Home Region:  Mongolia (Central and Northern Eurasia)

Late Xiongnu

EQ 2020  mn_hunnu_late / MnXngnL

The Orkhon Valley lies either side of the Orkhon River, in north-central Mongolia. Between about 200 BCE and 100 CE, it was under the control of the Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.
This polity comprised several nomadic peoples from the Mongolian Steppe. By the 4th century BCE, the Xiongnu began raiding northern China, [1] where their mounted archery overwhelmed the heavily armed but relatively immobile Chinese infantry. [2] The nomads were held at bay by a combination of tribute in the form of metals, finished products, and agricultural products, and China’s numerical superiority. [3] [4] [5] Several Chinese victories against the Xiongnu in the 1st century BCE and factional conflict within the confederacy led to the confederacy’s breakup, and a new group of semi-nomadic peoples from the Northeast, the Xianbei, took control of the region. [1]
At their height, the Xiongnu ruled over an area that included all of Mongolia, extending to the Ordos region in the south, and the boreal forests of Siberia in the north, for a total of about 4,000,000 squared kilometres. [6]
Precise estimates could not be found for the empire’s population, but estimates suggest that nomads living to the north of China did not number more than 1,500,000, [7] and the best studied (but not the largest) settlement, Ivolga, likely had a population of between 2,500 and 3,000. [8] The empire was divided into three kingships: a central one, directly ruled by the paramount leader, and a "left" one and a "right" one, to the east and west, respectively, distributed among twenty-four regional leaders known as the "ten thousand horsemen". [9]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 222)

[2]: (Marsh 2012, 500-501) Kevin Marsh. Xiongnu. Xiaobing Li ed. 2012. China at War: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. Santa Barbara.

[3]: (Barfield 1993, 157)

[4]: (Ying-Shih 1986)

[5]: (Dupuy and Dupuy 2007, 133)

[6]: (Rogers 2012, 220-221)

[7]: (Kradin 2011, 77)

[8]: (Kradin 2011, 85)

[9]: (Rogers 2012, 220)

General Variables
Identity and Location
Original Name:
Late Xiongnu  
Alternative Name:
Late Hsiung-nu  
Northern Xiongnu  
Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[60 BCE ➜ 100 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Succeeding Entity:
Xianbei Confederation  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity  
Preceding Entity:
Xiongnu Imperial Confederation  
Degree of Centralization:
confederated state  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Turkic  
Language:
Xiongnu  
Religion
Religion Genus:
Xiongnu Religions  
Alternate Religion:
NO_VALUE_ON_WIKI  
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[3,000 to 5,000] people  
Polity Territory:
[3,000,000 to 4,200,000] km2  
Polity Population:
[1,000,000 to 1,500,000] people  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
[2 to 3]  
Religious Level:
1  
Military Level:
6  
Administrative Level:
[3 to 4]  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
inferred absent  
Professional Priesthood:
inferred absent  
Professional Military Officer:
inferred absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown  
Merit Promotion:
inferred absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
unknown  
Examination System:
unknown  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
inferred absent  
Judge:
unknown  
Formal Legal Code:
inferred present  
Court:
inferred absent  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
inferred absent  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Drinking Water Supply System:
unknown  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
unknown  
Port:
inferred absent  
Canal:
unknown  
Bridge:
unknown  
Special-purpose Sites
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
inferred absent  
Script:
inferred absent  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
inferred absent  
Nonwritten Record:
inferred present  
Non Phonetic Writing:
inferred absent  
Mnemonic Device:
unknown  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
unknown  
Sacred Text:
unknown  
Religious Literature:
unknown  
Practical Literature:
unknown  
Philosophy:
unknown  
Lists Tables and Classification:
unknown  
History:
unknown  
Fiction:
unknown  
Calendar:
unknown  
Information / Money
Token:
absent  
Precious Metal:
absent  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
absent  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
unknown  
General Postal Service:
unknown  
Courier:
unknown  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
unknown  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
unknown  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
unknown  
  Fortified Camp:
present  
  Earth Rampart:
unknown  
  Ditch:
present  
  Complex Fortification:
inferred present  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
inferred absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
inferred present  
  Bronze:
present  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
unknown  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
unknown  
  Self Bow:
unknown  
  Javelin:
unknown  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
present  
  Composite Bow:
present  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
present  
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
inferred present  
absent  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
present  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
present  
  Dog:
unknown  
  Camel:
present  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
present  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
inferred present  
  Plate Armor:
inferred present  
  Limb Protection:
unknown  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
unknown  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
inferred present  
  Breastplate:
unknown  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent  
  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 Late Xiongnu (mn_hunnu_late) was in:
 (59 BCE 99 CE)   Orkhon Valley
Home NGA: Orkhon Valley

General Variables
Identity and Location


Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[60 BCE ➜ 100 CE]

