The Alans (Latin: Alani) were an Iranian nomadic pastoral people of antiquity.[1][2][3][4][5]

The name Alan is an Iranian dialectical form of Aryan.[1][2] Possibly related to the Massagetae, the Alans have been connected by modern historians with the Central Asian Yancai and Aorsi of Chinese and Roman sources, respectively.[6] Having migrated westwards and become dominant among the Sarmatians on the Pontic Steppe, they are mentioned by Roman sources in the 1st century AD.[1][2] At the time, they had settled the region north of the Black Sea and frequently raided the Parthian Empire and the Caucasian provinces of the Roman Empire.[7] From 215–250 AD, their power on the Pontic Steppe was broken by the Goths.[4]

Upon the Hunnic defeat of the Goths on the Pontic Steppe around 375 AD, many of the Alans migrated westwards along with various Germanic tribes. They crossed the Rhine in 406 AD along with the Vandals and Suebi, settling in Orléans and Valence. Around 409 AD, they joined the Vandals and Suebi in the crossing of the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, settling in Lusitania and Carthaginensis.[8] The Iberian Alans were soundly defeated by the Visigoths in 418 AD and subsequently surrendered their authority to the Hasdingi Vandals.[9] In 428 AD, the Vandals and Alans crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into North Africa, where they founded a powerful kingdom which lasted until its conquest by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century AD.[9]

The Alans who remained under Hunnic rule founded a powerful kingdom in the North Caucasus in the Middle Ages, which ended with the Mongol invasions in the 13th century AD. These Alans are said to be the ancestors of the modern Ossetians.[7]

The Alans spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.[2][10][11]

Eastern Iranian
Related ethnic groups


The various forms of Alan – Greek: Ἀλανοί Alanoi; Chinese: 阿蘭聊 Alanliao (Pinyin) in the 2nd century,[12] 阿蘭 Alan in the 3rd century[13] and later Alanguo (阿蘭國)[14] –  are derived from Iranian dialectal forms of Aryan.[1][2][15] This word was preserved in the modern Ossetian language in the form of Allon.[16][17] These and other variants of Aryan (such as Iran) were common self-designations of the Indo-Iranians, the common ancestors of the Indo-Aryans and Iranian peoples to whom the Alans belonged.

Rarer spellings include Alauni or Halani. 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 Iasi or Olani, Bulgarian Uzi, Hungarian Jász, Russian Jasy, Georgian Osi).[18] It is this name that is the root of the modern Ossetian.[19]


Early Alans

Scythia-Parthia 100 BC
Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of distribution of Eastern Iranian languages (shown in orange) in the 1st century BC[20]
Roman Empire 125
Europe, AD 117-138. The Alani at the time were concentrated north of the Caucasus Mountains (centre right).

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.[10]

In the 1st century AD, the Alans migrated westwards from Central Asia, achieving a dominant position among the Sarmatians living between the Don River and the Caspian Sea.[4][5] The Alans are mentioned in the Vologeses inscription which reads that Vologeses I, the Parthian king between around  51 and 78 AD, in the 11th year of his reign, battled Kuluk, king of the Alani.[21] The 1st century AD Jewish historian Josephus supplements this inscription. Josephus reports in the Jewish Wars (book 7, ch. 7.4) how Alans (whom he calls a "Scythian" tribe) living near the Sea of Azov crossed the Iron Gates for plunder (72 AD) and defeated the armies of Pacorus, king of Media, and Tiridates, King of Armenia, two brothers of Vologeses I (for whom the above-mentioned inscription was made):

4. Now there was a nation of the Alans, which we have formerly mentioned somewhere as being Scythians, and living around Tanais and Lake Maeotis. This nation about this time laid a design of falling upon Media, and the parts beyond it, in order to plunder them; with which intention they treated with the king of Hyrcania; for he was master of that passage which king Alexander shut up with iron gates. This king gave them leave to come through them; so they came in great multitudes, and fell upon the Medes unexpectedly, and plundered their country, which they found full of people, and replenished with abundance of cattle, while nobody dared make any resistance against them; for Pacorus, the king of the country, had fled away for fear into places where they could not easily come at him, and had yielded up everything he had to them, and had only saved his wife and his concubines from them, and that with difficulty also, after they had been made captives, by giving a hundred talents for their ransom. These Alans therefore plundered the country without opposition, and with great ease, and proceeded as far as Armenia, laying waste all before them. Now, Tiridates was king of that country, who met them and fought them but was lucky not to have been taken alive in the battle; for a certain man threw a noose over him and would soon have drawn him in, had he not immediately cut the cord with his sword and escaped. So the Alans, being still more provoked by this sight, laid waste the country, and drove a great multitude of the men, and a great quantity of the other booty from both kingdoms, along with them, and then retreated back to their own country.

The fact that the Alans invaded Parthia through Hyrcania shows that at the time many Alans were still based north-east of the Caspian Sea.[4] By the early 2nd century AD the Alans were in firm control of the Lower Volga and Kuban.[4] 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.[4] It is likely that the Alans' influence stretched further westwards, encompassing most of the Sarmatian world, which by then possessed a relatively homogenous culture.[4]

In 135 AD, the Alans made a huge raid into Asia Minor via the Caucasus, ravaging Media and Armenia.[4] They were eventually driven back by Arrian, the governor of Cappadocia, who wrote a detailed report (Ektaxis kata Alanoon or 'War Against the Alans') that is a major source for studying Roman military tactics.

From 215–250 AD, the Germanic Goths expanded south-eastwards and broke the Alan dominance on the Pontic Steppe.[4] The Alans however seem to have had a significant influence on Gothic culture, who became excellent horsemen and adopted the Alanic animal style art.[4] (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 adapted to the Gothic tactics, reorganized and expanded the Roman heavy cavalry, and defeated the Goths under Gallienus, Claudius II and Aurelian).

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.[4] Ammianus writes that the Alans were "somewhat like the Huns, but in their manner of life and their habits they are less savage."[4] Jordanes contrasted them with the Huns, noting that the Alans "were their equals in battle, but unlike them in their civilisation, manners and appearance".[4] In the late 4th century, Vegetius 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.[22]

The 4th century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus noted that the Alans were "formerly called Massagetae,"[23] while Dio Cassius wrote that "they are Massagetae."[4] It is likely that the Alans were an amalgamation of various Iranian peoples, including Sarmatians, Massagetae and Sakas.[4] Scholars have connected the Alans to the nomadic state of Yancai mentioned in Chinese sources.[6] The Yancai are first mentioned in connection with late 2nd century BC diplomat Zhang Qian's travels in Chapter 123 of Shiji (whose author, Sima Qian, died c. 90 BC).[6][24] The Yancai of Chinese records has again been equated with the Aorsi, a powerful Sarmatian tribe living between the Don River and the Aral Sea, mentioned in Roman records, in particular Strabo.[6]

Link to Yancai/Alanliao

The Later Han Dynasty Chinese chronicle, the Hou Hanshu, 88 (covering the period 25–220 and completed in the 5th century), mentioned a report that the steppe land Yancai had become a vassal state of the Kangju and was now known as Alanliao (阿蘭聊)[25]

Y. A. Zadneprovskiy suggests that the Kangju subjugation of Yancai occurred in the 1st century BC, and that this subjugation caused various Sarmatian tribes, including the Aorsi, to migrate westwards, which played a major role in starting the Migration Period.[6][26] The 3rd century Weilüe also notes that Yancai was then known to be Alans, although they were no longer vassals of the Kangju.[27]

Migration to Gaul

Butler Migrations of the Barbarians
The migrations of the Alans during the 4th–5th centuries AD, from their homeland in the North Caucasus.

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.[4][28] These Alans successfully invaded the Goths in 375 together with the Huns.[4] They subsequently accompanied the Huns in their westward expansion.[4]

Following the Hunnic invasion in 370, other Alans, along with other Sarmatians, migrated westward.[4] One of these Alan groups fought together with the Goths in the decisive Battle of Adrianople in 378 AD, in which emperor Valens was killed.[4] As the Roman Empire continued to decline, the Alans split into various groups; some fought for the Romans while other joined the Huns, Visigoths or Ostrogoths.[4] A portion of the western Alans joined the Vandals and the Suebi in their invasion of Roman Gaul. Gregory of Tours mentions in his Liber historiae Francorum ("Book of Frankish History") that the Alan king Respendial saved the day for the Vandals in an armed encounter with the Franks at the crossing of the Rhine on December 31, 406). According to Gregory, another group of Alans, led by Goar, crossed the Rhine at the same time, but immediately joined the Romans and settled in Gaul.

