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The Alans (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...

Latin
: ''Alani'') were an ancient and medieval Iranian nomadic pastoral people of the
North Caucasus The North Caucasus, ( ady, Темыр Къафкъас, Temır Qafqas; kbd, Ишхъэрэ Къаукъаз, İṩxhərə Qauqaz; ce, Къилбаседа Кавказ, Q̇ilbaseda Kavkaz; , os, Цӕгат Кавказ, Cægat Kavkaz, inh, ...
– generally regarded as part of the Sarmatians, and possibly related to the Massagetae. Modern historians have connected the Alans with the
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...

Central Asia
n Yancai of
Chinese
Chinese
sources and with the Aorsi of Roman sources. Having migrated westwards and becoming dominant among the Sarmatians on the Pontic–Caspian steppe, the Alans are mentioned by Roman sources in the . At that time they had settled the region north of the
Black Sea
Black Sea
and frequently raided the
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, Arsaces I, who led the Parni tribe in conq ...

Parthian Empire
and the Caucasian provinces of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
. From the Goths broke their power on the Pontic Steppe. Upon the defeat of the Goths on the Pontic Steppe around , many of the Alans migrated westwards along with various Germanic tribes. They the
Rhine The Rhine ; french: Rhin ; nl, Rijn ; wa, Rén ; li, Rien; rm, label=Sursilvan, Rein, rm, label=Sutsilvan and Surmiran, Ragn, rm, label=Rumantsch Grischun, Vallader and Puter, Rain; it, Reno ; gsw, Rhi(n), including in Alsatian dialect, Al ...

Rhine
in 406CE along with the Vandals and
Suebi The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples originally from the Elbe river region in what is now Germany and the Czech Republic. In the early Roman era they included many peoples with their own names ...
, settling in and Valence. Around 409 CE they joined the Vandals and Suebi in crossing the
Pyrenees The Pyrenees (; es, Pirineos ; french: Pyrénées ; ca, Pirineu ; eu, Pirinioak ; oc, Pirenèus ; an, Pirineus) is a mountain range straddling the border of France and Spain. It extends nearly from its union with the Cantabrian Mountains to C ...

Pyrenees
into the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...

Iberian Peninsula
, settling in
Lusitania Lusitania (; ) was an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal (south of the Douro river) and a portion of western Spain (the present Extremadura and the province of Salamanca) lie. It was named after the Lusitani or Lusita ...

Lusitania
and Hispania Carthaginensis. The Iberian Alans, soundly defeated by the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
in 418 CE, subsequently surrendered their authority to the Hasdingi Vandals. In 428CE, the Vandals and Alans crossed the into
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...

North Africa
, where they founded a kingdom which lasted until its conquest by forces of the Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, ; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor, Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by ...
in 534. Those Alans who remained under Hunnic rule eventually founded the powerful kingdom of Alania in the
North Caucasus The North Caucasus, ( ady, Темыр Къафкъас, Temır Qafqas; kbd, Ишхъэрэ Къаукъаз, İṩxhərə Qauqaz; ce, Къилбаседа Кавказ, Q̇ilbaseda Kavkaz; , os, Цӕгат Кавказ, Cægat Kavkaz, inh, ...
in the 9th century; it survived until the
Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is an Autonomous regions of Chin ...

Mongol
invasions of the 13th century CE. Various scholars regard these Alans as the ancestors of the modern Ossetians. The Alans spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into the modern Ossetian language. The name ''Alan'' represents an Iranian dialectal form of ''
Aryan Aryan or Arya (; Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural self-designation by Indo-Iranians in ancient times, in contrast to the nearby outsiders known as 'non-Aryan' (*''an-arya''). In Ancient India, the term ' ...

Aryan
''.


Name

The Alans were documented by foreign observers from the 1st century CE onward under similar names: ; el, Ἀλανοί '; zh, 阿蘭聊 ' (
Pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally writte ...

Pinyin
; ''Alan'' + ''Liu'') in the 2nd century, ' in the 3rd century, later ''Alanguo'' (); Parthian and Middle Persian ''Alānān'' (plural);
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...

Arabic
''Alān'' (singular); ''Alānayē''; Classical Armenian ''Alank; Georgian ''Alaneti'' ('country of the Alans');
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
''Alan'' (pl. ''Alanim''). Rarer Latin spellings include ''Alauni'' or ''Halani''. The name was also preserved in the modern Ossetian language as ''Allon''. The ethnonym ''Alān'' is a dialectal variant of the Old Iranian *''Aryāna'', itself derived from the root ''arya''-, meaning '
Aryan Aryan or Arya (; Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural self-designation by Indo-Iranians in ancient times, in contrast to the nearby outsiders known as 'non-Aryan' (*''an-arya''). In Ancient India, the term ' ...

Aryan
', the common self-designation of Indo-Iranian peoples. It probably came in use in the early history of the Alans for the purpose of uniting a heterogeneous group of tribes through the invocation of a common, ancestral 'Aryan' origin. Like the
name of Iran In the Western world, ''Persia'' (or one of its cognates) was historically the common name used for Iran. On the Nowruz of 1935, Reza Shah officially asked foreign delegates to use the Persian term ''Iran'' (meaning the land of Aryans in Persian l ...
(*''Aryānām''), the adjective *''aryāna'' appears to be related to '' Airyanəm Waēǰō'' ('stretch of the Aryas'), the mythical homeland of the early Iranians mentioned in the ''''. Some other ethnonyms also bear the name of the Alans: the '' Rhoxolāni'' ('Bright Alans'), an offshoot of the Alans whose name may be linked to religious practices, and the ''Alanorsoi'' ('White Alans'), perhaps a conglomerate of Alans and Aorsi. The personal names ''
Alan Alan may refer to: People *Alan (surname) The surname Alan is a variant spelling of Allan (surname), Allan and Allen (surname), Allen. According to one source, Alan is a variant of the English surname Allain. There is also the given name of Alan ...
'' and '' Alain'' (from Latin ''Alanus'') may have been introduced by Alan settlers to Western Europe during the first millennium CE. The Alans were also known over the course of their history by another group of related names including the variations ''Asi'', ''As'', and ''Os'' ( Romanian ', ', Hungarian ', Russian ', Georgian '). It is this name at the root of the modern ''''.


