(Chapter VII, section 2)

The Turks and Mongols

In order to discuss the movements of Asiatic peoples into Europe from the first inroad of the Huns to the conquests of the Osmanli Turks in the sixteenth century, it will be necessary to review briefly the events in central and eastern Asia which preceded and precipitated these incursions.

From the time that the Irano-Aryan ancestors had arrived in Russian Turkestan in anticipation of their descent into the hills of northwestern India, much of this grassy plain had been the home of those Iranians who remained behind while their kinsmen climbed the mountains which would take them into India and the Irano-Afghan plateau. These Iranians apparently developed, or borrowed, a high degree of adaptation to their steppe environment, and especially through the perfection of pastoral nomadism with the horse as chief instrument of mobility. They expanded through the passes to the eastward, which took them to Kashgaria, and there came in contact with the Chinese Empire. On the other side, they expanded westward into Europe, where we have already studied them in the form of Scythians and Sarmatians.

To the northwest of the vast Iranian domain, in Mongolia, a number of semi-agricultural, semi-pastoral tribes, possessing the sheep, probably also cattle, and perhaps wagons, but apparently not the horse, came in early times to the attention of the Chinese historians. By 800 B.C. we hear of a people called the Hiung-Nu, who gradually grew in importance until they came to dominate all of Mongolia.8 At a fairly late date, set by McGovern between 541 and 300 B.C., the Hiung-Nu presumably obtained horses, and learned to ride them. They seem to have acquired these animals from the Iranians or from Turkish-speaking peoples, along with the whole complex of horse nomadism. Chinese accounts of the Hiung-Nu later than the third century B.C. refer to them as typical plainsmen, strikingly similar in many cultural respects to the Scythians.

The six centuries, more or less, from 400 B.C. to 200 A.D., formed the period of greatness of the Hiung-Nu in Mongolia, during which they constantly harried China, and took possession of Chinese Turkestan. Despite their conquest, however, Iranian languages, and the mysterious Tokharian B, persisted in the towns until 800 A.D. or later. At length the Chinese took measures to rid themselves of this nuisance, and succeeded in defeating the Hiung-Nu so completely that they abandoned their territory and disappeared to the westward.

The last mention of the Hiung-Nu in Chinese sources is about 170 AL. and, exactly two hundred years later, the Huns appeared on the banks of the Don in Russia. McGovern has presented a convincing argument to prove that the two were the same people; that their passage across Asia took them across a space sterile of historians, between the spheres of Chinese and of Byzantine chroniclers. Only one glow of light appears in this interim; in 290 A.D. Tigranes the Great of Armenia hired some such people as mercenaries.

The history of the Huns in Europe does not require elaborate treatment. Having defeated the Ostrogoths and sent them and their kinsmen scurrying westward, the Huns moved to the present Hungary, which they made their headquarters. From here they sent expeditions to Rome, to Germany, and to France, where Attila was defeated in the battle of the Catalonian fields in 451 A.D. After his death two years later, the Runs retired to eastern Europe, and many of them united with their relatives the Bolgars, who had settled between the Ugrian and Finnic tribes of the middle Volga and Kama rivers, where, under Bolgar leadership, a great state arose, which flowered between the eighth and fourteenth centuries.

In the meantime, the Huns in central Asia raided Mesopotamia, Persia, Afghanistan, and India; presumably the Turkish penetration of central Siberia dates likewise from the period between 200 and 400 A.D. This span of two centuries marks the beginning of the great expansion of Turkish-speaking peoples, for the Huns, and their allies and relatives, must have spoken various forms of speech related to Turkish, many of which are now extinct.

When we view the Hunnish inroad into Europe in the light of the total context of Old World history, it ceases to be a strange inruption of hideous and invincible barbarians darting out of nowhere, as it at first appeared to the Byzantines and Romans. The Huns were a people who had been exposed to a high civilization that of China; they were cultured if illiterate, and in every sense the match of the frightened adversaries whom they met in Europe. When we examine the details of these invasions, we see that it was not one simple inroad, but a series of them in which a perplexing confusion of names is involved. Chief of the newcomers, after the Huns, were the Avars, who arrived in the sixth century. The Huns considered these their kinsmen and equals, and later amalgamated with them after the Avars had, in the eighth century, been defeated by Charlemagne and had retreated, some to Hungary and others to the Don country.

