Eurasian Steppe

The Eurasian Steppe, also called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches from Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova through Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, and Mongolia to Manchuria, with one major exclave, the Pannonian steppe or Puszta, located mostly in Hungary and partially in Serbia and Croatia.[1]

Since the Paleolithic age, the Steppe route has connected Eastern Europe, Central Asia, China, South Asia, and the Middle East economically, politically, and culturally through overland trade routes. The Steppe route is a predecessor not only of the Silk Road which developed during antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also of the Eurasian Land Bridge in the modern era. It has been home to nomadic empires and many large tribal confederations and ancient states throughout history, such as the Xiongnu, Scythia, Cimmeria, Sarmatia, Hunnic Empire, Chorasmia, Transoxiana, Sogdiana, Xianbei, Mongols, and Göktürk Khaganate.

Eurasian steppe belt
Eurasian steppe belt
Красноковыльная степь в Адамовском районе
Russian steppe in the Orenburg Oblast

Geography

Divisions

Two-point-equidistant-asia
A map of Eurasia with emphasis on deserts. Note the oval Tarim Basin at the center of the map.

The Eurasian Steppe extends thousands of miles from near the mouth of the Danube almost to the Pacific Ocean. It is bounded on the north by the forests of European Russia, Siberia and Asian Russia. There is no clear southern boundary although the land becomes increasingly dry as one moves south. The steppe narrows at two points, dividing it into three major parts.

Western Steppe

Pontic Caspian climate
The Pontic–Caspian Steppe

Ural–Caspian Narrowing

  • The Ural Mountains extend south to a point about 650 km (400 mi) northeast of the Caspian Sea. This is not a major barrier to movement, but the area near the Caspian is quite dry.

Central Steppe

Seidenstrasse GMT Ausschnitt Zentralasien
The Kazakh Steppe in the north with the Tarim Basin (Takhlamakan) and Dzungaria

Dzungarian Narrowing

On the east side of the former Sino-Soviet border mountains extend north almost to the forest zone with only limited grassland in Dzungaria.

Eastern Steppe

Across Mongolian plains; a naturalist's account of China's "great northwest", by Roy Chapman Andrews photographs by Yvette Borup Andrews (1921) (16150719773)
The grasslands of Outer Mongolia
  • Xinjiang is the northwestern province of China. The east-west Tien Shan Mountains divide it into Dzungaria in the north and the Tarim Basin to the south. Dzungaria is bounded by the Tarbagatai Mountains on the west and the Mongolian Altai Mountains on the east, neither of which is a significant barrier. Dzungaria has good grassland around the edges and a central desert. It often behaved as a westward extension of Mongolia and connected Mongolia to the Kazakh steppe. To the north of Dzungaria are mountains and the Siberian forest. To the south and west of Dzungaria, and separated from it by the Tian Shan mountains, is an area about twice the size of Dzungaria, the oval Tarim Basin. The Tarim Basin is too dry to support even a nomadic population, but around its edges rivers flow down from the mountains giving rise to a ring of cities which lived by irrigation agriculture and east-west trade. The Tarim Basin formed an island of near civilization in the center of the steppe. The Northern Silk Road went along the north and south sides of the Tarim Basin and then crossed the mountains west to the Fergana Valley. At the west end of the basin the Pamir Mountains connect the Tien Shan Mountains to the Himalayas. To the south, the Kunlun Mountains separate the Tarim Basin from the thinly peopled Tibetan Plateau.
  • The Mongol Steppe includes both Mongolia and the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. The two are separated by a relatively dry area marked by the Gobi Desert. South of the Mongol Steppe is the high and thinly peopled Tibetan Plateau. The northern edge of the plateau is the Gansu or Hexi Corridor, a belt of moderately dense population that connects China proper with the Tarim Basin. The Hexi Corridor was the main route of the Silk Road. In the southeast the Silk Road led over some hills to the east-flowing Wei River valley which led to the North China Plain.
China 100.78713E 35.63718N
China and surrounding regions. Note the oval Tarim Basin, the dryer area separating Inner and Outer Mongolia and the projection of steppe into Manchuria
  • Manchuria is a special case. Westerners tend to think of Manchuria as the northeast projection of China that they see on maps. The Chinese now call this, or the eastern two thirds of it, Northeast China. The dryer western third west of the Greater Khingan Mountains has normally been part of Inner Mongolia. Before 1859, Manchuria also included Outer Manchuria to the north and east, which is now part of Russia. South of the Khingan Mountains and north of the Taihang Mountains, the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe extends east into Manchuria as the Liao Xi steppe. In Manchuria, the steppe grades off into forest and mountains without reaching the Pacific. The central area of forest-steppe was inhabited by pastoral and agricultural peoples, while to the north and east was a thin population of hunting tribes of the Siberian type.

