Home Region:  Mongolia (Central and Northern Eurasia)

Early Xiongnu

EQ 2020  mn_hunnu_early / MnXngnE

The Orkhon Valley is located on either side of the Orkhon River, in north-central Mongolia. Here, we are interested in the phase of its prehistory in the millennium preceding the establishment of the Xiongnu empire, that is, 1400-300 BCE. Unfortunately, very little is known about this period, [1] though Chinese historians note that at the very end of this period the Xiongnu were one of three major steppe confederations in Mongolia more widely. [2]
No population estimates could be found specifically for the an average independent political unit in the Orkhon Valley at this time, though it is worth noting that, according to McEvedy and Jones (1978), the total population of Siberia and Mongolia in this period did not exceed 400,000. [3] Similarly, no information could be found on political organization at this time.

[1]: (Yu 1990, 118)

[2]: (Rogers 2012, 220)

[3]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978, 160-156) McEvedy, Colin. Jones, Richard. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Penguin Books Ltd. London.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Original Name:
Early Xiongnu  
Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[1,400 BCE ➜ 300 BCE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Supracultural Entity:
Early Nomadic  
Succeeding Entity:
Xiongnu Imperial Confederation  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Turkic  
Language:
Xiongnu  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Polity Territory:
[350,000 to 700,000] km2 1400 BCE 500 BCE
[700,000 to 1,400,000] km2 400 BCE 300 BCE
Polity Population:
[25,000 to 50,000] people 1400 BCE 500 BCE
[50,000 to 100,000] people 400 BCE 300 BCE
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
1  
Religious Level:
1  
Military Level:
[3 to 4]  
Administrative Level:
[2 to 3]  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
unknown  
Professional Priesthood:
unknown  
Professional Military Officer:
inferred absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
inferred absent  
Merit Promotion:
inferred absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
inferred absent  
Examination System:
inferred absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
inferred absent  
Judge:
inferred absent  
Court:
inferred absent  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
inferred absent  
Irrigation System:
inferred absent  
Drinking Water Supply System:
inferred absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
inferred absent  
Port:
inferred absent  
Canal:
inferred absent  
Bridge:
inferred absent  
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:
inferred absent  
Precious Metal:
inferred absent  
Paper Currency:
inferred absent  
Indigenous Coin:
inferred absent  
Foreign Coin:
inferred absent  
Article:
inferred 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:
present  
  Ditch:
unknown  
  Complex Fortification:
unknown  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
inferred absent  
  Iron:
inferred absent 1300 BCE 701 BCE
present 700 BCE 300 BCE
  Copper:
present  
  Bronze:
present  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
unknown  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
unknown  
  Self Bow:
present  
  Javelin:
unknown  
  Handheld Firearm:
inferred absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
inferred absent  
  Crossbow:
unknown  
  Composite Bow:
inferred absent 1300 BCE 501 BCE
present 500 BCE 300 BCE
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
unknown 1300 BCE 701 BCE
present 700 BCE 300 BCE
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
unknown 1300 BCE 701 BCE
present 700 BCE 300 BCE
  Polearm:
unknown  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
unknown 1300 BCE 701 BCE
present 700 BCE 300 BCE
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
absent 1300 BCE 701 BCE
present 700 BCE 300 BCE
  Elephant:
inferred absent  
  Donkey:
unknown 1300 BCE 701 BCE
inferred present 700 BCE 300 BCE
  Dog:
unknown  
  Camel:
unknown 1300 BCE 701 BCE
inferred present 700 BCE 300 BCE
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
unknown  
  Shield:
unknown  
  Scaled Armor:
unknown 1300 BCE 501 BCE
present 500 BCE 300 BCE
  Plate Armor:
unknown 1300 BCE 501 BCE
present 500 BCE 300 BCE
  Limb Protection:
unknown  
  Leather Cloth:
unknown 1300 BCE 701 BCE
present 700 BCE 300 BCE
  Laminar Armor:
unknown  
  Helmet:
unknown 1300 BCE 501 BCE
present 500 BCE 300 BCE
  Chainmail:
inferred present  
  Breastplate:
unknown  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
inferred absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
inferred absent  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
inferred 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 Early Xiongnu (mn_hunnu_early) was in:
 (1400 BCE 300 BCE)   Orkhon Valley
Home NGA: Orkhon Valley

General Variables
Identity and Location

Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[1,400 BCE ➜ 300 BCE]

"Based on radiocarbon dating, the time-span of material patterns associated with Xiongnu archaeology range as early as 400/300 BC and as late as 200 AD. It is in the nature of archaeological dating to have wide error ranges but despite this, these archaeological patterns probably precede and postdate the Xiongnu chronology given in the histories (i.e., 209 BC to c. 93 AD)." [1]

[1]: (Honeychurch 2015, 221)


Political and Cultural Relations

Succeeding Entity:
Xiongnu Imperial Confederation

Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Polity Territory:
[350,000 to 700,000] km2
1400 BCE 500 BCE

in squared kilometers
According to McEvedy and Jones (1978) the total population of Siberia and Mongolia at this time did not exceed 400,000, while in Russian Turkestan in 1300 BC "we can think in terms of 100,000 people on the steppe." [1]
Main part of this area covers 7,000,000 km2, which is an area of 14 per capita. This suggests a polity of 25,000-50,000 would have a territorial share of 350,000-700,000 km2. Since the time period 1400-300 BCE is extremely long I use this average for the 1400-500 BCE period and double it for the last 200 years prior to the rise of the Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.

[1]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978, 160-156) McEvedy, Colin. Jones, Richard. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Penguin Books Ltd. London.

Polity Territory:
[700,000 to 1,400,000] km2
400 BCE 300 BCE

in squared kilometers
According to McEvedy and Jones (1978) the total population of Siberia and Mongolia at this time did not exceed 400,000, while in Russian Turkestan in 1300 BC "we can think in terms of 100,000 people on the steppe." [1]
Main part of this area covers 7,000,000 km2, which is an area of 14 per capita. This suggests a polity of 25,000-50,000 would have a territorial share of 350,000-700,000 km2. Since the time period 1400-300 BCE is extremely long I use this average for the 1400-500 BCE period and double it for the last 200 years prior to the rise of the Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.

[1]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978, 160-156) McEvedy, Colin. Jones, Richard. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Penguin Books Ltd. London.


Polity Population:
[25,000 to 50,000] people
1400 BCE 500 BCE

People.
According to McEvedy and Jones (1978) the total population of Siberia and Mongolia at this time did not exceed 400,000, while in Russian Turkestan in 1300 BC "we can think in terms of 100,000 people on the steppe." [1]
The pre-Empire Xiongnu would have been a fraction of the total figure. 5-10% of 500,000 would provide an estimate of 25,000-50,000. This might represent an average of 20-40 groups covering this whole region. Since the time period 1400-300 BCE is extremely long I use this average for the 1400-500 BCE period and double it for the last 200 years prior to the rise of the Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.

[1]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978, 160-156) McEvedy, Colin. Jones, Richard. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Penguin Books Ltd. London.

Polity Population:
[50,000 to 100,000] people
400 BCE 300 BCE

People.
According to McEvedy and Jones (1978) the total population of Siberia and Mongolia at this time did not exceed 400,000, while in Russian Turkestan in 1300 BC "we can think in terms of 100,000 people on the steppe." [1]
The pre-Empire Xiongnu would have been a fraction of the total figure. 5-10% of 500,000 would provide an estimate of 25,000-50,000. This might represent an average of 20-40 groups covering this whole region. Since the time period 1400-300 BCE is extremely long I use this average for the 1400-500 BCE period and double it for the last 200 years prior to the rise of the Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.

[1]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978, 160-156) McEvedy, Colin. Jones, Richard. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Penguin Books Ltd. London.


Hierarchical Complexity

Religious Level:
1

levels. Shamans. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Military Level:
[3 to 4]

levels.
During the Empire period a supreme leader ruled over "kings", which suggest kings preceded the Empire period. [1]
1. Kings
2. Chiefs3. Officer level?4. Individual soldier

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 220)


Administrative Level:
[2 to 3]

levels.
During the Empire period a supreme leader ruled over "kings", which suggest kings preceded the Empire period. [1]
1. Kings
2. Chiefs3. Subordinate?

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 220)


Professions
Professional Soldier:
unknown

Not enough data, though perhaps it would be reasonable to infer absence.


Professional Priesthood:
unknown

Not enough data, though perhaps it would be reasonable to infer absence.


Professional Military Officer:
absent

Full-time specialists not considered present during the later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Merit Promotion:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent

Full-time specialists not considered present during the later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation.


Examination System:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems reasonable to infer absence.


Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Irrigation System:
absent

Irrigation systems absent for the later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation. [1]

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Drinking Water Supply System:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Transport Infrastructure

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


Bridge:
absent

Not enough data, though it seems to reasonable infer absence.


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

Coded inferred present for later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation: "In several supercomplex chiefdoms the elite attempted to introduce written records (e.g. Hsiung-nu and Turks)" [1] When did this transition occur? The written records in Later Xiongnu times were mainly Chinese. "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.


Script:
absent

Coded inferred present for later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation: "In several supercomplex chiefdoms the elite attempted to introduce written records (e.g. Hsiung-nu and Turks)" [1] When did this transition occur? The written records in Later Xiongnu times were mainly Chinese. "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

Probably no written records


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

Probably no written records



Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
unknown

Literacy very low. Were there any readers of literature?



Religious 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

[1] Later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation coded absent.

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Precious Metal:
absent

[1] Later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation coded absent.

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Paper Currency:
absent

[1] Later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation coded absent.

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Indigenous Coin:
absent

[1] Later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation coded absent.

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Foreign Coin:
absent

[1] Later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation coded absent.

[1]: (Kradin 2015, personal communication)


Article:
present

[1] Later Xiongnu Imperial Confederation coded present.

[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

Inferred from the Shajing people, nearby Mongolia:"people were sedentary and lived in fortified settlements surrounded by earthen walls." [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. 46


Earth Rampart:
present

Inferred from the Shajing people, nearby Mongolia: "people were sedentary and lived in fortified settlements surrounded by earthen walls." [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. 46


’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.’ [1]

[1]: (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.




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:
absent
1300 BCE 701 BCE

"...iron metallurgy developed in Mongolia only from the middle of the first millennium B.C." [1] Iron began to be used in Central Asia around the early first millennium b.c. [2] In use in Heilongjiang since around 800 BC [3]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 70

[2]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 39

[3]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 65

Iron:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

"...iron metallurgy developed in Mongolia only from the middle of the first millennium B.C." [1] Iron began to be used in Central Asia around the early first millennium b.c. [2] In use in Heilongjiang since around 800 BC [3]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 70

[2]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 39

[3]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 65


Copper:
present

"The Ch’i-chia culture was broadly distributed, extending north and east into Inner Mongolia, the upper Yellow River Valley, and the upper Wei-he and Huang-shui River Valleys. Connected with earlier Neolithic cultures, such as the Ma-chia-yao, during the first half of the first millennium b.c., the Ch’i-chia people displayed cultural traits that were among the most advanced in China. Their bronze production was extensive, and they progressed from forging copper tools (knives, awls, chisels) to casting objects (knives and axes) in open molds to more complex casting using composite molds (mirrors and socketed axes)." [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. 46


Bronze:
present

"Bronze, Daggers, or short swords, are generally distinguished by their integral casting of hilt and double-edged blade and relatively narrow and straight hand guard. The early types, dated to the middle and late Shang dynasty, display a characteristic curved hilt, often decorated with geometric designs and featuring a terminal in the shape of an animal’s head (horse, ram, eagle, or ibex). Other early daggers have perforated hilts or have straight hilts with grooves ending in a rattle." [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. 50


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:
present

"The importance of archery, and therefore of hunting, is shown by the more than 50 bow ends and 240 arrowheads discovered as well as by the horses and dogs found buried with the human dead." [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. 73



Handheld Firearm:
absent

Gunpowder not in use at this time.


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

Gunpowder not in use at this time.



Composite Bow:
absent
1300 BCE 501 BCE

"The first composite bow with bone reinforced ’ears’, a major development, may have been used around Lake Baikal, c.500 BC. Despite many individual external differences, across the steppe, and across time, the composite bow would remain essentially uniform in construction method." [1] "Composite bows are known from both Mesopotamia and the Great Steppe from the III millennium BCE. The Scythian bow was different from the Mesopotamian one primarily in its overall dimensions - it was smaller so that it could be used from the horseback. At the same time, self bows were also in use, but because of their large size they were not suitable for use by horse riders." [2]

[1]: (Karasulas 2004, 19)

[2]: Sergey A Nefedov, RAN Institute of History and Archaeology, Yekaterinburg, Russia. Personal Communication to Peter Turchin. January 2018.

Composite Bow:
present
500 BCE 300 BCE

"The first composite bow with bone reinforced ’ears’, a major development, may have been used around Lake Baikal, c.500 BC. Despite many individual external differences, across the steppe, and across time, the composite bow would remain essentially uniform in construction method." [1] "Composite bows are known from both Mesopotamia and the Great Steppe from the III millennium BCE. The Scythian bow was different from the Mesopotamian one primarily in its overall dimensions - it was smaller so that it could be used from the horseback. At the same time, self bows were also in use, but because of their large size they were not suitable for use by horse riders." [2]

[1]: (Karasulas 2004, 19)

[2]: Sergey A Nefedov, RAN Institute of History and Archaeology, Yekaterinburg, Russia. Personal Communication to Peter Turchin. January 2018.


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


Handheld weapons
War Club:
unknown
1300 BCE 701 BCE

"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)

War Club:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

"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)


"Bronze, Daggers, or short swords, are generally distinguished by their integral casting of hilt and double-edged blade and relatively narrow and straight hand guard. The early types, dated to the middle and late Shang dynasty, display a characteristic curved hilt, often decorated with geometric designs and featuring a terminal in the shape of an animal’s head (horse, ram, eagle, or ibex). Other early daggers have perforated hilts or have straight hilts with grooves ending in a rattle." [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] Ordos, Inner Mongolia: 6th-4th century BCE: ’Although bronze remained the dominant metal, the presence of iron tools and bimetallic weapons (especially swords with bronze hilts and iron blades) in sites where there was no previous trace of iron, suggest a later dating.’ [3]

[1]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 50

[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.

[3]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 58


Spear:
unknown
1300 BCE 701 BCE

"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)

Spear:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

"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)



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] "Bronze, Daggers, or short swords, are generally distinguished by their integral casting of hilt and double-edged blade and relatively narrow and straight hand guard. The early types, dated to the middle and late Shang dynasty, display a characteristic curved hilt, often decorated with geometric designs and featuring a terminal in the shape of an animal’s head (horse, ram, eagle, or ibex). Other early daggers have perforated hilts or have straight hilts with grooves ending in a rattle." [2]

[1]: (Karasulas 2004, 28)

[2]: Nicola Di Cosmo. 2002. Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, p. 50


Battle Axe:
unknown
1300 BCE 701 BCE

"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.

Battle Axe:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

"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.


Animals used in warfare
Horse:
absent
1300 BCE 701 BCE

"Within the diverse landscape of Inner Asia the forms of social systems and economic adaptations that were the foundation of early polities emerged after the domestication of the horse, especially after horses were used for riding (Jacobson- Tepfer 2008; Kradin 1992). By 3500 B.C. (Outram et al. 2009), the Botai culture of Kazakhstan consumed horse milk and meat and also used harnesses that probably facilitated riding. The domestication of the horse and subsequent riding, however, were not immediately followed by its widespread adoption or the transformation of local economies (Kohl 2007, p. 140). Across the Central Asian steppe—from north of the Black Sea to eastern Kazakhstan—there is substantial evidence for diverse mobile pastoralist economies, but primarily after 2500 B.C. (Benecke and von den Driesch 2003; Frachetti 2009).[...] Importantly, the horse also was the foundation for techniques of warfare that later fueled mobile pastoralist successes in their conflicts with more sedentary societies." [1] "Nevertheless, the transition to actual pastoral nomadism as practiced by horseback riders was probably not completed until the beginning of the first millennium b.c., and the first Scythian mounted archers appear on the scene only in the tenth or ninth century b.c." [2] Seshat puts the year for the region at around 700 B.C, so will use this number despite Scythians doing so beforehand. [3]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 209)