From the fall of the Huns until the rise of the Mongols some thousand years later, the history of central Asia is simply a repetition of the same theme; some obscure sub-tribe would become important, win leadership over the others, and head new invasions of increasing complexity. The history of southern Russia became extremely complicated, for the steppes of the Don country served as a terminal point for all but the most serious of these movements.

After the Avars came the Turks, called Tü-Küe, hereditary iron-work-ers, who had been an old clan of the Hiung-Nu. They defeated the Avars in 546 A.D., and settled about the Caspian Sea; from here they conducted their raids and expanded, and gave their name to the whole linguistic sub-stock of Altaic which all of them, Huns included, seem to have spoken. It is probable that their speech superseded many older allied forms.

In the guise of Petchenegs and Kumans, in the tenth and eleventh centuries new waves of Turks moved across the southern Russian steppes as far as the Danube. As Seljuks, the Turks took charge of Asia Minor and fought the Crusaders; as Osmanlis, they conquered the Seljuks, withstood the Mongol advance, captured Constantinople, and swarmed over the Balkans and up to Vienna. But meanwhile, in the thirteenth century, other Turks under Mongol leaders, now for the first time called Tatars, had covered southeastern Europe ahead of the Osmanlis; and, in the fourteenth, hordes of true Mongols had followed, leaving permanent settlements in the Caucasus, the Kalmuck Steppe, and the Crimea.

In the fifteen hundreds, the tide commenced to turn in eastern Europe; the Muscovites grew powerful, and the Asiatic invaders began to draw eastward as the steppes were peopled with Slays. Under the rule of the Turks and Mongols, the older population had not entirely disappeared; colonies of Alans persisted until the thirteenth century, and Russian colonies lived under the protection of the Turkish Khazars. In the same fashion, the Turks and Mongols did not disappear with the Slavic advance, and their colonies in the midst of Slavic territory are still numerous.

There is an abundance of documents dealing with the invasion of Europe by the Huns and by their relatives the Avars. These inroads took place shortly after the expansion of the Germanic peoples to the east, and formed a primary reason for the failure of the Goths and Vandals to found a permanent home in the former Scythian country. They took place, also, before the major expansion of the Slavs, who moved eastward in the interim between the invasion of central Europe by the Huns and the wholesale westward migration of the Magyar ancestors under Árpád.

They are purely dolichocephalic, with a cranial index of 71.7. On the whole, they are just what one would expect from a Danish Iron Age - Upper Palaeolithic cross, with the latter in the majority, and this explanation agrees well with the archaeological data. The stature, 169.5 cm., fits both types. There is another possibility, however, that they had a strong Corded element. That some Corded blend entered into this mixture was indeed likely, but it is impossible to substitute the Corded for the Palaeolithic element, since the high vault of the former is not in sufficient evidence, and the faces of the Norwegians are wider than either Corded or Nordic.

That the Huns came in great numbers cannot be questioned, and that they introduced a completely alien racial type onto European soil is vividly attested by the accounts of numerous contemporary historians, among whom may be mentioned Jordanes, Sidonus, Appolinaris, and Priscus. These authors unanimously describe the Huns as being short, broad shouldered, thick-set, swarthy, flat-nosed, slit-eyed, nearly beardless, and bandy-legged. The Avars are described by some authors as being identical with the Huns, but by others as being less horrible of aspect. According to that Byzantine wit, Jordanes, the Avars defeated the Iranian-speaking Alans, who were the descendants of the Sarmatians, by frightening them with their faces and not by valor.

The careful studies of Bartucz, on whose work this following part is almost entirely based, has disclosed, in unquestioned manner, the exact racial composition of these invaders.9 (See Appendix I, col. 51.) Many of the Hunnish and Avar cemeteries are very extensive, containing, in all, thousands of skulls. In many of these cemeteries, particularly in that of Mosonszentjános, purely mongoloid skeletons have been found, unaccom-panied by European followers or European mixture.

