What is the origin of the Huns?

Jan 2014
Reading recently about the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the authot states that the Huns (one of the invading barbaric tribes, I think everybody here knows them) are traced back to Mongolian territory. They had make (just like Gengis Khan some century's after) great advancements until the Urals and settled there, and then invade European territory.

Is this versions right?
What is the origin of the Huns?

Thank you all.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
The origin of Huns is shrouded in mystery, but some historians associate them with the Xiongnu people out of Mongolia / Northern China.

This is a picture from a French (I think) website ( La Chine jusqu'aux grandes invasions)
that shows the Xiongnu warrior. But I don't speak the language and can't verify the validity of it...

Last edited:
Jan 2014
I've been reading some articles and the conclusion is exactly that one: probably they're from somewhere between Northern China and Mongolia.
Great warriors are produced by that lands...
Jan 2014
Although from further west, don't forget the Turks are a steppe people as well.
I've reading it also.
By my humble understanding there are some historians that defend that their origins are from Central Asia, and later mixed with Turks and latest with people from modern Hungarian territory.
It's quite complicated, but very interesting.
Oct 2012
SF bay area
Here's part of a timeline I've compiled of their early history. It is a work in progress so there may be some discontinuities or repetition. It is meant to be inclusive of all that might pertain to the "Huns", so there may be some extraneous material. However keep in mind that the "Huns" were a tribal group and as such included tribes who did not live as steppe warriors, somebody had to raise the colts, farm, mine and smelt metals etc.

The "Hun" culture originally developed in the Lake Baikal area.
* * * * * * * *
7000-3850 A ceramic culture is found around Lake Baikal. Russian archaeologists describe the culture as "Neolithic", although farming is absent.

4700-2900 The Hongshan culture, northeastern China from Inner Mongolia to Liaoning; burial artifacts include some of the earliest examples of jade, also clay figurines as large as three times the size of real-life, not reflective of "Chinese" culture. Chinese archaeologists see the Hongshan culture as a stage of early Chinese civilization. However, historical linguist Robert Blench believes that there is no evidence that this region would have been Sinitic-speaking at this period, and it is known that this region was home to Altaic speaking peoples.

c2500 The Tocharian Afanasevo culture extended from above the Aral Sea, past the Alti mountain range (including the northern Tarim region), to the Lake Baikal area and western Mongolia. The Tocharians were the eastern outlier of Indo-European culture and the Afanasevo culture shared many similarities with other western cultures IE: the Catacomb culture, Corded Ware culture, Poltavka culture, Sredny Stog culture and the Yamna Cultures. In the Altai Mountains, they mined copper, in the northern Tarim they occupied several oasis and kept the trade route to the west open; in the open steppe they maintained their Tengriist, pastoralist, horse riding,
yurt-dwelling, warlike culture.

The Asiatic people of the north absorbed the horse warrior technology and most of these tribes evolved into "steppe nomads."

2400-1400 ZHUKAIGOU Culture - northern and central Inner Mongolia, northern Shaanxi, and northern Shanxi, with the Ordos region at its center - Sedenary agrarian the reputed progenitor of the “Ordos bronze culture”
thus the first Northern Zone culture. They used oracle-bone divination, a practice that came to be closely associated with Shang culture and statecraft. Shang ritual vessels, such as ding and jue, and weapons appear
here which may suggest that around the mid-second millennium BC, there was a northward movement of Shang culture or that contacts between the local people and the Shang increased (Divination on oracular bones,
particularly on a shoulderblade of an animal is an archaeological attribute of the Scythian and South Siberian nomadic cultures. )

2200-1600 Lower Xiajiadian culture - southeastern Inner Mongolia, northern Hebei and western Liaoning. Millet farming, animal husbandry and hunting. Archaeological sites have yielded cattle, sheep pigs and dogs. Permanent settlements and relatively high population densities. Preceded by the Hongshan and Xiaoheyan cultures.

2100-1600 The Xia Dynasty which may or may not be mythical, however one of the possibilities for the Xia is that they were northern steppe nomads (Mongols.)

c2000-1500 Okunevo Culture – Yenisei Valley Minusinsk area. Mongoloid features - with Afanasevo traits. We may assume that these people had been neighbors of the Afanasevo culture/Tocharians who had arrived in this region mid fourth millennium; we may also assume that they adopted the entire repertoire of technologies which were used by nomadic steppe peoples (Horses/horseborne warfare, compound bows, wool industry for felt and woven goods wagons and seasonal migrations to keep the (large) herds fed. They, or cousins of theirs evolved into the Wusun.

2nd m The Dingling originally lived on the bank of the Lena River in the area west of Lake Baikal, gradually moving southward to Mongolia and northern China.

18th C Glazkov culture of the Lake Baikal area northwest of China - racially Mongoloid tribes. The Glazkov Tunguses came to Siberia from the south, displacing indigenous tribes (Evenks, Evens or Yukagirs.)

In the 2nd millennium, archeologists find two synchronous independent cultures in Southern Siberia: Glazkov in the east and Andronov in the west.
Later Glazkov culture tribes converged with predecessors of the Huns, and intermixed with them.

1766 Chinese traditions tell of Kia, of the Xia dynasty, dethroned due to evil ways. His son and 500 members of his Hia people went to Hun relatives (Hui tribe.) The Hia language has many common words with Altaic languages

1766 Oldest Türkic words in Chinese annual chronicles note cultural and political events. Hun words tanry, kut, byoryu, ordu, tug, kylych etc show up in Turkic. State rulers’ endoethnonym is Hun, Türkic "kin"

c1600 In China, the Shang dynasty was founded, during the latter part of the Shang dynasty, northern China featured a clearly discernible cultural complex undeniably distinct from that of the Central Plain. This Northern Complex cannot be regarded as a single culture; rather different communities shared a similar inventory of bronze objects across a wide area

1600-1046 The Donghu are mentioned in the Lost Book of Zhou (Yizhoushu) and the Shanhaijing also indicates the Donghu were around during the Shang dynasty period. The Upper Xiajiadian culture is sometimes associated with the Donghu.

