Aims/Description: Nomads are the dark matter of history. Choosing neither to produce written sources, nor found cities which are the usual target of archaeology, they defy the typical means of investigation of the historian. Yet their political impact - from the Huns of Attila to the Mongols of Ghengis Khan - was vast. Fear of the nomad other, framed in terms of barbarism, is one of the defining literary themes of the settled civilisations who were their neighbours. This fear had a huge impact on settled society: the Great Wall of China was built to keep nomads out.This course asks how we can look beyond the fearsome, caricatured image produced by sedentary authors to reconstruct the politics, mentalities, and lifestyles of these crucial agents of pre-modern history. To do so, we will focus on the varied experiences of the nomadic peoples who emerged in the aftermath of the disintegrations of the great Turkic Khaganate in the seventh century. The Khaganate stretched over the vast, flat, grasslands of the Steppe, from China to Hungary and its successors settled regions across modern day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Ukraine and the Balkans. These new peoples and their cultural and political choices fundamentally transformed the region, and had a profound impact on the great empires around them, namely Byzantines, Sassanian Iranians, and the Islamic caliphate.Throughout, we will use material culture and sources written originally in Greek, Arabic, Armenian and Slavonic (all available in modern English translation), to ask: how do we write a history of a people who chose not to write? 

Restrictions on availability: Students must have taken 40 credits from HST202-HST21999

Teaching Methods: Seminars, Tutorials, Independent Study
Assessment: Formal Exam, Project/ portfolio

Information on the department responsible for this unit (History):

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Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK