Göktürk, the first Turks

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We have always been fascinated by “the first”, those who in one way or another have represented the origins for something greater. Today we are talking about the Göktürk, the first Turks who, starting from the distant Altai mountains, managed to transform the world.

The Göktürk, the “Sky blue Turks”

The first traces of Turkish populations date back to 546 AD. when a certain Bumin Khan managed to impose his dominion over some local tribes. Bumin imposed the khanate on the whole region and was the first to introduce a form of written language among the Turks.

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The inscriptions in the Orkhon valley in Mongolia, the first trace of written Turkish

The very first word to appear seems to have been precisely “Türk” which in ancient Turkish would mean “strong”; a well-defined identity card for a people who will later become known in war. The first capital was Ötüken and should have been built on the side of an Altai mountain. Unfortunately, its remains have never been identified with certainty and this has contributed to creating several legends over the centuries.

People movers

Due to the advance of the Turks, the Avars were forced to move to Europe and with them other populations including the “Proto-Bulgarians” and the Huns. The Khanate, however, was immediately devoured by a civil war that in fact ended only centuries later with its destruction. Their successors on the throne of Central Asia were the Uighurs, a Turkish population later documented by Tiziano Terzani and which still lives in those territories today.

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Uighurs during a ceremony of Meshrep, the traditional song

The Turkish populations, however, did not remain idle and quickly took advantage of contacts with Persians and Arabs to put themselves at their service. As mercenaries they gained more and more military positions and then became the masters of these empires themselves (the Persian dynasty of the Qajar and the Mughals of India were also of Turkish origin).

A global impact

The impact that these “first Turks” on the rest of humanity was therefore enormous and especially if we consider the places they come from. There is also a high probability that part of these populations were the legendary “Gog and Magog”, two semi-bestial populations that will destroy humanity. In a sense, the early Turks don’t get very far from the description.

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The Göktürk empire in its greatest expansion

To date there are about twenty Turkish populations ranging from our “classic Turks” to the Uyghurs, passing through the Crimean Karaites and the Tatars. A dynasty that eventually managed to survive almost intact the test of time and that turned out to be the source for many empires.

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