60BCE - 93 CE or 150 CE. "Before 50 B.C., the Xiongnu split into a northern and southern polity. Both remained well organized and expansionistic at first, but eventually the southern Xiongnu (estimated at 200,000 people) became a vassal state of the Han Chinese, and by A.D. 150 their political control was virtually nonexistent. Periods of famine and civil war within the Xiongnu polities may have weakened them further. (Christian 1998, p. 202) It is generally acknowledged that by A.D. 155 the Xiongnu empire no longer existed, although some authors date the end of the empire as early as A.D. 93 (Honeychurch and Amartuvshin 2006, p. 262)." [1]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 222)


Political and Cultural Relations
Succeeding Entity:
Xianbei Confederation


Preceding Entity:
Xiongnu Imperial Confederation

Degree of Centralization:
confederated state

"Before 50 B.C., the Xiongnu split into a northern and southern polity. Both remained well organized and expansionistic at first, but eventually the southern Xiongnu (estimated at 200,000 people) became a vassal state of the Han Chinese, and by A.D. 150 their political control was virtually nonexistent." [1]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 222)


Language

Language:
Xiongnu

"The results of the last linguistic reconstructions show that, on the territory between Ordos and Syano-Altai at the end of the I millennium B.C.E. - in the early centuries of the I millenium C.E., the arch-Turkic language went around. However, the Hsiung-nu vocabulary “recorded by Chinese belonged, in most cases, to the ‘upper’ functional style of the language of appropriate social formations that, probably, has not become the foregoer of the Turkic languages but, as it is typical of such functional styles, dissipated together with the society in which is functioned” (Dybo 2007: 199, 201). In either case, it should be remembered that the Xiongnu were polyethnic and polylingual nomadic empire. According to the written sources, the Xiongnu aristocracy included the Chinese counsellors and military commanders (most familiar of them is warlord Li Ling). The racial and ethnic tolerance is confirmed by the newest archaeological and genetic data (Kim et al. 2010). If, according to data of the physical anthropology, the Xiongnu of the Central and West Mongolia are close to the cultures of the Turkic circle then the Xiongnu of the East Mongolia bear many similarities to the Xiongnu of East Baikal area and Xienpi (Tumen 2011: 370)." [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2014, 108-109)


Religion



Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[3,000 to 5,000] people

Inhabitants.
This is the code for the earlier Imperial Xiongu Confederation.


Polity Territory:
[3,000,000 to 4,200,000] km2

in squared kilometers. 4 million km2 is the code for the Imperial Xiongnu Confederation which appears to still stand for this period, although I have changed it to a range from 3-4 million km2 to reflect some loss of control.
"Before 50 B.C., the Xiongnu split into a northern and southern polity. Both remained well organized and expansionistic at first, but eventually the southern Xiongnu (estimated at 200,000 people) became a vassal state of the Han Chinese, and by A.D. 150 their political control was virtually nonexistent." [1]
"At its height the Xiongnu empire controlled a region encompassing all of Mongolia and extending south to the Ordos region in the loop of the Yellow River in northern China (Fig. 1). In the north control extended to the boreal forests of Siberia, including Tuva and Buriatia in the Russian Federation (Kradin 2005a). Based on a variety of maps and geographical information on the location of different groups, at its height the Xiongnu empire encompassed a region on the order of 4,000,000 km2." [2]
4.2m km2 maximum. [3]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 222)

[2]: (Rogers 2012, 220-221)

[3]: (Kradin, Nikolay. Personal Communication to Peter Turchin. May 2020. Email)


Polity Population:
[1,000,000 to 1,500,000] people

People. 1.5 million is the code for the Imperial Xiongnu Confederation which appears to still stand for this period, although I have changed it to a range from 1-1.5 million to reflect some loss of control.
"Before 50 B.C., the Xiongnu split into a northern and southern polity. Both remained well organized and expansionistic at first, but eventually the southern Xiongnu (estimated at 200,000 people) became a vassal state of the Han Chinese, and by A.D. 150 their political control was virtually nonexistent." [1]
"Despite the fact that the population of Han China, according to a census taken during the middle of the dynasty, has been counted at about 60 million people as compared to the total population of nomads north of China, which is postulated as not reaching 1.5 million people, the Xiongnu still managed to withstand, and parlay on equal terms with, the Qin and Han dynasties." [2]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 222)

[2]: (Kradin 2011, 77)


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
[2 to 3]

levels. This is the code for the earlier Imperial Xiongu Confederation.


Religious Level:
1

levels. Shamans. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Military Level:
6

levels. Code for earlier Xiongnu Imperial Confederation is 6. In this period the polity was split between northern and southern Xiongnu. Is there any reason to believe the basic decimal system of command would not still have been in use?
1. Ruler
2. 10 commanders of 10,000 people ’wang’ - or kings3. tribal chiefs and elders - subordinate kings - commanding 1000 people4. Commander of 1005. Commander of 106. individual soldier
"The Shiji text describes a great many offices that supported rulership as well as a military-administrative decimal system of positions based on the number of horse- men a leader was responsible to mobilize, e.g., 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000, although there is some debate over the specificity of these actual counts (Kradin 2001: 208)." [1]
"All of the adult men were members of the military-hierarchical organization of the Xiongnu society." [2]
"The most highly titled relatives of the chanyu were ten superior commanders of ten thousand warriors which were comprised of four and six horns respectively20. The first four of them were called “wang” (king) by the Chinese chroniclers. Besides the chanyu’s relatives there were other noble families (clans): Huyan, Lan, Xubu, and Qiulin were among the highest Xiongnu aristocracy (Fan Ye 1965, ch. 91, 7b; Zhong- yang 1958, 680-681).The next level in the Xiongnu hierarchy was occupied by the tribal chiefs and elders. In the annals, they are mentioned, as a rule, as ‘subordinate kings’, ‘chief commandants’, ‘household administrators’, “juqu” officials21. Probably, a part of the ‘chiefs of a thousand’ were tribal chiefs. The ‘chiefs of a hundred’ and ‘chiefs of ten’ were, most likely, clan leaders of different ranks. The economic, judicial, cultic, fiscal, and military functions were considered to be responsibilities of chiefs and elders (Taskin 1973, 9-11)." [3]

[1]: (Honeychurch 2015, 224)

[2]: (Kradin 2011, 82)

[3]: (Kradin 2011, 89)


Administrative Level:
[3 to 4]

levels.
Inferred from the description below:
1. Emperor
2. King (wang)3. Local tribal chiefs and elders"The economic, judicial, cultic, fiscal, and military functions were considered to be responsibilities of chiefs and elders (Taskin 1973, 9-11)." [1]
"The Chinese historian Fan Ye, author of the Hou Han shu, gave the same detailed description of the Xiongnu political system in the first century AD as his eminent predecessor Sima Qian had centuries before (Lidai 1958: 680; Taskin 1973: 73). This provides a unique opportunity to observe the dynamics of the Xiongnu political institutions throughout 250 years. The most considerable differences between the power of the Mode/Maodun epoch and Xiongnu society before it collapsed are as follows:1. There has been a transition, from the triadic military-administrative division to dual tribal division into wings.2. Sima Qian wrote clearly about the development of the military- administrative structure with “chiefs of a ten thousand.” Fan Ye does not mention a decimal system; instead military rank of “chiefs of a ten thousand” are enumerated as civil titles of “king” (wang).3. According to Fan Ye, the whole first ten of “strong” “chiefs of a ten thousand” had, from the viewpoint of the Chinese chronicles, a more independent position from the shanyu headquarters.4. The order of succession to the throne had changed. While the shanyu’s throne had ordinarily passed from father to son (with a few extraordinary exceptions), the order from uncle to nephew had now become predominant.5. The Xiongnu polity came to adopt a prevailing principle of joint government according to which the ruler of the nomadic empire had a co- ruler, who controlled one of the polity’s wings. The capacity of become a junior co-ruler was held by birth; but a co-ruler’s successors could not pretend to the shanyu’s throne.These changes demonstrate a gradual weakening of the autocratic power of the center, and development of more diffused authority and federative relations, as demonstrated by, among other things, the transition from triadic administrative-territorial division to a dual one. The military-hierarchical relations were pressed back and the genealogical hierarchy between senior and junior by rank tribes was pushed into the foreground." [2]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 89)

[2]: (Kradin 2014, 142)


Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent

The economic, judicial, cultic, fiscal, and military functions were considered to be responsibilities of chiefs and elders (Taskin 1973, 9-11)." [1] Not a specialised function.

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 89)


Professional Priesthood:
absent

The economic, judicial, cultic, fiscal, and military functions were considered to be responsibilities of chiefs and elders (Taskin 1973, 9-11)." [1] Not a specialised function.

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 89)


Professional Military Officer:
absent

The economic, judicial, cultic, fiscal, and military functions were considered to be responsibilities of chiefs and elders (Taskin 1973, 9-11)." [1] Not a specialised function.

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 89)


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
unknown

There is little evidence of buildings set aside exclusively for administrative purposes in the Xiongnu Empire. In Ivolga, "one house (dwelling 9) occupied an area of more than 100 sq. m and apparently served as a administrative center." [1] Ivolga is from the 2nd or 1st century BCE. "It is synchronous with the Ivolga fortress and cemetery from East Bailkal region. All of these sites are attributed to approximately II-I centuries B.C.E. and assigned by the author to the epoch of the Western (early) Han." [2]

[1]: (Kradin 2014, 91)

[2]: (Kradin 2014, 105)


Merit Promotion:
absent

"Only members of these corporate groups were eligible for the highest political offices, which combined political authority, divine right, military leadership, and elite endogamy (Di Cosmo 2002: 176-178)." [1]

[1]: (Honeychurch 2015, 224)


Full Time Bureaucrat:
unknown

The sources provide evidence of administrative officials in the Xiongnu Empire but it is unclear whether they were full-time professionals. "The Xiongnu had many titles for the rulers of the segments within the empire confederation. In addition, there were special functionaries (“gudu hou”). The Chinese chronicles report that “the gudu marquises assist the chanyu in the administration of the nation” (Watson 1961a, 163-164). In a special work Pritsak (1954, 196-199) assorts their place in the Xiongnu political system. Nonetheless, the number of these functionaries was very limited." [1] ’The central government, which the Shanyu/Chanyu headed, was in practice run by elite officials called the Gudu marquesses, who had the responsibility of managing relations between the central government and provincial governments within the Xiongnu empire’. [2] Not a full-time occupation? "The economic, judicial, cultic, fiscal, and military functions were considered to be responsibilities of chiefs and elders (Taskin 1973, 9-11)." [3]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 95)

[2]: (Kim 2017, 18) Kim, Hyun Jin. 2017. “The Political Organization of Steppe Empires and Their Contribution to Eurasian Interconnectivity: The Case of the Huns and Their Impact on the Frankish West.” In Eurasian Empires in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Contact and Exchange between the Graeco-Roman World, Inner Asia and China, edited by Hyun Jin Kim, Frederik Juliaan Vervaet, and Selim Ferruh Adalı, 13-33. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/3DA847TK.

[3]: (Kradin 2011, 89)



Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent

This passage points to a lack of a bureaucratic justice system, which would include lawyers: "The power of chanyu, highest commanders and tribal chiefs at local places was supported by strict but simple traditional ways. As the Xiongnu laws were estimated by the Chinese chronicles, the Xiongnu’s punishments were generally “simple and easily realizable” and were mainly reduced to strokes, exile, and death penalty. It provided an opportunity to quickly resolve conflict situations at different levels of the hierarchical pyramid and to maintain the stability of the political system as a whole. It is no mere chance that for the Chinese, accustomed from childhood to an unwieldy and clumsy bureaucratic machine, the management system of the Xiongnu confederation seemed to be extremely simple: “management of the whole state is similar to that of one’s body” (Sima Qian 1959, ch. 110; Zhongyang 1958, 17)." [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 92)


"Another indicator for an early state is the availability of special judicial manpower which was responsible for the majority of legal questions. The presence of persons who investigated disputes and conflicts was known in Chinese sources (Fan Ye 1965, ch. 79; Zhongyang 1958, 680; Taskin 1973, 73)." [1] However, perhaps this was not a full-time occupation. "Thus, for the Hsiung-nu society, only one feature of the early state (judges) can be identified." [2]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 94)

[2]: (Kradin 2008, 119)


Formal Legal Code:
present

"The power of chanyu, highest commanders and tribal chiefs at local places was supported by strict but simple traditional ways. As the Xiongnu laws were estimated by the Chinese chronicles, the Xiongnu’s punishments were generally “simple and easily realizable” and were mainly reduced to strokes, exile, and death penalty. It provided an opportunity to quickly resolve conflict situations at different levels of the hierarchical pyramid and to maintain the stability of the political system as a whole. It is no mere chance that for the Chinese, accustomed from childhood to an unwieldy and clumsy bureaucratic machine, the management system of the Xiongnu confederation seemed to be extremely simple: “management of the whole state is similar to that of one’s body” (Sima Qian 1959, ch. 110; Zhongyang 1958, 17)." [1] "One of the most important sign of the early state is the presence of a written code of laws, which the Xiongnu are lacking." [2]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 92)

[2]: (Kradin 2011, 94)


This passage points to a lack of a bureaucratic justice system, which would include courts: "The power of chanyu, highest commanders and tribal chiefs at local places was supported by strict but simple traditional ways. As the Xiongnu laws were estimated by the Chinese chronicles, the Xiongnu’s punishments were generally “simple and easily realizable” and were mainly reduced to strokes, exile, and death penalty. It provided an opportunity to quickly resolve conflict situations at different levels of the hierarchical pyramid and to maintain the stability of the political system as a whole. It is no mere chance that for the Chinese, accustomed from childhood to an unwieldy and clumsy bureaucratic machine, the management system of the Xiongnu confederation seemed to be extremely simple: “management of the whole state is similar to that of one’s body” (Sima Qian 1959, ch. 110; Zhongyang 1958, 17)." [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 92)


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
absent

Border markets are coded under Trade emporia as present. "The statesman and scholar Chia I, who died in 169 B.C., has left us with a brief account concerning the border markets: It is the border markets [kuan-shih] which the Hsiung-nu need most badly, and they have sought desperately to obtain them from us, even resorting to force. I urge your majesty to send envoys with lavish gifts to make peace with [the Hsiung-nu], using this opportunity to inform them of our decision, made not without reluctance, to grant their request of establishing large-sized border markets. Upon the return of our envoys, we should immediately open up many [markets] in locations of strategic importance. In each of these market places sufficient military forces must be stationed for [our] self- protection. Every large border market should include shops which specialize in selling raw meat, wine, cooked rice, and delicious barbecues. All the shops must be of a size capable of serving one or two hundred people. In this way our markets beneath the Great Wall will surely swarm with the Hsiung-nu. Moreover, if their kings and generals [try to] force the Hsiung-nu to return to the north, it is inevitable that they would turn to attack their kings. When the Hsiung-nu have developed a craving for our rice, stew, barbecues, and wine, this will have become their fatal weakness." [1]

[1]: (Yu 1990, 124)


Irrigation System:
absent

Absent, according to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)