16th c The Kurgan Culture reached the Central Plain of "China" bringing a first flood of innovations, detected in the Sumerian Dingir truncated to Di, introduction of new religious concepts, new societal concepts, new economical model, and new technologies. Ever since, the life in China was not the same.

c1500 Seima-Turbino refers to burial sites - northern Eurasia, from Finland to Mongolia. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, travelling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots. These nomads originated from the Altai Mountains. Although they were the precursor to the much later Mongol invasions, these groups were not yet strong enough to attack the important social sites of the Bronze Age.

1500-700 Karasuk culture from the Aral Sea to the upper Yenisei catchment - metalworkers. The pottery is similar to that found in Inner Mongolia and China. Bronze knives similar to those from northeastern China are also found. Yet human remains indicate a relation with Central Asian Europids, light hair blue/green eyes. They burials were covered by kurgans, which represents Kurgan funerary practice found in the west.

13th-7th Central Asian skeletal remains circa 15th century BC to the 5th century AD, have been analyzed. Prior to this time, all DNA samples from Sogdhonia show European lineage, later an arrival of East Asian sequences is detected. This agrees with the archaeological information from the area.

1045-256 Zhou Dynasty followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as the Western Zhou.

The Ji family heads were called "Chanyu" which was also used by the Xiongnu Luanti clan during the Qin and Han dynasties.

Beidi or Northern Di was a term referring to various ethnic groups who lived in northern China during the Zhou Dynasty. By the end of the dynasty they were mostly conquered or absorbed by the Chinese.

The Di seem to have lived in a horizontal band from the upper Ordos Loop and across northern Shanxi to the state of Yan north of Beijing. This area was a transition zone between the emerging Chinese civilization and the steppe peoples to the north. They seem to have practiced a mixed pastoral, agricultural and hunting economy.

Other groups of Di seem to have lived interspersed between the Chinese states. To their north was the emerging steppe society whom the Chinese later called Hu. To the southwest the Rong lived along the northwest frontier of China. The Di and Rong are often associated and both were considered more warlike and less civilized than the Yi and Man.

c1045 Chanyu was the title used by the nomadic supreme rulers of Middle and Central Asia for 8 centuries, starting from the Zhou go period - superseded by "Khagan" in the 5th Century CE. The full phrase in which Chanyu is used means "son of endless sky", as the Chinese called their emperor the "son of heaven".

1042-1021 During the reign of King Cheng of Zhou, the Xianbei participated at a meeting of Zhou subject-lords at Qiyang but were only allowed to perform the fire ceremony under the supervision of Chu, since they were not vassals by covenant.

1027-771 Western Zhou Dynasty The Western Zhou court carried out intense political and military activities in the north, east, and west against peoples whose archaeological identification is still debated.

1st m The Bronze period in Gorny Altai progressed to Iron.

c1000-600 Upper Xiajiadian culture - southeastern Inner Mongolia, northern Hebei and western Liaoning, China. The culture made a transition from agriculture, to pastoral, nomadic horseborne lifestyle. The social structure changed from being an acephalous or tribal society to a more chiefdom-oriented society. They were a metalworking culture, producing bronze daggers, axes, chisels, arrowheads, knives and helmets which were decorated with animal and natural motifs similar to Scythian art. The culture shifted from relying on pigs to relying on sheep and goats for its primary source of domesticated protein. This is an apparant predecessor for the Donghu, Xianbei, Xiongnu northern tribespeople who later dominated the Central Asian Steppe and Central Asia.

c944 King Mu defeated the Chuan Jung then conqured the territories of the Hsii Jung and the Western Jung. His tale is a major part of Chinese Lore and much literature exists on the topic "his journey to the West"

9th c Chaodaogou culture - Baikal area, Mongolia, Altai region, South Siberia (Minusinsk river basin), and Tuva. Horse husbandry culture; contemporary with the fishing and hunting nomadic Baijinbao culture in Heilongjiang. Bronze weapons of daggers, knives, and axes, that have contributed to defining the "Northern Zone" as a distinct cultural complex. Their axes are clearly different from the fan-shaped axe of the Shang, and the the tubular socket mounting is different from the Shang method of attachment but similar to Indo-European technology of the time (Sintasha Culture.)

822 First invasion of Huns into China is dated to 822 BC in the "Book of Songs".

800 Early Anatolian Sword myths are also found in Hun and Magyar traditions and mentioned by Herodotus amongst early Scythians.

771 Control of the Zhou Dynasty by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as the Western Zhou.

723 Tribes (Rongs) named by Chinese Shaohao, Taotang and Youyu can be respectively traced to Tribes (Rongs) later called Yun, Daxia and Yuzhi.
They appeared in pre-Qin records are a match for and the precursors of; Asii, Tochari, Gaisani and Sacarauli tribes.

Shaohao known as Yun state lived in Etsin Gol (Ruo Shui) valley. Shaohao who moved to Guazhou were branded “Yun villains”. “Yuns” split, some assimilating among Chinese tribes, and others migrating westwards.
Easternmost migrants who reached Ili and Chu river valleys became Sai tribe, and west of Hami (Kumul) migrants became known as Wusuns.

723 Guesstimate 100 years before their migration, Tribes(Rongs) named by Chinese: Shaohao, Taotang and Youyu can be traced to Tribes later called Yun, Daxia and Yuzhi. Tribes Yun, Daxia, Yuzhi and Suoju appearing in pre-Quin records and books, seem to be precursors of Asii, Tochari, Gaisani and Sacarauli.

Shaohao known as Yun state lived in Etsin Gol (Ruo Shui) valley. Shaohao who moved to Guazhou were branded “Yun villains”. The “Yuns” split,some assimilating among Chinese tribes, and others migrating westwards.
Easternmost migrants in Ili and Chu river valleys became Sai tribe, and west of Hami (Xinjang) became known as Wusuns.