Bartucz finds two clearly differentiated mongoloid types in these cemeteries. The first, which he designates as type A, is dolicho- to mesocephalic with a mean index of 75.5 for the males and 77.0 for the females. These skulls are of great length and considerable size. The forehead is very narrow, the temples sharply curved, and the zygomatic arches laterally bowed. The occiput is narrow and conical at the end. From the side profile, the forehead appears exceptionally low and slanting. The vertex falls well back of bregma, and the profile is curved through the extent of its length. In the occipital region the line of neck muscle attachment forms a powerful torus.

The vault of this type is lower than that found in any European group. It is, in fact, near the low point for mankind, with a range in height from 120 to 130 mm. The browridges, accentuated by the extreme slope of the forehead, are heavy, but the glabella region is flat, the orbits are rounded, and with the lower border often projecting farther forward than the upper. The nasal bones are long, narrow, and flat; so that the nasal skeleton sometimes fails to project in front of the malars. The lower borders of the nasal opening are smoothly rounded. The malars are extremely large and prominent, the canine fossa completely lacking, and the maxillary sinus, which overlies it, is so blown out that the surface of the bone is at this point often raised. The dental arch of the palate is U-shaped. The mandible is heavy, but the chin, however, but slightly developed. The whole sub-nasal portion of the face is enormous. The stature of this type, calculated from the long bones, is 164.4 cm. for the males, 153.1 cm. for the females.

Type B is also purely mongoloid, but it is brachycephalic, with a mean index of 83 for both sexes. The forehead is also low, but much broader and more sharply curved, the occiput is rounded and broad, and the skull as a whole is globular, although the vault is still low. The face is broad and low, the orbits are lower, the nose less leptorrhine, the malars and zygomata less pronouncedly mongoloid, than in the case of type A. The nasal bones are shorter, the palate broader and rounder, the chin more prominent. This type is characterized by shorter stature; 160.9 cm. for the males, and 152.8 cm. for the females.

Thanks to the industrious researches of the modern Russian school of physical anthropology, it is not difficult to discover the Asiatic relationships of these two types. Type A is found today among the living Tungus,10 and it has likewise a long history in Siberia, for it is found among many Siberian peoples, including Palaeasiatics, and it is characteristic of many of the Neolithic skulls excavated in the neighborhood of Lake Baikal.11 Type B belongs to the Mongol-speaking peoples, and is found in especial purity among the Buryats, who represent, culturally and probably racially, the Mongols before the time of their expansion. Modern Buryat skulls are among the largest in capacity known.

In most Hunnish and Avar cemeteries, type B is more in evidence than type A. Type A, however, predominates in the cemeteries which are known to have been used by the Huns, type B in those which belong to Avars. The Avar cemeteries contain also, in many cases, intermediate types which show that these people had begun to mix with members of the white stock, either in central Asia, in Europe, or both, and other cemeteries in which the white element is in the majority. The leading classes of the Huns and Avars, however, appear to have kept themselves apart, and to have preserved their mongoloid racial types pure throughout the centuries of their political domination. In the graves which are most richly furnished, and which show that the occupants were men of power and consequence, the mongoloid types are unaltered. The two graves of known Avar heroes contain skeletons belonging purely to type B.

Bartucz's identification of type A predominantly with the Huns, and B with the Avars, seems valid. That the two intermarried freely is shown by the fact that in single graves containing a man and wife, the Jwo are often of opposite types. In such cases of differential mating, there is no linkage between sex and type, indicating that A and B were socially equal. It is very likely that the initial amalgamation of these two types took place in Mongolia, and not in Europe. Also, the presence of numerous interme-diate forms attests this freedom of intercourse. Individual Hunnish skulls found as far afield as Lower Austria and France may be easily identified with the crania from Hungary, and belong in known cases to type B.12

A further light upon the physical characteristics of the Huns is shown by a study of Hunnish head hair, from graves of this period. A sample of it is very fine, straight, and jet black.13 In color and in form, this hair was classically mongoloid, but this fineness casts some doubt upon the generalization that all mongoloid hair must be coarse, especially since it has been shown that American Indian hair is very variable in this respect.