Fauna

Big mammals of the Eurasian steppe were the Przewalski's horse, the saiga antelope, the Mongolian gazelle, the goitered gazelle, the wild Bactrian camel and the onager.[2][3][4][5][6][7] The gray wolf and the corsac fox and occasionally the brown bear are predators roaming the steppe.[8][9][10] Smaller mammal species are the Mongolian gerbil, the little souslik and the bobak marmot.[11][12][13]

Furthermore, the Eurasian steppe is home to a great variety of bird species. Threatened bird species living there are for example the imperial eagle, the lesser kestrel, the great bustard, the pale-back pigeon and the white-throated bushchat.[14]

Przewalski mongolie

Przewalski horse

Yawning corsac fox

Corsac fox

Saiga tartarica

Saiga antelope

Asiatic Wild ass

Onager

The primary domesticated animals raised were sheep and goats with fewer cattle than one might expect. Camels were used in the drier areas for transport as far west as Astrakhan. There were some yaks along the edge of Tibet. The horse was used for transportation and warfare. The horse was first domesticated on the Pontic–Caspian or Kazakh steppe sometime before 3000 BC, but it took a long time for mounted archery to develop and the process is not fully understood. The stirrup does not seem to have been completely developed until 300 AD (see Stirrup, Saddle, Composite bow, Domestication of the horse and related articles).

Ecoregions

The World Wide Fund for Nature divides the Eurasian steppe's temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands into a number of ecoregions, distinguished by elevation, climate, rainfall, and other characteristics, and home to distinct animal and plant communities and species, and distinct habitat ecosystems.

Human activities

Jurty na stepie pomiędzy Ułan Bator a Karakorum 03
Mongolian yurt

Trade habits

The major centers of population and high culture in Eurasia are Europe,the Middle East, India and China. For some purposes it is useful to treat Greater Iran as a separate region. All these regions are connected by the Eurasian Steppe route which was an active predecessor of the Silk Road. The latter started in the Guanzhong region of China and ran west along the Hexi Corridor to the Tarim Basin. From there it went southwest to Greater Iran and turned southeast to India or west to the Middle East and Europe. A minor branch went northwest along the great rivers and north of the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. When faced with a rich caravan the steppe nomads could either rob it, or tax it, or hire themselves out as guards. Economically these three forms of taxation or parasitism amounted to the same thing. Trade was usually most vigorous when a strong empire controlled the steppe and reduced the number of petty chieftains preying on trade. The silk road first became significant and Chinese silk began reaching the Roman Empire about the time that the Emperor of Han pushed Chinese power west to the Tarim Basin.

Agriculture

The nomads would occasionally tolerate colonies of peasants on the steppe in the few areas where farming was possible. These were often captives who grew grain for their nomadic masters. Along the fringes there were areas that could be used for either plowland or grassland. These alternated between one and the other depending on the relative strength of the nomadic and agrarian heartlands. Over the last few hundred years, the Russian steppe and much of Inner Mongolia has been cultivated. The fact that most of the Russian steppe is not irrigated implies that it was maintained as grasslands as a result of the military strength of the nomads.