History


Timeline

ImageSize = width:780 height:200 PlotArea = left:72 right:8 bottom:20 top:2 AlignBars = justify Define $wide = width:35 Colors = id:sovereign value:rgb(1,0,0) legend:Sovereign id:subject value:rgb(1,0.5,0.5) legend:Subject id:semi value:rgb(1,0.25,0.25) legend:Semi-independent id:grid value:rgb(0.8,0.8,0.8) id:smallgrid value:rgb(0.9,0.9,0.9) DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:20 till:2020 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:100 start:100 gridcolor:grid ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:20 start:20 gridcolor:smallgrid Bardata = bar:Africa text:"
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
" bar:Gaul text:
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy (only dur ...

Gaul
bar:Danube text:
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is a river that was once a long-standing frontier of the Roman Empire and today connects 10 European countries, running through their territories or being a border. Originating in Germany, the Danube flows southeast for , pa ...
bar:Ciscaucasus text: Ciscaucasus bar:Caucasus text:
Caucasus The Caucasus () or Caucasia (), is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, mainly comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. The Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus range ...
Plotdata = bar:Ciscaucasus from:start till:375 color:sovereign $wide bar:Ciscaucasus at:20 text:"Ancient Alan kingdoms" bar:Ciscaucasus at:375 text:
Huns The Huns were a Nomad, nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that wa ...
bar:Ciscaucasus from:375 till:455 color:subject $wide bar:Danube from:start till:175 color:sovereign $wide bar:Danube at:30 text:" Roxolani &
Iazyges The Iazyges (), singular Ἰάζυξ. were an ancient Sarmatian tribe that traveled westward in BC from Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notabl ...
" bar:Danube from:380 till:480 color:subject $wide bar:Danube at:385 text:"Alans settled in Pannonia" bar:Gaul from:406 till:499 color:semi $wide bar:Gaul at:406 text:"Alan kingdoms at~Orléans and Valence" bar:Africa from:429 till:534 color:sovereign $wide bar:Africa at:430 text:"Kingdom of the~ Vandals and Alans" bar:Ciscaucasus from:455 till:1239 color:sovereign $wide bar:Ciscaucasus from:721 till:965 color:semi $wide bar:Ciscaucasus at:750 text:"
Khazars The Khazars ; he, כּוּזָרִים, Kūzārīm; la, Gazari, or ; zh, 突厥曷薩 ; 突厥可薩 ''Tūjué Kěsà'', () were a semi- nomadic Turkic people that in the late 6th-century CE established a major commercial empire cover ...
" Bar:Ciscaucasus at:1000 text:"Medieval Alania" bar:Ciscaucasus from:1239 till:1440 color:subject $wide bar:Ciscaucasus at:1245 text:
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia in China and the Buryatia, Buryatia Republic of the Russia, Russ ...
bar:Ciscaucasus from:1440 till:1774 color:semi $wide bar:Ciscaucasus from:1774 till:end color:subject $wide bar:Ciscaucasus at: 1810 text:"
North Ossetia North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective An adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word tha ...
~ /Alania" bar:Danube from:1318 till:end color:subject $wide bar:Danube at:1500 text:" Jassic (Jazones) in Hungary" bar:Caucasus from:1239 till:1440 color:subject $wide bar:Caucasus from:1440 till:1804 color:semi $wide bar:Caucasus at:1500 text: bar:Ciscaucasus at:1500 text:"
Iron Iron () is a chemical element with Symbol (chemistry), symbol Fe (from la, Wikt:ferrum, ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 element, group 8 of the periodic table. It is, Abundance ...
~ Digor" bar:Caucasus from:1804 till:1991 color:subject $wide bar:Caucasus at:1922 text:"
South Ossetia South Ossetia, ka, სამხრეთი ოსეთი, ( , ), officially the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, is a international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, partially recognised Landlocked country, ...
" bar:Caucasus from:1991 till:end color:subject $wide


Origin

The Alans were formed out of the merger of the Massagetae, a Central Asian Iranian nomadic people, with some old tribal groups. Related to the
Asii The Asii, Osii, Ossii, Asoi, Asioi, Asini or Aseni were an ancient Proto-Indo-Europeans, Indo-European people of Central Asia, during the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE. Known only from Classical Greek and Roman sources, they were one of the peoples h ...
who had invaded
Bactria Bactria (; Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either conside ...
in the 2nd century BCE, the Alans were pushed west by the Kang-chü people (known to Graeco-Roman authors as the in Greek, and the in Latin), the latter of whom were living in the
Syr Darya The Syr Darya (, ),, , ; rus, Сырдарья́, Syrdarjja, p=sɨrdɐˈrʲja; fa, سيردريا, Sirdaryâ; tg, Сирдарё, Sirdaryo; tr, Seyhun, Siri Derya; ar, سيحون, Seyḥūn; uz, Sirdaryo, script-Latn/. historically known ...
basin, from where they expanded their rule from Fergana to the Aral Sea region.