[2]: Di Cosmo 2002, 27

[3]: http://seshatdatabank.info/mounted_warfare/

Horse:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

"Within the diverse landscape of Inner Asia the forms of social systems and economic adaptations that were the foundation of early polities emerged after the domestication of the horse, especially after horses were used for riding (Jacobson- Tepfer 2008; Kradin 1992). By 3500 B.C. (Outram et al. 2009), the Botai culture of Kazakhstan consumed horse milk and meat and also used harnesses that probably facilitated riding. The domestication of the horse and subsequent riding, however, were not immediately followed by its widespread adoption or the transformation of local economies (Kohl 2007, p. 140). Across the Central Asian steppe—from north of the Black Sea to eastern Kazakhstan—there is substantial evidence for diverse mobile pastoralist economies, but primarily after 2500 B.C. (Benecke and von den Driesch 2003; Frachetti 2009).[...] Importantly, the horse also was the foundation for techniques of warfare that later fueled mobile pastoralist successes in their conflicts with more sedentary societies." [1] "Nevertheless, the transition to actual pastoral nomadism as practiced by horseback riders was probably not completed until the beginning of the first millennium b.c., and the first Scythian mounted archers appear on the scene only in the tenth or ninth century b.c." [2] Seshat puts the year for the region at around 700 B.C, so will use this number despite Scythians doing so beforehand. [3]

[1]: (Rogers 2012, 209)

[2]: Di Cosmo 2002, 27

[3]: http://seshatdatabank.info/mounted_warfare/


Elephant:
absent

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


Donkey:
unknown
1300 BCE 701 BCE

Coded as inferred present as it is a later source, but 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

Donkey:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

Coded as inferred present as it is a later source, but 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



Camel:
unknown
1300 BCE 701 BCE

Coded as inferred present as it is a later source, but 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.53 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.54 " [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

Camel:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

Coded as inferred present as it is a later source, but 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.53 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.54 " [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


Scaled Armor:
unknown
1300 BCE 501 BCE

Scaled 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." [1] "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.” [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. 42

[2]: (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.

Scaled Armor:
present
500 BCE 300 BCE

Scaled 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." [1] "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.” [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. 42

[2]: (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.


Plate Armor:
unknown
1300 BCE 501 BCE

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." [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. 42

Plate Armor:
present
500 BCE 300 BCE

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." [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. 42



Leather Cloth:
unknown
1300 BCE 701 BCE

Coded present due to the following in later Chinese sources, which are relevant for gaining insight on the weapons and armor of Steppe Nomads, as well as being mention as a general characteristic of Steppe Nomad clothing since the 8th century at least. "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]

[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

Leather Cloth:
present
700 BCE 300 BCE

Coded present due to the following in later Chinese sources, which are relevant for gaining insight on the weapons and armor of Steppe Nomads, as well as being mention as a general characteristic of Steppe Nomad clothing since the 8th century at least. "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]

[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



Helmet:
unknown
1300 BCE 501 BCE

Bronze helmets from Iran appear to have been used by Steppe Nomads. Also Steppe Nomads in other polities have been found to use leather or other helmets, therefore I have coded this as present. "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." [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. 42

Helmet:
present
500 BCE 300 BCE

Bronze helmets from Iran appear to have been used by Steppe Nomads. Also Steppe Nomads in other polities have been found to use leather or other helmets, therefore I have coded this as present. "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." [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. 42


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

The Xiongnu were land-based steppe nomads, unlikely to have had any sort of navy


Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent

The Xiongnu were land-based steppe nomads, unlikely to have had any sort of navy


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent

The Xiongnu were land-based steppe nomads, unlikely to have had any sort of navy



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.