Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Steppes (9)

In general, the Early Slavs (500-700 AD) of central and eastern Europe were active only on the margins of the extensive grasslands of the steppes,extending from Hungary to Mongolia. but they interacted with people more at home here like the Avars and Bulgars.

From: 'Archaeology of the Eurasian Steppes and Mongolia' (Annual Review of Anthropology vol. 39).
The precise margins of the steppes in the area of interest here are difficult to define, merging as they do with the forest steppe on the northwest. They also varied with climate change in the centuries under consideration. I wanted to find a map which shows the steppes as extending into the Carpathian Basin which is how Huns, Avars and bulgars moving west ended up in the latter area:

Parts of the Ukrainian steppe which are now returning to nature
(Mott MacDonald)
The dominant vegetation consists of temperate lowland: herb-rich grass steppes, herb-grass steppes, grass steppes, and desert steppes. Where fragments of pristine grassland survive, in Ukraine for example, 800 plant species have been counted. In the 1950s, the Soviet Union turned most of the area into arable farming land, and only a small proportion (3-5% ) of the steppe area remained in its natural condition. Overploughing and grazing have resulted in severe erosion and degradation of the land.

Parts of the Ukrainian steppe which are now returning to nature
(Mott MacDonald)

Stone 'baba' (cult statue) in Ukrainian steppe grassland (Homutovo)

Ukrainian Steppe (Alex Goridko

Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve: the steppe  (Encyclopedia of the Ukraine).

The Black Sea Biosphere Reserve (Encyclopedia of the Ukraine).

Steppe in Zaporizhia oblast (Encyclopedia of the Ukraine).

Striletskyi Steppe (Encyclopedia of the Ukraine).

Mongolian steppe with yurts (Bruno Morandi -age fotostock/Imagestate)

See also: Biomes and Regions of Northern Eurasia: Steppe and Forest-steppe

Pontic steppe - Google map


  1. It would be interesting to see examples of the degredation of the steppes due to intensive farming

  2. It's so beautiful. Thank you for this.