Early Alans

The first mentions of names that historians link with the ''Alani'' appear at almost the same time in texts from the Mediterranean, Middle East and China. In the 1st century CE, the Alans migrated westwards from
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...

Central Asia
, achieving a dominant position among the Sarmatians living between the
Don River The Don ( rus, Дон, p=don) is the List of rivers of Europe#Rivers of Europe by length, fifth-longest river in Europe. Flowing from Central Russia to the Sea of Azov in Southern Russia, it is one of List of rivers of Russia, Russia's largest ri ...
and the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the List of lakes by area, world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad s ...
. The Alans are mentioned in the Vologases inscription which reads that Vologases I, the Parthian king between around 45 and 78 CE, in the 11th year of his reign (62 CE), battled Kuluk, king of the Alani. The 1st century CE Jewish historian
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century Roman Jews, Romano-Jewish historian and military leader, best known for ''The Jewish War'', who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Judea (Roman province), Roman ...
supplements this inscription. Josephus reports in the ''Jewish Wars'' (book7, ch.7.4) how Alans (whom he calls a "
Scythia Scythia (Scythian languages, Scythian: ; Old Persian: ; Ancient Greek: ; Latin: ) or Scythica (Ancient Greek: ; Latin: ), also known as Pontic Scythia, was a kingdom created by the Scythians during the 6th to 3rd centuries BC in the Pontic– ...
n" tribe) living near the
Sea of Azov The Sea of Azov (Crimean Tatar language, Crimean Tatar: ''Azaq deñizi''; russian: Азовское море, Azovskoye more; uk, Азовське море, Azovs'ke more) is a sea in Eastern Europe connected to the Black Sea by the narrow (ab ...
crossed the
Iron Gates The Iron Gates ( ro, Porțile de Fier; sr, / or / ; Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''Vaskapu-szoros'') is a Canyon, gorge on the river Danube. It forms part of the boundary between Serbia (to the south) and Romania (north). In the broad ...
for plunder (72CE) and defeated the armies of Pacorus, king of
Media Media may refer to: Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Broadcast media, communications delivered over mass el ...
, and Tiridates, King of
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
, two brothers of Vologeses I (for whom the above-mentioned inscription was made): The fact that the Alans invaded
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in northeastern Greater Iran. It was conquered and subjugated by the empire of the Medes ...
through
Hyrcania Hyrcania () ( el, ''Hyrkania'', Old Persian: 𐎺𐎼𐎣𐎠𐎴 ''Varkâna'',Lendering (1996) Middle Persian: 𐭢𐭥𐭫𐭢𐭠𐭭 ''Gurgān'', Akkadian (language), Akkadian: ''Urqananu'') is a historical region composed of the land sout ...
shows that at the time many Alans were still based north-east of the Caspian Sea. By the early 2nd century CE the Alans were in firm control of the
Lower Volga The Volga Region (russian: Поволжье, ''Povolzhye'', literally: "along the Volga") is a historical region in Russia that encompasses the drainage basin of the Volga River, the longest river in Europe, in central and southern European Russ ...
and
Kuban Kuban (Russian language, Russian and Ukrainian language, Ukrainian: Кубань; ady, Пшызэ) is a historical and geographical region of Southern Russia surrounding the Kuban River, on the Black Sea between the Pontic–Caspian steppe, ...
. These lands had earlier been occupied by the Aorsi and the Siraces, whom the Alans apparently absorbed, dispersed and/or destroyed, since they were no longer mentioned in contemporaneous accounts. It is likely that the Alans' influence stretched further westwards, encompassing most of the Sarmatian world, which by then possessed a relatively homogenous culture. In , the Alans made a huge raid into
Asia Minor Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
via the Caucasus, ravaging Media and Armenia. They were eventually driven back by
Arrian Arrian of Nicomedia (; Greek: ''Arrianos''; la, Lucius Flavius Arrianus; ) was a Greek historian, public servant, military commander and philosopher of the Roman period. '' The Anabasis of Alexander'' by Arrian is considered the be ...
, the
governor A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized s ...
of
Cappadocia Cappadocia or Capadocia (; tr, Kapadokya), is a historical region in Central Anatolia Region, Central Anatolia, Turkey. It largely is in the provinces Nevşehir Province, Nevşehir, Kayseri Province, Kayseri, Aksaray Province, Aksaray, Kırşe ...
, who wrote a detailed report (''Ektaxis kata Alanoon'' or 'War Against the Alans') that is a major source for studying Roman
military tactics Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield. They involve the application of four battlefield functions which are closely related – kinetic or firepower, Mobility (military), mobil ...
. From 215 to 250, the Germanic Goths expanded south-eastwards and broke the Alan dominance on the
Pontic Steppe Pontic, from the Greek language, Greek ''pontos'' (, ), or "sea", may refer to: The Black Sea Places * The Pontic colonies, on its northern shores * Pontus (region), a region on its southern shores * The Pontic–Caspian steppe, steppelands str ...
. The Alans however seem to have had a significant influence on the culture of the Goths, who became excellent horsemen and adopted the Alanic animal style art. (The Roman Empire, during the chaos of the 3rd century civil wars, suffered damaging raids by the Gothic armies with their heavy cavalry before the
Illyrian Emperors The ''Illyriciani'' or Illyrian emperors were a group of Roman emperors during the Crisis of the Third Century who were of Illyrians, Illyrian origins and hailed from the region of Illyricum (Roman province), Illyricum (in the western Balkans), and ...
adapted to the Gothic tactics, reorganized and expanded the Roman heavy cavalry, and defeated the Goths under
Gallienus Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (; c. 218 – September 268) was Roman emperor with his father Valerian (emperor), Valerian from 253 to 260 and alone from 260 to 268. He ruled during the Crisis of the Third Century that nearly caused the col ...
,
Claudius II Marcus Aurelius Claudius "Gothicus" (10 May 214 – January/April 270), also known as Claudius II, was Roman emperor from 268 to 270. During his reign he fought successfully against the Alemanni and decisively defeated the Goths at the Battle of ...
and
Aurelian Aurelian ( la, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus; 9 September 214 October 275) was a Roman emperor, who reigned during the Crisis of the Third Century, from 270 to 275. As emperor, he won an unprecedented series of military victories which reunited th ...
.) After the Gothic entry to the steppe, many of the Alans seem to have retreated eastwards towards the Don, where they seem to have established contacts with the
Huns The Huns were a Nomad, nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that wa ...
. Ammianus writes that the Alans were "somewhat like the Huns, but in their manner of life and their habits they are less savage."
Jordanes Jordanes (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century Eastern Roman bureaucrat widely believed to be of Goths, Gothic descent who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history (''Romana ...
contrasted them with the Huns, noting that the Alans "were their equals in battle, but unlike them in their civilisation, manners and appearance". In the late 4th century,
Vegetius Publius (or Flavius) Vegetius Renatus, known as Vegetius (), was a writer of the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, Later Roman Empire (late 4th century). Nothing is known of his life or station beyond what is contained in his two surviving works: ...
conflates Alans and Huns in his military treatise ''Hunnorum Alannorumque natio'', the "nation of Huns and Alans"and collocates Goths, Huns and Alans, ''exemplo Gothorum et Alannorum Hunnorumque''. The 4th century Roman historian
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (occasionally anglicised as Ammian) (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier and historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned wit ...
noted that the Alans were "formerly called Massagetae," while
Dio Cassius Lucius Cassius Dio (), also known as Dio Cassius ( ), was a Roman historian and senator of maternal Greek origin. He published 80 volumes of the History of ancient Rome, history on ancient Rome, beginning with the arrival of Aeneas in Italy. The ...
wrote that "they are Massagetae." It is likely that the Alans were an amalgamation of various
Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse grouping of Indo-European languages, Indo-European peoples who are identified by their usage of the Iranian languages and other cultural similarities. The Proto-Iranian language, Proto-Iran ...
, including Sarmatians, Massagetae and
Saka The Saka (Old Persian: ; Kharosthi, Kharoṣṭhī: ; Egyptian language, Ancient Egyptian: , ; , Old Chinese, old , Pinyin, mod. , ), Shaka (Sanskrit (Brahmi script, Brāhmī): , , ; Sanskrit (Devanagari, Devanāgarī): , ), or Sacae (An ...
s. Scholars have connected the Alans to the nomadic state of Yancai mentioned in sources. The Yancai are first mentioned in connection with late 2nd century BCE diplomat Zhang Qian's travels in Chapter 123 of ''
Shiji ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600– ...
'' (whose author,
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
, died c. 90 BCE). The Yancai of Chinese records has again been equated with the Aorsi, a powerful Sarmatian tribe living between the
Don River The Don ( rus, Дон, p=don) is the List of rivers of Europe#Rivers of Europe by length, fifth-longest river in Europe. Flowing from Central Russia to the Sea of Azov in Southern Russia, it is one of List of rivers of Russia, Russia's largest ri ...
and the
Aral Sea The Aral Sea ( ; kk, Арал теңізі, Aral teñızı; uz, Орол денгизи, Orol dengizi; kaa, Арал теңизи, Aral teńizi; russian: Аральское море, Aral'skoye more) was an endorheic basin, endorheic lake lyi ...
, mentioned in Roman records, in particular
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius Strabo". A native of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see ...
.


