Climatic Change

, Volume 149, Issue 3–4, pp 385–397 | Cite as

Climate extremes and the Eastern Turkic Empire in Central Asia

  • Rustam GanievEmail author
  • Vladimir Kukarskih


This article analyzes the effect of climate extremes on the historical processes that took place (AD 536, 581, 601, 626, and 679) in the Eastern Turkic Empire (ETE) (AD 534–745) in Central Asia. Climate extremes are sharp, strong, and sometimes protracted periods of cooling and drought that are related to volcanic eruptions that result in negative effects on the economy of a nomadic society, thus bringing famine and disease. In fact, many of these natural catastrophes were accompanied by plague pandemics among the Eastern Turks and the Chinese living in the north. The Turkic Empire can be split into several chronological periods during which significant events that changed the course of history of the nomadic state took place: AD 534–545—the rise of the Turkic Empire; AD 581–583—the division of the Turkic Empire into the Western and the Eastern Empires; AD 601–603—the rise of Qimin Qaghan; AD 627–630—the Eastern Turks are conquered by the Tang Dynasty; AD 679–687—the second rise of the Eastern Turkic Empire. The research shows that there is a connection between important historical events and climate extremes in the history of the Turkic Empire. This relationship makes it possible to present the thesis that climate did have an impact on the historical processes in the east of Central Asia, especially on the territories with a nomadic economy.



We would like to thank Dr. Dallas Abbott (New-York, USA) and Rashid Hantemirov (Yekaterinburg, Russia) for the helpful and constructive comments and suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History of the Institute of HumanitiesUral Federal UniversityYekaterinburgRussian Federation
  2. 2.UrFU Central Asia Research CentreYekaterinburgRussian Federation
  3. 3.Institute of Plant and Animal EcologyUral Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesYekaterinburgRussian Federation

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