Special-purpose Sites
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent

"Despite many problems in assessing the textual sources, archaeologists working on this period in the northern steppe zone are extremely fortunate to have historical accounts of the early nomads as seen through the eyes of state historians in China. Some textual information, no matter how problematic, is still better than none at all." [1] Note that Chinese written records do not count as records for the Xiongnu. "In several supercomplex chiefdoms the elite attempted to introduce written records (e.g. Hsiung-nu and Turks)", [2] but the use of the word ’attempted’ here seems to imply that they were unsuccessful. "the early steppe peoples would not have been a promising vehicle for the diffusion of complicated, textually based knowledge; according to the Northern Wei dynastic history, the Rouran were illiterates whose leaders at first kept records of their troop numbers by piling up sheep turds as counters but eventually graduated to scratching simple marks onto pieces of wood. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of the transmission of Chinese military theories and texts to the West by way of the Avars, other steppe nomads, Silk Road caravans, or any other channel prior to the activities of the Jesuit missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." [3]

[1]: (Honeychurch 2015, 223)

[2]: (Kradin 2002, 373)

[3]: (Graff 2016, 146) David A Graff. 2016. The Eurasian Way of War. Military practice in seventh-century China and Byzantium. Routledge. Abingdon.


Script:
absent

"In several supercomplex chiefdoms the elite attempted to introduce written records (e.g. Hsiung-nu and Turks)" [1] Inscriptions in Chinese found in Ivolga, probably made by Chinese immigrants or war prisoners. "In addition the archeologists found in the settlement a number of items with the inscriptions in Chinese characters. These items included, for instance, a whetstone (Davydova 1995: Table 15, 15), the inscriptions on the three sides of which have been interpreted by a Chinese archeologist Xia Nai (Davydova 1995: 37) as sui (number of years), chóu (enemy, rival, hate, avenge; this character was used as a family name) and dang (a party, administrative unit of 500 households; this character could also be used as a family name). There was a very interesting inscription on the bottom of a vessel from house 21 (Davydova 1995, Table 38, 7, 179, 3), which according to the interpretation of the aforementioned Professor Xia Nai (Davydova 1995: 28) was a representation of the Xiongnu period character Yīng, translated by him as “deserved”. No less interesting were the imprint found on the bottom of a vessel from house 50 (Davydova 1995, Table179, 1), which resembled character Zhǔ (master, ruler), an imprint of the character Wang on another vessel’s bottom, an imprint on the bottom of a vessel from house 13, similar to the character tu (picture) and the scratched inscription on the inner side of another vessel’s collar resembling the character jǐng (a well) (Davydova 1995, Table 29, 1, 179, 6, 9). Some imprints on ceramics were illegible (Davydova 1995, Table 134, 4, 179, 2, 5, 7), however they could quite possibly be the artisans’ stamps. Since even the elite groups of the Xiongnu society were not particularly knowledgeable in the Chinese writing (it would be enough to mention the well known episode with the substitution of a Chanyu stamp by the order of Wang Mang), the common nomads could hardly be more literate than their leaders. Thus we may presume that the inscriptions on items from the Ivolga were made not by the Xiongnu, but by the people of the sedentary-agricultural origin and, most likely, by the immigrants or the prisoners of war from China." [2] "the early steppe peoples would not have been a promising vehicle for the diffusion of complicated, textually based knowledge; according to the Northern Wei dynastic history, the Rouran were illiterates whose leaders at first kept records of their troop numbers by piling up sheep turds as counters but eventually graduated to scratching simple marks onto pieces of wood. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of the transmission of Chinese military theories and texts to the West by way of the Avars, other steppe nomads, Silk Road caravans, or any other channel prior to the activities of the Jesuit missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." [3]

[1]: (Kradin 2002, 373)

[2]: (Kradin 2014, 90)

[3]: (Graff 2016, 146) David A Graff. 2016. The Eurasian Way of War. Military practice in seventh-century China and Byzantium. Routledge. Abingdon.


Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent

"Despite many problems in assessing the textual sources, archaeologists working on this period in the northern steppe zone are extremely fortunate to have historical accounts of the early nomads as seen through the eyes of state historians in China. Some textual information, no matter how problematic, is still better than none at all." [1] Note that Chinese written records do not count as records for the Xiongnu. "In several supercomplex chiefdoms the elite attempted to introduce written records (e.g. Hsiung-nu and Turks)", [2] but the use of the word ’attempted’ here seems to imply that they were unsuccessful. "the early steppe peoples would not have been a promising vehicle for the diffusion of complicated, textually based knowledge; according to the Northern Wei dynastic history, the Rouran were illiterates whose leaders at first kept records of their troop numbers by piling up sheep turds as counters but eventually graduated to scratching simple marks onto pieces of wood. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of the transmission of Chinese military theories and texts to the West by way of the Avars, other steppe nomads, Silk Road caravans, or any other channel prior to the activities of the Jesuit missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." [3]

[1]: (Honeychurch 2015, 223)

[2]: (Kradin 2002, 373)

[3]: (Graff 2016, 146) David A Graff. 2016. The Eurasian Way of War. Military practice in seventh-century China and Byzantium. Routledge. Abingdon.