Link to ''Yancai'' (奄蔡) / ''Hesu'' (闔蘇) / ''Alan'' (阿蘭)

The Later
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
Chinese chronicle, the '' Hou Hanshu'', 88 (covering the period 25–220 and completed in the 5th century), mentioned a report that the ''Yancai'' nation (奄蔡 lit "Vast Steppes" or "Extensive Grasslands" < LHC *''ʔɨamB''-''sɑC''; a.k.a. ''Hesu'' (闔蘇), compare
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...

Latin
''Abzoae'', identified with the Aorsi (
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
''Αορσιοι'')) had become a vassal state of the Kangju and was now known as ''Alan'' (< LHC: *''ʔɑ-lɑn'' 阿蘭) Y. A. Zadneprovskiy suggests that the Kangju subjugation of Yancai occurred in the 1st century BCE, and that this subjugation caused various Sarmatian tribes, including the Aorsi, to migrate westwards, which played a major role in starting the
Migration Period The Migration Period was a period in History of Europe, European history marked by large-scale migrations that saw the fall of the Western Roman Empire and subsequent settlement of its former territories by various tribes, and the establishment ...
. The 3rd century Weilüe also notes that Yancai was then known to be Alans, although they were no longer vassals of the Kangju. Dutch Sinologist A. F. P. Hulsewé noted that:


Migration to Gaul

Around 370, according to Ammianus, the peaceful relations between the Alans and Huns were broken, after the Huns attacked the Don Alans, killing many of them and establishing an alliance with the survivors. These Alans successfully invaded the Goths in 375 together with the Huns. They subsequently accompanied the Huns in their westward expansion. Following the Hunnic invasion in 370, other Alans, along with other Sarmatians, migrated westward. One of these Alan groups fought together with the Goths in the decisive
Battle of Adrianople The Battle of Adrianople (9 August 378), sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between an Eastern Roman army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and re ...
in 378CE, in which
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), ...
Valens Valens ( grc-gre, Ουάλης, Ouálēs; 328 – 9 August 378) was Roman emperor from 364 to 378. Following a largely unremarkable military career, he was named co-emperor by his elder brother Valentinian I, who gave him the Byzantine Empire, ...
was killed. As the Roman Empire continued to decline, the Alans split into various groups; some fought for the Romans while others joined the Huns,
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
or
Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic peoples, Germanic people. In the 5th century, they followed the Visigoths in creating one of the two great Goths, Gothic kingdoms within the Roman Empire, based upon the larg ...
. A portion of the western Alans joined the Vandals and the
Suebi The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples originally from the Elbe river region in what is now Germany and the Czech Republic. In the early Roman era they included many peoples with their own names ...
in their invasion of Roman
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy (only dur ...

Gaul
.
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman History, historian and Bishops of Tours, Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He ...
mentions in his '' Liber historiae Francorum'' ("Book of Frankish History") that the Alan king
Respendial Respendial or Respindal was king of a group of Alans The Alans (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the ...
saved the day for the Vandals in an armed encounter with the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the Lower Rhine and the Ems River, on the edge of the Roman Empire.H. Schutz: Tools, ...
at the
crossing of the Rhine The crossing of the Rhine River by a mixed group of barbarians which included Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms ...
on December31, 406). According to Gregory, another group of Alans, led by
Goar Goar (born before 390, died between 446 and 450) was a leader of the Alans The Alans (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally ...
, crossed the Rhine at the same time, but immediately joined the Romans and settled in Gaul. Under Beorgor (), they moved throughout Gaul, till the reign of
Petronius Maximus Petronius Maximus ( 39731 May 455) was Roman emperor of the Western Roman Empire, West for two and a half months in 455. A wealthy Roman Senate, senator and a prominent aristocrat, he was instrumental in the murders of the Western Roman ''magi ...
, when they crossed the
Alps The Alps () ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps ; sl, Alpe . are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately across seven Alpine countries (from west to east): France, Swi ...
in the winter of 464, into
Liguria Liguria (; lij, Ligûria ; french: Ligurie) is a Regions of Italy, region of north-western Italy; its Capital city, capital is Genoa. Its territory is crossed by the Alps and the Apennine Mountains, Apennines Mountain chain, mountain range and is ...
, but were there defeated, and Beorgor slain, by
Ricimer Flavius Ricimer ( , ; – 18/19 August 472) was a Romanization (cultural), Romanized Germanic peoples, Germanic general who effectively ruled the remaining territory of the Western Roman Empire from 461 until his death in 472, with a brief inte ...
, commander of the Emperor's forces. In 442, after it became clear to Aetius that he could no longer rely upon the
Huns The Huns were a Nomad, nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that wa ...
for support, he turned to
Goar Goar (born before 390, died between 446 and 450) was a leader of the Alans The Alans (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally ...
and persuaded him to move some of his people to settlements in the Orleanais in order to control the bacaudae of
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica (Gaulish: ; br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. ...
and to keep the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
from expanding their territories northward across the
Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger, ; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than a fifth of France's land, while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône ...
.
Goar Goar (born before 390, died between 446 and 450) was a leader of the Alans The Alans (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally ...
settled a substantial number of his followers in the Orleanais and the area to the north and personally moved his own capital to the city of Orleans. Under Goar, they allied with the
Burgundians The Burgundians ( la, Burgundes, Burgundiōnes, Burgundī; on, Burgundar; ang, Burgendas; grc-gre, Βούργουνδοι) were an early Germanic peoples, Germanic tribe or group of tribes. They appeared in the middle Rhine region, near the R ...
led by Gundaharius, with whom they installed the Emperor
Jovinus :''Jovinus is a Roman cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. Initially, it was a nickname, but lost t ...
as usurper. Under Goar's successor
Sangiban Sangiban was a fifth-century Alans, Alan king at the time of Attila's invasion of Gaul (451). He was the successor of Goar as king of the Alan ''foederati'' settled in the region around Aurelianum (modern-day Orléans). According to Jordanes, Sangib ...
, the Alans of played a critical role in repelling the invasion of
Attila the Hun Attila (, ; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, Ostrogoths, Alans, and Bulgars, among others, in Central Europe ...
at the Battle of Châlons. In 463 the Alans defeated the Goths at the battle of Orléans, and they later defeated the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the Lower Rhine and the Ems River, on the edge of the Roman Empire.H. Schutz: Tools, ...
led by Childeric in 466. Around 502–503 Clovis attacked
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica (Gaulish: ; br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. ...
but was defeated by the Alans. However, the Alans, who were
Chalcedonian Chalcedonian Christianity is the branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Je ...
Christians like Clovis, desired cordial relations with him to counterbalance the hostile
Arian Arianism ( grc-x-koine, Ἀρειανισμός, ) is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Roman Egypt, Egypt. Arian theology holds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (C ...
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
who coveted the land north of the
Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger, ; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than a fifth of France's land, while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône ...
. Therefore, an accord was arranged by which Clovis came to rule the various peoples of Armorica and the military strength of the area was integrated into the Merovingian military.


Hispania and Africa

Following the fortunes of the Vandals and
Suebi The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples originally from the Elbe river region in what is now Germany and the Czech Republic. In the early Roman era they included many peoples with their own names ...
into the
Iberian peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
(
Hispania Hispania ( la, Hispānia , ; nearly identically pronounced in Spanish language, Spanish, Portuguese language, Portuguese, Catalan language, Catalan, and Italian language, Italian) was the Ancient Rome, Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and it ...
, comprising modern Portugal and Spain) in 409, the Alans led by Respendial settled in the provinces of
Lusitania Lusitania (; ) was an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal (south of the Douro river) and a portion of western Spain (the present Extremadura and the province of Salamanca) lie. It was named after the Lusitani or Lusita ...

