View Full Version : Who are the Turks?


spincrus
Mar 09, 2004, 02:53 AM
The contents of this thread actually exist in the Units subforum of CivIII Creation & Customization, but I decided to give it it's own thread. It might be a little bit confusing, but the chart might explain more.


First of all, the term Turk should not be confused. It:

a) refers to a group of tribes (hence, the name for the utopic unified Turkish states, Turan),
b) refers to the Anatolian descendants of the Central-Asian tribes.

A term does not come into existence out of nothing. It is true, that nationalist movements in Turkey have started during late 19th century, but the term Turk always existed in Anatolia to define the specific people speaking Turkish. A common identity was in place, and the distinction between a Turk (most heavily populated tribe in Anatolia during the Ottoman era), a Jew, an Armenian, a Slav (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), a Greek, an Albanian, a Persian and an Arab were obvious. The term Kurd, however, was not that common, and they were usually referred to as the "mountain Turks", which is indeed a politically incorrect way to put it. They are, on the other hand, relatives of the Persians, as their language is Indo-European.


The descendants were born in the Ural-Altai region. The initial split between them happened during the first Hun Empire. The Ural migrated to Finland. Therefore, the Fins are actually Uralic people. The Altaic people split, too, becoming the Tunguz, Mogol and Turks. The Tunguz migrated to Siberia, and the Mongol went to far eastern Asian steppes, crossing the Gobi desert.

The other half of the Ural people did not migrate to Europe until the Hun Empire split.

The Huns, which were initially formed in Central Asia, were referred to as the Xiong Nu by the Chinese; it's no way a word from the Ural-Altai language group. The Huns consisted both of Uralic and Altaic people, but mostly Altaic.

They were not referred to as Turks back then, but were distinctly different from the Mongols, as I have said before. Yet again, they were rivals to each other, although common raids to China by both these tribes are known.

After the split of the Huns, one half remained in Central Asia, whereas the other half, in the leadership of Atilla (Attila), invaded Europe, causing the great migrations. They mostly settled in the Hungarian region, bringing the other half of the Uralic people with them. However, among them were also Altaic people.

The ones who remained in Central Asia, however, evolved into the Turks. The term Turk was commonly used in Central-Asia, as the first nation to be born with the name Turk were the Blue Turks (modern Anatolian Turkish: Gokturk, ancient Turkish; Kokturk, even referred to as Kokturuk; all meaning "Sky Turks", since their gods (goktanri, koktengri) was the sky). I am referring to a time period of around 8th-9th century.

Several of them went to eastern China, forming the Uyghur tribe. After the fall of the Blue Turks, couple of more Turkish states came into existence, but the most distinctive thing was the great split among the Turkish tribes.

The Turks split in such a way, that there were brand new sub-tribes, all with extremely similar languages, but settled/invaded different regions. Kirghiz, Khazak, Uzbek, Ghuzz (Oguz), Altai, Tatar are some of them. They are in no way Mongols, though.

The term Altaic and Altai might cause some confusions here, too. Altaic refers to the people from the Altai tribes (Tunguz, Mongol, Turks), whereas the initial split between the Altaic people happened well before.

The Ghuzz then formed the Great Seljuks, following came the Anatolian Seljuks, the Ottomans, and at last, Turkey. Hence, I'd like to remind people that there's a country called Turkmenistan, where the Great Seljuks were first established.


A better and more detailed break-down of the Turkic Tribes:

akhun (eftalit, white hun)
avar (juan) (first turkic tribe to siege constantinople)
hazar (caspian) (converted mostly to judaism)
sibir
kirghiz (uzbek and khazak are descendants of them actually)
turgish
karluk (first to accept islam)
bulgar (have become slavic people, but there are still bulgars in eastern russia, who have kept their identities)
magyar (european huns)
oguz (uz, ghuzz) (largest turkic tribe with many smaller clans. modern turkey is formed by the descendants of the oguz.)
kipcak (kept their identities, although most converted to christianity and have inherited slavic physical appearances)
pecenek
baskirt
kimek



A very simple breakdown of the Ural-Altaic people is represented in the chart below. The names are mostly generalizations. Keep in mind, that these tribes have mixed tremendously over time, even though they were separate tribes, they mostly coexisted in the same regions:

spincrus
Mar 09, 2004, 03:02 AM
There are several other theories on other nations, whether or not they were descendants of the Ural-Altaic people. However, they are simply theories that are completely open to debate. Nothing has been proven yet about these theories.