The incontrovertible evidence of the Hungarian graves completely dispels the theory that the Huns may have been largely European in racial type. If the Hiung-Nu were ancestors of the Nuns, then the early inhabitants of Mongolia were definitely mongoloid, and belonged to the two important racial elements present there today, the Tungus and the Mongol proper. This throws the prehistory of central Asia into a clear and logical light. It is exactly what one would expect.

But it is necessary to discover what was the nature of the European racial element amalgamated by the Avars. This may be accomplished by studying some of the least mongoloid cemeteries. In that of Jutas14 (see Appendix I, col. 52), only five out of twenty-four skulls show any trace of recognizable mongoloid features. The Jutas sample, then, may be used for testing. Fourteen male skulls are all below 78 in cranial index, and are very similar to one of the Minussinsk regional sub-series; less pronounced relationships are present between it and Scythian and Armenian Iron Age skulls. The resemblance to Slavic and Germanic skulls, which are larger, is less pronounced. It is therefore certain that these non-mongoloid Avars belonged to the general Mediterranean racial family, and that some, at least, were members of the Nordic Iron Age group; it is more than likely that they were for the most part incorporated into the Avar ranks in central Asia before coming to Europe. The study of the crania from another cemetery, that of Tiszadersz15 (see Appendix I, col. 53), makes this virtually certain.

McGovern has discovered a number of Chinese references to the Hiung-Nu and other Turkish-speaking "barbarians" which describe them as hairy, big-nosed, and partially blond. In later times, Genghis Khan was supposed to be red-haired and green-eyed. It is therefore likely that some of the Asiatic Nordic element found in the Jutas and Tiszadersz cemeteries was incorporated by the Avars before they left Mongolia, but, on the basis of the evidence from purely mongoloid cemeteries like Mosonszentjános, it is unlikely that this influence could have penetrated the entire Hunnish and Avar nations.

At any rate, it is evident from the size and number of the Avar cemeteries in that, as Bartucz says,16 these invaders played an important rôle the peopling not only of Hungary but also of adjacent countries of central Europe, for the people whom the Avars brought into the Danube basin did not depart with the cessation of Avar rule.

At the same time the Avars did not uproot the former population, which included Slavs and Germans, among older elements, but made them tax-vassals. Furthermore, in the days of Attila the richness of the Huns paying had attracted many craftsmen and adventurers to the royal court, among whom were many Italians. Priscus’s account makes it very evident17 that Attila’s capital contained a very heterogeneous population.

The great migration to Hungary, that which brought the ancestors of the present-day Magyars, took place at the end of the ninth and beginning of the tenth century, when the Hungarian national hero Arpád led the Magyars into Hungary, where many Slavs had settled in the interim after the collapse of Hunnish power. We have already seen (p. 220) that these Slavs had partially taken over Hunnish physical traits. By 906 A.D., the Magyars were at home in Hungary; in the two centuries which followed, they adopted Christianity, and invited settlers of many nationalities, including Moslems and Jews, to help them occupy the land. These newcomers, along with the pre-Magyar Slavs, formed a tax-paying peasantry.

The Magyars were Ugrians from the region between the Volga and the Urals, who had been partially Turkicized by the Petchenegs and others, but had retained their Finno-Ugrian language, albeit strongly shot with Turkish. In this respect, they resembled the ancestral Bulgarians, semi-Turkicized Finns, who had, a few decades earlier, crossed the lower Danube and settled Bulgaria, implanting themselves on a population of Slavs who had themselves been but a short while in occupancy. In Bulgaria, the Slavic language seeped through and replaced the Finnish; in Hungary, the Ugrian became dominant and the Slavic speech to a large extent disappeared. Nevertheless, Slavic culture blended with the Ugrian and Turkish, to produce modern Hungarian forms.