Language

According to the most widely held hypothesis of the origin of the Indo-European languages, the Kurgan hypothesis, their common ancestor is thought to have originated on the Pontic-Caspian steppe. The Tocharians were an early Indo-European branch in the Tarim Basin. At the beginning of written history the entire steppe population west of Dzungaria spoke Iranian languages. From about 500 AD the Turkic languages replaced the Iranian languages first on the steppe, and later in the oases north of Iran (the reasons for this are poorly understood). Additionally, Hungarian speakers, a branch of the Uralic language family, who previously lived in the steppe in what is now Southern Russia, settled in the Carpathian basin in year 895. Mongolic languages are in Mongolia. In Manchuria one finds Tungusic languages and some others.

Religion

Harper's New Monthly Magazine Volume 139 June to November 1919 (1919) (14778048052)
Tibetan Buddhist temples and lamas on the grasslands

Tengriism was introduced by Turko-Mongol nomads. Nestorianism and Manichaeism spread to the Tarim Basin and into China, but they never became established majority religions. Buddhism spread from the north of India to the Tarim Basin and found a new home in China. By about 1400 AD, the entire steppe west of Dzungaria had adopted Islam. By about 1600 AD, Islam was established in the Tarim Basin while Dzungaria and Mongolia had adopted Tibetan Buddhism.

History

Warfare

Mongol warrior of Genghis Khan
Mongol warrior on horseback, preparing a mounted archery shot

Raids between tribes were prevalent throughout the region's history. This is connected to the ease with which a defeated enemy's flocks can be driven away, making raiding profitable. In terms of warfare and raiding, in relation to sedentary societies, the horse gave the nomads an advantage of mobility. Horsemen could raid a village and retreat with their loot before an infantry-based army could be mustered and deployed. When confronted with superior infantry, horsemen could simply ride away and retreat and regroup. Outside of Europe and parts of the Middle East, agrarian societies had difficulty raising a sufficient number of war horses, and often had to enlist them from their nomadic enemies(as mercenaries). Nomads could not easily be pursued onto the steppe since the steppe could not easily support a land army. If the Chinese sent an army into Mongolia, the nomads would flee and come back when the Chinese ran out of supplies. But the steppe nomads were relatively few and their rulers had difficulty holding together enough clans and tribes to field a large army. If they conquered an agricultural area they often lacked the skills to administer it. If they tried to hold agrarian land they gradually absorbed the civilization of their subjects, lost their nomadic skills and were either assimilated or driven out.

Relations with neighbors

Along the northern fringe the nomads would collect tribute from and blend with the forest tribes (see Khanate of Sibir, Buryats). From about 1240 to 1480 Russia paid tribute to the Golden Horde. South of the Kazakh steppe the nomads blended with the sedentary population, partly because the Middle East has significant areas of steppe (taken by force in past invasions) and pastoralism. There was a sharp cultural divide between Mongolia and China and almost constant warfare from the dawn of history until 1757. The nomads collected large amounts of tribute from the Chinese and several Chinese dynasties were of steppe origin. Perhaps because of the mixture of agriculture and pastoralism in Manchuria its inhabitants, the Manchu, knew how to deal with both nomads and the settled populations, and therefore were able to conquer much of northern China when both Chinese and Mongols were weak.

Legacy of the Eurasian steppe nomads

Russian Slavic tribes and culture were much influenced by the Asian nomads in the Russian steppe and the adjoining steppes and deserts. The steppe culture of Russia was shaped in Russia through cross-cultural contact mostly by Tatar-Turkic, Mongolian and Iranian people.[16][17] In addition to ethnicity, also instruments such as the domra, traditional costumes such as kaftan, sarafan and Russia's tea culture were influenced by the culture of nomadic peoples.[18][19]

Historical peoples and nations

Gallery

Красноковыльная степь в бассейне Кукуйки в Курьинском районе

Steppe south of Siberia, Altai Krai.

Луговая красноковыльная степь около Колыванского озера в Змеиногорском районе

Steppe south of Siberia, Altai Krai.

Horses in Kazakhstan

Steppe in east Kazakhstan, in summer.

Краснокнижные тюльпаны Геснера и Биберштейна, ирисы

Flowering of spring in Rostov oblast, Russia. Tulipa suaveolens and Iris pumila are among the most widespread species in Eurasian steppe.

