The historical role of the Eurasian originated peoples in shaping todays world is well attested in historiography. Though there have been other people of such as Finno-Ugric, Mongolic and Iranic origin in the region (Inner Asia and Eastern Europe in narrower sense), a bulk of Eurasian settlers, or wanderers, were of Turkish stock throughout history. Besides their abundance, the very mobile life forced by the steppe conditions led Turks to be hyperactive not only in this vast region and its surroundings, but also in almost all parts of the Old World.
Following the old cultures of Inner Asia namely, Anav, Afanesevo, Tagar, Tashtyk, etc, there emerges the Saka/Scyth world. After the cloudy days of Sakas/Scyths, a well-known episode of Turk history began with Huns (Xiongnu) in the last quarter of the III. Century B.C. Long-lasting quarrels between Huns and the Chinese led to construction of the Chinese Wall at the beginning of the known period, which points to the great age of the tradition: Huns were in relations with the Chinese at least from the VII. Century B.C. on. Many scholars believe in a Turkish origin for the Chou dynasty (1027-256 B.C.) of China. After the Great Hun state in the East collapsed in the II. Century C.E., a great Hunnic mass moved west to establish the European Hun Empire in the IV. and V. Centuries, and another mass turned to the southwest and founded the White Hun (Chionite) state, which survived until the Göktürk conquest (556-557).
Although antique Mediterranean sources recorded some ethnonyms north of the Black Sea and the Caucasus that resemble or bring to mind the word Turk Göktürk Empire is known as the first political formation using Turk in its name. Based on Hunnic tradition, the Göktürk state marked a certain period in the world history between VI. And VIII. Centuries. This huge empire provided spread of the word Turk to all tribes speaking the same language from the Black Sea coasts to the borderlands of todays Manchuria, thus serving the rise of a preliminary national consciousness among Turks. The Göktürk state became also model for almost all later Turkish, and even Mongol states up to the modern times. What is more, rulers of many Turkish states, successors of the Göktürks, descended from the Ashina dynasty, founder and rulers of the Göktürk Empire.
The Socio-political structure and traditions of the steppe, created by the conditions of the geography provided very rapid rise of states, sometimes from a clan to a worldwide empire, but did not help them live long. Two main facts are determinant in this issue: That the country and all conquest lands were shared among members of the dynasty, and that state was indeed a tribal union. That is, if any tribe rebelled or successes, territorial integrity of the state was deeply depressed. And, massive secession of tribes means sudden collapse of huge empires. The Göktürk state also declined in such a way: Member tribes simultaneously rebelled and the Ashina dynasty lost all control.
The Göktürk state was succeeded by two important formations: In the east, todays Mongolia, Uygur Turks seized control over the region and tribes (744) and set up a great state in the north of China. In the west, south Siberia, Turkish tribes and other people were united around the Kimek tribe, and formed a khaganate. Later Kuman/Kipchaks originated within this structure. The Uygur khaganate was the latest great Turkish state in the east of Inner Asia. After a century, it faced the same fate as the Göktürks, and was destroyed by another Turkish tribe, the Kyrgyz, who could not set a successive state and, moreover, had to leave Mongolia as the latest Turkish group. Dispersed Uygurs migrated to what is today Eastern Turkestan, where they adopted sedentary life, as well as Buddhism as their new religion. This migration also gave birth to a brilliant Turkish sedentary civilization in the oases of Eastern Turkestan, based on mainly usage of paper and pen. With their literary capacity, Uygurs served later the Chingissid Turko-Mongol Empire, being backbone of its bureaucracy. The Uygurs literary production continued after they converted to Islam. That their country was on the Great Silk Road contributed also to their civilization rise.
After the Uygurs, Inner Asian Turks usually remained stateless, except newly rising Turko-Islamic states. In the west, the situation was divertive. After the Huns, who conquered most of Europe, and who caused the shapening of modern Europe by starting Wölkerwanderung, the Great Migration, Ogur-Bulgar Turks became lords of Eastern Europe. Todays Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Tatarstan and Chuvashia, as well as some component of ethno genesis of Karachay-Balkar Turks are their remnants. Bulgars Turks were in the course of time assimilated by crowded Slavic and Ugric communities, on which they ruled, or by other, mainly Kipchak Turks. Only Chuvashes are to be their direct grandsons.
Avars ruled on Central Europe between the years 558 and 895. They came from Central Asia by fleeing Göktürks, and are supposed to be part of Mongolic Juan-Juans, who dominated Inner Asia before Göktürks. But all traces they left us point to their Turkishness, and no Mongolic figure concerning them has yet been found. When the Ashina family lost power, the westernmost provinces of Göktürk empire turned to be Khazar state, which by the end of the X. century kept their state on the north and northwest of the Caspian Sea, being intermediary between civilizations and especially trade centers.
After the collapse of Göktürks, many Turkish tribes started to move to Europe. Pecheneks are the first in this wave. They came to Europe to escape Oguz pressure, who had been themselves suppressed by Kipchaks. These three Turkish groups came to Europe following each other, but failed in setting their states. After making Byzantium, Hungary and the Rus busy with their indefinite raid and plunders between IX. and XII. centuries, they dramatically ceased to exist. Some of them was assimilated among East European peoples, some joined to ethno genesis of other Turks like the Crimean Tatars, Nogays and Balkanic Ottoman Turks, and some kept their identity up to now being non-Muslim Turks, like the Gagauz, Karaims and Kirimchaks.
Ancient Turks very active life meant an intensive interaction with those contacted, and this led to many influences and changes in the cultures of the both sides. But different Turks always had common peculiarities, outlines of which determined Turkish identity. This is thanks to their establishment of a unique civilization, which is mostly and unjustly called nomadic steppe civilization. Steppe conditions did not permit them to build masterpieces, but they developed a very rich folk culture, applied art, and especially worldview, comparable to the most advanced civilizations. State organization especially was at a high level among Turks and they taught many nations of the Old Continent about social and political institutionalization, which is an indicator of a high culture. We can find its reflections in many places and areas. Very scarce sources remaining from ancient times provide necessary proof about the material culture of ancient Turks, however, further archaeological research would help to discover the many unknowns of this civilization