Lusitania
and Carthaginensis. The Kingdom of the Alans was among the first
Barbarian kingdoms The barbarian kingdoms, also known as the post-Roman kingdoms, the western kingdoms or the early medieval kingdoms, were the states founded by various non-Roman, primarily Germanic, peoples in Western Europe and North Africa North Africa, or ...
to be founded. The Siling Vandals settled in
Baetica Hispania Baetica, often abbreviated Baetica, was one of three Roman provinces in Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula). Baetica was bordered to the west by Lusitania, and to the northeast by Hispania Tarraconensis. Baetica remained one of the basic di ...
, the Suebi in coastal
Gallaecia Gallaecia, also known as Hispania Gallaecia, was the name of a Roman province in the north-west of Hispania, approximately present-day Galicia (Spain), Galicia, Norte, Portugal, northern Portugal, Asturias and León (province), Leon and the lat ...
, and the Asding Vandals in the rest of Gallaecia. Although the newcomers controlled Hispania they were still a tiny minority among a larger Hispano-Roman population, approximately 200,000 out of 6,000,000. In 418 (or 426 according to some authors), the Alan king, Attaces, was killed in battle against the Visigoths, and this branch of the Alans subsequently appealed to the Asding Vandal king Gunderic to accept the Alan crown. The separate ethnic identity of Respendial's Alans dissolved. Although some of these Alans are thought to have remained in
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
, most went to North Africa with the Vandals in 429. Later the rulers of the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa styled themselves ''Rex Wandalorum et Alanorum'' ("King of the Vandals and Alans"). There are some vestiges of the Alans in Portugal, namely in Alenquer (whose name may be Germanic for the ''Temple of the Alans'', from "Alan Kerk", and whose castle may have been established by them; the Alaunt is still represented in that city's coat of arms), in the construction of the castles of
Torres Vedras Torres Vedras () is a concelho, municipality in the Portugal, Portuguese district of Lisbon (district), Lisbon, approximately north of the capital Lisbon in the Oeste Subregion, Oeste region, in the Centro, Portugal, Centro of Portugal. The popu ...
and Almourol, and in the city walls of
Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 544,851 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Grande Lisboa, Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administr ...
, where vestiges of their presence may be found under the foundations of the Church of ''Santa Luzia''. In the Iberian peninsula the Alans settled in
Lusitania Lusitania (; ) was an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal (south of the Douro river) and a portion of western Spain (the present Extremadura and the province of Salamanca) lie. It was named after the Lusitani or Lusita ...

Lusitania
(
Alentejo Alentejo ( , ) is a geographical, historical, and cultural region of south–central and southern Portugal. In Portuguese, its name means "beyond () the Tagus river" (''Tejo''). Alentejo includes the regions of Alto Alentejo Province, Alto Al ...
) and the Cartaginense provinces. They became known in retrospect for their massive hunting and fighting running
mastiff A mastiff is a large and powerful Dog type, type of dog. Mastiffs are among the largest dogs, and typically have a short Coat (dog), coat, a long low-set tail and large feet; the skull is large and bulky, the muzzle broad and short (brachycephal ...
-type dogs, the Alaunt, which they apparently introduced to Europe. The breed is extinct, but its name is carried by a Spanish breed of dog still called '' Alano'', traditionally used in
boar The wild boar (''Sus scrofa''), also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a Suidae, suid native to much of Eurasia and North Africa, and has been introduced to the Americas and Oceania. The speci ...
hunting and
cattle Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domestication, domesticated, Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referr ...
herding. The Alano name, however, has historically been used for a number of dog breeds in a few European countries thought to descend from the original dog of the Alans, such as the German mastiff (
Great Dane The Great Dane is a large sized dog breed originating from Germany. The Great Dane descends from hunting dogs from the Middle Ages used to hunt wild boar and deer, and as guardians of German nobility. It is one of the largest breeds in the wor ...
) and the French Dogue de Bordeaux, among others.