722 Because of disturbances, Pi-van moves capital to the East to Loi or Tsyaju, now the capital with some Chjou territory was under ”barbarians.”
Later Tsin rulers Syan-gun and Ben-gun captured this territory. Only a part of land returned to Chjou

7-6th c Onogurs (Honogurs, Phonogurs), direct ancestors of Bulgars, lived in Northern Pontic. Greeks, colonizing Northern Pontic, built cities of Phanagoria and Panticapaeum in place of
same-named Türkic settlements: Phanagoria is city founded by Onogurs. Panticapaeum is Türkic name with meaning ‘Pontus Gate’.

699-632 Donghu are mentioned by Sima Qian as existing in Inner Mongolia north of the state of Yan.

7th c Donghu divided into the Wuhuan and Xianbei Confederations, from which Mongols are derived.

697-621 The Shiji section on Xiongnu history first records the Donghu during the era of Duke Wen of Jin theb Dynasty. At this time Qin and Jin were the most powerful states in China. Duke Wen of Jin expelled the Di barbarians and drove them west of the Yellow River between the Yun and Luo rivers; there they were known as the Red Di and the White Di.
Shortly afterwards, Duke Mu of Qin, brought the eight barbarian tribes of the west to submit to his authority.

At this time west of Long were the Mianzhu, the Hunrong, and the Diyuan tribes. North of Mts. Qi and Liang and the Jing and Qi rivers lived the Yiqu, Dali, Wuzhi, and Quyuan tribes. North of Jin were the Forest Barbarians and the Loufan, while north of Yan lived the Eastern Barbarians and Mountain Barbarians.

685-643 Rule in Tsi of Huan - hun

679 Huan - hun organizes a congress of rulers (i.e. kurultai) in Tsi, taking that right from Chjou

676-651 BC Duke Xian of Jin conquered a number of Rong and Di groups.

662 the Di drove the Rong out of Taiyuan.

662-659 BC the state of Xing was nearly destroyed by the Red Di until it was rescued by the State of Qi.

660 BC the Red Di took the capital of the State of Wey and killed its ruler, but were driven out by Qi. From 660 to 507 BC Jin fought many wars with the Di, destroying Red Di state of Lushi (??) in 594 BC, 'subjugating' them in 541 BC and being severely defeated by the Xianyu Di in 507 BC.

659-21 Rule of Mu-hun in Tsin

640 BC the Di were allied with Qi and Xing against Wey and in 636 BC the Di helped the Zhou king against the state of Cheng.

623 At this time Qin and Jin were the most powerful states in China. Duke Wen of Jin expelled the Di barbarians and drove them west of the Yellow River between the Yun and Luo rivers;
there they were known as the Red Di and the White Di.

Duke Mu of Qin dominated Western Tribes (Xi-rong/Hi-rong) extending for 1,000 li [416 km], possibly causing Saka (Sai) tribes to migrate west.
Saka (Sai) tribes appeared in valleys of Ili and Chu rivers by end of seventh century BC possibly coming from east.

Shortly afterwards, Qin brought the eight barbarian tribes of the west to submit to Qin authority. Thus at this time there lived in the region west of Long the Mianzhu, the Hunrong, and the Diyuan tribes. North of Mts. Qi and Liang and the Jing and Qi rivers lived the Yiqu, Dali, Wuzhi, and Quyuan tribes.

North of Jin were the Forest Barbarians and the Loufan, while north of Yan lived the Eastern Barbarians and Mountain Barbarians. All of them were scattered about in their own little valleys, each with their own chieftains.
No one tribe was capable of unifying the others under a single rule.

531 BC Jin attacked the Xianyu and Fei. By about 400 BC BC most of the Di and Rong had been eliminated as independent polities.

c6th c Saka kurgan in a royal tomb near Lake Issykul, held a silver drinking cup with inscription in Türkic alphabet, attesting that Sak-Massagetan tribes spoke Türkic. Kurgan remains showed no trace of Mongoloid features.

c500 An international group of archaeologists has found a well-preserved 2,500-year-old mummy of a Scythian warrior in Mongolia. It was unearthed 8,500ft elevation in an intact burial mound in the Altai Mountains.
Until now remains of the Scythians - who were Iranian nomadic peoples - had only been found on the Russian side of the Altai.

c mid 5thc Warring States Period, covers the Iron Age period from either 476 BC or 453 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. In this era the

Efforts to identify some of the alien (pastoral) peoples (Xianyun, Rong [Jung], Qiang[Jiang], and Di in particular) that exist in pre-Han written records have failed to yield firm results. Pastoral nomads become historically identifiable only during the late Warring States period (Warring States period = 475–221 BC). This has created the impression that their sudden appearance on the stage of Chinese history was a product of the creation of a unified Chinese state.

Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from either 476 BC or 453 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC.
It is considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou Dynasty ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period.
During these periods, the Chinese sovereign (king of the Zhou Dynasty) was merely a figurehead.

“Between 410 and 177, the Wusuns were vassals of the Yuezhi coalition.”

406 Zhongshan was conquered by the State of Wei in 406 BC, regained its independence in 377 BC and was conquered by the State of Zhao in 295.

4thc During the later Zhou dynasty, the Donghu were powerful, forcing surrounding tribes to pay tribute

4th c The earliest Chinese records about the Xiongnu Empire date back to 4th-3rd centuries BC. (Hsiung-nu) (Xiongnu is a Chinese derisive rendering for the Huns adopted in the 2nd c. BC)

325-299 "King Wuling of Zhao" ascended to the throne, influenced by the nomads, he was the first "Chinese" to introduce cavalry into his army.

c325 During the early years of the reign of Wuling, the Donghu, enjoyed a golden age before Wuling and Qin Kai adopted Donghu battle tactics and built the North Wall of the Yan State to keep the Donghu out.

c325 Armenian sources record Bulgars as neighbors of Türk tribes named Bunturk in Kura river basin, and as another name (apparently, endoethnonym) of Scythians note ethnonym Apahtark ”White Türks”
(during campaigns of Alexander the Great)

320 Armenian sources: during campaigns of Alexander, Bulgars were reported to be neighbors of Türk tribes named Bunturk in Kura river basin.

c320 Date undefined. Aristov 1896, p. 279: In Chinese annals, long before our era south of Altai mountains lived Huns, in the north lived people So.
Then So split up into 4 tribes: Kuman or Kuban, Kyrgyz, Chu-kishi and Turks

318 First historical document connected with Huns is Chinese-Hun treaty signed in 318 BC

late 4th c Despite losing battles to Wuling and Qin Kai the Donghu remained powerful and prosperous.