We have no physical remains of the early Finnic invaders of Bulgaria, but those of the Ugri of the land-taking period, as the Hunganans call it, are adequate. As is to be expected, these ancestral Magyars, led into Hungary by Arpád, were only mongoloid to a minor degree.18 Some of the crania which are found in wealthy graves do show definite mongoloid characteristics, but the others for the most part lack them. The majority of the Magyars were of the same Finnish types expected from our previous study of Finns in Russia, while smaller minorities included Dinarics or Armenoids.19

At any rate, it was a very mixed population that lived in Hungary during the early Magyar period. On the whole, throwing all elements together, the stature was short and the mean head form mesocephalic. Since then, the Hungarians have grown rounder headed, as have Russians and southern Germans.

During all the turmoil of the Magyar and Bolgar migrations, the Ugrians who remained in eastern Russia passed relatively unnoticed, but in the thirteenth century or thereabouts they, for some reason, probably new Turkish pressure, crossed the Urals en masse, and established themselves in the western drainage of the Obi. Here they were divided into two tribes, the Voguls, on the immediate slopes of the Urals and the Ostiaks, in the lower courses of the tributaries and along the Obi itself. In their new home their culture was modified to suit a more rigorous environment, and only those in the southern Obi drainage, at the time of the Russian conquest, still practiced agriculture.

An adequate series of skulls from the time between this eastward migration and the arrival of the Russians about three centuries later shows a mixture between the original Finnish type, with which we have already acquainted ourselves, and Siberian and central Asiatic mongoloids, of the two types already found in the early Hunnish and Avar cemeteries.20 How much of the mongoloid blood was acquired in Europe, and how much later in Siberia, cannot be determined.

In the Hungarian period of settlement we already become aware of the presence of a new physical type associated with the Turks, who formed a minority in the ranks of the Magyars. When we examine the crania of the Petchenegs and Kumans, in both Hungary and Russia21 we see that this new type has become the dominant one among these later Turks to arrive in eastern Europe. In it mongoloid features are sometimes present, but in abeyance. The skulls are very large, of moderate height, extremely brachycephalic, and planoccipital. The foreheads are sloping, browridges sometimes heavy, the faces are very broad, and also very long. The orbits are of moderate height. The noses are narrow, and although often low at the root, frequently project at the bridge, giving indication of a convex profile in the living.

These Kuman skulls, as best represented by Debetz's series which includes fourteen adult males, are much longer and broader than historic Armenian skulls,22 and both longer and broader faced. In height, nose and orbit dimensions, and the tendency to occipital flattening, these two groups are the same. They are also larger than Alpine skulls from central Europe, and far greater in facial dimensions; larger too, than the type B mongoloid crania as represented by a large series of central Asiatic Telengets; much higher vaulted and broader of forehead than the latter, and even a little larger faced.

Thus, the type under consideration, which has become in many regions the characteristic Turkish form, is one which cannot be disposed of by the simple expedient of placing it in an Armenoid or Dinaric category. In size and proportions of the vault, the closest parallel to these skulls is with the British Bronze Age crania; but the resemblance here is far from an identity, for the British faces, although equally broad, are much shorter. In the same sense, the Turkish skulls are reminiscent of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic brachycephalic types from Europe and North Africa.

Since we know almost nothing of the early skeletal history of central Asia, east of Anau and south of the Minussinsk district, it would be worthless to spend too much time at this point speculating on the immediate origin of this type. As with so many other problems, we must defer its serious consideration to the section on the living, except to point out that in a small series of ten skulls from eastern Russian Turkestan, dated between 600 and 900 A.D., similar but somewhat smaller vault forms are in evidence.23 At the same time, a few isolated Turkish skulls, from central Siberia, attributed to from the seventh or eighth centuries A.D.,24 are not unlike the Kuman crania.

After the Huns and Turks came the Mongols, who had been later to adopt the horse culture of the Asiatic plains. Their homeland was around the southern end of Lake Baikal, and they were hunters and fishermen before they became plainsmen. The earliest mention of them in Chinese history occurs in the seventh century A.D., at which time they camped in the country from Urga northward to the forest edge. They are supposed to have sprung from a blue wolf, and from this animal to Genghis Khan was a span of but eight generations.

