The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area, part of Scythia at the time. By 370 AD, the Huns had arrived on the Volga, by 430 the Huns had established a vast, if short-lived, dominion in Europe, conquering the Goths and many other Germanic peoples living outside of Roman borders, causing many others to flee into Roman territory; the Huns under their King Attila made frequent and devastating raids into the Eastern Roman Empire. In 451, the Huns invaded the Western Roman province of Gaul, where they fought a combined army of Romans and Visigoths at the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields, in 452 they invaded Italy. After Attila's death in 453, the Huns ceased to be a major threat to Rome and lost much of their empire following the Battle of Nedao. Descendants of the Huns, or successors with similar names, are recorded by neighbouring populations to the south and west as having occupied parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia from about the 4th to 6th centuries.
Variants of the Hun name are recorded in the Caucasus until the early 8th century. In the 18th century, the French scholar Joseph de Guignes became the first to propose a link between the Huns and the Xiongnu people, who were northern neighbours of China in the 3rd century BC. Since Guignes' time, considerable scholarly effort has been devoted to investigating such a connection; the issue remains controversial. Their relationships to other peoples known collectively as the Iranian Huns are disputed. Little is known about Hunnic culture and few archaeological remains have been conclusively associated with the Huns, they are believed to have used bronze cauldrons and to have performed artificial cranial deformation. No description exists of the Hunnic religion of the time of Attila, but practices such as divination are attested, the existence of shamans likely, it is known that the Huns had a language of their own, however only three words and personal names attest to it. Economically, they are known to have practiced a form of nomadic pastoralism.
They do not seem to have had a unified government when they entered Europe, but rather to have developed a unified tribal leadership in the course of their wars with the Romans. The Huns ruled over a variety of peoples, who spoke various languages and some of whom maintained their own rulers, their main military technique was mounted archery. The Huns may have stimulated the Great Migration, a contributing factor in the collapse of the Western Roman Empire; the memory of the Huns lived on in various Christian saints' lives, where the Huns play the roles of antagonists, as well as in Germanic heroic legend, where the Huns are variously antagonists or allies to the Germanic main figures. In Hungary, a legend developed based on medieval chronicles that the Hungarians, the Székely ethnic group in particular, are descended from the Huns. However, mainstream scholarship dismisses a close connection between the Huns. Modern culture associates the Huns with extreme cruelty and barbarism; the origins of the Huns and their links to other steppe people remain uncertain: scholars agree that they originated in Central Asia but disagree on the specifics of their origins.
Classical sources assert that they appeared in Europe around 370. Most Roman writers' attempts to elucidate the origins of the Huns equated them with earlier steppe peoples. Roman writers repeated a tale that the Huns had entered the domain of the Goths while they were pursuing a wild stag, or else one of their cows that had gotten loose, across the Kerch Strait into Crimea. Discovering the land good, they attacked the Goths. Jordanes' Getica relates that the Goths held the Huns to be offspring of "unclean spirits" and Gothic witches. Since Joseph de Guignes in the 18th century, modern historians have associated the Huns who appeared on the borders of Europe in the 4th century AD with the Xiongnu who had invaded China from the territory of present-day Mongolia between the 3rd century BC and the 2nd century AD. Due to the devastating defeat by the Chinese Han dynasty, the northern branch of the Xiongnu had retreated north-westward. Scholars discussed the relationship between the Xungnu, the Huns, a number of people in central Asia were known as or came to be identified with the name "Hun" or "Iranian Huns", the Chionites, the Kidarites, the Hephthalites being the most prominent.
Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen was the first to challenge the traditional approach, based on the study of written sources, to emphasize the importance of archaeological research. Since Maenchen-Helfen's work, the identification of the Xiongnu as the Huns' ancestors has become controversial. Additionally, several scholars have questioned the identification of the "Iranian Huns" with the European Huns. Walter Pohl cautions that none of the great confederations of steppe warriors was ethnically homogenous, the same name was used by different groups for reasons of prestige, or by outsiders to describe their lifestyle or geographic origin, it is therefore futile to speculate about identity or blood relationships between Hiung-nu, Attila's Huns, for instance. All we can safely say is that the name Huns, in
Jesus referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, is described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. All modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed although the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus. Jesus was a Galilean Jew, baptized by John the Baptist and began his own ministry, he preached orally and was referred to as "rabbi". Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers, he was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. After his death, his followers believed he rose from the dead, the community they formed became the early Church.