Under Beorgor (Beorgor rex Alanorum), they moved throughout Gaul, till the reign of Petronius Maximus, when they crossed the Alps in the winter of 464, into Liguria, but were there defeated, and Beorgor slain, by Ricimer, commander of the Emperor's forces.[29][30]

In 442, after it became clear to Aetius that he could no longer rely upon the Huns for support, he turned to Goar and convinced him to move some of his people to settlements in the Orleanais in order to control the bacaudae of Armorica and to keep the Visigoths from expanding their territories northward across the Loire. Goar 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.[31]

Under Goar, they allied with the Burgundians led by Gundaharius, with whom they installed the Emperor Jovinus as usurper. Under Goar's successor Sangiban, the Alans of Orléans played a critical role in repelling the invasion of Attila the Hun at the Battle of Châlons. In 463 the Alans defeated the Goths at the battle of Orléans, and they later defeated the Franks led by Childeric in 466.[32] Around 502-503 Clovis attacked Armorica and but he was defeated by the Alans, however the Alans, who, like Clovis, were Christians, desired cordial relations with him to counterbalance the hostile Arian Visigoths who coveted the land north of the Loire. 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.[33]

Hispania and Africa

Alan kingdom hispania
Kingdom of the Alans in Hispania (409–426 AD).

Following the fortunes of the Vandals and Suebi into the Iberian peninsula (Hispania, comprising modern Portugal and Spain) in 409,[34] the Alans led by Respendial settled in the provinces of Lusitania and Carthaginensis.[35] The Kingdom of the Alans was among the first Barbarian kingdoms to be founded. The Siling Vandals settled in Baetica, the Suebi in coastal Gallaecia, 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.[8]

In 418 (or 426 according to some authors[36]), 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.[37] Although some of these Alans are thought to have remained in Iberia, 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").

Vandal alan kingdom 526
Kingdom of the Vandals and Alans in North Africa (526 AD).

There are some vestiges of the Alans in Portugal,[38] namely in Alenquer (whose name may be Germanic for the Temple of the Alans, from "Alan Kerk",[39] 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 and Almourol, and in the city walls of Lisbon, 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 (Alentejo) and the Cartaginense provinces. They became known in retrospect for their massive hunting and fighting dog of Molosser type, 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 hunting and cattle 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) 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 as well), came into contact and conflict with the Bulgars, the Gökturks, and the Khazars, who drove most of them from the plains and into the mountains.[40]

The Alans converted to Byzantine Orthodoxy 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.[40] The Caucasian Alans were the ancestors of the modern Ossetians, 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, where they probably formerly lived.[40]

Pontic steppe region around 650 AD
The Pontic steppe in ca. 650

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 times, were forced by the Mongols 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 in 1239–1277. They participated in Mongol invasions of Europe and the Song Dynasty in Southern China, and the Battle of Kulikovo under Mamai of the Golden Horde.[41]

In 1253, the Franciscan monk William of Rubruck reported numerous Europeans in Central Asia. It is also known that 30,000 Alans formed the royal guard (Asud) of the Yuan court in Dadu (Beijing). Marco Polo later reported their role in the Yuan Dynasty in his book Il Milione. It's said that those Alans contributed to a modern Mongol clan, Asud. John of Montecorvino, archbishop of Dadu (Khanbaliq), reportedly converted many Alans to Roman Catholic Christianity in addition to Armenians in China.[42][43] In Poland and Lithuania, Alans were also part of the powerful Clan of Ostoja.

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[44] after defeating the Alans.[45] 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).[46] Alan and Kipchak guards were used by Kublai Khan.[47] In 1368 at the end of the Yuan dynasty in China Toghan Temür was accompanied by his faithful Alan guards.[48] 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).[49] In 1254 Rubruquis found a Russian deacon amongst the other Christians at Karakorum. 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.[50] The Alan guards converted to Catholicism as reported by Odorico.[51] They were a "Russian guard".[52]

Jazygia, inhabited by the Jassic people, in the 18th century within the Kingdom of Hungary.

It is believed that some Alans resettled to the North (Barsils), merging with Volga Bulgars and Burtas, eventually transforming to Volga Tatars.[53] 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 ancient Moldavia in the Middle Ages.[54]

Alan mercenaries were involved in the affair with the Catalan Company.[55][56]

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. 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 (Jász), was formerly spoken in Hungary. The literary language, based on the Iron dialect, was fixed by the national poet, Kosta Khetagurov (1859–1906).