Their conquest of most of the known world began in the first half of the thirteenth century, and ended two generations later with the death of Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan. The Mongols were not numerous enough to do all of their conquering alone, and incorporated most of the central Asiatic Turks into their armies. Hence there arose a perplexing welter of Mongolized Turks and Turkicized Mongols, and no doubt of Mongolized as well as Turkicized Iranians. We have no skeletal material adequate to untangle this snarl, but must rely on Mongol and Buryat crania from Mongolia itself to determine their racial type. This was simply the type B of the Huns, in a relatively pure form, as found today particularly among Buryats. Hence the settlement of the Mongols on the Kalmuck steppe brought the pure, brachycephalic Mongol type to the country around the northern shore of the Black Sea, and into the lower Volga plains, where whole encampments of normal Mongols may still be seen today.

On the whole, the Mongols proper did not influence the racial composition of Europe in the sense that the Turks did. Their influence was sporadic in most of the regions which they crossed, and strong only in southeastern Russia, and in the isolated colonies still living in the Caucasus. Elsewhere it merely served to freshen elements already brought by the Huns and Avars.

Lest this survey of Uralic and Altaic-speaking peoples be incomplete, we must mention still another group, the Samoyeds, who live east of the Ostiaks in the Obi country, and wander along the Arctic shore of Russia as far as the Kola Peninsula, where they meet the Lapps.

The modern Samoyeds, despite their proximity to the Siberian Ugrians, belong for the most part to the central, brachycephalic, mongoloid type; Bartucz's B group, the classical Buryat-mongoloid.25 Except in modern times, they have had no influence upon the racial composition of northern Europe.


8 McGovern, W. M., Early Empires of Central Asia. I am indebted to Dr. McGovern for permission to make use of his book before publication.

9 Bartucz, L., ZFRK, vol. 1, 1935, PP. 225-240; Skythika, vol. 2, 1929, pp. 83-96; vol. 4, 1931, pp. 75-90; ESA, vol. 5, 1930, Pp. 66-73.
Krecsmarik, E., Dolgozatok, voL. 3, 1927, pp. 160-166.
Lebzelter, V., MAGW, vol. 65, 1935, pp. 44-46.

10 Roguinski, A., RAJ, vol. 23, 1934, pp. 105-126.

11 Debetz, G., RAJ, vol. 19, 1930, pp. 7-50.

12 Lebzelter, V., MAGW, vol. 65, 1935, pp. 44-46.
Zaborowski, S., RA, vol. 24, 1914, pp. 318-320.

13 Greguss, P., Dolgozatok, vol. 7, 1927, p. 232.

14 Bartucz, L., Skythika, vol. 4, 1931, pp. 75-91.

15 Lebzelter, V., MAGW, vol. 65, 1935, pp. 44-46.
Bartucz, L., ZFRK, 1935.

16 Bartucz, L., ZFRK, vol. 1, 1935, pp. 225-240.

17 Brion, M., Attila, the Scourge of God.

18 Bartucz, L., ZFRK, 1935.

19 Ibid.
Gáspár, J., MAGW, vol. 58, 1928, pp. 129-140.

20 Zaborowski, M., BSAP, ser. 4, vol. 9, 1898, pp. 73-111.
Ssilinitsch, J. P., AFA, vol. 34, 1903, p. 233, etc.

21 Bartucz, L., AF, vol. 1, 1923, pp. 97-99.
Debetz, G., AntrM, vol. 3, 1929, pp. 89-95.

22 Bunak, V. V., Crania Armenica.

23 Vishncvsky, B. N., KMV, 1921, #1-2.

24 Gromov, V. I., ESA, vol. 1, 1926, pp. 94-99.
Kazantsev, A. I., RAJ, No. 1-2, 1934, pp. 129-133.

25 Sommier, S., APA, vol. 17, 1887, pp. 71-222.
Klimek, S., APA, vol. 59, 1929, pp. 13-31.