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He also compares the name Massagetae, noting that the element saka in that name means dog.
While not arriving at an etymology per se, Atwood derives the name from the Ongi River in Mongolia, which was pronounced the same or similar to the name Xiongnu, and suggests that it was originally a dynastic name rather than an ethnic name.
The most prominent of these were Chionites, the Kidarites, and the Hephthalites (or White Huns)of the great confederations of steppe warriors was ethnically homogenous, and the same name was used by different groups for reasons of prestige, or by outsiders to describe their lifestyle or geographic origin.
[...] It is therefore futile to speculate about identity or blood relationships between H(s)iung-nu, Hephthalites, and Attila's Huns, for instance.
Economically, they are known to have practiced a form of nomadic pastoralism; as their contact with the Roman world grew, their economy became increasingly tied with Rome through tribute, raiding, and trade.
They do not seem to have had a unified government when they entered Europe, but rather to have developed a unified tribal leadership in the course of their wars with the Romans.
Various proposed etymologies generally assume at least that the names of the various Eurasian groups known as Huns are related.No description exists of the Hunnic religion of the time of Attila, but practices such as divination are attested, and the existence of shamans likely.It is also known that the Huns had a language of their own, however only three words and personal names attest to it.All we can safely say is that the name Huns, in late antiquity, described prestigious ruling groups of steppe warriors.Recent scholarship, particularly by Hyun Jin Kim and Etienne de la Vaissière, has revived the hypothesis that the Huns and the Xiongnu are one and the same.