Home Region:  Afghanistan (Central and Northern Eurasia)

Hephthalites

D G SC WF HS PT EQ 2020  af_hephthalite_emp / AfHepht

Preceding:
[elite migration; Sassanid Empire I] [elite migration]   Update here
Add one more here.

Succeeding:
No Polity found. Add one here.

The Hepthalites were one group of a series of nomadic tribal confederations that are sometimes referred to as the White Huns. The evidence seems to indicate that they were a second wave of Hunnish migration. [1] Despite the name, some scholars think the White Huns were in fact not a Turkic people, but rather the easternmost group of Iranian nomads. [2]
At their peak territorial coverage the Hephthalite lands may have enclosed 26 million people but most subjects likely had a great deal of autonomy. As a nomadic confederation, the Hepthalites may not have possessed a central administration, although evidence indicates at least the adoption of local administrations for the purposes of exacting tribute. [3] During the peak of their power, they seem to have become increasingly sedentary, and this may have increased the degree of centralization. Coins show Hephthalites practiced skull deformation [4] which may provide indirect evidence for strong social hierarchy and status competition.
Commentators at the time differed in their opinions as to what the structure of the group was and to what degree they differed from the other nomadic peoples of the area. The Byzantian commentator Procopius of Caesarea stressed that, ’They are not nomadic like the other Hunnish peoples, but have long since settled on fertile land.’ He further explained that unlike the other peoples of central asia, the Hepthalites were,’ruled by one king and possess a legal state structure, observing justice among themselves and with their neighbours in no lesser measure than the Byzantines and Persians.’ [1]

[1]: http://en.unesco.org/silkroad/sites/silkroad/files/knowledgebankarticle/vol_III%20silk%20road_the%20hephthalite%20empire%20BIS.pdf p. 140

[2]: Docherty, Paddy. The Khyber Pass: a history of empire and invasion. Union Square Press, 2008. p. 105

[3]: encyclopedia iranica vol. XII, HAREM I - ILLUMINATIONISM, 2004. Fasc. 2, pp. 198-201

[4]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
42 N  
Original Name:
Hepthalite Empire  
Capital:
Balkh  
Pendjikent  
Sakala  
Alternative Name:
Hepthalite Huns  
Ye-Ta  
Cao  
Ephthalites  
Hayathelaites  
Hephtal  
He-ta  
Hoa  
Hoa-Tun  
Hunas  
Iranian Huns  
the people of Hua  
White Huns  
Yeda  
Ye-tai  
Ye-ti-i-li-do  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[509 CE ➜ 522 CE]  
Duration:
[408 CE ➜ 561 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
alliance with [---]  
vassalage to [---]  
Supracultural Entity:
Steppe nomads  
Succeeding Entity:
First Turk Khaganate  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
[7,500,000 to 8,000,000] km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration  
Preceding Entity:
UNCLEAR:    [elite migration]  
Degree of Centralization:
nominal  
confederated state  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Indo-European  
Language:
Bactrian  
Religion
Religion Genus:
Hephthalite Religions  
Alternate Religion:
NO_VALUE_ON_WIKI  
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Polity Territory:
1,000,000 km2 450 CE
[2,750,000 to 3,000,000] km2 500 CE
Polity Population:
26,500,000 people 500 CE
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
[2 to 3]  
Religious Level:
1  
Military Level:
4  
Administrative Level:
[4 to 5]  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
present  
Professional Priesthood:
present  
Professional Military Officer:
present  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
present  
Merit Promotion:
inferred absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
present  
absent  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
inferred present  
Irrigation System:
inferred present  
Food Storage Site:
present  
Drinking Water Supply System:
unknown  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
inferred present  
Port:
unknown  
Canal:
unknown  
Bridge:
unknown  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
unknown  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present  
Script:
absent 408 CE 487 CE
present 488 CE 561 CE
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
inferred present  
Non Phonetic Writing:
absent  
Mnemonic Device:
present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present  
Sacred Text:
absent 408 CE 487 CE
present 488 CE 561 CE
Religious Literature:
absent 408 CE 487 CE
present 488 CE 561 CE
Practical Literature:
present  
Philosophy:
present  
Lists Tables and Classification:
absent 408 CE 487 CE
present 488 CE 561 CE
History:
present  
Fiction:
present  
Calendar:
present  
Information / Money
Precious Metal:
inferred present  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
present  
Foreign Coin:
present  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Courier:
inferred present  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
present  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
inferred present  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
inferred present  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
present  
  Fortified Camp:
unknown  
  Earth Rampart:
present  
  Ditch:
inferred present  
  Complex Fortification:
unknown  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
present  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
inferred present  
  Bronze:
present  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
inferred present  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
inferred absent  
  Self Bow:
inferred absent  
  Javelin:
present  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
inferred present  
  Composite Bow:
present  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
inferred present  
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
inferred present  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
inferred present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
present  
  Elephant:
present  
  Donkey:
present  
  Dog:
unknown  
  Camel:
present  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
inferred present  
  Shield:
inferred present  
  Scaled Armor:
present  
  Plate Armor:
unknown  
  Limb Protection:
inferred present  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
present  
  Helmet:
inferred present  
  Chainmail:
present  
  Breastplate:
inferred present  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Hephthalites (af_hephthalite_emp) was in:
 (473 CE 496 CE)   Sogdiana
 (496 CE 531 CE)   Sogdiana     Kachi Plain
 (531 CE 563 CE)   Sogdiana
Home NGA: Sogdiana

General Variables
Identity and Location

Original Name:
Hepthalite Empire

attested as the capital by Chinese sources from the period, although how centralized the state was is largely unknown. Some limited excavation has taken place. [1]
"473-79 Hephthalites conquer Sogdiana and establish a capital city at Pendjikent." [2]
Toramana, who made conquests in India "established his capital city at Salaka" [3]

[1]: Denis Sinor, "The establishment and dissolution of the Türk empire" in Denis Sinor, "The Cambridge history of early Inner Asia, Volume 1", Cambridge University Press, 1990. p. 300; Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 152

[2]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[3]: (Bauer 2010, 180) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.