The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually on December 25th as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on his resurrection on Easter; the used calendar era "AD", from the Latin anno Domini, the equivalent alternative "CE", are based on the approximate birthdate of Jesus. Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Most Christians believe; the Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. A minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or as non-scriptural. Jesus figures in non-Christian religions and new religious movements.
In Islam, Jesus is considered one of the Messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was a bringer of scripture and was born of a virgin, but was not the son of God; the Quran states. Most Muslims do not believe that he was crucified, but that he was physically raised into Heaven by God. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill Messianic prophecies, was neither divine nor resurrected. A typical Jew in Jesus' time had only one name, sometimes followed by the phrase "son of <father's name>", or the individual's hometown. Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth". Jesus' neighbors in Nazareth refer to him as "the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon", "the carpenter's son", or "Joseph's son". In John, the disciple Philip refers to him as "Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth"; the name Jesus is derived from the Latin Iesus, a transliteration of the Greek Ἰησοῦς. The Greek form is a rendering of the Hebrew ישוע, a variant of the earlier name יהושע, or in English, "Joshua", meaning "Yah saves".
This was the name of Moses' successor and of a Jewish high priest. The name Yeshua appears to have been in use in Judea at the time of the birth of Jesus; the 1st-century works of historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote in Koine Greek, the same language as that of the New Testament, refer to at least twenty different people with the name Jesus. The etymology of Jesus' name in the context of the New Testament is given as "Yahweh is salvation". Since early Christianity, Christians have referred to Jesus as "Jesus Christ"; the word Christ was a office, not a given name. It derives from the Greek Χριστός, a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh meaning "anointed", is transliterated into English as "Messiah". In biblical Judaism, sacred oil was used to anoint certain exceptionally holy people and objects as part of their religious investiture. Christians of the time designated Jesus as "the Christ" because they believed him to be the Messiah, whose arrival is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament.
In postbiblical usage, Christ became viewed as a name—one part of "Jesus Christ". The term "Christian" has been in use since the 1st century; the four canonical gospels are the foremost sources for the message of Jesus. However, other parts of the New Testament include references to key episodes in his life, such as the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23. Acts of the Apostles refers to the early ministry of its anticipation by John the Baptist. Acts 1:1 -- 11 says more about the Ascension of Jesus. In the undisputed Pauline letters, which were written earlier than the gospels, the words or instructions of Jesus are cited several times; some early Christian groups had separate descriptions of the life and teachings of Jesus that are not included in the New Testament. These include the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel
The Vandals were a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes that first appear in history inhabiting present-day southern Poland. Some moved in large numbers, including most notably the group which successively established kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa in the 5th century; the traditional view has been that the Vandals migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula rivers during the 2nd century BC and settled in Silesia from around 120 BC. They are associated with the Przeworsk culture and were the same people as the Lugii. Expanding into Dacia during the Marcomannic Wars and to Pannonia during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Vandals were confined to Pannonia by the Goths around 330 AD, where they received permission to settle from Constantine the Great. Around 400, raids by the Huns forced many Germanic tribes to migrate into the territory of the Roman Empire, fearing that they might be targeted next the Vandals were pushed westwards, crossing the Rhine into Gaul along with other tribes in 406.
In 409 the Vandals crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, where their main groups, the Hasdingi and the Silingi, settled in Gallaecia and Baetica respectively. After the Visigoths invaded Iberia in 418, the Iranian Alans and Silingi Vandals voluntarily subjected themselves to the rule of Hasdingian leader Gunderic, pushed from Gallaecia to Baetica by a Roman-Suebi coalition in 419. In 429, under king Genseric, the Vandals entered North Africa. By 439 they established a kingdom which included the Roman province of Africa as well as Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands, they fended off several Roman attempts to recapture the African province, sacked the city of Rome in 455. Their kingdom collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–4, in which Emperor Justinian I's forces reconquered the province for the Eastern Roman Empire. Renaissance and early-modern writers characterized the Vandals as barbarians, "sacking and looting" Rome; this led to the use of the term "vandalism" to describe any pointless destruction the "barbarian" defacing of artwork.
