Articles on Central Asia: Heritage of ancient empires
Dating the earliest Scythians has been a problem since they did not develop their distinctive art style until the 6th century B.C. From the end of the 7th century to the 3rd century BC, the Scythians occupied the steppe from the north Black Sea area, from the Don in the east to the Danube in the west. Among all those Scythians tribes, the most distinguishing tribe is called the Royal Scythians. With the Royal Scythians playing the dominant role, nomad Scythians, the Callipidae, the Alizones, agricultural Scythians and ploughing Scythians hold a submissive position. While the Royal and Nomad scythians led the nomadic lives, the Callipidae and Alizones lived in semi-nomadic style. Of course ploughing Scythians definitely were sedentary agriculturalists. According to Herodotus, the Callipidae or the Graeco-Scythians lived not far from Olbia, at the mouth of the Bug. To the north, there lived the Alizones; and further north the ploughing Scythians covered the area between the Dnieper and Bug. The Nomad Scythians occupied the steppes of the Azov Sea area and the left and right banks of the Dnieper. Most scholars believe that both banks of the lower Bug as far as the River Konka were the lands of the Nomad Scythians while the Royal Scythians roamed lands further east and south as far as the Don. Lastly the nomadic Scythians occupied at the Altai region of Siberia are called Kindred Scythians or Eastern Scythians. It was during the 4th century BC. that the Scythian kingdom reached the hightest economic, political, social and cultural development. Many nomads bacme sedentary in the north Black Sea and Kamenskoe Gorodishche was the economic, political and trading capital of Scythia in the 4th till the first half of the 3rd century BC. The great king Atheas united all the Scythian tribes and expanded his territory to Tracian border on the right bank of the Danube. In 339 B.C., Atheas was killed at age of 90 in the battle with Philip of Macedon. However the Scythian kingdom remained strong and wealthy. The outside threat did not disturb their stability until the Celts and the Thracians swept in from the west and the Sarmatians from the east starting at the second half of the 3rd century BC.; the Scythian kingdom was absorbed by other nomadic powers and pretty much disappeared in the history. The Scythians were famous for their bloody tribal custom. Warriors not only cut off the heads of slain enemies but also made leather-bound drinking cups from their enemies' skulls. They lined these grisly trophies with gold and proudly displayed them to impress their guests. The Scythians were traditionally polygamous and male-dominated society. Even though the ancient Greeks' impression that Scythia was a matriarchy ,it is not supported by the archaeological evidence. A wealthy Scythian could take several wives, and upon his death a son or a brother would assume them as his own. Scythian women had little power beyond the confines of their households, unlike their neighboring tribe the Sarmatians, whose women not only rode but fought with the men equally. Scythian women traveled in wagons with their children instead. Some scholars suggest that the women may have lived a more active and influential life at one time.
Like the Scythians the Huns were also pastoral nomads. They were neighbours of the Scythians in Central Asia. Before the Yuchi were driven out, the Scythian homelands east of the Tien-Shan and Altai had merged into the pastures of the Huns. Even before the ultimate clash between them they had had contacts with each other for purposes of trade and in occasional skirmishes. The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia between the 1st century AD and the 7th century AD. As per European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that was part of Scythia at the time; the Huns' arrival is associated with the migration westward of a Scythian people, the Alans. In 91 AD, the Huns were said to be living near the Caspian Sea and by about 150 had migrated southeast into the Caucasus. By 370, the Huns had established a vast, if short-lived, dominion in Europe.
The history of the Karakhanids is one of the least studied periods in the history of Central Asia and East Turkistan. The Karakhanids can first be traced in historical sources in the ninth century, as a powerful tribe in Transoxania. By the late tenth and early eleventh century, they had formed a politically united Karakhanid state, as evidenced by the coinage from this period, on which a series of Karakhanid rulers are described as sovereigns of Transoxania.
The Karajhanid Khanate was divided into numerous appanage with unstable boundaries. The rulers even had the rights of minting coins with their names, sometimes with the changing titles. Political life was full warfare and struggle. The Karakhanid state was different from the previous states. In contrast to the political structure of the nomadic the military and administrative control were separated from each other. Public administration structure was based on the hierarchical principle. The Khans gave to their relatives the right to receive taxes from the population of the district, region or city. Such administrative grant was named "Iqta‘" and its holder called mukta, or iqtadar. The Iqta‘system played an important role in the economic and political life of Central Asia. Karakhanid's legacy is the most enduring cultural heritage among coexisting cultures in Central Asia from the 9th to the 13th century. Only the period of Mongol invasions interrupted the natural process of development.
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