Capital:
Pendjikent

attested as the capital by Chinese sources from the period, although how centralized the state was is largely unknown. Some limited excavation has taken place. [1]
"473-79 Hephthalites conquer Sogdiana and establish a capital city at Pendjikent." [2]
Toramana, who made conquests in India "established his capital city at Salaka" [3]

[1]: Denis Sinor, "The establishment and dissolution of the Türk empire" in Denis Sinor, "The Cambridge history of early Inner Asia, Volume 1", Cambridge University Press, 1990. p. 300; Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 152

[2]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[3]: (Bauer 2010, 180) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.

Capital:
Sakala

attested as the capital by Chinese sources from the period, although how centralized the state was is largely unknown. Some limited excavation has taken place. [1]
"473-79 Hephthalites conquer Sogdiana and establish a capital city at Pendjikent." [2]
Toramana, who made conquests in India "established his capital city at Salaka" [3]

[1]: Denis Sinor, "The establishment and dissolution of the Türk empire" in Denis Sinor, "The Cambridge history of early Inner Asia, Volume 1", Cambridge University Press, 1990. p. 300; Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 152

[2]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[3]: (Bauer 2010, 180) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Alternative Name:
Hepthalite Huns

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Ye-Ta

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Cao

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Ephthalites

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Hayathelaites

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Hephtal

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
He-ta

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Hoa

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Hoa-Tun

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Hunas

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Iranian Huns

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
the people of Hua

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
White Huns

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Yeda

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Ye-tai

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

Alternative Name:
Ye-ti-i-li-do

Cao; Ephthalites; Hayathelaites; Hephtal; He-ta; Hoa; Hoa-Tun; Hunas; Iranian Huns; the people of Hua; White Huns; Yeda; Ye-tai; Ye-ti-i-li-do. [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 274) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.


Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[509 CE ➜ 522 CE]

509 CE. The apex of Hephthalite power. Over forty countries paid tribute, and the authority of the tribal confederacy extended over a vast territorial area from central Asia into northern India. [1]
"522 The height of Hephthalite power." [2]
Reign of King Toramana. When Toramana "died sometime between 515 and 520 and was succeeded by his son, crown prince Mihirakula, the nature of the empire changed." [3]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Crossroads of Civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750 Vol. 3, 1999 p. 144

[2]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[3]: (Bauer 2010, 181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Duration:
[408 CE ➜ 561 CE]

The beginning data, 408 CE, marks the first appearance of the polity as a separate entity in the records of the local empires when they begin raiding the Sassanian Empire.
"557-61 Final victory of Khosrow I, the Sassanid king, over Hephthalite forces." [1]
Between 557 CE to 561 CE the Persian King Chosroes allied with another steppe people who had appeared from inner Asia. Although some component peoples of the Hepthalites may have survived into the period of the Islamic conquest, even this contingent had faded outside of some mountain strongholds by around 670 CE. [2]
"565 Almost complete disappearance of Hephthalites in the face of the emergence of the western Turks (Gokturks)." [1]
570 CE is when the core territories were split between the Turkic nomads in the north, and the resurgent Sassanian empire.
The timeline of Hepathalites arrival into India is murky but indicates a period of dominance until the local population rebelled after religious persecution and a reduction in military support when the Hepthalites faced conflicts with incoming Turkic peoples. [3]

[1]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[2]: Runion, Meredith L. The history of Afghanistan. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. p. 48

[3]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 146


Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
alliance with [---]

Sassanid tribute
"459 Hephthalites assist Firuz (Peroz) to regain his Sassanid throne; he must pay significant tribute in return." [1]
none: 408-562 CE; vassalage: 563-670 CE [2]
The Hepthalite were vassals to Kusrau I, the Sasasian King. Independent elements in the south maintained a degree of independence in the Zerafshan valley as tribute payers to the Turks, and further south to the Sasasians. By the 570s the only truly independent fragments of the former power of the Hepthalites were located in modern day Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the longest enduring in Kabul. [2]

[1]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[2]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 147

Suprapolity Relations:
vassalage to [---]

Sassanid tribute
"459 Hephthalites assist Firuz (Peroz) to regain his Sassanid throne; he must pay significant tribute in return." [1]
none: 408-562 CE; vassalage: 563-670 CE [2]
The Hepthalite were vassals to Kusrau I, the Sasasian King. Independent elements in the south maintained a degree of independence in the Zerafshan valley as tribute payers to the Turks, and further south to the Sasasians. By the 570s the only truly independent fragments of the former power of the Hepthalites were located in modern day Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the longest enduring in Kabul. [2]

[1]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[2]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 147


Supracultural Entity:
Steppe nomads

Hephthalites "of uncertain origin and cultural affiliation" [1]

[1]: (West 2009, 275) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.


Succeeding Entity:
First Turk Khaganate

Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
[7,500,000 to 8,000,000] km2

km squared. "The Byzantine writer Procopius in the early sixth century refers to them as white-bodied Huns ... However, there is no material or linguistic evidence that they were related to the Huns or Xiongnu at all, and the name has generally been interpreted as a mistaken identity given to a nomadic people whose culture resembled that of the Huns." [1] All the nomadic kingdoms that flourished in Bactria between the middle of the fourth century CE and the middle of the sixth century CE seem to have originated in a massive migration in the second half of the fourth century between 350 CE and 370 CE. [2]

[1]: (West 2009, 275) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[2]: De la Vaissière, É. "Is there a Nationality of the Hephthalites." Bulletin of the Asia Institute 17 (2008): pp 119-132.