Nonwritten Record:
present

Oral histories likely: "the early steppe peoples would not have been a promising vehicle for the diffusion of complicated, textually based knowledge; according to the Northern Wei dynastic history, the Rouran were illiterates whose leaders at first kept records of their troop numbers by piling up sheep turds as counters but eventually graduated to scratching simple marks onto pieces of wood. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of the transmission of Chinese military theories and texts to the West by way of the Avars, other steppe nomads, Silk Road caravans, or any other channel prior to the activities of the Jesuit missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." [1]

[1]: (Graff 2016, 146) David A Graff. 2016. The Eurasian Way of War. Military practice in seventh-century China and Byzantium. Routledge. Abingdon.


Non Phonetic Writing:
absent

"Despite many problems in assessing the textual sources, archaeologists working on this period in the northern steppe zone are extremely fortunate to have historical accounts of the early nomads as seen through the eyes of state historians in China. Some textual information, no matter how problematic, is still better than none at all." [1] Note that Chinese written records do not count as records for the Xiongnu. "In several supercomplex chiefdoms the elite attempted to introduce written records (e.g. Hsiung-nu and Turks)", [2] but the use of the word ’attempted’ here seems to imply that they were unsuccessful. "the early steppe peoples would not have been a promising vehicle for the diffusion of complicated, textually based knowledge; according to the Northern Wei dynastic history, the Rouran were illiterates whose leaders at first kept records of their troop numbers by piling up sheep turds as counters but eventually graduated to scratching simple marks onto pieces of wood. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of the transmission of Chinese military theories and texts to the West by way of the Avars, other steppe nomads, Silk Road caravans, or any other channel prior to the activities of the Jesuit missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." [3]

[1]: (Honeychurch 2015, 223)

[2]: (Kradin 2002, 373)

[3]: (Graff 2016, 146) David A Graff. 2016. The Eurasian Way of War. Military practice in seventh-century China and Byzantium. Routledge. Abingdon.



Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
unknown

Literacy very low. Were there any readers of literature?




Practical Literature:
unknown

Literacy very low. Were there any readers of literature?


Philosophy:
unknown

Literacy very low. Were there any readers of literature?



History:
unknown

Literacy very low. Were there any readers of literature?


Fiction:
unknown

Literacy very low. Were there any readers of literature?



Information / Money

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Precious Metal:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Paper Currency:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Indigenous Coin:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Foreign Coin:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Article:
present

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Information / Postal System



Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications




Modern Fortification:
absent

The Xiongnu could not have had modern, canon fitted forts at this time



Fortified Camp:
present

"Botanical analyses were conducted at the Ivolga site complex, an important example of a fortified settlement of 2,500-3,000 people specializing in agriculture and metal production in the Transbaikal region (Davydova 1995; Kradin 2005a). " [1]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 221)



"The fortified settlement of Ivolga in Russia, situated near the modern city of Ulan-Ude, is the most investigated one among them. The site was an irregular rectangle with sides equal to approximately 200 and 300 m. On three sides, it was protected by fortification works of three walls alternating with three ditches while on the fourth side the site was protected by the Selenga river." [1] Qarshi, built by Kebek of the Chagatai Khaganate is an example "typical of Mongolian and south Siberian cities from the Xiongnu period onwards."; it was "bounded by a strong wall, 4.5 m thick, surrounded by a deep defensive ditch, 8-10 m wide and 3.5-4 m deep, and had four gates. The original layout of the city (before Timurid additions) included one central fortress/palace surrounded by an open spaced designed for the erection of tents." [2]

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 85)

[2]: (Biran 2013, 271-272) Michal Biran. Rulers and City Life in Mongal Central Asia (1220-1370) David Durand-Guedy. Turko-Mongol Rulers, Cities and City Life. BRILL. Leiden.


Complex Fortification:
present

"The fortified settlement of Ivolga in Russia, situated near the modern city of Ulan-Ude, is the most investigated one among them. The site was an irregular rectangle with sides equal to approximately 200 and 300 m. On three sides, it was protected by fortification works of three walls alternating with three ditches while on the fourth side the site was protected by the Selenga river." [1] Not ’concentric’ but I think we can code as present since the fourth side is protected by a river.

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 85)



Military use of Metals

By the seventh century the "Sogdians and Turkic peoples "had their own sophisticated metallurgical industries." [1] "The other peoples who were heavily involved with arms production and trade with the Tibetans were the Turkic peoples and especially the Karluks, allies of the Tibetans during the eighth and early ninth centuries ... The Karluks ... were noted by Islamic geographers as producers and exporters of iron artifacts and weapons to Tibet and China." [2]

[1]: (Clarke 2006, 21-22) 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.

[2]: (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.


’iron metallurgy developed in Mongolia only from the middle of the first millennium B.C.’ [1]

[1]: Di Cosmo 2002, 70


Copper:
present

Required for bronze.


Bronze:
present

"Among their weapons we find the compound bow, bronze and bone arrowheads (their arrows also contained beads that gave them a whistling effect), broadswords, short swords, lances, and maces." [1]

[1]: (Golden 1992, 60)


Projectiles

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.



Self Bow:
unknown

"The arranged military system has formed the basis for the domination of the Xiongnu in Inner Asia. The Chinese sources repeatedly mention the aggressive way of life of the northern neighbor. From early childhood, boys and youths were in training in archery and horse races." [1] Probably refers to composite bow.