304 Qin Kai, general of King Zhao of Yan, was given as a hostage to the Donghu.

300 From Chinese sources: Alans are listed as one of four Hunnish tribes (Xu-la, Lan, Hiu-bu, Siu-lin) most favored by kings of Eastern Huns (Mao-dun/Mete and his son Ki-ok/Kök.)
(ToOD 146).

300 Qin Kai, a general taken hostage from the state of Yan (Beijing), defeated the Donghu after having learned their battle tactics.
By the time of the rule of the Xiongnu Chanyu Touman ". . . the Eastern Barbarians were very powerful and the Yuezhi were likewise flourishing."
Chinese historian Yu Ying-shih describes the Donghu: The Tung-hu peoples were probably a tribal federation founded by a number of nomadic peoples, including the Wu-huan and Hsien-pi.
After its conquest by the Hsiung-nu, the federation apparently ceased to exist. In the Han period, no trace can be found of activities of the Tung-hu as a political entity.

Di Cosmo said that the Chinese considered the Hu ? as "a new type of foreigner", and believes, "This term, soon came to indicate an anthropological type' rather than a specific group or tribe, which the records allow us to identify as early steppe nomads. The Hu were the source of the introduction of cavalry in China."

Pulleyblank cites Paul Pelliot that the Donghu, Xianbei, and Wuhuan were "proto-Mongols". The Eastern Hu, mentioned in the Shih-chi along with the Woods Hu and the Lou-fan as barbarians to the north of Chao in the fourth century B.C., appear again as one of the first peoples whom
the Hsiung-nu conquered in establishing their empire. Toward the end of the Former Han, as the Hsiung-nu empire was weakening through internal dissension, the Eastern Hu became rebellious. From then on they played an increasingly prominent role in Chinese frontier strategy as a force to play off against the Hsiung-nu. Two major divisions are distinguished, the Hsien-pei to the north and the Wu-huan to the south. By the end of the first century B.C. these more specific names had supplanted the older generic term.

"pastoral nomadism based on horse riding did not come to Chinese attention until the state of Zhao reached the edge of the steppe circa before the end of the 5th C BCE. They called the "new type of horse-riding barbarian” "Hu." In Han times the term Hu was applied to steppe nomads in general but especially to the Xiongnu. Earlier it had referred to a specific proto-Mongolian people, now differentiated as the Eastern Hu, from whom the Xianbei and the Wuhuan later emerged."

3rdcBC-4thce Suibu, Eastern Hun tribe (Xiongnu.) Chinese annals noted that the Suibu tribe replaced a tribe Huyan, aka Luanti tribe.
The Hunnic traditional system of conjugal unions is a form of the nomadic exogamic society. The male members of the maternal dynastic line were not eligible for the Chanyu throne, only the male members of the Luanti line,
whose father was a Luanti Chanyu, and mother was a Suibu Khatun (Queen) were eligible for the supreme throne. A Suibu could only become Chanyu via a coup.

The tribe Huyan moved from the Right (Western) Wing, where the maternal dynastic tribe is traditionally assigned, to the Left (Eastern) Wing.
The later Hou Hanshu chapter 89, l. 7b) stated that of the noble tribes other than Luanti, Huyan (?????), Suibu, Qiulin (??) and Lan (? Lan Hsti-pu), Huyan already belonged to the dominating Left Wing,
and Lan and Suibu belonged to the Right Wing.[1] Hou Hanshu also names the dynastic Luanti tribe with a composite name Suiluanti (Ch. ??? Xulianti), implying a merger of the two dynastic lines.

Suibu was a tribe that held some of the highest positions in the Eastern Hun society, including the position of Khatun within the Hun confederacy, and the State Judge.
A male head of the Suibu tribe held a third highest position in the state, in that position, the Right Jükü-prince managed the daily affairs of the state, headed a considerable division of the army,
was a first adviser to the Chanyu, and managed the foreign relations. Frequently, the Right Jükü-prince was sent as a personal envoy of the Chanyu to sort out difficult international problems,
the Chinese annals often mention the Right Jükü-prince in that capacity.

The earliest record of a Right Jükü-prince by name refers to the events of the 121 BCE, when a Right Jükü-prince Hunie (Hunxie) killed an heir apparent Left Jükü-prince Huchjui (Xiutu) and
with 40,000 cavalry submitted to the Han Empaire, establishing a 200,000 Suibu population in the Northern China.

The “Luanti” tribe” homeland was in the Tsaram Valley just south of Lake Baikal, where burial sites from the elite of the Xiongnu Tribal Alliance have been uncovered.

3rd C Chinese written sources and "wu-shu" coins in Hsiung-nu sites are the basis to the chronology of archaeological complexes in Central Asia and neighboring regions.
The supposed date of the Hsiung-nu sites is between 3rd C BC - 1st C AD - the period of the greatest power of the Hsiung-nu.

290 Hun state consists of 24 clans, some of them: Kuyan, Lan, Suybu, Suylyanti, Tsulin, Taychi, Uyti, Tsetszuy.
Hun leader is titled Great Shanüy - ”Chenli gydu shanüy” - ”Son of endless sky” Succession is from father to eldest son.
some of them: Kuyan (Jack rabbit) Lan (Orchard) Suybu (West Tribe) Suylyanti Tsulin Taychi Uyti Tsetszuy…

290 Hun state leader is titled Great Shanyu - "Son of endless sky" Succession is from father to eldest son

C283-265 Tian Dan fought with Di who lived in the state of Qi.