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration

"The original homeland of the Hephthalites is relatively obscure although most experts agree that they originated north of the Great Wall of China, in or near present day Mongolia. A Chinese source from the second century states that they lived in a region of northwest China sometimes referred to as Dzungaria, a steppe area surrounded by mountain chains." [1] All the nomadic kingdoms that flourished in Bactria between the middle of the fourth century CE and the middle of the sixth century CE seem to have originated in a massive migration in the second half of the fourth century between 350 CE and 370 CE. [2]

[1]: (West 2009, 275) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[2]: De la Vaissière, É. "Is there a Nationality of the Hephthalites." Bulletin of the Asia Institute 17 (2008): pp 119-132.


Preceding Entity:
Sassanid Empire I

(Relationship): "The original homeland of the Hephthalites is relatively obscure although most experts agree that they originated north of the Great Wall of China, in or near present day Mongolia. A Chinese source from the second century states that they lived in a region of northwest China sometimes referred to as Dzungaria, a steppe area surrounded by mountain chains." [1] All the nomadic kingdoms that flourished in Bactria between the middle of the fourth century CE and the middle of the sixth century CE seem to have originated in a massive migration in the second half of the fourth century between 350 CE and 370 CE. [2]
(Entity): the core area of this polity is considered to be Sogdiana

[1]: (West 2009, 275) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.

[2]: De la Vaissière, É. "Is there a Nationality of the Hephthalites." Bulletin of the Asia Institute 17 (2008): pp 119-132.


Degree of Centralization:
nominal

The Hepthalites were one group of a series of nomadic tribal confederations that are sometimes referred to as the White Huns. The evidence seems to indicate that they were a second wave of Hunnish migration. Commentators at the time differ as to what the structure of the group was and to what degree they differed from the other nomadic peoples of the area. The Byzantian commentator Procopius of Caesarea stressed that, ’They are not nomadic like the other Hunnish peoples, but have long since settled on fertile land.’ He further explained that unlike the other peoples of central asia, the Hepthalites were, ’ruled by one king and possess a legal state structure, observing justice among themselves and with their neighbours in no lesser measure than the Byzantines and Persians.’ [1]
As a nomadic confederation, there does not seem to have been a centralized power structure, although some evidence indicates the adoption of local administrations for the purposes of exacting tribute. [2] During the peak of their power, they seem to have become increasingly sedentary, and this potentially increased the degree of centralization.

[1]: http://en.unesco.org/silkroad/sites/silkroad/files/knowledgebankarticle/vol_III%20silk%20road_the%20hephthalite%20empire%20BIS.pdf p. 140

[2]: encyclopedia iranica vol. XII, HAREM I - ILLUMINATIONISM, 2004. Fasc. 2, pp. 198-201

Degree of Centralization:
confederated state

The Hepthalites were one group of a series of nomadic tribal confederations that are sometimes referred to as the White Huns. The evidence seems to indicate that they were a second wave of Hunnish migration. Commentators at the time differ as to what the structure of the group was and to what degree they differed from the other nomadic peoples of the area. The Byzantian commentator Procopius of Caesarea stressed that, ’They are not nomadic like the other Hunnish peoples, but have long since settled on fertile land.’ He further explained that unlike the other peoples of central asia, the Hepthalites were, ’ruled by one king and possess a legal state structure, observing justice among themselves and with their neighbours in no lesser measure than the Byzantines and Persians.’ [1]
As a nomadic confederation, there does not seem to have been a centralized power structure, although some evidence indicates the adoption of local administrations for the purposes of exacting tribute. [2] During the peak of their power, they seem to have become increasingly sedentary, and this potentially increased the degree of centralization.

[1]: http://en.unesco.org/silkroad/sites/silkroad/files/knowledgebankarticle/vol_III%20silk%20road_the%20hephthalite%20empire%20BIS.pdf p. 140

[2]: encyclopedia iranica vol. XII, HAREM I - ILLUMINATIONISM, 2004. Fasc. 2, pp. 198-201


Language
Linguistic Family:
Indo-European

Language:
Bactrian

Bactrian; Iranian; Turkic According to the Chinese records from the period, the language of the Hephthalites was distinct from that of those Iranian-speaking people of Central Asia who were called Hu by the Chinese. However, there is no consensus among scholars. [1] Recent work has reappraised Chinese manuscript sources to postulate that the Hephtalites had ceased to retain their original Altaic language and adopted Bactrian by the end of the fourth century. [2] "Probably dominated by an Eastern Iranian language, but their mixed ancestry also lead to multilingualism." [3]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 139

[2]: De la Vaissière, É. "Is there a Nationality of the Hephthalites." Bulletin of the Asia Institute 17 (2008): p. 122

[3]: (West 2009, 275) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.


Religion
Religion Genus:
Hephthalite Religions

Alternate Religion:
NO_VALUE_ON_WIKI


Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Polity Territory:
1,000,000 km2
450 CE

squared kilometers,
In 532 CE India was lost after a successful rebellion. In 557 CE - 561 CE the Sasasanids annexed substantial territories, and in 565 CE the Goturks claimed the remainder and took a number of successor kingdoms as vassals.
The late fifth and early sixth centuries saw the start of Hephthalite raids on Gandhara and northern India.
Information is scarce, but recent discoveries have given evidence of what had been earlier only speculation. Islamic sources describe a series of disastrous campaigns by the Sassasian King Peroz that resulted in his eventual death. [1] Following this victory, the Hepthalties secured control over Central Asia, Korasan and Afganistan from the Sassanian and Kushan Kingdoms. [2] They continued to expand until the sixth century, when they were defeated by a recovered Sassasian Empire fighting alongside another confederation of central Asian nomads known as the Gokturks. This defeat destroyed Hepthalite power in transoxania, though some fragment of power seems to have existed until the Arab invasions. [1]

