Xiongnu: The World's First Nomadic Empire (Oxford Studies in Early Empires)

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This book raises the case of the world's first nomadic empire, the Xiongnu, as a prime example of the sophisticated developments and powerful influence of nomadic regimes. Launching from a reconceptualization of the social and economic institutions of mobile pastoralists, the collective chapters trace the course of the Xiongnu Empire from before its initial rise, traversing the wars that challenged it and the reformations that made it stronger, to the legacy left after its eventual fall.

Xiongnu expounds the economic practices and social conventions of steppe herders as fertile foundations for institutions and infrastructure of empire, and renders a model of "empires of mobilities," which engaged the control less of towns and territories and more of the movements of communities and capital to fuel their regimes. By weaving together archaeological examinations with historical investigations, Bryan K. Miller presents a more complex and nuanced narrative of how an empire based firmly in the steppe over two thousand years ago managed to formulate a robust political economy and a complex political matrix that capitalized on mobilities and alternative forms of political participation, and allowed the Xiongnu to dominate vast realms of central Eurasia and leave lasting geopolitical effects on the many worlds around them.

Author(s): Bryan K. Miller
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2024

Language: English
Pages: 384

1 Nomad Protagonists
The Nomadic Alternative
The Mobile State
Reconfiguring the Narrative
2 Kingdoms of Those Who Draw the Bow
A Matrix of Steppe Worlds
Nomads of the Steppe Heartland
Herders of the Corridors and Oases
Herders and Hunters of the Far North
Kingdom of the High Mountains
Herders Between the Steppe and the Sown
Inner Asian Innovations
3 Masters of the Steppe
The New Order
Noble Nomads
Foddering the Regime
Livestock and Labor
Crops and Ores
Furs and Silks
The Spoils of Conquest
4 Rule by the Horse
Institutions of the Empire
Regulations and Accounts
Ceremonies and Customs
Beastly Badges
Body of the Empire
Local Communities
Regional Hierarchies
Supraregional Polity
Arms of the Empire
Ventures Left and Right
Enterprises of Interregional Exploitation
Harnessing Eurasia
5 Of Wolves and Sheep
Empires in Arms
The Militant Emperor
The Great Game
Five Baits for the Nomads
Other Kings and Other Kingdoms
Culling the Herds
The Five Chanyus
6 Masters of the Continental Worlds
On the Global Stage
Great Reformations
Reigning Supreme
Global Political Culture
Communities of the Empire
Local Nodes
Regional Networks
The Western Frontier
The Imperial Matrix
The Resilient Regime
The Scattering of Sheep
7 Hunnic Heritage
After the Fall
What’s in a Name
A Whole New World
Pacifying the Barbarians
Appendix (Chanyu Rulers)