270 Change of Xiongnu Chauyg ?Kia? passes and ?Tangriqut? becomes

c250 General Li Mu of the State of Zhao defeated the Xiongnu by luring them deep inside Zhao territory and ambushing them.

246 In Chinese records, Chinese ruler Si Huang Ti (259-210 BC) built the Great Chinese Wall against attacks of Huns.
Alternate version: Si Huang Ti connected walls built by independent Chinese principalities into a continuous line to encircle steppe pasturelands stolen from the Huns, and to keep enslaved Chinese people in China.

240 Touman (Tumen, 240 - 210 BC), of clan Suylyanti with a bull totem establishes Hunnic Empire

223 King Diodotus II of Bactria is killed by Euthydemus I, founder of the Greco-Bactrian Euthydemid dynasty.

221-207 Qin Dynasty was the first unified, power-centralized state in China. Although surviving only 15 years, it is important in Chinese history and influenced following dynasties.

221 Xiongnu Luanti clan during the Qin (221-206 BCE) and Han dynasties (206 BCE–220 CE).
General Meng Tian of the Qin Dynasty drove the Xiongnu north for 750 km and built the Great Wall to guard against future raids.

220-209 Touman was the earliest known Hiungnu (Xiongnu) chanyu. Turk historians see Teoman as founder of a proto-Turkic state preceding the Huns, Turks, Mongols, and other Altaic and Uralic peoples.

By the time the Qin Dynasty conquered the other six states and began its reign over a unified China in 221 BCE, the Xiongnu had grown into a powerful force in the north and was expanding both east and west.
At this time the Donghu were powerful in Mongolia and the Yuezhi were flourishing in the Ganzu corridor.
Circa late third century BCE, "China" had not yet caught up with the Steppe people's very mobile horseborne warfare.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang (first emperor of the Qin Dynasty), sent a 100,000-strong army to drive the Xiongnu "northward."
"Touman, had withdrawn to the north, where he held out for over ten years."

215 Chinese general Meng Tian drives the Xiongnu out of the Ordos Loop but when he returned home, the Qin Dynasty had been replaced by the Han Dynasty. The Xiongnu now returned to the Ordos Loop area.

210 After the death of Meng Tian in 210 BCE, the Xiongnu "once again began to infiltrate south of the bend of the Yellow River until they had established themselves along the old border of China."

209 The relationship between China and the nomads appears to have been of secondary importance to Chinese history until it exploded into one of its most critical issues, during the Qin-Han period.
The emergence of the Xiongnu empire, in 209 BC, struck the newly born Chinese empire with unprecedented strength, forcing upon it the realization that the north had become a major antagonist, politically, militarily,
and culturally. Because of this, scholars have had great difficulties explaining the origin of the Xiongnu and related nomadic cultures in northern China.

209-174 Tumen died, accession to throne of Mo-Tun (Batur) who some see as the founder of the Hun Empire. (Hsiung-nu, Xiongnu)
The initial territory of the Hsiung-nu was the northern areas of the Chinese Yan and Zhao states (east of Shanxi, north of Hebei, west of Liaoning, as well as in south-east Inner Mongolia.)

A hypothes:
Hsiung-nu inhabited the northern area of the states of Yan and Zhao. "Early Hsiung-nu" evidence may be suggested at the cemeteries at Nanshan’gen, Dunnangou, Zhouziadi, Juihuanmiao and some burials in the top
stratum at Xiaziadian settlement and other sites. They are characterized by Hsuing-Nu attributes found in later burials.

These 3rd Century Hsiung-nu advances began large population movements.

An essential transformation of the anthropological and cultural face of peoples of the Asian steppe began at the end of the 3rd C BC.
This process continued for some decades and ended not earlier than 1st C BC, when typical Hsiung-nu cultural complexes were distributed over the huge territory that they controlled.
This territory, however, did not include the initial homeland of the Hsiung-nu.

They had already lost that area by the end of the 2nd Century after war with the Han empire.

209 When the Modu became Chanyu, the Donghu sensed weakness and demanded tribute from the Xiongnu. Modu attacked and defeated them, ending the Donghu federation.
The Wuhuan engaged in warfare with the Xiongnu on the west and China on the south. The Xianbei were forced to move north to Mt. Xianbei.
Eventually, the Xianbei defeated the Wuhuan and northern Xiongnu, and developed into a powerful state under their Khan, Tanshihuai.

After the Donghu were defeated, the Xianbei and Wuhuan survived as remnants. The Hou Hanshu says that “the language and culture of the Xianbei are the same as the Wuhuan”.
Tadun of the Wuhuan was the ancestor of the proto-Mongolic Kumo Xi (aka Tatabi). The Weishu records that the Kumo Xi and Khitan (descendants of the Xianbei) spoke the same language.
When the Xiongnu crown prince Modu Chanyu killed his father, Touman (in 209 BCE) and took the title of Chanyu, the Donghu thought that Modu feared them,

and they started to ask for tribute from the Xiongnu, and even a consort of Modu's.

Not satisfied with this they asked for some of the Xiongnu territories. This enraged Modu who attacked and soundly defeated them, killing their ruler, taking his subjects prisoner,
and seizing their livestock, before turning west to attack and defeat the Yuezhi (c. 177 BCE).

This caused disintegration in the Donghu federation. Thereafter, the Wuhuan moved to Mt. Wuhuan and engaged in continuous warfare with the Xiongnu on the west and China on the south.
As they came to be worn out from the lengthy battles, the Xianbei preserved their strengths by moving northward to Mt. Xianbei. In the 1st century, the Xianbei defeated the Wuhuan and
northern Xiongnu, and developed into a powerful state under the leadership of their elected Khan, Tanshihuai.

Xiongnu 209 BC

Xianbei 93–234

Rouran 330–555

Göktürk 552–744

Uyghur 742–848

Khitan 916–1125

208 Euthydemus of Bactria underwent a two-year siege from Seleucid Antiochus III.

207 Tadun of the Wuhuan died (the ancestor of the proto-Mongolic Kumo Xi (aka Tatabi). The Kumo Xi and Khitan (descendants of the Mongolic Xianbei) spoke the same language.

