Map of Central Asia - Turkic Expansion AD 300-600
Turkic origins are hard to pin down precisely, but the region around the Altai Mountains would seem to have served as a general incubator during their development, probably in the millennium prior to their appearances from the fourth century onwards.
This would have allowed them - potentially - to pick up a proto-Mongol or Tungusic influence while also leaving then extremely open to the heavy Indo-Iranian influences that can be seen in their personal and tribal names.
Next to them, and on the northern edges of the civilised zone of eastern Iran, was the probable incubator zone for the proto-Bulgaro-Turks. This group, even more heavily influenced by Indo-Iranians, included Onogur-Bulgars and the many other tribes that could be found on the Pontic steppe in the seventh century AD, plus it almost certainly included the Kidarites who would lead the nearby Hephthalites down into eastern Iran to conquer much of it.
The origins of the Göktürks, sometimes acclaimed as being the first true Turks, lies in their presence as the Ashina tribe in eastern Gansu in AD 439. This is easily reached from the Turkic incubator zone via a corridor which was under Sui dynasty control by the seventh century. The Ashina were forced to return the way they had probably come so that, by AD 508 they could be found around Gaochang and under Rouran khaganate control. They would overthrow the Rouran in AD 552 to create an empire.
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