Return to Archaeology

The Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu) Empire dominated much of Inner Asian history for several centuries, beginning around 200 BCE. The traditional narratives of the history of the Silk Roads highlight the importance of the relationship between the Xiongnu and China under the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220CE). Our understanding of that history is colored by the Chinese narrative sources, which portray the Xiongnu as uncultured barbarians and which try to obscure the fact that for extended periods, it was the Xiongnu, not the Chinese, who held the upper hand in the relationship. Since we have no written sources indigenous to the Xiongnu, archaeological evidence provides critical information if we are to understand the Xiongnu polity and its social and economic realities. While Xiongnu archaeology is now more than a century old, the results of recent and current work are beginning to transform our understanding of the complexities of Xiongnu history.

These pages, which are only in the beginning stage of development, will present a range of information about the Xiongnu: material about excavations, articles on specific aspects of Xiongnu culture, links to websites devoted to early Inner Asia, and much more.