Ancient Tribal History of Siberia

The ancient history of Siberia was considerably affected by the complex nomadic civilizations of the Scythians (Pazyryk) on the west of the Ural Mountains and Xiongnu (Noin-Ula) on the east of the Urals, both thriving before the Christian era.


According to the range of genetic genealogy, people first resided in Siberia by 45,000 BCE and reached out east and west to populate Europe and the Americas. According to Vasily Radlov, amongst the earliest settlers of Central Siberia were the Yeniseians, who spoke a language different from the later Uralic and Turkic people. The Kets are considered the last remains of this early migration. Migrants are thought to have converged the Bering Land Bridge into North America more than 20,000 years ago.

The banks of all Siberian lakes, which filled the cavities during the Lacustrine period, overflow in remains measuring from the Neolithic age. Countless kurgans (tumuli), furnaces, and different archaeological artifacts bear witness to a dense population. Some of the earliest artifacts found in Central Asia originate from Siberia.

The Yeniseians were followed by the Uralic Samoyeds, who came from the northern Ural region. Some descendant practices, such as the Selkup, remain in the Sayan region. They are attributed to leaving behind the very numerous remains dating from the Bronze Age, which are dispersed all over southern Siberia. Iron was unknown to them, but they excelled in bronze, silver, and goldwork. Their bronze ornaments and implements often polished manifest important artistic taste. They developed and managed irrigation to support their agriculture in wide areas of the fertile tracts.

Indo-Iranian influences in southwestern Siberia can be dated to the 2300–1000 BCE Andronovo culture. Between the 7th and 3rd centuries BCE, the Indo-Iranian Scythians prospered in the Altai region (Pazyryk culture). They were a major impact on all later steppe empires.

As early as the first millennium BCE, trade was undertaken over the Silk Road. Silk goods were shipped and swapped in Siberia.

The demonstration of the Xiongnu Empire in the 3rd century BCE started a series of population movements. Many people were probably driven to the northern borders of the great Central Siberian Plateau. Turkic people such as the Yenisei Kirghiz had already been present in the Sayan region. Various Turkic tribes such as the Khaka and Uyghur resettled northwestwards from their former seats and subdued the Ugric people.

These new invaders likewise left infinite traces of their stay, and two different periods may be easily separated from their remains. They were acquainted with iron and learned from their heads the art of bronze casting, which they used for decorative purposes only. They perfected the artistry of this work. Their pottery is more artistic and of a higher quality than that of the Bronze Age. Their embroideries are included among the acquisitions at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Middle Ages


The Mongols had long controlled relations with the people of the Siberian forest (taiga). They called them oin irged (“people of the forest”). Many of them, such as the Barga and Uriankhai, was little different from the Mongols. While the tribes around Lake Baikal were Mongol-speaking, those to the west spoke Turkic, Samoyedic, or Yeniseian languages.

By 1206, Genghis Khan had captured all Mongol and Turkic tribes in Mongolia and southern Siberia. In 1207 his eldest son Jochi subjugated the Siberian forest people, the Uriankhai, the Oirats, Barga, Khakas, Buryats, Tuvans, Khori-Tumed, and Kyrgyz. He then organized the Siberians into three parts. Genghis Khan gave the Telengit and Tolos along the Irtysh River to an old companion, Qorchi. While the Barga, Tumed, Buriats, Khori, Keshmiti, and Bashkirs were established in separate thousands, the Telengit, Tolos, Oirats, and Yenisei Kirghiz were numbered as tumens. Genghis created a settlement of Chinese craftsmen and farmers at Kem-kemchik after the first phase of the Mongol conquest of the Jin dynasty. The Great Khans favored gyrfalcons, furs, women, and Kyrgyz horses for tribute.

Novgorod and Muscovy

As early as the 11th century the Novgorodians had irregularly penetrated Siberia. In the 14th century, the Novgorodians traversed the Kara Sea and the West Siberian river Ob (1364). After the fall of the Novgorod Republic its communications between Northern Russia and Siberia were inherited by the Grand Duchy of Moscow. On May 9, 1483 the Moscow troops of Princes Feodor Kurbski-Cherny and Ivan Saltyk-Travin moved to West Siberia. The troops moved on the rivers Tavda, Tura, Irtysh, up to the River Ob. In 1499 Muscovites and Novgorodians skied to West Siberia, up to the river Ob, and subdued some local tribes.

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