[1]: encyclopedia iranica vol. XII, HAREM I - ILLUMINATIONISM, 2004. Fasc. 2, pp. 198-201

[2]: Docherty, Paddy. The Khyber Pass: a history of empire and invasion. Union Square Press, 2008. p. 105

Polity Territory:
[2,750,000 to 3,000,000] km2
500 CE

squared kilometers,
In 532 CE India was lost after a successful rebellion. In 557 CE - 561 CE the Sasasanids annexed substantial territories, and in 565 CE the Goturks claimed the remainder and took a number of successor kingdoms as vassals.
The late fifth and early sixth centuries saw the start of Hephthalite raids on Gandhara and northern India.
Information is scarce, but recent discoveries have given evidence of what had been earlier only speculation. Islamic sources describe a series of disastrous campaigns by the Sassasian King Peroz that resulted in his eventual death. [1] Following this victory, the Hepthalties secured control over Central Asia, Korasan and Afganistan from the Sassanian and Kushan Kingdoms. [2] They continued to expand until the sixth century, when they were defeated by a recovered Sassasian Empire fighting alongside another confederation of central Asian nomads known as the Gokturks. This defeat destroyed Hepthalite power in transoxania, though some fragment of power seems to have existed until the Arab invasions. [1]

[1]: encyclopedia iranica vol. XII, HAREM I - ILLUMINATIONISM, 2004. Fasc. 2, pp. 198-201

[2]: Docherty, Paddy. The Khyber Pass: a history of empire and invasion. Union Square Press, 2008. p. 105


Polity Population:
26,500,000 people
500 CE

The total size of the Hephthalite population is unknown. In the territory of Tokharistan there were reportedly 5,000-6,000 Hephthalite warriors. This could suggest a population of 50,000 individuals if the extended family groups were included, although this would have been experienced considerable fluctuations with the increase and decrease of the number of affiliated tribes and fortune of the Hepthalite. [1]
McEvedy and Jones (1978) 26,500,000: 500 CE [2]
Russian Tukestan 1,000,000: 400-600 CE
Pakistan, India and Bangladesh: 45,000,000: 400 CE; 50,000,000: 500 CE. In 200 BC approximately 40% in the Ganges Basin which would translate to 20m in 500 CE. Hephthalites held Upper and Middle Gangers Basin so perhaps two-thirds (13m) under Hephthalite control. Indus Basin likely to have been next most populous part of Indian sub-continent at this time. If 25% of the total: 12.5m.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Crossroads of Civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750 Vol. 3, 1999 pp. 138-141

[2]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978)


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
[2 to 3]

[1] The levels potentially consisted of:
1. Fortified Urban communities: Balkh, Termez. Balkh described as having 3,000 monks. It had a circumference of c. 20 li. Temez had "perhaps 1, 000 monks." It had a circumference of 20 li. The area of the ’town’ is 10 ha. The area of the town plus suburb is 70 ha. [1]
2. Subjugated agricultural villages
3. Nomadic peoples ’Without cities and towns, they follow water and grass, using felt to make tents, moving to the cold places in summer, to the warm ones in winter.’ [2]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Crossroads of Civilizations, p. 152

[2]: De la Vaissière, É. "Is there a Nationality of the Hephthalites." Bulletin of the Asia Institute 17 (2008): pp 119-132.


Religious Level:
1

The city of Balkh had about 100 Buddhist monasteries and some 3,000 monks. Outside the town was a large Buddhist monastery, although this description occurs after the area had been conquered by the Turks. Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, a Sun cult and some kind of sky and fire worship are also attested. However, we have no information as to what the Hepthalites practiced, and whether this had a hierarchical structure. [1]
"There is some evidence that Buddhism was practices in some of the territories held by the Hephthalites; however, some contemporary authors also wrote of the persecution of Buddhists. There are references to sacred fire, which indicates at least some familiarity with Zoroastrianism. However, because Hephthalite graves have been found, not all aspects of Zoroastrianism would have been practiced, since the funerary ritual of this religion, entailed leaving the body in the open to be devoured by sacred birds and dogs. As was the case with language religion was probably another area in which the Hephthalites constituted a multicultural society". [2]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia pp. 150-151

[2]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.


Military Level:
4

[1] This is a tentative estimate as the sources are not clear as to what the actual structure of the Hepthalite military was, although some terms for ranks are preserved. The ranks below are based on Bactrian seals found at several archaeological sites.
1. King
2. Asbarobido ’Chief of cavalry’
3. Oazarko fromalaro ’Great Commander’
4. Military serving tribesman

[1]: encyclopedia iranica Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 344-349


Administrative Level:
[4 to 5]

Hephthalites produced coins. On that basis:
1. King
2. Advisor or government official3. Manager of a mint4. Mint worker
In general, Hephthalite ruler maintained control over his regions through lesser kings and pre-established dynasties.
India: pre-existing infrastructure of provincial government
After the Hephthalites conquered Gupta dynasty provinces in India their rulers came under Hephthalite control. [1] So they would have inherited whatever administrative structure was present in the former Gupta provinces.
Tarim Basin: vassals not provinces
"the Hephthalites interferred minimally in the affairs of the Tarim cities after subduing them, contenting themselves with the extraction of tributes." [2]
unknown: 408-550 CE; 2: 550 CE [3]
There seems to have was a great deal of autonomy in the Hepthalite kingdoms. This was the case in Chaganiyan, on the upper and middle reaches of the Surkhan Darya. There is some speculation that local administrative structures were maintained, but this does not have enough evidence for anything beyond the extraction of tribute. There is also some limited evidence of the titles of officials from gemstones. [4]
Small family landholdings
Fraternal polyandry marriage "it was the custom for women to adorn their hats with horns, one per husband." "If a man had no brothers he would often adopt another man so as to be able to marry." More recently Tibetans who practiced this form of marriage did it "to make sure that small family landholdings did not have to be divided among brothers. Instead all male offspring remained on their parents’ land and worked it together as a single landholding. This system also limits population growth significantly since each generation produces the children of only one woman instead of offspring from the wives of all brothers." However, since the Hephthalite nomads did not have family farms they may have practiced this form of marriage for keeping the herds together and population control. Chinese records don’t mention status of the presumably many unmarried Hephthalite women. [5]

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 182) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.

