Expansion Map




Turkish Origins

From prehistoric times a constellation of people had been migrating throughout Central Asia in the area between Pamir and Yenissei, the Volga and the T'ien Shan Mountains. From this loose collection of people sprang communities speaking FinnoUgric, Turkish and Mongolian languages. Later, at the time of Christ's birth and mainly through Chinese sources, the first Prototurkic people in Western and Northwestern China are recorded. They were the ancestors of today's Turks. Neighbours of the Mongols and probably related to them, they were a nomadic equestrian people who were more mobile than the other people scattered across the Asian continent at the time

The first historical references to the Turks appear in Chinese records dating around 200 B.C. These records refer to tribes called the Hsiung-nu (an early form of the Western term Hun ), who lived in an area bounded by the Altai Mountains, Lake Baykal, and the northern edge of the Gobi Desert, and who are believed to have been the ancestors of the Turks (see fig. 3). Specific references in Chinese sources in the sixth century A.D. identify the tribal kingdom called Tu-Küe located on the Orkhon River south of Lake Baykal. The khans (chiefs) of this tribe accepted the nominal suzerainty of the Tang Dynasty. The earliest known example of writing in a Turkic language was found in that area and has been dated around A.D. 730.
Other Turkish nomads from the Altai region founded the Gokturk Empire, a confederation of tribes under a dynasty of khans whose influence extended during the sixth through eighth centuries from the Aral Sea to the Hindu Kush in the land bridge known as Transoxania (i.e., across the Oxus River .

The Gokturks are known to have been enlisted by a Byzantine emperor in the seventh century as allies against the Sassanians. In the eighth century, separate Turkish tribes, among them the Oguz, moved south of the Oxus River, while others migrated west to the northern shore of the Black Sea.