205 Rome begins expanding into Asia Minor.

204 Hun Empire Founder: Bagatir, Maotun, Batur (until 216ce.)

202–9ce Western Han period (capital Chang'an, modern Xi'an), 25–220 CE is called Eastern Han period (capital Luoyang.)

202 Mao-tun unites the Huns around Lake Bajkal and southeastern Mongolia.

201 Yenisei Kyrgyz history dates to 201 BC. They were a part of the Tiele tribes. The early Kyrgyz people, known as Yenisei Kyrgyz or Xiajiasi, first appear in the Chinese annals of the
Sima Qian's records of the Grand Historian (compiled 109 BC to 91 BC), as Gekun or Jiankun.

200 Defeat of Han Emperor Gao by Modu Shanyu at Baideng, the Han Dynasty was forced to pay tribute in order to appease of Xiongnu.

177 Mete Khan described that 26 nations are in Türkish state and all of them became ”nations stretching bow-string”, or Huns; among the Hunnish are Tele and Ases (Yuezhi.)

177 Sima Qian in Shiji, written from 109 BC to 91 BC, mentioned tribe Küishe along with Kirgizes, Dinlins and Sinli were subjugated by Maotun. Küishe has been interpreted as Kipchaks or Kuchuk.

177-300AD As Chinese learn more about Huns and their constituent tribes, Chinese chronicles start recording names Chiele and Chinese nicknames Gaogyuys and Gaoche for Tele tribes.
Most powerful of Tele tribes was tribe Sary = Sir = Yellow (Blond) with their kyshtym subjects Yanto, called by Chinese with a combination Seyanto.

176 Yuezhi aka Tele, Kushans, etc. began to be driven west by the Xiongnu (until 160.)

176 Hsiung-nu attack eastern China ?

175 Shortly before 174 BCE, the Xiongnu invaded Yuezhi territory and achieved a crushing victory.

174 Mete Khan died. By this time the Xiongnu controlled Manchuria, Mongolia and the Tarim Basin.

174-161 Kokkhan became the third king of the Xiongnu aka Hsiung-nu aka Huns.
He attacked the Yüeh-chih aka Yuezhi aka Tocharians and later known as "Kushuns", and drove them westward from Gansu. hkhgStrabo names the Yuezi tribes: Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli.

173 Khan Mo led a powerful force of mounted Usun archers to rout the Yüeh-chih, forcing them to once again uproot and resume their march west.

173-161 Chanyu Laoshan

early 2nd A series of nomadic migrations westward, beginning in Mongolia:
The Wusun of western Gansu were a Scythian Steppe people, a group of who had originally lived in western Gansu in northwest China west of the Yuezhi people.

Tian Shan

After being defeated by the Xiongnu (circa 176 BCE) they fled to the region of the Ili river and (lake) Issyk Kul where they remained for at least five centuries and formed a powerful force.
arrived in Central Asia by the 130s, the Wusun had arriveed in
The Huns had pushed the neighboring Yüeh-chih to the west; in return, the Yüeh-chih pushed Scythian tribes inhabiting this region across
the Jaxartes River into Sogdiana.
162 Defeat of powerful Yüeh-chih confederation by the Xiongnu near Dunhuang (eastern edge of Taklimakan Desert.) Yüeh-chih and loyal tribes vacated the Gansu corridor.
The Yüeh-chih resettled in Ili River valley, a region which was until then occupied by Scythian tribes.
These Scythians were forced to make westward migration - new Sarmation tribes arrive on the Pontic Steppe in the corresponding time period.

155 The Wusun a Sarmation group, in alliance with the Xiongnu, dislodged the Yuezhi, from the Ili River valley area.
The Yuezhi crossed through Dayuan (Ferghana) and settled on the north bank of the Oxus (north of Bactria.)
The Wusun occupied the Ili River valley area for the next several hundred years.

Wusun "Grandchildren of The Crow" were a nomadic steppe people who, according to the Chinese histories, originally lived in western Gansu in northwest China near the Yuezhi people.
They are mentioned in Chinese historical sources in 436 CE, when a Chinese envoy was sent to their country and the Wusun reciprocated.
Archaeological evidence and textual account indicate that the Wusun were a Caucasian people, which would be expected as they were of Indo-Persian (Scythian) stock.

150 Many Scythian nations are now being pushed west into Parthian territory, they are also creating pressures on the Roman frontier.

145-86 Sima Qian

c145 The "Greek" city of Alexandria Eschate (Khujand) was sacked by the Yuezhi.

141-128 Yüeh-chih, fleeing from Huns (Hsiung-nu, Xiongnu), overrun the Bactrian kingdom, which is renamed Tocharistan.

140-87 Han emperor Wu-ti conducts campaigns against the Hsiung-nu in the Tarim. The thirty-six kingdoms of the "Western Regions" are now claimed by Han China.
The Imperial Government established a "Commandant of Imperial Envoys" there to direct the war against the Xiongnu.

c135 The Yue-chi arrived in Bactria and took control.

133 Han Emperor Wu launched an attack on the Xiongnu. The Battle of Mayi was a failed ambush attempt by Han forces against the Xiongnu which ended the existing peace.

132 Khan Mo of former neighbors of Yuezhi the in Gansu, "Usuns" retaliated for a Yueh-chi attack in 173. With permission from his Huns overlord (the new Khan Junchen, successor to Jiju who died in 158)
Khan Mo led a powerful force of mounted Usun archers to attack and rout surprised and dismayed Kushans, forcing them to once again uproot and resume their long march west.

129 when Xiongnu attacked the Commandery of Shanggu. Emperor Wu dispatched four generals, each leading a ten-thousand-strong cavalry, against Xiongnu.
Both Li Guang and Gongsun Ao suffered major losses at Xiongnu's hands, and Gongsun failed to find and engage the enemy, but Wei Qing distinguished himself with a long-distance raid

127 The Han defeated an Xiongnu horde and drove them west from the Shuofang region of Mongolia. This was a triggering event of the “migration period.”
The Xiongnu in turn drove many Saka tibes further West into Roman and Parthian territory.

