than the Xiongnu.
Yes, the Xiongnu Empire at its height probably had no more than 3 million people, but it was certainly not militarily weaker than any of these powers. The han emperor was trapped and nearly captured by Maodun at Baideng. The Xiongnu was the largest steppe empire with the largest steppe population and had a mounted force of 300,000-400,000. This was over twice the size of Chinggis Qan's military force before he set out to conquer the Jin.