[2]: (Starr 2015, 37) Starr, F S. 2015. Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland. Routledge.

[3]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Crossroads of Civilizations, p. 149

[4]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 149

[5]: (West 2009, 276-277) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.


Professions
Professional Soldier:
present

[1]
As a nomadic people, every male member of the tribe was expected to be a professional fighter. The Hepthalites are described as having inspired dread in those tasked with facing them in battle, a testimony to their effectiveness.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 142


Professional Priesthood:
present

Theodore: "Appointed Nestorian Christian archbishop at Merv in 540." [1]
A number of competing faiths were present, but there is no clear evidence of what faith was sanctioned or supported by the ruling elites. One Chinese commentator from the period remarked that the Hephthalites of Gandhara ’honoured kui-shên (demons).’ [2]
"There is some evidence that Buddhism was practices in some of the territories held by the Hephthalites; however, some contemporary authors also wrote of the persecution of Buddhists. There are references to sacred fire, which indicates at least some familiarity with Zoroastrianism. However, because Hephthalite graves have been found, not all aspects of Zoroastrianism would have been practiced, since the funerary ritual of this religion, entailed leaving the body in the open to be devoured by sacred birds and dogs. As was the case with language religion was probably another area in which the Hephthalites constituted a multicultural society". [3]

[1]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.

[2]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, p. 150

[3]: (West 2009, 276) West, B A. 2009. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing.


Professional Military Officer:
present

[1] Seals in Bactrian seem to indicate that there were professional officers and officials.

[1]: encyclopedia iranica Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 344-349


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
present

The historical consensus is divided as to whether they were even sedentary, let alone using specialized buildings. [1] The Hephthalites made use of specialized buildings for governmental purposes. They had coins so at the least they had or commissioned the use of mints for coinage.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, pp. 141-144


Merit Promotion:
absent

As a tribal confederacy, promotion was based on individual ability within the tribal structure. However, the stratification of the ruling elites seems to have taken place with increasing sedentary lifestyles, especially in India. A Chinese account states that the throne of the Hephthalites, ‘was not transmitted by inheritance but awarded to the most capable kinsman’ [1] Does not qualify as regular, institutionalized procedures for promotion based on performance.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, pp. 141-144


Full Time Bureaucrat:
present

unknown [1] imitations of Sassanian coinage were made. [2] - surely a mint is evidence for a full-time government employee, at least for the individual who ran the mint.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, pp. 141-144

[2]: Litvinskii, B.A., and Unesco. “THE HEPHTHALITE EMPIRE.” In History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. III The Crossroads of Civilizations A.D. 250 - 750, 138-65. Paris: Unesco, 1992, pp.149 Skaff, Jonathan Karam. "Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Silver Coins from Turfan: Their Relationship to International Trade and the Local Economy." Asia Major 11, no. 2 (1998): 67-115.

Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent

unknown [1] imitations of Sassanian coinage were made. [2] - surely a mint is evidence for a full-time government employee, at least for the individual who ran the mint.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, pp. 141-144

[2]: Litvinskii, B.A., and Unesco. “THE HEPHTHALITE EMPIRE.” In History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. III The Crossroads of Civilizations A.D. 250 - 750, 138-65. Paris: Unesco, 1992, pp.149 Skaff, Jonathan Karam. "Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Silver Coins from Turfan: Their Relationship to International Trade and the Local Economy." Asia Major 11, no. 2 (1998): 67-115.


Examination System:
absent

Inferred as the state institutions are described as displaying their origins in "ancestral tribal arrangements" i.e. without characteristics like exams. [1]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia, pp. 149.


Law
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present

Region was an important trade route and had markets prior to Hephthalite conquest. Hephthalites engaged in trade and minted coins for exchange.


Irrigation System:
present

Hephthalites were nomadic but this did not preclude them from using specialized buildings of settled people such as mints. They may also have had some interest in the irrigation systems present in the regions they conquered, if only for purposes of tribute.


Food Storage Site:
present

Pre-existing in the cities. The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "And there is laid up there much store of property and corn and things of value in warehouses - foods and drinks of every sort, syrups and sweetmeats of every kind." [1]

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Drinking Water Supply System:
unknown

The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "in parks and gardens and groves and lakes and tanks, a paradise of rivers and mountains and woods." [1] Could "tanks" refer to cisterns?

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Transport Infrastructure

The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "Well laid out are its streets, squares, cross roads, and market places." [1]

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.





Special-purpose Sites

Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present

"Examples of the Hephthalite written language have been discovered in East Turkestan, Central Asia, Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. However, these are only insignificant vestiges of the large quantity of written material which, if we are to believe Hsüan-tsang, was to be found in the regions occupied by the Hephthalites and particularly in Tokharistan" [1]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 151.


Script:
absent
408 CE 487 CE

Local scripts were in use in subjugated territories, but there is a controversy over whether the Hepthalites were a literate people. Bactrian, Pahlavi, Kharos and Brahmi were in use by others. [1]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 152

Script:
present
488 CE 561 CE

Local scripts were in use in subjugated territories, but there is a controversy over whether the Hepthalites were a literate people. Bactrian, Pahlavi, Kharos and Brahmi were in use by others. [1]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 152


Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present

Indo-European.