126 The Yuezhi were visited by Zhang Qian on his diplomatic oddessy; he was seeking a Chinese alliance with the Yuezhi against the Xiongnu.
The request was denied and Zhang Qian made an account, reported in the Shiji, that gives insight into Central Asia at that time.

The Kingdom of the Da Yuezhi (the Kushans) The main centre of the Yuezhi (Kushan) kingdom is the town of Lanshi (Bactra/Balkh).
To the west it borders Anxi (Parthia), which is 49 days march away.
To the east, it is 6,537 li (2,718 km) from the seat of the Chief Scribe [in Lukchun], and 16,370 li (6,807 km) from Luoyang.
There are 100,000 households, 400,000 individuals, and more than 100,000 men able to bear arms.

124 The Yuezhi were in a war against the Parthians, in which the Parthian king Artabanus I was killed.
After 124, apparently vanquished by the Parthian king Mithridates II, the Yuezhi moved south to Bactria.

Strabo presented them as a Scythian tribe and explained that the Tokharians—together with the Assianis, Passianis and Sakaraulis—took part in the
destruction of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom:

"Most of the Scythians, beginning from the Caspian Sea, are called Dahae Scythae, and those situated more towards the east Massagetae and Sacae;
the rest have the common appellation of Scythians, but each separate tribe has its peculiar name.
All, or the greatest part of them, are nomads. The best known tribes are those who took Bactriana, the Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli,
who came from the country on the other side of the Jaxartes, opposite the Sacae and Sogdiani." (Strabo, 11-8-1)

The last Greco-Bactrian king, Heliocles I, retreated and moved his capital to the Kabul Valley.
The eastern part of Bactria was occupied by Pashtun people.

The Yuezhi became Hellenized to some degree, (Greek alphabet and by coins, minted in the Greco-Bactrian style, with the text in Greek.
The area of Bactria they settled came to be known as Tokharistan, since the Yuezhi were called "Tocharians" by the Greeks.

Commercial relations with China flourished, many Chinese missions were sent throughout the 1st century BCE:

124 Asi (Yazig), Pasiani (Budini/Beçen/Peçenek), Tocharian, Sabir (Sabaroi) tribes break into Sogdiana and Baktria.
In next five years two Parthian emperors loose their lives in wars. They also later conquer Sakauraka tribe.

124 When Xiongnu tried to attack the Han at Shuofang Wei surprised them by attacking from the rear and took about fifteen thousand captives.

121 Han emperor Wudi brought his cavalry to Liangzhou eastern Ganzau to defend the Hexi Corridor against the Xiongnu Huns.

c119 Han raid north to the Bator area south of Lake Biakal.

119 Battle of Mobei was fought in northern Gobi Desert. It was part of a major offensive into the heartland of the Xiongnu.
The battle was a success for the Han, whose forces were led by Wei Qing and Huo Qubing.

115 Between 115–60 BCE Western Han forces fought the Huns over control of Tarim Basin city-states. Eventually Western Han won and in 60 BCE established "Protectorate of " Western Regions."

114 Ovi (114 - 105 BC)

108 Battle of Loulan - the earliest Chinese military venture into the Tarim basin. After Loulan and Jushi switched allegiance to the Xiongnu. The Han arrested the king of Loulan, and an launched offensive against Jushi.
The battle resulted in the submission of both Wusun and Dayuan, and it increased role of Han Chinese in Tarim.

103 Tribe Pu-ku/Bu-gu is repeatedly mentioned in different Chinese sources from 103 BC up to 8-th century AD. They inhabit parts of Central Asia, N and NW of Tien-Shan, Semirech'e and W of rivers Syr Darya and Amu Darya.

103 One of tribal lords of Pu-ku - Sofu sulifa Kenan Bain, bears title sulifa, attested later among Dagestan Bulgarians.

100 End of High Altai Cultures

99 Li Guangli led 30 thousand cavalrymen in an attack on the Xiongnu forces in Tian Shan. The attack was successful, with enemy losses totaling over 10 thousand. However, as the Han army withdrew, it became surrounded by enemy forces, and many soldiers died of starvation. Eventually, Li escaped with the help of Zhao Chong, but almost 60 percent of the soldiers had lost their lives by this time. Li Ling, leading 5 thousand cavalrymen, was also attacked by Xiongnu. He eventually surrendered.

87 Han emperor Wu-ti dies?

76 The Loulan kingdom ceased to exist, as Anguithe last king of Loulan, was assassinated by two of Han General Fu Jiezi's men during a banquet. They changed the name Loulan to Shanshan - the capital was moved south west to the city of Wuni (no longer in the Lop Nur.)

73-49 Emperor Xuan (defeated the Xiongnu circa 59.)

72 The Han formed a coalition with the Wusun, Dingling, and Wuhuan, and the coalition forces inflicted a major defeat against the Xiongnu.

67 The Battle of Jushi between the Han Dynasty and the Xiongnu for the control the Jushi tribe in the Turpan Basin. The Han won. King Wugui of the Jushi surrendered after the Han besieged the capital of Jushi. The Xiongnu come to aid the Jushi, but escaped after Zheng Ji and Sima Xi confronted with the armies. Zheng Ji then left 20 men with a general to protect the king of Jushi, but he was afraid of the return of Xiongnu, and fled to Wusun. The Xiongnu implanted Doumo as the king of Jushi, and moved the population further east from Jiaohe. Zheng Ji then seized Jaiohe.

63 "Huns regain control over the Tarim Basin"

63-60 during a split within the Xiongnu ruling clan of Luanti, the Dingling attacked the Xiongnu, together with the Wusun, supported by the Chinese, from the west and the Wuhuan from the southeast.