Japan and Korea: Their languages are classified as "isolated languages" by linguists. Although they have lots of Chinese influences, their structures resemble the Ural-Altaic language group.

That is, they are thought to be distant relatives of the Altaic people.

Inuit: They are most probably descendants of the Altaic people, but more closely related to the Tunghuz and the Mongols rather than the Turks.

Native Americans: The resemblences in the shamanistic rituals are tremendous, but nothing has been proven. Physical anthropologists relate them more to the Mongols rather than the Turks. Language differs a lot, though.

Basque: Most probably the theory with least possibility to have any truth to it, since the language isn't that similar, but are thought to have migrated from Central Asia. Their languages have no resemblence to the Arian languages, nor the Ural-Altaic ones. However, I have heard about such a possibility. Still, a weak theory.

Pangur Bán
Mar 09, 2004, 03:36 AM
On a side not, SpincruS, you might be interested to read this :) :


The Altai Hypothesis (http://www.shakespeare.uk.net/altai_hypothesis.html)

Pangur Bán
Mar 09, 2004, 03:55 AM
Originally posted by SpincruS
There are several other theories on other nations, whether or not they were descendants of the Ural-Altaic people. However, they are simply theories that are completely open to debate. Nothing has been proven yet about these theories.


Japan and Korea: Their languages are classified as "isolated languages" by linguists. Although they have lots of Chinese influences, their structures resemble the Ural-Altaic language group.

That is, they are thought to be distant relatives of the Altaic people.



Em...I think it's more likely that, if their is any connection, they'd be descended from common source, rather than one from the other.

Originally posted by SpincruS
[Inuit: They are most probably descendants of the Altaic people, but more closely related to the Tunghuz and the Mongols rather than the Turks. [/B]

I doubt closer similarities to the Tunghuz and Mongols are anything more than coincidence.


Originally posted by SpincruS
Native Americans: The resemblences in the shamanistic rituals are tremendous, but nothing has been proven. Physical anthropologists relate them more to the Mongols rather than the Turks. Language differs a lot, though.
[/B]

This really ruins the thread. "Mongoloid" people, if that's what they were, migrated to the Americas long before there were any Mongols or Turks. The connection, if it exists, lies in very, very ancient ancestor culture which may have influenced both.

Originally posted by SpincruS
Basque: Most probably the theory with least possibility to have any truth to it, since the language isn't that similar, but are thought to have migrated from Central Asia. Their languages have no resemblence to the Arian languages, nor the Ural-Altaic ones. However, I have heard about such a possibility. Still, a weak theory. [/B]

Yeah, you're right: no connection whatsoever. The Basque langauge almost certainly evolved in Europe from an ancestor established long before the Indo-European invasions, and hence long before any Turk set foot on the Steppe.


You should be aware, that the connection between Ural and Altaic languages is pretty tenuous. The vocabulary of Ural languages has nothing in common with Altaic Vocab. They happen to share a few features, but these could easily be coincidence!

Knight-Dragon
Mar 09, 2004, 05:59 AM
Originally posted by SpincruS
The descendants were born in the Ural-Altai region. The initial split between them happened during the first Hun Empire. The Ural migrated to Finland. Therefore, the Fins are actually Uralic people. I find this very hard to believe - the Finns being a branch of the Xiong-nu/Huns.

The Altaic people split, too, becoming the Tunguz, Mogol and Turks. The Tunguz migrated to Siberia, and the Mongol went to far eastern Asian steppes, crossing the Gobi desert. The Tungusics had been in the forests long before the Xiong-nu. And the Mongols seemed to have been forest-dwellers in W Manchuria, before they emerged into the steppes and became nomads.

What do you mean by 'crossing the Gobi desert?' I thought it laid in-between the Mongolian steppes and proper China?