Non Phonetic Writing:
absent

Mnemonic Device:
present

Chinese chroniclers indicate that the Hepthalites were a non-literate people, although they were described as having used tally sticks.


Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present

Astronomy, medicine, mirrors (translated from India). [1] Medical treatises (translated from Romans). [1]

[1]: Daryaee, T. Sasanian Persia, pp. 27-37


Sacred Text:
absent
408 CE 487 CE

[1] Khwarazm region: "The Khwarazmian solar calendar, related to the Zoroastrian system, is known to us thanks to Biruni, who argued that it was in advance of most other ancient systems for measuring time." [2]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143

[2]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.

Sacred Text:
present
488 CE 561 CE

[1] Khwarazm region: "The Khwarazmian solar calendar, related to the Zoroastrian system, is known to us thanks to Biruni, who argued that it was in advance of most other ancient systems for measuring time." [2]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143

[2]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.


Religious Literature:
absent
408 CE 487 CE

[1] Topics of texts included: commentaries on Avesta; philosophy and debate; apocalyptic; didactic; geographical and epic; legal; cultural and dictionaries. [2] The Original Creation "subject-matter ranges from cosmology, astronomy and eschatology to lists of rivers, mountains and plants." [3] Religious Judgments by Manuchihr. Answered 92 questions on Zoroastrian belief. [4] "Sometime around 518, a Buddhist mission came to the north of India from China, searching for scriptures to collect and preserve. According to their own records, they managed to leave India with 170 volumes." [5] Bozorghmer (531-578 CE): "Native of Merv and the best-known Central Asian thinker of the pre-Islamic era. A Zoroastrian dualist, Bozorghmer propounded ideas on ethics that influenced thinkers deep into the Muslim age. He also served as vizier and invented the game of backgammon." [6]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143

[2]: (Daryaee 2009, 108)

[3]: Iskender-Mochiri, I ed. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf ; Daryaee, T. 2009, Sasanian Persia, p.87

[4]: Iskender-Mochiri, I ed. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf ; Daryaee, T. 2009, Sasanian Persia, p. 87

[5]: (Bauer 2010, 182) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.

[6]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.

Religious Literature:
present
488 CE 561 CE

[1] Topics of texts included: commentaries on Avesta; philosophy and debate; apocalyptic; didactic; geographical and epic; legal; cultural and dictionaries. [2] The Original Creation "subject-matter ranges from cosmology, astronomy and eschatology to lists of rivers, mountains and plants." [3] Religious Judgments by Manuchihr. Answered 92 questions on Zoroastrian belief. [4] "Sometime around 518, a Buddhist mission came to the north of India from China, searching for scriptures to collect and preserve. According to their own records, they managed to leave India with 170 volumes." [5] Bozorghmer (531-578 CE): "Native of Merv and the best-known Central Asian thinker of the pre-Islamic era. A Zoroastrian dualist, Bozorghmer propounded ideas on ethics that influenced thinkers deep into the Muslim age. He also served as vizier and invented the game of backgammon." [6]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143

[2]: (Daryaee 2009, 108)

[3]: Iskender-Mochiri, I ed. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf ; Daryaee, T. 2009, Sasanian Persia, p.87

[4]: Iskender-Mochiri, I ed. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf ; Daryaee, T. 2009, Sasanian Persia, p. 87

[5]: (Bauer 2010, 182) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.

[6]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.


Practical Literature:
present

Manuals for games, like chess (translated from India). [1]

[1]: Daryaee, T. Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire, , London 2009, pp. 27-37


Philosophy:
present

Works translated from Romans. [1] Bozorghmer (531-578 CE): "Native of Merv and the best-known Central Asian thinker of the pre-Islamic era. A Zoroastrian dualist, Bozorghmer propounded ideas on ethics that influenced thinkers deep into the Muslim age. He also served as vizier and invented the game of backgammon." [2]

[1]: Daryaee, T. Sasanian Persia, pp. 27-37

[2]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.


Lists Tables and Classification:
absent
408 CE 487 CE

[1] As little is known about the Hepthalitess written records, the coding below reflects areas they conquered from the Sasasian empire and the territories taken in India.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143

Lists Tables and Classification:
present
488 CE 561 CE

[1] As little is known about the Hepthalitess written records, the coding below reflects areas they conquered from the Sasasian empire and the territories taken in India.

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143


History:
present

Khwaday-namag, Yazdgird III. History of creation to Khosrau II from a Zoroastrian perspective. [1]

[1]: Iskender-Mochiri, I ed. (1996) History of Civilization of Central Asia: Volume III. Paris, UNESCO Publishing p. 87 http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf


Fiction:
present

Fables and stories translated from India included the Book of Sindbad, Seventy Tales of the Parrot and Kalilag u Dimnag and Bilauhar u Budasaf (which concerned the Buddha). Vis u Ramin (a Parthian origin tale) and Vamiq u Adhra (a Greek story) were translated into Pahlavi in this period. [1]

[1]: Iskender-Mochiri, I ed. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf ; Daryaee, T. 2009, Sasanian Persia, pp. 27-37


Calendar:
present

absent: 408-487 CE; present: 488-670 CE [1] Khwarazm region: "The Khwarazmian solar calendar, related to the Zoroastrian system, is known to us thanks to Biruni, who argued that it was in advance of most other ancient systems for measuring time." [2]

[1]: Litvinsky B.A.,Guang-da Zhang , and Shabani Samghabadi R. (eds)History of Civilizations of Central Asia p. 143

[2]: (Starr 2013) Starr, S. Frederick. 2013. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. Princeton.


