White Huns in Herat

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Hephthalite Coin
5th Century AD Hephthalite coin of King Lakhana

The Hephthalites were a Central Asian nomadic confederation of the AD 5th-6th centuries whose precise origins and composition remain obscure. According to Chinese chronicles, they were originally a tribe living to the north of the Great Wall and were known as Hoa or Hoa-tun. Elsewhere they were called White Huns.

Hephthalite Coin 2
5th Century AD Hephthalite rider

The Encyclopedia Iranica paints a very pleasant picture of these extinct wanderers.

Procopius claims that the Hephthalites live in a prosperous territory, are the only Huns with fair complexions, do not live as nomads, acknowledge a single king, observe a well-regulated constitution, and behave justly towards neighboring states.

At the summit of their power around 550 AD, the Hephthalites ruled a roughly triangular empire extending over most of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan.

Hephthalite Empire

In the gravitational center of these domains, the Hephthalites successfully defended the territory of Herat Province, “the breadbasket of Central Asia,” against all comers, including the Persian Sassanids and the Gupta Dynasty in India, for about 200 years.

Today nothing at all remains of them except a handful of silver coins.



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