However, modern historians tend to regard the Vandals during the transitional period from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages as perpetuators, not destroyers, of Roman culture. The name of the Vandals has been connected to that of Vendel, the name of a province in Uppland, eponymous of the Vendel Period of Swedish prehistory, corresponding to the late Germanic Iron Age leading up to the Viking Age; the connection would be that Vendel is the original homeland of the Vandals prior to the Migration Period, retains their tribal name as a toponym. Further possible homelands of the Vandals in Scandinavia are Vendsyssel in Denmark and Hallingdal in Norway; the etymology of the name may be related to a Germanic verb *wand- "to wander". The Germanic mythological figure of Aurvandil "shining wanderer. R. Much has forwarded the theory that the tribal name Vandal reflects worship of Aurvandil or "the Dioscuri" involving an origin myth that the Vandalic kings were descended from Aurvandil; some medieval authors applied the ethnonym "Vandals" to Slavs: Veneti, Lusatians or Poles.
It was once thought that the Slovenes were the descendants of the Vandals, but this is not the view of modern scholars. Both Jordanes in his Getica and the Gotlandic Gutasaga tell that the Goths and Vandals migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula prior to the 2nd century BC, settled in Silesia from around 120 BC; the earliest mention of the Vandals is from Pliny the Elder, who used the term Vandilii in a broad way to define one of the major groupings of all Germanic peoples. Tribes within this category who he mentions are the Burgundiones, Varini and the Gutones. According to the Gallaecian Christian priest and theologian Paulus Orosius, the Vandals, who lived in Scoringa, near Stockholm, were of the same stock as the Suiones and the Goths; the Vandals are associated with the Przeworsk culture, but the culture extended over several eastern European peoples. Their origin and linguistic affiliation are debated; the bearers of the Przeworsk culture practiced cremation and inhumation.
The Lugii are identified by modern historians as the same people as the Vandals. The Lugii are mentioned by Strabo and Ptolemy as a large group of tribes between the Vistula and the Oder. None of those authors mentions the Vandals, while Pliny the Elder mentions the Vandals but not the Lugii. According to John Anderson, the "Lugii and Vandili are designations of the same tribal group, the latter an extended ethnic name, the former a cult-title." Herwig Wolfram notes that "In all likelihood the Lugians and the Vandals were one cultic community that lived in the same region of the Oder in Silesia, where it was first under Celtic and under Germanic domination." By the end of the 2nd century, the Vandals were divided in two main tribal groups, the Silingi and the Hasdingi, with the Silingi being associated with Silesia and the Hasdingi living in the Sudetes. Around the mid 2nd century AD, there was a significant migration by Germanic tribes of Scandinavian origin towards the south-east, creating turmoil along the entire Roman frontier.
The 6th century Byzantine historian Procopius noted that the Goths and Vandals were ph
Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome, it was an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture"; the Hagia Sophia construction consists of masonry. The structure is composed of mortar joints that are 1.5 times the width of the bricks. The mortar joints are composed of a combination of sand and minute ceramic pieces displaced evenly throughout the mortar joints; this combination of sand and ceramic pieces could be considered to be the equivalent of modern concrete at the time. From the date of its construction's completion in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire.
The building was converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935, it remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the prior one having been destroyed by rioters in the Nika Revolt, it was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Anthemius of Tralles. The church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December, the commemoration of the birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Although sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia, sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom, its full name in Greek is Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας, Naos tēs Hagias tou Theou Sophias, "Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God".
The church contained a large collection of relics and featured, among other things, a 15-metre silver iconostasis. The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius communicated by Humbert of Silva Candida, the papal envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act, considered the start of the East–West Schism. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed the Conqueror, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. Although some parts of the city of Constantinople were falling into disrepair, the cathedral was maintained with an amount of money set aside for this purpose; the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers and they decided to convert it into a mosque. The bells, altar and other relics were destroyed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints, angels were destroyed or plastered over.
Islamic features – such as the mihrab and four minarets – were added. It remained a mosque until 1931, it was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia was, as of 2014, the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting 3.3 million visitors annually. According to data released by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, Hagia Sophia was Turkey's most visited tourist attraction in 2015. From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul; the Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the aforementioned mosque, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex. On 24 March 2019, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the Hagia Sophia is to be reverted to a mosque; the first church on the site was known as the Μεγάλη Ἐκκλησία, or in Latin Magna Ecclesia, because of its larger dimensions in comparison to the contemporary churches in the City.
Inaugurated on 15 February 360 by the Arian bishop Eudoxius of Antioch, it was built next to the area where the imperial palace was being developed. The nearby Hagia Eirene church was completed earlier and served as cathedral until the Great Church was completed. Both churches acted together as the principal churches of the Byzantine Empire. Writing in 440, Socrates of Constantinople claimed that the church was built by Constantius II, working on it in 346. A tradition, not older than the 7th or 8th century, reports that the edifice was built by Constantine the Great. Zonaras reconciles the two opinions, writing that Constantius had repaired the edifice consecrated by Eusebius of Nicomedia, after it had collapsed. Since Eusebius was bishop of Constantinople from 339 to 341, Constantine died in 337, it seems possible that the first church was erected by the latter; the edifice was built as a traditional Latin colonnaded basilica with a wooden roof. It was preceded by an atrium, it was claimed to be one of the world's most outstanding monuments at the time.
The Patriarch of Constantinople John
Justinian I, traditionally known as Justinian the Great and Saint Justinian the Great in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Later Roman empire, his reign is marked by the ambitious but only realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire"; because of his restoration activities, Justinian has sometimes been known as the "last Roman" in mid 20th century historiography. This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct Western Roman Empire, his general, swiftly conquered the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa. Subsequently, Belisarius and other generals conquered the Ostrogothic kingdom, restoring Dalmatia, Sicily and Rome to the empire after more than half a century of rule by the Ostrogoths; the prefect Liberius reclaimed the south of the Iberian peninsula, establishing the province of Spania.
These campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean, increasing the Empire's annual revenue by over a million solidi. During his reign, Justinian subdued the Tzani, a people on the east coast of the Black Sea that had never been under Roman rule before, he engaged the Sasanian Empire in the east during Kavad I's reign, again during Khosrow I's. A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, still the basis of civil law in many modern states, his reign marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, his building program yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia. Justinian was born in Tauresium, around 482. A native speaker of Latin, he came from a peasant family believed to have been of Illyro-Roman or Thraco-Roman origins; the cognomen Iustinianus, which he took is indicative of adoption by his uncle Justin. During his reign, he founded Justiniana Prima not far from his birthplace, which today is in South East Serbia.
His mother was the sister of Justin. Justin, in the imperial guard before he became emperor, adopted Justinian, brought him to Constantinople, ensured the boy's education; as a result, Justinian was well educated in jurisprudence and Roman history. Justinian served for some time with the Excubitors but the details of his early career are unknown. Chronicler John Malalas, who lived during the reign of Justinian, tells of his appearance that he was short, fair skinned, curly haired, round faced and handsome. Another contemporary chronicler, compares Justinian's appearance to that of tyrannical Emperor Domitian, although this is slander; when Emperor Anastasius died in 518, Justin was proclaimed the new emperor, with significant help from Justinian. During Justin's reign, Justinian was the emperor's close confidant. Justinian showed much ambition, it has been thought that he was functioning as virtual regent long before Justin made him associate emperor on 1 April 527, although there is no conclusive evidence of this.
As Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the de facto ruler. Justinian was appointed consul in 521 and commander of the army of the east. Upon Justin's death on 1 August 527, Justinian became the sole sovereign; as a ruler, Justinian showed great energy. He was known as "the emperor" on account of his work habits, he seems to have been amiable and easy to approach. Around 525, he married Theodora, in Constantinople, she was by some twenty years his junior. In earlier times, Justinian could not have married her owing to her class, but his uncle, Emperor Justin I, had passed a law allowing intermarriage between social classes. Theodora would become influential in the politics of the Empire, emperors would follow Justinian's precedent in marrying outside the aristocratic class; the marriage caused a scandal, but Theodora would prove to be a shrewd judge of character and Justinian's greatest supporter. Other talented individuals included his legal adviser. Justinian's rule was not universally popular.