Information / Money
Precious Metal:
present

Great trading region.


Paper Currency:
absent

Coins and tokens, but not paper money, in circulation. [1]

[1]: Skaff, Jonathan Karam. "Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Silver Coins from Turfan: Their Relationship to International Trade and the Local Economy." Asia Major 11, no. 2 (1998): pp. 67-115.


Indigenous Coin:
present

imitations of Sassanian coinage were made. [1]

[1]: Litvinskiĭ, B.A., and Unesco. “THE HEPHTHALITE EMPIRE.” In History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. III The Crossroads of Civilizations A.D. 250 - 750, 138-65. Paris: Unesco, 1992, pp.149 Skaff, Jonathan Karam. "Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Silver Coins from Turfan: Their Relationship to International Trade and the Local Economy." Asia Major 11, no. 2 (1998): 67-115.


Foreign Coin:
present

Sassanian Empire, Chinese and Indian coinage were present. [1]

[1]: Skaff, Jonathan Karam. "Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Silver Coins from Turfan: Their Relationship to International Trade and the Local Economy." Asia Major 11, no. 2 (1998): 67-115.


Article:
present

The Hepthalites used their own coinage and also received a huge number of tribute from the Sasasian empire in the form of specially minted coins specifically used for this purpose. [1]

[1]: Mitchiner, Michael. "Some Late Kushano-Sassanian and Early Hephthalite Silver Coins." East and West (1975): 157-165.


Information / Postal System

Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
present

[1]

[1]: Iskender-Mochiri p. 63 [1])


Stone Walls Non Mortared:
unknown

Stone Walls Mortared:
present

[1] The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "Wise architects have laid it out ... strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated." [2]

[1]: Iskender-Mochiri p. 63 [3])

[2]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Settlements in a Defensive Position:
present

inferred due to previous polities and the account below of architects designing citadels with walls and moats


Modern Fortification:
absent

absent before the gunpowder era


The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "Wise architects have laid it out ... strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated." [1]

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.



Earth Rampart:
present

[1] The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "Wise architects have laid it out ... strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated." [2]

[1]: Iskender-Mochiri p. 63 [2])

[2]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "Wise architects have laid it out ... strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated." [1] At Gurgan (484 CE) a covered ditch was used as a trap for Persian cavalry. [2]

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.

[2]: (Bennett 1998, 135) Bennett, M. 1998. The Hutchinson Dictionary of Ancient & Medieval Warfare. Taylor & Francis.


Complex Fortification:
unknown

[1] The Questions of King Milinda on Salaka: "Wise architects have laid it out ... strong towers and ramparts, with superb gates and entrance archways; and with the royal citadel in its midst, white walled and deeply moated." [2]

[1]: Chaliand, Gerard. Nomadic Empires: From Mongolia to the Danube. Transaction Books, 2006.

[2]: (Bauer 2010, 180-181) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Military use of Metals

At this time in Central Asia if high-quality steel was used it would have been imported. The following sources suggest later dates for fine steel. However we code present because the Hephthalites occupied northern India (a location repeatedly associated with fine steel) which as early as 1st CE was exporting iron and steel as far as East Africa. [1] “In the context of this work, it is important to note that crucible steel of fine quality was made at Herat, in Bukhara and in northern India.” [2] Reference for high quality of the steel (this one dates from 900 CE): "Further east from Merv along the Silk Road is a region praised for its iron and steel production by Greek, Islamic, and Chinese writers. The Sogdian state of Ustrushana, a mountainous region east of Samarkand, and the Ferghana basin ... material related to the medieval iron and steel industry has been uncovered here. Most relevant ... is a workshop excavated at a city-site of the +9th-13th centuries in Feghana, at Eski Achsy, Uzbekistan. ..” Crucible fragments ”The excavators consider that the process used here was direct production of steel from ore, just as He Tangkun argues for the Luoyang crucibles. It is quite possible, however, that they were (also) used in co-fusion steel production as suggested by the Merv excavators." [3] Fine steel swords may have been produced at an earlier time than 900 CE with the technology coming from northern India or from this region via Persia: In Tibet c700 CE "steel swords were certainly available through trade with Sogdia and Fergana ... and many steel blades are known from Central Asia from the late first millennium until the arrival of Genghis Khan in the early thirteenth century." [4] "The Sogdian cities of Samarqand and Bukhara probably also manufactured iron and steel weapons that were exported to Tibet. We know that by the early eighth century, the Sogdians, having probably borrowed the technology from the Sasanians, were manufacturing mail armor and offered suits of the material as gifts to the Tang court in 718. ... The Sasasnians may themselves have developed knowledge of steelmaking from contacts with northern India." [5] "The principal centres for the manufacture of steel weapons in Central Asia were Khwarazm, Ferghana and northern India.” [2]

[1]: (Hatke 2013) Hatke, George. 2013. Aksum and Nubia: Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa. New York University Press.

[2]: (Hill 2000, 270) D R Hill. Physics and mechanics. Civil and hydraulic engineering. Industrial processes and manufacturing, and craft activities. C E Bosworth. M S Asimov. eds. 2000. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume IV. The age of achievement: A.D. 750 to the end of the fifteenth century. UNESCO. Paris.

[3]: (Wagner and Needham 2008, 265) Donald B Wagner. Joseph Needham. 2008. Science and Civilisation in China. Volume V. Chemistry and Chemical Technology. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

[4]: (Clarke 2006, 22) John Clarke. A History of Ironworking in Tibet: Centers of Production, Styles, and Techniques. Donald J LaRocca. ed. 2006. Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet. Yale University Press. New Haven.

[5]: (Clarke 2006, 21) John Clarke. A History of Ironworking in Tibet: Centers of Production, Styles, and Techniques. Donald J LaRocca. ed. 2006. Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet. Yale University Press. New Haven.