Physical appearance

The fourth-century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the Alans were tall, and blond:

Nearly all the Alani are men of great stature and beauty; their hair is somewhat yellow, their eyes are terribly fierce.[57]



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 7. Four of them turned out to belong to yDNA Haplogroup G2 and 6 of them had mtDNA I. 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 and against the hypothesis that Ossetians are alanized Caucasic speakers, since the major Haplogroup among Ossetians is G2 also.[58]

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 AD had yDNAs G2a-P15 and R1a-z94, while from the three Sarmatian samples from 2nd to 3rd century AD two had yDNA J1-M267 and one possessed R1a.[59] Also, the three Saltovo-Mayaki samples from 8th to 9th century AD turned out to have yDNAs G, J2a-M410 and R1a-z94 respectively.[60]


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.


The ancient language of the Alans was an Eastern Iranian dialect either identical, or at least closely related, to ancient Eastern Iranian languages.[61] This is confirmed by comparison of the word for horse in various Indo-Iranian languages and the reconstructed Alanic word for horse:[62]

Language Affiliation Horse
Alanic *aspa
Khotanese Northeastern Iranian aśśa
Ossetian Northeastern Iranian efs
Wakhi Northeastern Iranian yaš
Yaghnobi Northeastern Iranian asp
Avestan Southeastern Iranian aspa
Balochi Southeastern Iranian asp
Median Northwestern Iranian aspa
Old Persian Southwestern Iranian asa
Persian Southwestern Iranian asb
Sanskrit Indo-Aryan áśva


Assumpt monastery church
Orthodox church in North Ossetia-Alania

Prior to their Christianisation, the Alans were Indo-Iranian polytheists, subscribing either to the poorly understood 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.[63]

In the 4th–5th centuries the Alans were at least partially Christianized by Byzantine missionaries of the Arian 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 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 Orthodox Christianity in that region considerably. A substantial minority of today's Ossetians are followers of the traditional Ossetian religion.

See also



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  63. ^ Sulimirski, T. (1985). "The Scyths" in: Fisher, W. B. (Ed.) The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 2: The Median and Achaemenian Periods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20091-1. pp. 158–159.


External links

Aaron II

A Khazar ruler during the early 10th century CE, Aaron ben Benjamin was the son of the Khazar king Benjamin. Whether Aaron, like the rest of the Bulanids, was a Khagan or a Bek is an unresolved issue.

According to the anonymous author of the Schechter Letter, during Aaron's reign a war was launched against Khazaria by a Eastern Roman-inspired coalition led by the Alans, who had been allies of Aaron's father Benjamin. Aaron defeated his enemies with the help of Oghuz mercenaries and captured the king of the Alans alive. Rather than execute his captive, he demanded an oath of fealty and spared his life. The Alan king's daughter married Aaron's son Joseph. In Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century, Omeljan Pritsak dated this war to the early reign of Romanos I (i.e., the early 920s CE).


Alania was a medieval kingdom of the Iranian Alans (proto-Ossetians) that flourished in the Northern Caucasus, roughly in the location of latter-day Circassia and modern North Ossetia–Alania, from its independence from the Khazars in the late 9th century until its destruction by the Mongol invasion in 1238-39. Its capital was Maghas, and it controlled a vital trade route through the Darial Pass. The kingdom reached its peak in the 11th century, under the rule of king Dorgolel.

Alans Siņeļņikovs

Alans Siņeļņikovs (born 14 May 1990) is a Latvian footballer who plays for the Latvian Higher League club FK Rīgas Futbola Skola and Latvia national football team.


The Aorsi also or Aorsoi, known in Greek sources as the Aoirsoi, were an ancient Iranian people of the Sarmatian group, who played a major role in the events of the Pontic Steppe from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD.

They are often regarded as connected to the contemporaneous Eurasian steppe state of Yancai (or Yentsai) mentioned in ancient Chinese records. The Alans, first mentioned by Middle Eastern and European scholars in the 1st century AD, are regarded as successors of the Aorsi.


The Asii, Osii, Ossii, Asoi, Asioi, Asini or Aseni were an ancient 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 held to be responsible for the downfall of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. In Greek Mythology they were the children of Iapetus and Asia.

Modern scholars have attempted to identify the Asii with other peoples known from European and Chinese sources including the: Yuezhi, Tocharians, Issedones/Wusun and/or Alans.


