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Old 07-24-2012, 04:41 PM   #1
Anders
 
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Default Nomadic culture invading settled civilizations

Nomads has risen regularly from Central Asia to attack various high cultures. Aryans in India, Hyksos in Egypt, Persians in Mesopotamia (Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids), Huns in Europe and all the peoples who invaded China only to be assimilated into the Chinese. The list is not meant to be exhaustive.

Does anyone know if there's some resource about what cultural elements are retained and what are cast away after the conquest. Are there any commonalities between all these invasions, conquests and (partial) assimilations?
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Nomadic culture invading settled civilizations

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Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
Nomads has risen regularly from Central Asia to attack various high cultures. Aryans in India, Hyksos in Egypt, Persians in Mesopotamia (Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids), Huns in Europe and all the peoples who invaded China only to be assimilated into the Chinese. The list is not meant to be exhaustive.

Does anyone know if there's some resource about what cultural elements are retained and what are cast away after the conquest. Are there any commonalities between all these invasions, conquests and (partial) assimilations?
A specific resource? No. I do know the general results from such writers as John Keegan. The Tribes usually metamorphise either into a professional army or a warrior caste. As they usually have not the resources for siege work and siege work is absolutely necessary for conquest, they tend to rely on local condottieri for that. They lose the traits they simply can't support. While they generally maintain good cavalry, the cavalry is a caste not a tribe. It becomes lordlings professionally trained by Gurney Hallack types. The grass in cultivated regions cannot sustain the same breeds of horses as on the steepes and native tactics must be adjusted accordingly. Furthermore the capabilities permitted by more advanced artisanship allow such perks as heavier armor. Symbolic tributes to their orgins are often kept, long after their original purpose was forgotten. The almost universal fetish of nobles for hunting and gardens has been attributed to decent from steepe tribes. Steepe cavalry on the whole seems to be better then sown cavalry though which is why they make so many conquests.

They no longer live as migratory ranchers. That lifestyle is economically unfeasible for the most part and brings in less money then rent collecting anyway. The cuisine tends to upgrade. While steepe recipes are often retained they are also often subliminated by palace chefs. Many a Sultan or Khan might want to think he is eating the food of his heroic ancestors but the more utilitarian stuff will be reinterpreted. Furthermore they will be supplimented by local dishes. High-class cuisine in several nations is the result of the mixing of several waves of invaders and migrants.

Sexism is more blatant in a royal palace then in the steepe. Cloistering is simply impossible out in the steepe and palace women have the luxury to make themselves into walking statuary in a palace. Furthermore, by definition a lot of the women in the palace of a new conqueror would either be straight out slaves or some variety of tribute-concubines and as such would have to put up with being seen in a different light then steepe men would see steepe women. Steepe men were of course not gentle to their women; in fact they were probably harsher. But no one was gentle to anyone there and the social difference was far greater in the palace. For that matter the social difference was different from the palace then from anywhere really. Seeing women as toys was a luxury; farmers and townsmen as well as steepemen had to see them as fellow workers.

Old steepe tales will usually be retained. After all they were often reasonably good. Bards from the conquered country might put a new spin on them as well as adding more tales(some from previous waves of nomads of course).

What is most blatant is not what is lost but what is added. A conqueror from the steepe, while he will often try to artificially maintain the Old Ways will usually find the luxury and wealth produced by the specialization allowed an agricultural and urban society to be to attractive for that sort of thing. After a few generations, while the steepe dynasty might remain just as ferocious as ever but they will obviously be warlike in a valley-folk fashion rather then a steepe fashion and steepe folk will be relegated to auxiliaries once again. Osman's children in Sulieman's time were unquestionably as warlike as a proper turk is expected to be; but no one could mistake them for nomads.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: Nomadic culture invading settled civilizations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
Nomads has risen regularly from Central Asia to attack various high cultures. Aryans in India, Hyksos in Egypt, Persians in Mesopotamia (Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids), Huns in Europe and all the peoples who invaded China only to be assimilated into the Chinese. The list is not meant to be exhaustive.

Does anyone know if there's some resource about what cultural elements are retained and what are cast away after the conquest. Are there any commonalities between all these invasions, conquests and (partial) assimilations?
Read Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century North African historian who wrote a world history focused on cycles of barbarian invasion, empire-building, and decadence.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Nomadic culture invading settled civilizations

Excellent summation, Jason. Polydamas, I'll check him out.

Edit: Wow! From his Wikipedia article he appears to have been an Arabic Aristotle.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: Nomadic culture invading settled civilizations

Johanna Nichols, in Language Diversity in Space and Time, talks about the natural ecological succession of languages: Areas such as the interior of Asia or of Australia, with broad open terrain, have relatively few languages and language families per square kilometer, and their linguistic features tend to spread out widely. They become sources for linguistic families that diverse as they ended less open terrain such as forests. Areas such as the Pyrenees, the Caucasus, or the New Guinea Highlands tend to accumulate large numbers of languages, often isolated or with no clear family trees, in relatively compact spaces. This can obviously be linked to the type of cultural and ethnic succession Jason writes about.

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