The Steppes

Let's Get to Steppe-in'

Steppe landscape, Bagerova Steppe, Kerch Peninsula, Crimea, Ukraine, July 2009. WWE BOOK
Lesniewski/Nature Picture Library / Getty Images

The Steppe(s) is flat, semi-arid grassland between mountain ranges of Eurasia, running from modern Hungary to Mongolia, mostly in Central Asia. The Silk Roads run through this area.

Steppe Up

Who lived on the Steppes? The Steppes produced nomads and riders on horseback. The area mmay have given rise to the origin of Indo-European languages (a.k.a. Proto-Indo-European, or PIE). Steppe burial mounds (or kurgans) in Russia, near Kazakhstan, revealed their contents as warrior women.

These ladies were possibly tied to the Amazons, who were known to reside in Scythia even in antiquity. Steppe nomads are often described as warlike, which fits the Amazon image. It also suits its most famous residents of later eras, Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols, and Attila, leader of the Huns.

The Steppe was better suited to livestock herding (pastoralism) than agriculture. Warriors migrated to the settled areas to the south, waging wars with the inhabitants, notably, the Chinese and Romans. Scythian nomadic horsemen, whose domain ranged from the Black Sea to Eastern Mongolia, waged wars against Greeks, Mesopotamians, and Persians, from the 8th century B.C. In the East, the threatening presence of Steppe nomads prompted the Chinese to build the Great Wall to try to keep them out. The Kushan and Parthian Empires of the first century A.D., both of which were of nomadic origin, were located between China and Rome, along the Silk Road.

Who were some of the main tribes who resided on the Steppes? The Botai, Scythians, Sarmatians, and Cimmerians lived on the Steppe. Read more about these guys and their comrades on Steppe Tribes.
-Edited by Carly Silver