The territory of Central Asia has a very old and rich past. One of the poorly-studied and intricate periods of the history of this region is the early medieval one (AD 4th – 6th Centuries), in which Old World history saw the widespread events generally referred to by historians as “The Great Migration of Peoples” - the movement of nomadic peoples (Huns) from Asia to Europe. In South and Central Asia great empires existed, such as Sasanian Iran, the Gupta and some smaller states.
New mysterious peoples appeared on the territory of Central Asia: Hephthalites, Kidarites and Chionites. The biggest impact on Central Asian history was made by the Hephthalites (also known as White Huns in Byzantine sources - the name they used themselves is unknown). They are a unique part of Central Asian history important in the development of the Turkic and later Islamic character of Central Asia – though little known due to the lack of primary sources. In the 5th - 6th Centuries the Hephthalites founded a great empire on the later territory of many modern states (Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China). During two Centuries the Hephthalites dominated this region and changed the political history. Sasanian Iran, the most powerful empire of that period, was defeated many times by the Hephthalites. Besides this, they overthrew the Gupta Empire in the Indian subcontinent and conquered a large part of that area. A true study of the Hephthalites must include both historical analyses of written sources and of archaeological data. Such a study, integrating modern data on the archaeology of Hephthalite sites from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and the Central Asian republics with the historical data, has not been done. This could prove to be a major contribution in the understanding of the unique character of modern Central Asia and would be of interest both to local and western scholars.
C O N T E N T S
2. Research history and methodic problems
2.1. Research history
2.2. Methodic problems
3. Archaeological sites and materials
5. Written sources
6. A history of the Hephthalites
6.2. Military history & wars
6.3. Socio-political structure and state
6.6. Change of ethnic identity
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