The Asud (Mongolian Cyrillic: Асуд, IPA: /ˈasʊt/) were a military group of Alani origin. The Mongol clan Asud is the plural of As, the Arabic name for the Alans.

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). In 1254 Rubruquis found a Russian deacon amongst the other Christians at Karakoram. 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 was a "Russian guard". Alans were converted to Roman Catholic Christianity in addition to Armenians in China by John of Montecorvino.

After the Mongol invasion of Rus, many Alans submitted to the Mongol Empire. Some of them resisted the Golden Horde longer. Many warriors moved from Northern Caucasia to Mongolia. It is also claimed that they helped their new masters to fight against the Circassians and that they participated in the Mongol invasion of Europe. Under the rule of Möngke Khan, many were brought east to fight against the Chinese Song Dynasty and Kingdom of Dali in Yunnan in 1258-1259. The Alan imperial guard was divided into two corps with headquarters in Karakorum.

After the coronation of Kublai Khan, those Alans participated in the campaign against Ariq Böke and later Qaidu under the Yuan Dynasty. They suffered heavy losses from Song resistance when they were under the command of Bayan of the Baarin and Aju.

Kublai Khan organized them into the Jasin guard (Alan guard) of 3,000 soldiers around 1271, along with some of the Kipchaks. The Alani guard reached its peak during the reign of Tugh Temür and their number expanded to 30,000. During the 15-16th centuries, they formed part of the Yungshebiyu tumen in central Inner Mongolia and the Asud were large tribe of Southern Mongolia.

Today, there are few people with the clan name Asud in Ar Khorchin banner, Inner Mongolia. Mongolian Asuds live in Dundgovi and Umnugovi aimags.

Battle of Mainz (406)

The Battle of Mainz was fought between the Franks, who at the time were allies of Rome, and an alliance of Vandals, Suevi and Alans and took place on 31 December 406. The battle was won by the Vandals and Alans, and cleared the way for their invasion of Gaul.

The battle is briefly described by Gregory of Tours in his History of the Franks. According to his account, the Franks ambushed the Hasdingi Vandals as they were crossing the Rhine and killed their king, Godigisel. The Vandals were rescued by the Alans under Respendial, who drove back the Franks.

Battle of the Nervasos Mountains

The Battle of the Nervasos Mountains (Spanish: Batalla de los Montes Nervasos) occurred in the year 419 and was fought between a coalition of Suebi, led by King Hermeric together with allied Roman Imperial forces stationed in the Province of Hispania, against the combined forces of the Vandals and Alans who were led by their King Gunderic. This battle occurred in the context of a contemporary Germanic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The battle took place in what is today the Province of León, Spain, and resulted in a Roman/Suebian Victory.

Battle of the Tanais River

The Battle of the Tanais River in 373 AD between the Huns and the Alans, was fought on the traditional border between Asia and Europe. The Huns were victorious.

Some historians credit this battle as the beginning of the process of Germanic migration, in which the Huns pushed Germanic tribes into central and northern Europe, resulting in many conflicts between those tribes and the Roman Empire.

It was followed by a joint Hun-Alan invasion of the Gothic kingdom of Ermanaric.


Burtas (Russian: Буртасы, Burtasy; Chuvash: Пăртассем, Părtassem; Tatar: Cyrillic Бортаслар, Latin Bortaslar, Arabic برطاسلر or بۇرتاسلار) were a tribe of uncertain ethnolinguistic affiliation inhabiting the steppe region north of the Caspian Sea in medieval times (modern Penza Oblast, Ulyanovsk Oblast and Saratov Oblast of the Russian Federation). They were subject to the Khazars.

The ethnic identity of the Burtas is disputed, with several different theories ranging from them being a Uralic tribal confederacy (probably later assimilated to Turkic language), and therefore perhaps the ancestors of the modern Moksha people, or that they were an Iranic tribe, possibly the ancestors of the modern Mishars.

Recently, some scholars have suggested that the Burtas were actually Alans or another Iranian ethnolinguistic group. The Alanic (Sarmatian) origin is also derived from their name furt/fort (big river on Middle Iranian language) and as is Alanic selfname, as Ossetians (Caucasian Alans) and Jasses (Jasz, Hungarian Alans) all used the same name.