Justinian recovered. Theodora died in 548 at a young age of cancer. Justinian, who had always had a keen interest in theological matters and participated in debates on Christian doctrine, became more devoted to religion during the years of his life; when he died on 14 November 565, he left no children, though his wife Theodora had given birth to a stillborn son several years into his reign. He was succeeded by Justin II, the son of his sister Vigilantia and married to Sophia, the niece of Empress Theodora. Justinian's body was entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the Church of the
Gothic War (535–554)
The Gothic War between the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Emperor Justinian I and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy took place from 535 until 554 in the Italian peninsula, Sardinia and Corsica. The war had its roots in the ambition of the East Roman Emperor Justinian I to recover the provinces of the former Western Roman Empire, which the Romans had lost to invading barbarian tribes in the previous century; the war followed the Byzantine reconquest of the province of Africa from the Vandals. Historians divide the war into two phases: From 535 to 540: ending with the fall of the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna and the apparent reconquest of Italy by the Byzantines. From 540/541 to 553: a Gothic revival under Totila, suppressed only after a long struggle by the Byzantine general Narses, who repelled an invasion in 554 by the Franks and Alamanni. In 554 Justinian promulgated the Pragmatic sanction. Several cities in northern Italy held out against the Byzantines until 562. By the end of the war Italy had been depopulated.
The Byzantines found themselves incapable of resisting an invasion by the Lombards in 568, which resulted in Constantinople permanently losing control over large parts of the Italian peninsula. In 476 Odoacer deposed Emperor Romulus Augustulus and declared himself rex Italiae, resulting in the final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in Italy. Although Odoacer recognised the nominal suzerainty of the Eastern Emperor, his independent policies and increasing strength made him a threat in the eyes of Constantinople. To provide a buffer, the Ostrogoths, under their leader, Theodoric the Great, were settled as foederati of the Empire in the western Balkans, but unrest continued. Zeno sent the Ostrogoths to Italy as the representatives of the Empire to remove Odoacer. Theodoric and the Goths defeated Italy came under Gothic rule. In the arrangement between Theodoric and Zeno, his successor Anastasius, the land and its people were regarded as part of the Empire, with Theodoric a viceroy and head of the army.
This arrangement was scrupulously observed by Theodoric. The army, on the other hand, was Gothic, under the authority of their chiefs and courts; the peoples were divided by religion: the Romans were Chalcedonian Christian, while the Goths were Arian Christians. Unlike the Vandals or the early Visigoths the Goths practised considerable religious tolerance; the dual system worked under the capable leadership of Theodoric, who conciliated the Roman aristocracy, but the system began to break down during his years and collapsed under his heirs. With the ascension of Emperor Justin I, the end of the Acacian schism between the Eastern and Western Churches, the return of ecclesiastical unity within the East, several members of the Italian senatorial aristocracy began to favour closer ties to Constantinople to balance Gothic power; the deposition and execution of the distinguished magister officiorum Boethius and his father-in-law in 524 was part of the slow estrangement of their caste from the Gothic regime.
Theodoric was succeeded by his infant grandson Athalaric in August 526, with his mother, Amalasuntha, as regent. This conciliation and Athalaric's Roman education displeased Gothic magnates, who plotted against her. Amalasuntha had three of the leading conspirators killed and wrote to the new Emperor, Justinian I, asking for sanctuary if she was deposed. Amalasuntha remained in Italy. In 533, using a dynastic dispute as a pretext, Justinian had sent his most talented general, Belisarius, to recover the North African provinces held by the Vandals; the Vandalic War produced an unexpectedly swift and decisive victory for the Roman Empire and encouraged Justinian in his ambition to recover the rest of the lost western provinces. As Regent, Amalasuntha had allowed the Roman fleet to use the harbours of Sicily, which belonged to the Ostrogothic Kingdom. After her son's death in 534, Amalasuntha offered the kingship to her cousin Theodahad. Through his agents, Justinian tried to save Amalasuntha's life but to no avail and her death gave him a casus belli to go to war with the Goths.
Procopius wrote that "as soon as he learned what had happened to Amalasuntha, being in the ninth year of his reign, he entered upon war". Belisarius was appointed commander in chief for the expedition against Italy with 7,500 men. Mundus, the magister militum per Illyricum, was ordered to occupy the Gothic province of Dalmatia; the forces made available to Belisarius were small when compared to the much larger army he had fielded against the Vandals, an enemy much weaker than the Ostrogoths. The preparations for the operation were carried out in secret, while Justinian tried to secure the neutrality of the Franks by gifts of gold. Belisarius landed at Sicily, between Roman Africa and Italy, whose population was well disposed toward the Empire; the island was captured, with the only determined resistance, at Panormus, overcome by late December. Belisarius prepared to cross to Italy and Theodahad sent envoys to Justinian, proposing at first to cede Sicily and recognise his overlordship but to cede all of Italy.
