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Altai Discovery Team Altai Discovery Team

First data on Altaian population take root in the ancient times. Its history is closely connected with the history of Central Asia and its state formations. From the III-II centuries B.C. and up to the end of the Ist century A.D., the Altaian population experienced political influence of the Gunnes, who formed a powerful unit of hordes and tribes in the steppes of Northern Mongolia. From the IInd and up to the IVth centuries, Altai lived under the influence of Syanbiy tribes. From the end of the IVth century the Altaian tribes were subjugated by the Zhuzhans - the population of Eastern Mongolia and Western Manchuria - and were to pay tribute to them (by ironware).
With the downfall of the Zhuzhan supremacy in 552, there appears a new temporary military and administrative union in Central Asia - Turkic Kaganat with the center in Altai. But soon it is moved from Altai to Mongolia, to the valley of the river Orkhon. By the 70-ies the territory of the Kaganat expands and its boundaries reach the Amu-Darya in the west, the Caucasus and the Aral Sea in East Europe and the Big Khingan Ridge - in the east. The Kaganat supremacy extended widely - from China to the borders of Iran and Byzantine Empire. Sogdiana, as well as Bulgarian and Khazar tribes, at that time inhabiting the territory between the Volga and the Sea of Azov were subjected to the Kaganat. China and Byzantine Empire had to recognize its power. The situation, however, changed soon. Being exposed to civil strifes and attacks from without, in 588 the Kaganat broke up to form two parts - Western Kaganat with the center in Semirechye and Eastern Kaganat with the center in Mongolia. But the two parts did not exist for a long time. In 630 eastern Turks were enslaved by China, the same fate overtook their western kinsmen. However, the former did not resign themselves to the defeat. In 682 they stir up a rebellion under the guidance of Khan (Kagan) Ilteres (in Chinese - Gudulu), and freed themselves from the Chinese yoke. That was the way the Second Turkic Kaganat entered the scene and stayed there for 50 years.
But the constant confrontation with the Uigurs as well as interior feud undermined the state bases and in 745 it fell under the pressure of the Uigurs, who then assumed supremacy in the eastern part of Central Asia. Their rising is connected with the name of Khan Peilo. After he'd gained victory over the Turks, he moved his headquarters from the south to the north - to the territory between the Orkhon and the spurs of the Altai Mountains - and established close ties with China. Peilo's successors, having annexed the territories of Southern Siberia and others, made the Uigur Khanate o ne of the most powerful political formations to be reckoned with even by the Chinese, who time and again resorted to the assistance of their "Northern Neighbor" in order to settle their inner problems.
At the end of 80-ies - beginning of 90-ies, decline of Uigur supremacy finally took shape. It was conditioned by two reasons: inside discord and foreign invasions, mainly those of the Tibetans. Having become stronger, in 755 the latter assumed the offensive to the Uigurs. Natural calamities of the end of 30-ies contributed a lot to the decline of the Uigur Khanate. Final decline of the Khanate was predetermined by the defeat of 840 from the Yenisei Kyrgyzes. That was the moment their dominion in the eastern part of Central Asia gained a firm hold. The Kyrgyzes levied tribute from the dependent tribes, including the Altaian o nes; tribute consisted of pelts (squirrels and sables) and ironware.
But their supremacy did not last long. In the beginning of the Xth century it passed to the Kytais ("Kara-Kitais") or the Kidans. In the middle of their territories stretched up to Altai. The Altaians preserved a legend of that time. o ne of them narrates about subjugation of the Altaians by the Kytais and of taking-away of the former from Altai. Remains of the irrigation systems, ferry passages, preserved in various places of the region also remind of that epoch. By the end of the power of invaders abated and Mongolian-speaking tribes, called Naimans, entered the political scene of Central Asia. Naimans lived between the Khangai and the Altai Mountains and a part of them - in the spurs of the Altai Mountains. Altaian tribes, being under their influence, were to pay traditional tribute. The Mongols put an end to Naiman supremacy. In 1204 the former routed their rivals and gained influence over vast territories which western boundary stretched up to the Irtysh. Altaian population found itself "in the darkness of Noyon Khorchy" - an old fellow-fighter of Tchingiskhan. After his death in 1227, Mongolian Empire broke up to form two appanages. Altai was situated in "Ulus (Region) of Juchi" and stayed there up to the end of XIIIth century. In the beginning of XIV century, ulus of Juchi (who was Thingiskhan's elder son) broke up into two parts as a result of intestine wars. Altaian tribes became a part of White Horde and 100 years later (by XVth century) - after it broke down - a part of Siberian Khanate. 
By the middle of XVth century, as a result of feudal wars and political intrigues, the Altaian population fell under the influence of the western Mongols or the Oirats (the latter being also known under the name of "the Jungars", since 30-ies of XVIIIth century). Their supremacy lasted up to 1756, i.e. up to the time when the southern Altaians (the Altai-Kizhi, the Teleuts, the Telengits) became a part of Russia. Unlike the latter, the northern Altaians (the Kumandins, the Tubalars, the Tchelkans) took out Russian citizenship much earlier. By the end of XVIIth century over 100 of their "volosts, uluses and ails" were submitted to the Russian Tzar and paid yasak-tax to his treasury.
Inclusion of the Altaians to Russia protected them from foreign infringements, and even from being physically annihilated by the Tsin Army. This conditioned their further economic and cultural development o n a new basis. After gaining Russian protectorate, the Altaians as well as other peoples of Russia, struggled against the existing regime. Working people of Altai took part in the Revolution of 1905-1907, in February and October Revolutions. Soviet power was established in December, 1917. From 1922 up to 1947 the Republic was called Oirot Autonomous Oblast; from 1948 up to 1990 - Gorno-Altaisk Autonomous Oblast; o n July 3, 1991 the oblast was transformed to Gorno-Altaisk Republic of the Russian Federation; and o n May of 1992 it was renamed to the Altai Republic.

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