Medieval Alania

The Alans who remained in their original area of settlement north of the Caucasus (and for a time east of the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the List of lakes by area, world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad s ...
as well), came into contact and conflict with the
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic peoples, Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became ...
, the Gökturks, and the
Khazars The Khazars ; he, כּוּזָרִים, Kūzārīm; la, Gazari, or ; zh, 突厥曷薩 ; 突厥可薩 ''Tūjué Kěsà'', () were a semi- nomadic Turkic people that in the late 6th-century CE established a major commercial empire cover ...
, who drove most of them from the plains and into the mountains. The Alans converted to
Orthodoxy Orthodoxy (from Greek: ) is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified p ...
in the first quarter of the 10th century, during the patriarchate of Nicholas I Mystikos. Al-Mas‘udi reports that they apostasized in 932, but this seems to have been short-lived. The Alans are collectively mentioned as Byzantine-rite Christians in the 13th century. The Caucasian Alans were the ancestors of the modern
Ossetians The Ossetians or Ossetes (, ; os, ир, ирæттæ / дигорӕ, дигорӕнттӕ, translit=Iron people, ir, irættæ / Digor people, digoræ, digorænttæ, label=Ossetian language, Ossetic) are an Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group w ...
, whose ethnonym derives from the name ''Ās'' (very probably the ancient ''Aorsi''; al-Ma'sudi mentions ''al-Arsiyya'' as guards among the Khazars, and the Rus' called the Alans ''Yasi''), a sister tribe of the Alans. The ''Armenian Geography'' uses the name ''Ashtigor'' for the most westerly located Alans, a name which survives as ''Digor'' and still refers to the western division of the Ossetians. Furthermore, in Ossetian, ''Asi'' refers to the region around
Mount Elbrus Mount Elbrus ( rus, links=no, Эльбрус, r=Elbrus, p=ɪlʲˈbrus; kbd, Ӏуащхьэмахуэ, 'uaşhəmaxuə; krc, Минги тау, Mingi Taw) is the List of elevation extremes by region, highest and List of European ultra-prominen ...
, where they probably formerly lived. Some of the other Alans remained under the rule of the Huns. Those of the eastern division, though dispersed about the steppes until late
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
times, were forced by the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia in China and the Buryatia, Buryatia Republic of the Russia, Russ ...
into the Caucasus, where they remain as the Ossetians. Between the 9th and 12th centuries, they formed a network of tribal alliances that gradually evolved into the Christian kingdom of Alania. Most Alans submitted to the
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in human history, history. Originating in present-day Mongolia in East Asia, the Mongol Empire at its height stretched from the S ...
in 1239–1277. They participated in Mongol invasions of Europe and the Song dynasty in Southern China, and the
Battle of Kulikovo The Battle of Kulikovo (russian: Мамаево побоище, Донское побоище, Куликовская битва, битва на Куликовом поле) was fought between the armies of the Golden Horde, under the command ...
under
Mamai Mamai (Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet, Mongolian Cyrillic: Мамай, tt-Cyrl, Мамай, translit=Mamay; 1325?–1380/1381) was a powerful military commander of the Golden Horde. Contrary to popular misconception, he was not a Khan (title), kh ...
of the
Golden Horde The Golden Horde, self-designated as Ulug Ulus, 'Great State' in Turkic, was originally a Mongols, Mongol and later Turkicized khanate established in the 13th century and originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire. With the fr ...
. In 1253, the Franciscan monk
William of Rubruck William of Rubruck ( nl, Willem van Rubroeck, la, Gulielmus de Rubruquis; ) was a Flemish Franciscan missionary and explorer. He is best known for his travels to various parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the 13th century, including the ...
reported numerous Europeans in Medieval China, Europeans in Central Asia. It is also known that 30,000 Alans formed the royal guard (Asud) of the Yuan dynasty, Yuan court in Khanbaliq, Dadu (Beijing). Marco Polo later reported their role in the Yuan dynasty in his book ''Il Milione''. It is said that those Alans contributed to a modern Mongol clan, Asud. John of Montecorvino, archbishop of Dadu (Khanbaliq), reportedly Roman Catholicism in China, converted many Alans to Roman Catholic Christianity in addition to Armenians in China. In Poland and Lithuania, Alans were also part of the powerful Clan of Ostoja. According to the missionary Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, Pian de Carpine, a part of the Alans had successfully resisted a Mongol siege on a mountain for 12 years: This twelve-year-old siege is not found in any other report, however the Russian historian A. I. Krasnov connected this battle with two Chechen people, Chechen folktales he recorded in 1967 that spoke of an old hunter named Idig who with his companions defended the Tebulosmta, Dakuoh mountain for 12 years against Tatar-Mongols. He also reported to have found several arrowheads and spears from the 13th century near the very mountain the battle took place at: Against the Alans and the Cumans (Kipchaks), the Mongols used divide-and-conquer tactics by first telling the Cumans to stop allying with the Alans and, after the Cumans followed their suggestion, the Mongols then attacked the Cumans after defeating the Alans. Alans were recruited into the Mongol forces with one unit called "Right Alan Guard" which was combined with "recently surrendered" soldiers, Mongols, and Chinese soldiers stationed in the area of the former Kingdom of Qocho and in Besh Balikh the Mongols established a Chinese military colony led by Chinese general Qi Kongzhi (Ch'i Kung-chih). Alan and Kipchak guards were used by Kublai Khan. In 1368 at the end of the Yuan dynasty in China Toghan Temür was accompanied by his faithful Alan guards. Mangu enlisted in his bodyguard half the troops of the Alan prince, Arslan, whose younger son Nicholas took a part in the expedition of the Mongols against Karajang (Yunnan). This Alan imperial guard was still in existence in 1272, 1286 and 1309, and it was divided into two corps with headquarters in the Ling pei province (Karakorúm). The French-Flemish monk and traveler William of Rubruck mentions Alans numerous times in the account of his 1253–1255 journey through Eurasia to the Great Khan, e.g. Alans living as Mongol subjects in Crimea, Xacitarxan, Old Astrakhan, the Khan's capital Karakorum, and also still as freemen in their Caucasian homeland ("the Alans or Aas, who are Christians and still fight the Tartars"). The reason why the earlier Persian word tersa was gradually abandoned by the Mongols in favour of the Syro-Greek word arkon, when speaking of Christians, manifestly is that no specifically Greek Church was ever heard of in China until the Russians had been conquered; besides, there were large bodies of Russian and Alan guards at Peking throughout the last half of the thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth century, and the Catholics there would not be likely to encourage the use of a Persian word which was most probably applicable in the first instance to the Nestorians they found so degenerated. The Alan guards converted to Catholicism as reported by Odorico. They were a "Russian guard". It is believed that some Alans resettled to the North (Barsils), merging with Volga Bulgars and Burtas, eventually transforming to Volga Tatars. It is supposed that the Iasi, a group of Alans founded a town in the northeast of Romania (about 1200–1300), near the Prut river, called Iași. The latter became the capital of Moldavia in the Middle Ages. Alan mercenaries were involved in the affair with the Catalan Company.