60 An internal disturbance occurred among the Xiongnu ruling clique, and Xianxianshan, Prince Rizhu of the Xiongnu in the Turpan Basin, led 12,000 of his troops and 12 royals to pledge allegiance to the Han imperial court.
The same year, the Han appointed Zheng Ji as the Protector General of the Western Regions, with his office in Wulei (near Qiuci) to oversee the entire region of the Tarim Basin west to the Pamir.

c59 Xiongnu leadership collapsed and split into 5 hordes as a consequence of infighting between brothers which had been promoted by Han China.
Qoghoshar (Khukheniy I) opposed by...
Bosiuytang-Zhuki (West)
Huge (Northwest)
Cheli (Southwest)
Uji (Northwest)
Zhunzhen (West)
Zhizhi-Guduhu (East)

58 The Huns—who had previously enjoyed more than a century of relative political stability—fractured into two divisions by 58 B.C.

The ruler, or shan-yü, of the eastern portion of the empire was Hou-han-sie.
The western half of Hun territory was governed by Jzh-jzh, Hou-han-sie's older brother.
Jzh-jzh defeated Hou-han-sie in battle, who was forced to seek protection from China.

58-31 Southern Changnu "Hu-han-yeh" aligned his faction with the Han.

56 As his brother Hu-han-yeh grew more powerful, Zhizhi retreated westward. About 44 BC he made an alliance with Kangju.
Later he quarreled with the Kangju, killed several hundred of them and forced them to build him a fortress. The fort required 500 men and two years to build. It was probably located near Taraz.

54 Chinese chronicles mention Ogurs as separate people in vicinity of Edisu

53 Parthian nomads from east of Caspian Sea conquered Kabul River Valley, with Taxila and Pushkalavati as their capital cities.
After defeating Greeks, Parthians ruled northern Pakistan area. Parthians promoted art and religion, developed Gandhara school of art with Greek, Syrian, Persian and Indian art influences

51 Hun Shayu Huhanye suffered defeat and sought protection from Western Han Emperor Yuan.
Winner of internecine conflict Zhizhi (Jiji) Chanyu (r. 56–36 BCE) was killed by Chinese at the Battle of Zhizhi (Jiji), in modern Taraz, Kazakhstan.

51 Hsiung-nu split into two hordes, - Eastern Horde subject to China.

c50s The xihou (‘Allied Prince’) of Guishuang (Badakhshan and the adjoining territories north of the Oxus), named Qiujiu Que (Kujula Kadphises), attacked other xihou (‘Allied Princes’)
and set himself up a kingdom called Guishuang (Badakhshan).

He invaded Anxi (Parthia) and took the Gaofu (Kabul) region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puta (Parthuaia, 55 CE), and Jibin (Kapisha-Peshawar).
Qiujiu Que (Kujula Kadphises) was more than eighty years old when he died.

His son, Yan Gaozhen (Vima Taktu), became king in his place. He returned and defeated Tianzhu (Northwestern India) and installed a General to supervise and lead it.
The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call [their king] the Guishuang (Kushan) king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi.
The Han Histories

50 The western Huns expand to the Volga

50 Dionisios Periegetos says, already in 1st century BC, Huns dominate over all Caspian lands

48-216ad WESTERN HUN EMPIRE Founder – Panu Area - area over present Central Asia

c44 Zhizhi made an alliance with Kangju. Later he quarreled with the Kangju, killed several hundred of them and forced them to build him a fortress. The fort required 500 men and two years to build. It was probably located near Taraz.

36 The Battle of Zhizhi - Han Dynasty and the western/northern Xiongnu Chanyu Zhizhi. The western Xiongnu were defeated and driven westward towards Persia and Rome. The battle was probably fought near Taraz on the Talas River in eastern Kazakhstan, which makes it one of the westernmost points reached by a Chinese army.

About 36 BC Gan Yanshou was governor of the Western Regions and Chen Tang was his deputy commander. Chen Tang claimed that Zhizhi was planning to build up a great empire and proposed a preemptive attack.
Gan Yanshou objected, but when he was sick Chen Tang forged an edict and mobilized the army.

29 Augustus used an incursion of the Bastarnae across the Danube as a pretext to devastate the Getae and Thracians. He put Crassus in charge.

22 A catastropic drought occurred in the east causing disruptions in the land of the Hsuing-nu (Xiongnu.)

13 The last Protector General, Dan Qin, was killed during a rebellion led by Yanqi.

6-1CE During the time of Emperor Ai and Emperor Ping [1-5 CE], the principalities of the Western Regions split and formed fifty-five kingdoms.

1 BC Emperor Ai died and Empress Dowager Wang had Wang Mang appointed regent for the new Emperor Ping.
Wang, now in power, took drastic action to attack actual or perceived political enemies. This brought the beginnings of a personality cult.

By the end of the 1st century BCE, the Guishuang tribe became the leaders of the of the five tribes of the Yuezhi confederation.
From that point, the Yuezhi extended their control over the northwestern area of the Indian subcontinent, founding the Kushan Empire,
The Yuezhi were known as Kushan among Western civilizations but the Chinese kept calling them Yuezhi.

1CE Huns regain independence from Western Han
Sep 2012
There used to be a huge debate over whether or not Huns=Xiongnu. Not really my area, but I remember finding the argument against slightly more convincing. Been a while since I last delved into the topic though, so maybe things have changed.


Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
Since I am very much of the mutable identity school of ancient ethnography, I tend to find Guy Halsall's conclusion satisfying: the Huns were a local group closely connected to the Goths, who probably the got the upper hand in a civil war and drove the Greuthungi and Tervingi across the Roman frontier. They did not come from afar.
Oct 2012
SF bay area
Since I am very much of the mutable identity school of ancient ethnography, I tend to find Guy Halsall's conclusion satisfying: the Huns were a local group closely connected to the Goths, who probably the got the upper hand in a civil war and drove the Greuthungi and Tervingi across the Roman frontier. They did not come from afar.
Let me get this straight.

You think the Huns were blue eyed brown haired Indo-Europeans?
Or do you think that they were full on Germanics?

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