Crossing of the Rhine

The crossing of the Rhine by a mixed group of barbarians which included Vandals, Alans and Suebi is traditionally considered to have occurred on 31 December 406. The crossing transgressed one of the Late Roman Empire's most secure limites or boundaries and so it was a climactic moment in the decline of the Empire. It initiated a wave of destruction of Roman cities and the collapse of Roman civic order in northern Gaul. That, in turn, occasioned the rise of three usurpers in succession in the province of Britannia. Therefore, the crossing of the Rhine is a marker date in the Migration Period

during which various Germanic tribes moved westward and southward from southern Scandinavia and northern Germania.

The full statement of received opinion has been that "a mixed band of Vandals, Alans and Suebi crossed the Rhine at Mainz on December 31, 406, and began to ravage Gaul". Several written accounts document the crossing, supplemented by the time line of Prosper of Aquitaine, which gives a firm date of 31 December 406.A letter by Jerome, written from Bethlehem, gives a long list of the barbarian tribes involved (Quadi, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alans, Gepids, Herules, Saxons, Burgundians, Alemanni and the armies of the Pannonians). Some of them, like Quadi and Sarmatians, are drawn from history or literary tradition. Jerome mentions Mainz first in a list of the cities devastated by the incursion, which is the sole support for the common assumption that the crossing of the unbridged Rhine was effected at Mainz. Jerome lists the cities now known as Mainz, Worms, Rheims, Amiens, Arras, Thérouanne, Tournai, Speyer and Strasbourg as having been pillaged.

The initial gathering of barbarians on the east bank of the Rhine has been interpreted as a banding of refugees from the Huns or the remnants of Radagaisus' defeated Goths, without direct evidence. A frozen Rhine, making the crossing easier, is not attested by any contemporary but was a plausible surmise made by Edward Gibbon. On the east bank, the mixed band of Vandals and Alans fought a raiding party of Franks. The Vandal king Godigisel was killed, but the Alans came to the rescue of the Vandals, and once on the Roman side, they met with no organized resistance. Stilicho had depleted the garrisons in 402 to face Alaric I in Italy.

Zosimus's New History (vi.3.1) imputes the usurpation of Marcus in Britannia to a reaction to the presence of barbarians in Gaul in 406; from a fragment of Olympiodorus, the acclamation as Emperor of Marcus, the first of the Romano-Britannic usurpers, took place the same summer.

Darial Gorge

The Darial Gorge (Georgian: დარიალის ხეობა, Darialis Kheoba; Russian: Дарьяльское ущелье; Ossetian: Арвыком, Arvykom; Ingush: Даьра Аьле, Dära Äle) is a river gorge on the border between Russia and Georgia. It is at the east base of Mount Kazbek, south of present-day Vladikavkaz. The gorge was carved by the river Terek, and is approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) long. The steep granite walls of the gorge can be as much as 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) tall in some places.


Foederati ( in English; sing. foederatus ) were foreign states, client kingdoms, or barbarian tribes to which ancient Rome provided benefits in exchange for military assistance. The term was also used, especially under the Roman Empire for groups of "barbarian" mercenaries of various sizes, who were typically allowed to settle within the Roman Empire.


Gunderic (Latin: Gundericus; 379–428), King of Hasding Vandals (407-418), then King of Vandals and Alans (418–428), led the Hasding Vandals, a Germanic tribe originally residing near the Oder River, to take part in the barbarian invasions of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century.


The Hasdingi were the southern tribes of the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe. They lived in areas of today's southern Poland, western Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary. They participated in the migratory movements of the Vandals into the Iberian peninsula, and subsequently to North Africa.

The Hasdingi crossed the Rhine into Gaul in 406 AD, although their king Godigisel lost his life in battle against the Franks during the crossing. The Hasdingi settled as foederati in Gallaecia (today Galicia, Asturias and the north of Portugal) along with the Suebi in 409 AD and their kingdom was one of the earliest Barbarian territories to be founded after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

Gunderic, Godegisel's successor as king of the Hasdingi, lost his kingdom to king Hermeric of the Suebi in 419 after the Battle of the Nervasos Mountains where the Vandals were overwhelmed by an allied force of Suebi and Romans. He fled to Baetica with his army where he became king of the Silingi Vandals and of the Alans. Gunderic was succeeded by his brother Genseric in 428 AD, who subsequently fled from Iberia to North Africa where he established a kingdom at Carthage.


The Ossetians or Ossetes (; Ossetian: ир, ирæттæ, ir, irættæ; дигорæ, дигорæнттæ, digoræ, digorænttæ) are an Iranian ethnic group of the Caucasus Mountains, indigenous to the ethnolinguistic region known as Ossetia.

They speak Ossetic, an Eastern Iranian (Alanic) language of the Indo-European languages family, with most also fluent in Russian as a second language. The Ossetian language is neither closely related to nor mutually intelligible with any other language of the family today. Ossetic, a remnant of the Scytho-Sarmatian dialect group which was once spoken across the Pontic–Caspian Steppe, is one of the few Iranian languages inside Europe.The Ossetians mostly populate Ossetia, which is politically divided between North Ossetia–Alania in Russia, and South Ossetia, a de facto independent state with partial recognition, closely integrated in Russia and claimed by Georgia. Their closest relatives, the Jász, live in the Jászság region within the north-western part of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County in Hungary.

Ossetians are mostly Eastern Orthodox Christian, with sizable minorities professing Uatsdin or Islam.


The Roxolani were a Sarmatian people and are believed to be an offshoot of the Alans. However, according to Strabo, they were the most remote of Scythian peoples.


Uatsdin (Ossetian: Уацдин), otherwise spelled Watsdin, also known as Assdin (Ассдин, "Ese-Faith"), or by the extended name Ætsæg Din (Æцæг Дин, literally "True Faith"; the same meaning of "Uatsdin", which is a word compound), and among Russians as Assianism (Russian: Ассианство, Assianstvo; alternative rendition of "Assdin"), is the modern neo-Pagan movement and religious organization of the same name founded in North Ossetia. Its followers consist primarily by the Ossetians (an Eastern Iranic, Alan-Samatian ethnic group inhabiting a homeland in the Caucasus that is split nowadays between two states: the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania within Russia, and the neighbouring state of South Ossetia). This religion has experienced an organised revival since the 1980s.In the Ossetian case, certain traditions of folk religion had survived with unbroken continuity, and were revived in rural areas. This contrasts, and interacts, with an urban and more intellectual movement which elaborated a systematic revival religion to overcome the crisis of identity of the Ossetian people, based in ethnic nationalism and opposition to both Russian and Georgian Orthodox Christianity, perceived as foreign, and opposed as well to the Islam professed by the neighboring Turkic and Caucasian ethnic groups and among a small minority of Ossetians. The major organisation among Ossetians is the Atsætæ organization (Ossetian: Ацæтæ; Russian: Асата, Asata) led by Daurbek Makeyev, based in North Ossetia–Alania.

The Uatsdin movement is active both in North and South Ossetia. Whilst there are no figures about religious demographics for South Ossetia, in North Ossetia–Alania about 29% of the population was practicing this ethnic folk-religion in 2012, according to a survey carried out in that year.

Vandal Kingdom

The Vandal Kingdom (Latin: Regnum Vandalum) or Kingdom of the Vandals and Alans (Latin: Regnum Vandalorum et Alanorum) was established by the Germanic Vandal people under Genseric, and ruled in North Africa and the Mediterranean from 435 AD to 534 AD.

In 429, the Vandals, estimated to number 80,000 people, had crossed by boat from Spain to North Africa. They advanced eastward conquering the coastal regions of 21st century Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In 435, the Roman Empire, then ruling in North Africa, allowed the Vandals to settle in the provinces of Numidia and Mauretania when it became clear that the Vandal army could not be defeated by Roman military forces. In 439 the Vandals renewed their advance eastward and captured Carthage, the most important city of North Africa. The fledgling kingdom then conquered the Roman-ruled islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. In the 460s the Romans launched two unsuccessful military expeditions by sea in an attempt to overthrow the Vandals and reclaim North Africa. The conquest of North Africa by the Vandals was a blow to the beleaguered Western Roman Empire as North Africa was a major source of revenue and a supplier of grain (mostly wheat) to the city of Rome.

Although primarily remembered for the sack of Rome in 455 and their persecution of Nicene Christians in favor of Arian Christianity, the Vandals were also patrons of learning. Grand building projects continued, schools flourished and North Africa fostered many of the most innovative writers and natural scientists of the late Latin Western Roman Empire.The Vandal Kingdom ended in 534 when it was conquered by Belisarius in the Vandalic War and incorporated into the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.

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