Later history

Descendants of the Alans who live in the autonomous republics of Russia and Georgia speak the Ossetian language which belongs to the Northeastern Iranian language group and is the only remnant of the Scytho-Sarmatian dialect continuum, which once stretched over much of the Pontic steppe and
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...

Central Asia
. Modern Ossetian has two major dialects: ''Digor'', spoken in the western part of North Ossetia; and ''Iron'', spoken in the rest of Ossetia. A third branch of Ossetian, ''Jassic dialect, Jassic'' (''Jász''), was formerly spoken in Hungary. The literary language, based on the Iron dialect, was fixed by the List of national poets, national poet, Kosta Khetagurov (1859–1906).


Physical appearance

The fourth-century Roman historian
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (occasionally anglicised as Ammian) (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier and historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned wit ...
wrote this on the appearance of the Alans:


Genetics

In a study conducted in 2014 by V. V.Ilyinskyon on bone fragments from 10 Alanic burials on the Don River, DNA could be abstracted from a total of seven. Four of them turned out to belong to yDNA Haplogroup G2 and six of them had mtDNAI. The fact that many of the samples share the same y- and mtDNA raises the possibility that the tested individuals belonged to the same tribe or even were close relatives. Nevertheless, this is a strong argument for direct Alan ancestry of
Ossetians The Ossetians or Ossetes (, ; os, ир, ирæттæ / дигорӕ, дигорӕнттӕ, translit=Iron people, ir, irættæ / Digor people, digoræ, digorænttæ, label=Ossetian language, Ossetic) are an Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group w ...
, competing with the hypothesis that Ossetians are alanized Caucasic speakers, since the major Haplogroup among Ossetians is G2 also. In 2015, the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow conducted research on various Sarmato-Alan and Saltovo-Mayaki culture Kurgan burials. In this analysis, the two Alan samples from the 4th to 6th century CE had yDNAs G2a-P15 and R1a-z94, while from the three Sarmatian samples from 2nd to 3rd century CE two had yDNA J1-M267 and one possessed R1a. Also, the three Saltovo-Mayaki samples from 8th to 9th century CE turned out to have yDNAs G, J2a-M410 and R1a-z94 respectively. A genetic study published in ''Nature (journal), Nature'' in May 2018 examined the remains of six Alans buried in the
Caucasus The Caucasus () or Caucasia (), is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, mainly comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. The Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus range ...
from ca. 100 CE to 1400 CE. The sample of Y-DNA extracted belonged to haplogroup R1 and haplogroup Q-M242. One of the Q-M242 samples found in Beslan, North Ossetia from 200 CE found 4 relatives among Chechens from the Shoanoy Teip. The samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to Haplogroup HV (mtDNA), HV2a1, Haplogroup U (mtDNA)#Haplogroup U4, U4d3, Haplogroup X (mtDNA), X2f, Haplogroup H (mtDNA), H13a2c, Haplogroup H (mtDNA)#H5, H5, and Haplogroup W (mtDNA), W1.


Archaeology

Archaeological finds support the written sources. P. D. Rau (1927) first identified late Sarmatian sites with the historical Alans. Based on the archaeological material, they were one of the Iranian-speaking nomadic tribes that began to enter the Sarmatian area between the middle of the 1st and the 2nd centuries.


Language

The ancient language of the Alans was an Eastern Iranian, Eastern Iranian dialect either identical, or at least closely related, to ancient Eastern Iranian languages. This is confirmed by comparison of the word for horse in various Indo-Iranian languages and the reconstructed Alanic word for horse:


Religion

Prior to their Christianisation, the Alans were Indo-Iranian polytheism, polytheists, subscribing either to the poorly understood Scythian religion, Scythian pantheon or to a polytheistic form of Zoroastrianism. Some traditions were directly inherited from the Scythians, like embodying their dominant god in elaborate rituals. In the 4th5th centuries the Alans were at least partially Christianized by Byzantine missionaries of the
Arian Arianism ( grc-x-koine, Ἀρειανισμός, ) is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Roman Egypt, Egypt. Arian theology holds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (C ...
church. In the 13th century, invading Mongol hordes pushed the eastern Alans further south into the Caucasus, where they mixed with native Caucasian groups and successively formed three territorial entities each with different developments. Around 1395, Timur's army invaded the Northern Caucasus and massacred much of the Alanian population. As time went by, Digor (people), Digor in the west came under Kabard and Islamic influence. It was through the Kabardians (an East Circassian tribe) that Islam was introduced into the region in the 17th century. After 1767, all of Alania came under Russian rule, which strengthened Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christianity in that region considerably. A substantial minority of today's Ossetians are followers of the traditional Ossetian religion, revived in the 1980s as Assianism (Ossetian: ''Uatsdin'' = 'true faith').


See also

* Roxolani, possibly a sub-set of the Alans * List of ancient Iranian peoples


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * Bernard Bachrach, Bernard S. Bachrach, ''A History of the Alans in the West, from their first appearance in the sources of classical antiquity through the early Middle Ages'', University of Minnesota Press, 1973 * * * Castritius, H. 2007. Die Vandalen. Kohlhammer Verlag. * * Norman Golb, Golb, Norman and Omeljan Pritsak, ''Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century.'' Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1982. * * Hill, John E. 2003. "Annotated Translation of the Chapter on the Western Regions according to the ''Hou Hanshu''." 2nd Draft Edition

* Hill, John E. 2004. ''The Peoples of the West from the Weilüe'' 魏略 ''by Yu Huan'' 魚豢'': A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 AD.'' Draft annotated English translation

* Yu, Taishan. 2004. ''A History of the Relationships between the Western and Eastern Han, Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Western Regions''. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 131 March 2004. Dept. of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania. * *


External links


Strabo and ''Hou Han Shu''references discussed


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