In March 536 Mundus overran Dalmatia and captured its capital, but a large Gothic army arrived and Mundus' son Mauricius died in a skirmish. Mundus was himself mortally wounded in the pursuit; the R
Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it is colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of". Central Asia has a population of about 72 million, consisting of five republics: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, a part of South Asia, is sometimes included in Central Asia. Central Asia has been tied to its nomadic peoples and the Silk Road, it has acted as a crossroads for the movement of people and ideas between Europe, Western Asia, South Asia, East Asia. The Silk Road connected Muslim lands with the people of Europe and China; this crossroads position has intensified the conflict between tribalism and traditionalism and modernization. In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Central Asia was predominantly Iranian, populated by Eastern Iranian-speaking Bactrians, Sogdians and the semi-nomadic Scythians and Dahae.
After expansion by Turkic peoples, Central Asia became the homeland for the Kazakhs, Tatars, Turkmen and Uyghurs. From the mid-19th century until the end of the 20th century, most of Central Asia was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, both Slavic-majority countries, the five former Soviet "-stans" are still home to about 7 million ethnic Russians and 500,000 Ukrainians; the idea of Central Asia as a distinct region of the world was introduced in 1843 by the geographer Alexander von Humboldt. The borders of Central Asia are subject to multiple definitions. Built political geography and geoculture are two significant parameters used in the scholarly literature about the definitions of the Central Asia; the most limited definition was the official one of the Soviet Union, which defined Middle Asia as consisting of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, hence omitting Kazakhstan. This definition was often used outside the USSR during this period. However, the Russian culture has two distinct terms: Средняя Азия and Центральная Азия.
Soon after independence, the leaders of the four former Soviet Central Asian Republics met in Tashkent and declared that the definition of Central Asia should include Kazakhstan as well as the original four included by the Soviets. Since this has become the most common definition of Central Asia; the UNESCO History of the Civilizations of Central Asia, published in 1992, defines the region as "Afghanistan, northeastern Iran and central Pakistan, northern India, western China and the former Soviet Central Asian republics."An alternative method is to define the region based on ethnicity, in particular, areas populated by Eastern Turkic, Eastern Iranian, or Mongolian peoples. These areas include Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Turkic regions of southern Siberia, the five republics, Afghan Turkestan. Afghanistan as a whole, the northern and western areas of Pakistan and the Kashmir Valley of India may be included; the Tibetans and Ladakhi are included. Insofar, most of the mentioned peoples are considered the "indigenous" peoples of the vast region.
Central Asia is sometimes referred to as Turkestan. There are several places that claim to be the geographic center of Asia, for example Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva in the Russian Federation, a village 200 miles north of Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region of China. Central Asia is an large region of varied geography, including high passes and mountains, vast deserts, treeless, grassy steppes; the vast steppe areas of Central Asia are considered together with the steppes of Eastern Europe as a homogeneous geographical zone known as the Eurasian Steppe. Much of the land of Central Asia is too rugged for farming; the Gobi desert extends from the foot of the Pamirs, 77° E, to the Great Khingan Mountains, 116°–118° E. Central Asia has the following geographic extremes: The world's northernmost desert, at Buurug Deliin Els, Mongolia, 50°18' N; the Northern Hemisphere's southernmost permafrost, at Erdenetsogt sum, Mongolia, 46°17' N. The world's shortest distance between non-frozen desert and permafrost: 770 km.
The Eurasian pole of inaccessibility. A majority of the people earn a living by herding livestock. Industrial activity centers in the region's cities. Major rivers of the region include the Amu Darya, the Syr Darya, the Hari River and the Murghab River. Major bodies of water include the Aral Sea and Lake Balkhash, both of which are part of the huge west-central Asian endorheic basin that includes the Caspian Sea. Both of these bodies of water have shrunk in recent decades due to diversion of water from rivers that feed them for irrigation and industrial purposes. Water is an valuable resource in arid Central Asia and can lead to rather significant international disputes. Central Asia is bounded on the north by the forests of Siberia; the northern half of Cent