[1]: (Kradin 2011, 82)



Handheld Firearm:
absent

"Firearms appeared in Siberia and Mongolia in the 17th century in the form of flintlock rifles. Flintlocks were the only firearms used in most areas until the turn of the 20th century." [1]

[1]: (Atwood 2004, 229)


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

Gunpowder not in use by the Xiongnu at this time


Crossbow:
present

Mentioned as one of the tactical advantages that the Han had over the Xiongnu. [1] However, the Xiongnu were said to have inferior crossbows:" "Why does it take five Xiongnu to match one Han soldier? It is because their sword blades are dull and their crossbows worthless. 48" Skill with a crossbow was at such a premium that it could even lead to offices in the court." [2]

[1]: (Lewis 2000, 47)

[2]: (Lewis 2000, 45)


Composite Bow:
present

"Among their weapons we find the compound bow, bronze and bone arrowheads (their arrows also contained beads that gave them a whistling effect), broadswords, short swords, lances, and maces." [1]

[1]: (Golden 1992, 60)


A new world weapon, highly unlikely to have been used here


Handheld weapons
War Club:
present

"Among their weapons we find the compound bow, bronze and bone arrowheads (their arrows also contained beads that gave them a whistling effect), broadswords, short swords, lances, and maces." [1]

[1]: (Golden 1992, 60)


"In the description of Hsiung-nu armament and tactics, Ssu-ma Ch’ien does not indulge in long-winded comparisons with the Chinese. His narrative is remarkably objective, and “moral” considerations are kept to a minimum. He describes their weapons (“they use bows and arrows as their long-range weapons, and swords and spears as their short-range weapons”)64 and their habits when it comes to going to war." [1]

[1]: (Di Cosmo 2002, 277)


"In the description of Hsiung-nu armament and tactics, Ssu-ma Ch’ien does not indulge in long-winded comparisons with the Chinese. His narrative is remarkably objective, and “moral” considerations are kept to a minimum. He describes their weapons (“they use bows and arrows as their long-range weapons, and swords and spears as their short-range weapons”)64 and their habits when it comes to going to war." [1]

[1]: (Di Cosmo 2002, 277)


Coded present due to the following in a slightly earlier Chinese source: "Even with strong crossbows that shoot far, and long halberds that hit at a distance, the Hsiung-nu would not be able to ward them off. If the armors are sturdy and the weapons sharp, if the repetition crossbows shot far, and the platoons advance together, the Hsiung-nu will not be able to withstand. If specially trained troops are quick to release (their bows) and the arrows in a single stream hit the target together, then the leather outfit and wooden shields of the Hsiung-nu will not be able to protect them. If they dismount and fight on foot, when swords and halberds clash as [the soldiers] come into close quarters, the Hsiung-nu, who lack infantry training, will not be able to cope." [1] Nikolay Kradin (pers. comm.) writes that halberds were not present in this period. [2]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 203

[2]: (Kradin, Nikolay. Personal Communication with Jill Levine, Dan Hoyer, and Peter Turchin. Email. April 2020)

Coded present due to the following in a slightly earlier Chinese source: "Even with strong crossbows that shoot far, and long halberds that hit at a distance, the Hsiung-nu would not be able to ward them off. If the armors are sturdy and the weapons sharp, if the repetition crossbows shot far, and the platoons advance together, the Hsiung-nu will not be able to withstand. If specially trained troops are quick to release (their bows) and the arrows in a single stream hit the target together, then the leather outfit and wooden shields of the Hsiung-nu will not be able to protect them. If they dismount and fight on foot, when swords and halberds clash as [the soldiers] come into close quarters, the Hsiung-nu, who lack infantry training, will not be able to cope." [1] Nikolay Kradin (pers. comm.) writes that halberds were not present in this period. [2]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 203

[2]: (Kradin, Nikolay. Personal Communication with Jill Levine, Dan Hoyer, and Peter Turchin. Email. April 2020)


Dagger:
present

"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." [1]

[1]: (Karasulas 2004, 28)


Battle Axe:
present

For comparison, here is a description of an early warrior on the Eastern Steppe Early Sarmatian (400-200 BCE) from the region of the Don, Volga and Urals (Eastern Steppe). “Early Sarmatian heavy-armed warrior wore a forged-iron helmet with a nose piece and cheek pieces. Scale armor of leather protected his body. He carried a twig-woven quiver for a bow and sometimes more than 200 arrows, covered with leather and decorated with an umbor, an arms belt with a buckle for crossing the belts; a richly decorated quiver hook; a long spear with a massive head and spike; a short iron akinakes sword; and iron axe. This complete image recalls a picture from a novel featuring medieval western European knights; these Sarmatian ’proto-types,’ however, are 2,000 years older.” [1] "During the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. several nomadic states of northern Iranian tribes came into being in Central Asia. In the west some Saka tribal confederations are mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Old Persian inscriptions, while in the east the Hsien-yün, and later the Yüeh-chih and the Hsiung-nu, tribal confederations are attested by the Chinese sources. ... Lively contacts and easy communications promoted the rise and spread of a fairly uniform nomadic culture in the steppe zone. The same types of horse-harness (bridle, bit, cheek-piece, saddle, trappings), arms (bow, bow-case, arrow and quiver, sword, battle-axe, mail) and garments (trousers, caftan, waist-girdle, boots, pointed cap) were used in the steppe zone from Central Europe to Korea." [2]

[1]: (Yablonsky 2010, 142) Leonid Teodorovich Yablonsky. Jan 2010. New Excavations of the Early Nomadic Burial Ground at Filippovka (Southern Ural Region, Russia). American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 114. No. 1. pp. 129-143.

