Panel 3: Turkic-speaking Peoples of Central Asia from a Historical Perspective

Date & Time: Friday, 8.04.2016; 14.00–18.00

Location: Jakobi 2-102

Panel Convener:

István Zimonyi (Department of Altaic Studies, University of Szeged, Hungary),


The Turkic speaking peoples lived predominantly in the steppe stretching from Mongolia to the Carpathian Basin. The steppe belt of Eurasia represented the same way of life and culture in the Middle Ages, and the nomads created empires which determined the fate of Eurasia. The first nomadic empire was founded by the Xiongnu in the 2th century B.C. Then the Türks created a vast nomadic empire from Mongolia to the Crimea in the 6thcentury. Finally the Mongols united the Eurasian steppe under their rule in the 13th century, including the neighbouring sedentary civilisations. The steppe belt runs parallel with a forest zone in the north and sedentary civilisations such as China, Transoxania, Persia, East Roman Empire, later Byzantium, in the south. Although the sedentary civilisations played a significant role in the formation of nomadic empires by mediating to them technical inventions, an advanced system of administration, world religion, prestige goods, and the nomadic peoples profited from controlling the long distance commercial, political and diplomatic contacts with them, the contacts between nomads and forest dwellers should also be taken into consideration. The sedentary civilisations could not control the steppe for long. The nomads of the Eurasian steppe could be conquered from the forest zone by the Russians with the military superiority of the Europeans.

Panelists (click on the title for an abstract):

Part 1 (14.0015.40):

  1. Szabolcs Felföldi (University of Szeged, Hungary) “Trade in Conventional Rut? Long-distance Trading Systems and Rivers”
  2. Szabolcs Polgár (University of Szeged, Hungary) “Nomads, Traders, Steppe Empires in Medieval Eurasia (with Special Regard to Khazaria and Volga Bulgharia)”
  3. Szilvia Kovács (University of Szeged, Hungary) “Christian Missions in the Chagataid Ulus”

Part 2: (16.0018.00)

  1. Márton Vér (University of Szeged, Hungary) “The Last Episode of the Silk Road’s Golden Age: Mongols and Overland Trade”
  2. Michał Połczyński (Georgetown University, USA) “Turks and Tatars and Cossacks, Oh My!: Establishing a New Vocabulary for Power and Patronage in the Ottoman/Polish-Lithuanian Frontier in the 16th Century”
  3. István Zimonyi “Identities among the Nomads of Central Eurasia”