The other half of the Ural people did not migrate to Europe until the Hun Empire split. ?

The Huns, which were initially formed in Central Asia, were referred to as the Xiong Nu by the Chinese; it's no way a word from the Ural-Altai language group. The Huns consisted both of Uralic and Altaic people, but mostly Altaic. The Xiong-nu confederation was formed north of the Chinese lands, rather than in Central Asia, thousands of miles to the west.

They were not referred to as Turks back then, but were distinctly different from the Mongols, as I have said before. Yet again, they were rivals to each other, although common raids to China by both these tribes are known. The lines betw the Turkic tribes and the Mongol ones had always been blurry. And there's no clear-cut Mongols until a few generations before GK's time - when the Turkic tribes had already mostly moved on to the West, broken by the earlier Tang empire, a few centuries before.

After the split of the Huns, one half remained in Central Asia, whereas the other half, in the leadership of Atilla (Attila), invaded Europe, causing the great migrations. They mostly settled in the Hungarian region, bringing the other half of the Uralic people with them. However, among them were also Altaic people. Even the link betw the Xiong-nu of the Chinese and the Huns of Europe wasn't very direct...

The ones who remained in Central Asia, however, evolved into the Turks. The term Turk was commonly used in Central-Asia, as the first nation to be born with the name Turk were the Blue Turks (modern Anatolian Turkish: Gokturk, ancient Turkish; Kokturk, even referred to as Kokturuk; all meaning "Sky Turks", since their gods (goktanri, koktengri) was the sky). I am referring to a time period of around 8th-9th century. The 1st Turkic confederation was formed in Mongolia, not Central Asia. These fought against the Tang Chinese.

Several of them went to eastern China, forming the Uyghur tribe. After the fall of the Blue Turks, couple of more Turkish states came into existence, but the most distinctive thing was the great split among the Turkish tribes. The Uighurs were the ascendant power in the Mongolian steppes who were dislodged by the uprising Khirgiz and driven into the Tarim oasises. They didn't go anywhere to become Uighurs...

The Turks split in such a way, that there were brand new sub-tribes, all with extremely similar languages, but settled/invaded different regions. Kirghiz, Khazak, Uzbek, Ghuzz (Oguz), Altai, Tatar are some of them. They are in no way Mongols, though. There had always been a number of Turkic tribes, right fr the beginning; likewise with the Mongol tribes. There's only one time when all the steppe tribes had been uniformly united under one power - under Genghis Khan.

Otherwise, they'd always been disunited - even within the great confederations of the steppes, they're still highly distinguished by tribal groupings. Otherwise they would have long overrun the world - like with Genghis Khan's horsemen.

Sarevok
Mar 09, 2004, 10:42 AM
very cool info!

Kafka2
Mar 09, 2004, 11:25 AM
I've not studied the Turks directly, but they have featured in my reading on Catastrophe theory. My first encounter with them came around 530AD when the Turks were vassals of the Avar around the area that is now Mongolia.

In the climactic upheaval (recorded in dendrochronological and ice-core records) following 535AD, the Turks overthrew the Avar and became dominant in that area. It was as a result of this that the Avar migrated westwards, bringing them into conflict with the Eastern Roman Empire.

Vrylakas
Mar 09, 2004, 11:31 AM
This thread veers a little too dangerously towards this thread (http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=65862) about Hunnic and Magyar origins.

There is little doubt Finnish and Hungarian are Finno-Ugric languages, but the Altaic language family is more controversial with people making wild associations with minimal evidence all over the place.

Pangur Bán
Mar 09, 2004, 11:52 AM
Goodess me, Vrylakas, that's one mother of a thread. I think I'll keep my mouth shut about Hungarian history on these boards, unless 1) I really know what I'm talking about and 2) I have several weeks of free time :D

Mongoloid Cow
Mar 09, 2004, 03:23 PM
:hmm: Mongolia is part of Central Asia...