[2]: (Harmatta 1994, 476-477) Harmatta, J. Conclusion. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.


Animals used in warfare

"The Xiongnu conducted many battles and border raids against the Chinese. The greater mobility of the Xiongnu cavalry proved to be very effective against Chinese infantry and chariots, and for a long period of time a treaty (198 B.C.) was in effect, bringing vast quantities of Chinese tribute into the Xiongnu court (Barfield 1981; Yu ̈ 1967)." [1]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 222)


Elephant:
absent

highly unlikely to have existed in Orkhon Valley, let alone used for war


Donkey:
present

Coded as present, due to all the domestic animals being owned by a household, in which all males were nomadic warriors and would very likely have used domestic animals as pack animals: Sima’s records state " Most of their domestic animals are horses, cows, sheep, and they also have rare animals such as camels, donkeys, mules, hinnies and other equines known as t’ao-t’u and tien-hsi. They move about according to the availability of water and pasture, have no walled towns or fixed residences, nor any agricultural activities, but each of them has a portion of land." [1]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 272



Coded as present, due to all the domestic animals being owned by a household, in which all males were nomadic warriors and would very likely have used domestic animals as pack animals: Sima’s records state " Most of their domestic animals are horses, cows, sheep, and they also have rare animals such as camels, donkeys, mules, hinnies and other equines known as t’ao-t’u and tien-hsi. They move about according to the availability of water and pasture, have no walled towns or fixed residences, nor any agricultural activities, but each of them has a portion of land." [1]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 272


Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
present

Wooden shields are mentioned by the Han. [1]

[1]: (Lewis 2000, 47)


Shield:
present

Wooden shields are mentioned by the Han. [1]

[1]: (Lewis 2000, 47)


Scaled Armor:
present

For comparison, here is a description of an early warrior on the Eastern Steppe: Early Sarmatian (400-200 BCE) from the region of the Don, Volga and Urals (Eastern Steppe). “Early Sarmatian heavy-armed warrior wore a forged-iron helmet with a nose piece and cheek pieces. Scale armor of leather protected his body. He carried a twig-woven quiver for a bow and sometimes more than 200 arrows, covered with leather and decorated with an umbor, an arms belt with a buckle for crossing the belts; a richly decorated quiver hook; a long spear with a massive head and spike; a short iron akinakes sword; and iron axe. This complete image recalls a picture from a novel featuring medieval western European knights; these Sarmatian ’proto-types,’ however, are 2,000 years older.” [1] "Sauromatian bronze helmets and scale or plate armor not of local production appear in the Volga River region and southern Ural Steppes in the fifth-fourth century b.c., showing an increase in the exchange economy among neighboring communities." [2]

[1]: (Yablonsky 2010, 142) Leonid Teodorovich Yablonsky. Jan 2010. New Excavations of the Early Nomadic Burial Ground at Filippovka (Southern Ural Region, Russia). American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 114. No. 1. pp. 129-143.

[2]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 42


Plate Armor:
present

Armor plates were found in house No 49 at Ivolginskoe. [1] Plate armor from Iran appears to have been used by Steppe Nomads and has been coded present in other Steppe polities for different reasons. "Sauromatian bronze helmets and scale or plate armor not of local production appear in the Volga River region and southern Ural Steppes in the fifth-fourth century b.c., showing an increase in the exchange economy among neighboring communities." [2]

[1]: (Kradin 2010, 249)

[2]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 42



Leather Cloth:
present

"For body covering they used fur or leather." [1]

[1]: (Golden 1992, 60)



Helmet:
present

Leather helmets are mentioned by the Han. [1]

[1]: (Lewis 2000, 47)


Chainmail:
present

"During the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. several nomadic states of northern Iranian tribes came into being in Central Asia. In the west some Saka tribal confederations are mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Old Persian inscriptions, while in the east the Hsien-yün, and later the Yüeh-chih and the Hsiung-nu, tribal confederations are attested by the Chinese sources. ... Lively contacts and easy communications promoted the rise and spread of a fairly uniform nomadic culture in the steppe zone. The same types of horse-harness (bridle, bit, cheek-piece, saddle, trappings), arms (bow, bow-case, arrow and quiver, sword, battle-axe, mail) and garments (trousers, caftan, waist-girdle, boots, pointed cap) were used in the steppe zone from Central Europe to Korea." [1]

[1]: (Harmatta 1994, 476-477) Harmatta, J. Conclusion. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.



Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent

According to personal communication with N. Kradin. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)



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.
- Nothing coded yet.