Khopyor River (Nizhnehopersky Nature Park) 001

Steppe adjacent to the Khopyor River, Volgograd Oblast, Russia.

Natural Park Donskoy 001

Steppe on calcareous plate adjacent to the Khopyor River, Volgograd Oblast, Russia.

Скала Дракон

Eastern Steppe south of Siberia, Zabaykalsky Krai.

Ishenbek surveys the rolling expanse of the high steppe. (3968890120)

Kyrgyz Steppe.

See also

References

  1. ^ Canada's vegetation: a world perspective – Geoffrey A. J. Scott – Google Knihy. Books.google.sk. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  2. ^ "Equus ferus ssp. przewalskii (Asian Wild Horse, Mongolian Wild Horse, Przewalski's Horse)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2016-08-15.
  3. ^ "Saiga tatarica (Mongolian Saiga, Saiga, Saiga Antelope)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2018-01-07.
  4. ^ "Procapra gutturosa (Dzeren, Mongolian Gazelle)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2012-11-13.
  5. ^ "Gazella subgutturosa (Goitered Gazelle)". www.iucnredlist.org.
  6. ^ "Camelus ferus (Bactrian Camel, Two-humped Camel, Wild Bactrian Camel)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2012-12-10.
  7. ^ "Equus hemionus (Asian Wild Ass, Asiatic Wild Ass)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2017-11-07.
  8. ^ "Canis lupus (Arctic Wolf, Common Wolf, Gray Wolf, Grey Wolf, Mexican Wolf, Plains Wolf, Timber Wolf, Tundra Wolf, Wolf)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2018-02-02.
  9. ^ "Vulpes corsac (Corsac Fox)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2015-04-29.
  10. ^ Gutleb, Bernhard; Ziaie, Hooshang (1999). "On the distribution and status of the Brown Bear,Ursus arctos, and the Asiatic Black Bear, U. thibetanus, in Iran". Zoology in the Middle East. 18: 5–8. doi:10.1080/09397140.1999.10637777.
  11. ^ "Meriones unguiculatus (Mongolian Gerbil, Mongolian Jird)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2017-08-11.
  12. ^ "Spermophilus pygmaeus (Little Ground Squirrel)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2017-03-29.
  13. ^ "Marmota bobak (Bobak Marmot)". www.iucnredlist.org. Archived from the original on 2015-09-13.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2017-05-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Természettudományi Múzeum (Hungary) (1969). Annales historico-naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici.
  16. ^ Neumann, Iver B.,. The steppe tradition in international relations : Russians, Turks and European state-building 4000 BCE-2018 CE. Wigen, Einar, 1981- (First edition ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom. pp. 198–250. ISBN 9781108420792. OCLC 1053859731.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  17. ^ Blench, Roger; Spriggs, Matthew (2003-09-02). Archaeology and Language I: Theoretical and Methodological Orientations. Routledge. ISBN 9781134828777.
  18. ^ Sultanova, Razia; Rancier, Megan (2018-01-19). Turkic Soundscapes: From Shamanic Voices to Hip-Hop. Routledge. ISBN 9781351665957.
  19. ^ Hellie, Richard. (1999). The economy and material culture of Russia, 1600-1725. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 352–353. ISBN 0226326497. OCLC 39655294.
  20. ^ "The Proto-Turkic Urheimat and the Early Migrations of Turkic Peoples". Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2014.

Bibliography

  • John of Plano Carpini, "History of the Mongols," in Christopher Dawson, (ed.), Mission to Asia, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005, pp. 3–76.
  • Barthold, W., Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion, T. Minorsky, (tr.), New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1992.
  • Christian, David, A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, Volume 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire’, Malden MA, Oxford, UK, Carlton, Australia: Blackwell Publishing 1998.
  • Fletcher, Joseph F., Studies on Chinese and Islamic Inner Asia, Beatrice Forbes Manz, (ed.), Aldershot, Hampshire: Variorum, 1995, IX.
  • Grousset, René, The Empire of the Steppes: a History of Central Asia, Naomi Walford, (tr.), New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1970.
  • Krader, Lawrence, "Ecology of Central Asian Pastoralism," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 11, No. 4, (1955), pp. 301–326.
  • Lattimore, Owen, "The Geographical Factor in Mongol History," in Owen Lattimore, (ed.), Studies in Frontier History: Collected Papers 1928–1958, London: Oxford University Press, 1962, pp. 241–258.
  • Sinor, Denis, "The Inner Asian Warrior," in Denis Sinor, (Collected Studies Series), Studies in Medieval Inner Asia, Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, Variorum, 1997, XIII.
  • Sinor, Denis, "Horse and Pasture in Inner Asian History," in Denis Sinor, (Collected Studies Series), Inner Asia and its Contacts with Medieval Europe, London: Variorum, 1977, II.

External links

Cernavodă culture

The Cernavodă culture, ca. 4000–3200 BC, was a late Copper Age archaeological culture. It was along the lower Eastern Bug River and Danube and along the coast of the Black Sea and somewhat inland, generally in present-day Romania and Bulgaria. It is named after the Romanian town of Cernavodă.

It is a successor to and occupies much the same area as the earlier neolithic Karanovo culture, for which a destruction horizon seems to be evident. It is part of the "Balkan-Danubian complex" that stretches up the entire length of the river and into northern Germany via the Elbe and the Baden culture; its northeastern portion is thought to be ancestral to the Usatovo culture.

It is characterized by defensive hilltop settlements. The pottery shares traits with that found further east, in the Sredny Stog culture on the south-west Eurasian steppe; burials similarly bear a resemblance to those further east.

Together with Sredny Stog culture its spread from east resulted in development of the Anatolian language complex.

Dzungarian Gate

The Dzungarian Gate is a geographically and historically significant mountain pass between China and Central Asia. It has been described as the "one and only gateway in the mountain-wall which stretches from Manchuria to Afghanistan, over a distance of three thousand miles." Given its association with details in a story related by Herodotus, it has been linked to the location of legendary Hyperborea.The Dzungarian Gate (Chinese: 阿拉山口; pinyin: Ālā Shānkǒu; Kazakh: Жетісу қақпасы Jetisý qaqpasy or Жоңғар қақпасы Jońǵar qaqpasy) is a straight valley which penetrates the Dzungarian Alatau mountain range along the border between Kazakhstan and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It currently serves as a railway corridor between China and the west. Historically, it has been noted as a convenient pass suitable for riders on horseback between the western Eurasian steppe and lands further east, and for its fierce and almost constant winds.In his Histories, Herodotus relates travelers' reports of a land in the northeast where griffins guard gold and where the North Wind issues from a mountain cave. Given the parallels between Herodotus' story and modern reports, scholars such as Carl Ruck, J.D.P. Bolton and Ildikó Lehtinen have speculated on a connection between the Dzungarian Gate and the home of Boreas, the North Wind of Greek mythology. With legend describing the people who live on the other side of this home of the North Wind as a peaceful, civilized people who eat grain and live by the sea, the Hyperboreans have been identified by some as the Chinese.Its gateway status is now supplanted by the new gateway city of Khorgas.

Emin Valley

The Emin Valley (Chinese: 额敏谷地; pinyin: Émǐn gǔdì) is located on the China-Kazakhstan border, in Central Asia. It has an area of about 65,000 square kilometres (25,000 sq mi). Its main waterway is the Emil River.

Administratively, the Emin Valley occupies areas of Tacheng Prefecture in the Xinjiang Region of north-western China; and in East Kazakhstan Province of eastern Kazakhstan.

Great Hungarian Plain

The Great Hungarian Plain (also known as Alföld or Great Alföld, Hungarian: Alföld or Nagy Alföld) is a plain occupying the majority of Hungary. It is the largest part of the wider Pannonian Plain.

In Hungarian, the plain is known as Alföld [ˈɒlføld].

Hit-and-run tactics

Hit-and-run tactics is a tactical doctrine where the purpose of the combat involved is not to seize control of territory; instead, flexible noncommittal attacks are used to inflict damage on a target and immediately exit the area to avoid the enemy's defense and/or retaliation. Such raids can also expose enemy defensive weaknesses and achieve a psychological effect on the enemy's morale.Hit-and-run tactics are used in guerrilla warfare, militant resistance movements, and terrorism where the enemy typically overmatches the attacking force to the point where sustained combat is to be avoided. However, the tactics can also be used as part of more conventional warfare. Examples of the latter include commando or other special forces attacks or sorties from a besieged castle. Hit-and-run tactics were also where the lightly armed and nearly unarmored horse archers typical of the Eurasian steppe peoples excelled. This holds especially true for such troops that were not part of a large army (such as scouting parties), but it was not unusual to see them employed in such a way even as part of a major force.

Kazakh Steppe

The Kazakh Steppe (Kazakh: Qazaq dalasy, Қазақ даласы, also Uly dala, Ұлы дала "Great Steppe"), also called the Great Dala, ecoregion, of the Palearctic temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe, with which it forms part of the Eurasian steppe. Before the mid-nineteenth century it was called the Kirghiz steppe, 'Kirghiz' being an old name for the Kazakhs.

Kazakh Uplands

The Kazakh Uplands (Kazakh: Сарыарқа, Saryarqa - "Yellow Ridge", Russian: Казахский мелкосопочник, Kazakhskiy Melkosopochnik), also known as the Kazakh Hummocks, is a large peneplain formation extending throughout the central and eastern regions of Kazakhstan. It consists of low mountain oases (Karkaraly, Kent, Kyzylarai, Ulytau, etc.) and elevated plains, and contains large deposits of coal in the north and copper in the south. Rare species, such as the Asiatic cheetah, may still live in the region. Several notable cities, including the country's capital, Nur-Sultan, are located there.

Part of the Kazakh Uplands are included in the Saryarka — Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan world heritage site. It is of the Palearctic temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome.

Khanate

A khanate or khaganate is a political entity ruled by a khan or khagan. This political entity is typical for people from the Eurasian Steppe and it can be equivalent to tribal chiefdom, principality, kingdom or empire.

List of political entities in the 6th century BC

Political entities in the 7th century BC – Political entities in the 5th century BC – Political entities by century

This is a list of sovereign states or polities that existed in the 6th century BC.

List of political entities in the 7th century BC

Political entities in the 8th century BC – Political entities in the 6th century BC – Political entities by century

This is a list of states or polities that existed in the 7th century BC.

List of political entities in the 8th century BC

Political entities in the 9th century BC – Political entities in the 7th century BC – Political entities by century

This is a list of states or polities that existed in the 8th century BC.

Orda (organization)

An orda (also orda, ordu, ordo, or ordon) or horde was a historical sociopolitical and military structure found on the Eurasian Steppe, usually associated with the Turkic people and Mongols. This entity can be seen as the regional equivalent of a clan or a tribe. Some successful ordas gave rise to khanates.

While the Slavic term ordo and the western term horde were in origin borrowings from the Turkic term ordo for "camp, headquarters", the original term did not carry the meaning of a large khanate such as the Golden Horde. These structures were contemporarily referred to as ulus ("nation" or "tribe").

It was only in the Late Middle Ages that the Slavic usage of orda was borrowed back into the Turkic languages.

Pannonian Steppe

The Pannonian Steppe is a variety of grassland ecosystems found in the Pannonian Basin.

Pontic–Caspian steppe

The Pontic–Caspian steppe, or Pontic steppe is the vast steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea (called Euxeinos Pontos [Εὔξεινος Πόντος] in antiquity) as far east as the Caspian Sea, from Moldova and eastern Ukraine across the North Caucasus Federal District, Southern Federal District and the Volga Federal District of Russia to western Kazakhstan, forming part of the larger Eurasian steppe, adjacent to the Kazakh steppe to the east. It is a part of the Palearctic temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands ecoregion of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome.

The area corresponds to Cimmeria, Scythia, and Sarmatia of classical antiquity. Across several millennia the steppe was used by numerous tribes of nomadic horsemen, many of which went on to conquer lands in the settled regions of Europe and in western and southern Asia.

The term Ponto-Caspian region is used in biogeography for plants and animals of these steppes, and animals from the Black, Caspian, and Azov seas. Genetic research has identified this region as the most probable place where horses were first domesticated.According to a theory, called Kurgan hypothesis in Indo-European studies, the Pontic–Caspian steppe was the homeland of the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, and these same speakers were the original domesticators of the horse.

Sagaris

The sagaris is an ancient Iranian shafted weapon used by the horse-riding ancient North-Iranian Saka and Scythian peoples of the great Eurasian steppe. It was used also by Western and Central Asian peoples: the Medes, Persians, Parthians, Indo-Saka, Kushans, Mossynoeci, and others living within the milieu of Iranian peoples. According to Aristarchus of Samothrace, the legendary Amazons used the sagaris, as well. In The Histories, Herodotus attributes the sagaris to the Sacae Scythians in the army-list of Xerxes the Great.The sagaris was a kind of battle-axe, or sometimes war hammer. Examples have been collected from Eurasian steppe archeological excavations, and are depicted on the Achaemenid cylinders and ancient Greek pottery and other surviving iconographic material. It is a long-shafted weapon with a metal head, with an either sharp (axe-like) or blunt (hammer-like) edge on one side and a sharp (straight or curving) 'ice-pick'-like point on the other. It may have been the sagaris that led medieval and Renaissance authors (such as Johannes Aventinus) to attribute the invention of the battle-axe weapon to the Amazons – as some Scythian women seen hunting and along warrior riders gave legend to the Amazons selves – and to the modern association of the Amazons with the labrys.

A shorter form, as depicted in the hand of Spalirises on his coins, was labelled klevets by Russian archaeologist and ancient military historian V.P. Nikonorov.

Silver mountain vole

The silver mountain vole (Alticola argentatus) is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. They are distinguished by their silver-grey pelage, long vibrissae, rootless hypsodont molars and angular skull shape. Like many mammals of the Eurasian Steppe eco-region, they are well adapted to life in high altitudes, and can be found in mountain areas of Central and North Asia from the Chukchi Peninsula in the north-east to Kugitang Range in the west, and to Tibet and the Himalayas in the south.

Squat Dance

The Squat Dance or Russian Squat Dance (Russian: присядка or русская присядка, prisyadka or russkaya preesyadka) is a Russian folk dance. It has been an important characteristic of Russian culture since ancient times. Russian culture arose from Slavic, Finno-Ugric, Tatar, Viking and Turkic peoples and was influenced by eastern and western cultures from Asia and Europe, mainly from Scandinavia and Baltic regions, as well as from nomadic Eurasian steppe cultures. The Squat dance originated in Russian lands, where Eastern Slavic people lived (and later where Russian states appeared in Europe, also known as Rus').The Russian squat dance is a feature of Russian culture. With kicks in the air, turns, and stomping movements, it is one of the main elements in Russian fast dances. The squat dance appears in Russian dances such as Barynya, Leto, Gopak, Kalinka, Yablochko, Trepak, Kozachok and others. The squat dance is performed only by males.While dancers squat with folded arms, they kick their legs, alternating between high and low kicks. Accelerating the legs and walking while squatting is common. Some dancers squat with their feet on the ground while others stay on their toes. The dance demands tight muscles and good balance.

Steppe Route

The Steppe Route was an ancient overland route through the Eurasian Steppe that was an active precursor of the Silk Road. Silk and horses were traded as key commodities; secondary trade included furs, weapons, musical instruments, precious stones (turquoise, lapis lazuli, agate, nephrite) and jewels. This route extended for approximately 10,000 km (6,200 mi). Trans-Eurasian trade through the Steppe Route precedes the conventional date for the origins of the Silk Road by at least two millennia.

West Siberian Plain

The West Siberian Plain, also known as Zapadno-sibirskaya Ravnina, (Russian: За́падно-Сиби́рская равни́на) is a large plain that occupies the western portion of Siberia, between the Ural Mountains in the west and the Yenisei River in the east, and by the Altay Mountains on the southeast. Much of the plain is poorly drained and consists of some of the world's largest swamps and floodplains. Important cities include Omsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Chelyabinsk.

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