Iron had been used in by the steppe nomads from 330 BCE - 200 BCE. [1]

[1]: Grousset, Rene. The empire of the steppes: a history of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, 1970 p. 17


required for bronze


Bronze had been used on the central steppes from 1500 BCE. [1]

[1]: Grousset, Rene. The empire of the steppes: a history of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, 1970. p. 4


Projectiles
Tension Siege Engine:
present

Present in previous and subsequent polities.


Sling Siege Engine:
absent

First use of the counter-weight trebuchet 1165 CE at Byzantine siege of Zevgminon. [1]

[1]: (Turnball 2002) Turnball, S. 2002. Siege Weapons of the Far East (1): AD 612-1300. Osprey Publishing.


Powerful composite bows suggest these weapons had become obsolete


Powerful composite bows suggest these weapons had become obsolete


"There are a number of artistic depictions, from different eras, that show steppe warriors on horseback and armed with a javelin". [1] Bone-tipped javelins are less likely to leave finds for archaeologists. "Like the Mongols they were a race of horsemen. They fought with bone-tipped javelins, with sabers, and with slings or lassoes. They ate herbs and half- raw meat, which they first used as saddles ; and they clothed themselves with the skins of wild animals”.

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, p.28.


Handheld Firearm:
absent

Inferred as came later in history. [1]

[1]: DeVries, Kelly. "matchlock." In The Oxford Companion to Military History. : Oxford University Press, 2001.


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

Inferred as came later in history. [1]

[1]: DeVries, Kelly. "cannon" In The Oxford Companion to Military History. : Oxford University Press, 2001.


Present in previous and subsequent polities.


Composite Bow:
present

The central Asian compound bow was made using sinew, wood and horn to produce a weapon with deadly penetrative power and range. [1]

[1]: Farrokh, Kaveh. Sassanian elite cavalry AD 224-642. Vol. 110. Osprey Publishing, 2005.


Weapon of the Americas, extremely unlikely to have been present here


Handheld weapons

The Hepthalites were steppe nomads who adopted the patterns of warfare suited to the central Asian steppe. Although direct evidence is scant, descriptions seem to indicate that they were mounted archers who may had utilized the stirrup and the double sheath. Evidence of there equipment is hard to verify, although they seem to have relied on mounted forces and traditional steppe tactics. There is some evidence of club use by the infantry. [1]

[1]: Grousset, Rene. The empire of the steppes: a history of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, 1970.


According to Litvinsky, [1] their main weapon was the sword.

[1]: (Litvinsky 1996, 142) Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/7MTFU42T.


At Gurgan (484 CE) "the Hephthalite king stuck the treaty that Peroz had signed, promising not to invade Hephthalite territory again, on the tip of his spear." [1]

[1]: (Bauer 2010, 151) Bauer, S W. 2010. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton & Company.


Present in preceding and succeeding polities.


Murals at Dilberjin near Balkh (5th-7th century) shows men armed with daggers. [1] "Among the steppe riders a dagger was typically carried in all periods, and a number of dagger designs are encountered in the archaeological and artistic record." [2]

[1]: (Litvinsky 1999, 151) Litvinsky, B A. in Dani, A H ed. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.

[2]: (Karasulas 2004, 28)


Battle Axe:
present

Present in preceding and succeeding polities.


Animals used in warfare

The steppe horse was a stocky and high endurance animal superbly adapted to the harsh steppe. As a steppe people, the Hepthalites would have had several horses per mounted warrior, allowing for great mobility in raiding and warfare. [1]

[1]: Hildinger, Erik. Warriors Of The Steppe: Military History Of Central Asia, 500 BC To 1700 AD. Da Capo Press, 1997.pp 17-19


Used in war against Peroz. [1]

[1]: Litvinskiĭ, B.A., and Unesco. “THE HEPHTHALITE EMPIRE.” In History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. III The Crossroads of Civilizations A.D. 250 - 750, )Paris: Unesco, 1992.), p.143.


"Donkeys were among the key pack animals used to carry silk from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean" [1]

[1]: R K Koslowsky. 2004. A World Perspective through 21st Century Eyes. Trafford. Victoria.


requires expert opinion


Bactrian camels. [1] "Bactrian camels began to be used for cavalry between 500 and 100 BC." [2]

[1]: Chaliand, Gerard. Nomadic Empires: From Mongolia to the Danube. Transaction Books, 2006.

[2]: (Mayor 2014, 290) Adrienne Mayor. Animals in Warfare. Gordon Lindsay Campbell. ed. 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life. Oxford University Press. Oxford.


Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
present

Present in preceding and succeeding polities.


Known in all periods of warfare on the Steppe. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, p.29.


Scaled Armor:
present

Inferred as used by warriors of the steppe. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, pp.64-65.



Limb Protection:
present

Inferred as used by warriors of the steppe. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004.


Leather Cloth:
present

Shields made of leather. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, p.29.


Laminar Armor:
present

Inferred as used by warriors of the steppe. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, pp.64-65.


Inferred as used by warriors of the steppe. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, pp.64-65.


Chainmail:
present

Inferred as used by warriors of the steppe. [1]

[1]: Karasulas, Antony. Mounted archers of the steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Vol. 120. Osprey Publishing, 2004, pp.64-65.


Breastplate:
present

Present in preceding and succeeding polities.


Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
absent

The Hepthalites were a landlocked empire. [1]

[1]: Grousset, Rene. The empire of the steppes: a history of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, 1970.


Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present

Extremely unlikely they would not use river boats.


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent

The Hepthalites were a landlocked empire. [1]

[1]: Grousset, Rene. The empire of the steppes: a history of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, 1970.



Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions