The first historical Turks, that is, the first people to bear

the name 'Turk' and to be well documented, appeared only

the seat of their already extensive power was in the north-east

of present-day Mongolia, on the banks of the rivers Orkhon and

Selenga. There is no doubt, however, that their existence dates

well as by Chinese records, and indeed the language they spoke

at that time shows signs of considerable age. To undertake

research into a period which, for these peoples, belongs to

prehistory, is a difficult task, full of pitfalls; the results

so far reached are still debatable and may, in some cases, be

There seems to be no doubt, however, that their original

primitive life as hunters and gatherers. One can only guess at

the date in the first millennium Be when they left these forests

to become large-scale stock-breeders in Upper Asia and mixed

with the nomadic hordes already on the move in the steppelands

of Eurasia, from the plains of eastern Europe to the shores of

the Pacific; this is because neither the linguistic nor the

in their language is Tengri, which means 'sky' and which is at

the same time the name of their high god; this is mentioned in

Chinese texts of the third century Be but it is common both to

Turkic and Mongol. Their culture as revealed by Herodotus for

example, is largely uniform from one end of the steppes of

Eurasia to the other, an area containing people of many origins,

Indo-European, Altaic (namely, Turks, Mongols and Tungus), Uralians (Finns, Hungarians) and paleo-Asiatics. Archaeology alone might be capable of establishing the identity of the

Turks, were the skulls found in burial grounds to show devisive

the brachycephalic type rather than dolicocephalic has no

bearing on the matter. It seems probable that throughout history

and especially in these distant periods Turkic-speaking peoples

were of a Mongoloid or Indo-European racial type: the oldest-

known of these peoples, the Kirghi z, are described by the

Chinese as being tall, fair-haired and blue-eyed.