SincruS, pretty good, but I would probably have made the Kyrgyz at the Altai group, considering that it is widely accepted that they were strong and kicking in the 7th Century BC, predating 'Turk' and 'Mongol'. Also, I think you missed the split from the steppe people and the forest people (although I admit I don't know what 'Ural' is) - the people who lived on the steppes of Central Asia are similar to, but different enough from, the people of the Siberian forests. It is now being hypothesised that the Scythians were Siberic, who stormed on the Russian / Ukrainian steppes following some great upheaval in the region around Mongolia in the 8th Century BC.

spincrus
Mar 09, 2004, 04:55 PM
@calgacus:

True. The theories concerning the Inuits and Native Americans are still only "theories" and I don't find that much truth to them. Besides, a split should have occured way before any sort of common identity was formed.

@XIII:

As I said, the Finns are a branch of the Uralic people, who have migrated way before the Huns (Xiong-nu). I didn't argue against that.

The Tunguz have also split way before the Huns, but more recent than the Fins have split. So, we're talking about the same thing here, too.

The "crossing the Gobi desert" is one part you're right about; I got sort of carried away there.

About the name Xiong-nu, I didn't say anything on contrary what you've said, neither. They were north of the Chinese lands, but the word Xiong-nu itself is not Ural-Altaic.

The Mongols and Turks have mixed a great deal, that's true. A major reason for the Turks to move west were mostly Mongol invasions, though.

The first real Turkic confederation is called the "White Huns", and it's true that they had most of the Mongolian peninsula. However, their reach extended to Central Asia. Besides, the the point I wanted to make there was, that the first Turkic confederation with the phrase "Turk" in it were the Gokturk. I didn't argue against you, again.

The Uighurs (Uygur) were definitely Turkish. I should have said that they formed the Uighur state, rather than the tribe. The tribe already existed long before, but just driven away from their lands and moved south-west (I have accidently said "east of China" there, sorry about that).

I think we're actually talking about the same things here; Mongols and Turks were living in the same domains, usually mixing, but were pretty seperate, even among themselves.


@Kafka2: The Avars are referred to as being one of the Turkish empires. It's represented by a star in the Turkish presidential standard.


@Vrylakas: I haven't said anything in contrary? Let me repeat: Fins have split way before any. Finno-Ugric has split from Ural-Altai. The vocabulary is not the same (and that's not really 100% true, neither. With slow and careful listening, I can trace certain words from Hungarian and Finnish to modern Anatolian Turkish, but that's very seldom; not to forget the Ottoman rule over Hungary). However, the language structures resemble each other.


@Mongoloid Cow: True; the split between the forest and steppe people is represented as an initial split among the Altaic major group. Shouldn't confuse the sub-group called the Altai with the main one (just like the difference between the Central Asian Turk and the Anatolian Turk). The Scythians being Siberic is a big possibility, but I haven't heard/read much about it. The term "Ural" is just universial Turkish for "Ugric" I suppose; correct me if I'm wrong.


@Everyone: Let me add that I'm not an expert in any of these; it's open for discussion and honestly, I'm learning a lot from you people. So keep the comments and counter-arguments flowing, please :)

Thanks for the attention.

Keygen
Mar 09, 2004, 05:29 PM
SpincruS, this is an interesting thread :thumbsup:

I have absolutely no idea how the Turks involved but I always had the impression that the they were a branch of the Mongols or at list closely related to them.

Knight-Dragon
Mar 09, 2004, 08:52 PM
Originally posted by Mongoloid Cow
:hmm: Mongolia is part of Central Asia... Not to me - it's Inner Asia but Central Asia are those lands between the Caspian, the Hindu Kush, and the steppes. The seat of many old civilisations - not steppe-lands.

Maybe a matter of definition.

Knight-Dragon
Mar 09, 2004, 08:58 PM
Originally posted by SpincruS
As I said, the Finns are a branch of the Uralic people, who have migrated way before the Huns (Xiong-nu). I didn't argue against that.

The Tunguz have also split way before the Huns, but more recent than the Fins have split. So, we're talking about the same thing here, too. Oh ok. Because my impression fr your post was that all the peoples were unified as the Huns and then they splited and went off to become Finns etc.

The Mongols and Turks have mixed a great deal, that's true. A major reason for the Turks to move west were mostly Mongol invasions, though. I'd disagree here. The reason the Turks began moving west was because the Tang emperors splited and destroyed the Turkic confederation in the steppes, leading many to flee west. Some remained though, and interacted with GK's world. The process had begun long before identifiable Mongol tribes came into the picture.

When the Mongols poured into Central Asia and the Mid-east, they fought against the local Turkic soldiers there. ;)

Vrylakas
Mar 09, 2004, 10:40 PM
@Vrylakas: I haven't said anything in contrary? Let me repeat: Fins have split way before any. Finno-Ugric has split from Ural-Altai. The vocabulary is not the same (and that's not really 100% true, neither. With slow and careful listening, I can trace certain words from Hungarian and Finnish to modern Anatolian Turkish, but that's very seldom; not to forget the Ottoman rule over Hungary). However, the language structures resemble each other.

As I mentioned in the thread I linked to, Hungarian has a large Turkic-derived vocabulary from the days of the Khazar empire and the Hungarians' long association with the pre-Slavic Bulgar peoples. Most of the Turkic-derived words in modern Hungarian refer to technologies - i.e., things the ancient Magyars learned from their Turkic-speaking neighbors.

Many linguists have tried to postulate about some sort of Uralic über-Sprache from which so many modern languages have sprung, but while there seem to be so many similarities, there has been to date some very basic features of related languages missing from critical components of this language theory. Simply said, the pieces just don't fit, at least with what we know today. Maybe someday we'll discover a Uralic Rosetta Stone...

Vrylakas
Mar 09, 2004, 10:42 PM
BTW, the Ottoman occupation of Hungary, from c. 1526 to 1690, yielded few Turkish loan words in modern Hungarian, save for a few exotic artifacts and phenomena. ;)

Mongoloid Cow
Mar 09, 2004, 11:35 PM
Originally posted by XIII
Not to me - it's Inner Asia but Central Asia are those lands between the Caspian, the Hindu Kush, and the steppes. The seat of many old civilisations - not steppe-lands.

Maybe a matter of definition.

Probably. For me Central Asia is the world from about the Ukrainian border to pretty much the Pacific Ocean, from the start of the Siberian Tundra south to Tibet, Afghanistan, etc.

I'd disagree here. The reason the Turks began moving west was because the Tang emperors splited and destroyed the Turkic confederation in the steppes, leading many to flee west. Some remained though, and interacted with GK's world. The process had begun long before identifiable Mongol tribes came into the picture.

When the Mongols poured into Central Asia and the Mid-east, they fought against the local Turkic soldiers there.

The Turks did rebel and founded the Second Turut (ie; the Second Gok Empire) and had harrowing victories over the Tang. Problem is that the other tribes thought them weak because they lost to the Chinese so they would have any of it. After the Turks massacred a Kyrgyz group, the other Kyrgyz rebelled and destroyed the empire. The Tang never forced the Turks west - it's just that the Turks in the east were all but massacred by the Kyrgyz (and later Uighurs) in retaliation.

Knight-Dragon
Mar 10, 2004, 10:24 AM
Originally posted by Mongoloid Cow
Probably. For me Central Asia is the world from about the Ukrainian border to pretty much the Pacific Ocean, from the start of the Siberian Tundra south to Tibet, Afghanistan, etc. I think the Tungusic forests of Manchuria and today's Russian Maritime Province would hardly constitute the 'central' of Asia. ;)

The Turks did rebel and founded the Second Turut (ie; the Second Gok Empire) and had harrowing victories over the Tang. Problem is that the other tribes thought them weak because they lost to the Chinese so they would have any of it. After the Turks massacred a Kyrgyz group, the other Kyrgyz rebelled and destroyed the empire. The Tang never forced the Turks west - it's just that the Turks in the east were all but massacred by the Kyrgyz (and later Uighurs) in retaliation. That could be it - I'd only read up to the point that the Tang emperors managed to split the Turkic confederation into a northern and southern portion, and then used the southern portion to control the northern one, with the aid of Chinese arms. The Tang emperors themselves were half-Turkic, rather militant and had excellent light cavalry forces.