How would a generally colder climate effect the growth of horse-nomad cultures out of the Eurasian Steppe?

Could similar cultures have simply developed further south, or would it have put a hold on the series of horse nomad invasions that moved out from the Eurasian Steppes?

To set the scene - we are working off the following - Last glacial maximum came and went as normal something like 26000 years ago Warming continued as per our world until about 13000 years ago, when they slowed substantially but continued. Roughly four thousand years ago something akin to the Holocene climatic optimum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_climatic_optimum began; leading to land that was previously could not be cultivated opening up in Eurasia, causing rapid population growth.

This is largely based off the idea that steppe nomad people potentially domesticated the horse far earlier than other people.


  • original post -

My idea for a story takes place on an alternate earth, in which the last glacial period lasted into modern times. I'm given to understand aside from lower sea levels, differences in salinization would mean the moderating effects of ocean currents would be lessened. I'm going with the idea that most megafauna are still outcompeted by smaller animals/humans and most of them have died off, but there are still a few around. Mostly in the north.

Roughly 1500-1000 BCE global temperatures rose enough to open England to permanent habitation and Doggerland is still pretty much above sea level.

I imagine human civilization further south would have largely developed along similar paths to in our world, while anything north of the alps would be substantially different.

The Mediterranean would be smaller, only connecting to the Atlantic during recorded history. The Black Sea isn't connected yet.

My main interest is what would this have done to the cycle of steppe peoples periodically conquering their way out - I'm not super up on the history there except as it relates to European history.

But if anyone has any other general observances - the main time periods I'm concerned with would be our world equivalent of 1900-1920 - with the state of the planet being what it was around 6000 BCE, temperature wise, and I'm trying to work out the history that lead up to it.

Primary cultures are a Roman Empire that survived into modern times due to there being fewer barbarian migrations and a larger Italian heartland to hold onto - Sicily is still connected - and a British esque Kingdom that tamed a surviving mammoth population, that consequently broke and absorbed migrant waves instead of being subsumed by them.

Edit - this is more assuming the last glacial maximum came and went at the same time, however, it receded more slowly than in actual history.


closed as too broad by Mołot, sphennings, L.Dutch, Ash, Aify May 29 '18 at 18:04

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    $\begingroup$ This looks a bit broad. Entire history with your changes would be a book in its own right. Maybe narrow it down to elements important for your story? $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '18 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Yup, sorry, it kind of got buried in the middle there, but I'm mostly looking to how this would affect the human population of the Asiatic steppes and their cycle of spreading out to conquer from there. $\endgroup$ – Brizzy May 29 '18 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Then please edit your question to make it clearly visible, OK? The clearer your question is, the more relevant answers. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 29 '18 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ You are essentially putting a carriage before the horse here. Emergency of human civilization, including locations of cultures was defined by the receding ice age. $\endgroup$ – Alexander May 29 '18 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ You do understand that the Greeks came to Greece, and the Etruscans and Italics (including the Romans) came to Italy long after the Last Glacial Maximum ended? $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 29 '18 at 16:40

This is based on a false assumption. That assumption is that equatorial peoples would have "modernized" more-or-less at the same rate as our real Earth history. A valid assumption is that whatever was keeping humanity from advancing 1,000 years earlier than it did would still be in force and therefore no actual change would occur during your delay.

Therefore, it's far more likely that delaying the end of the ice age would have simply delayed all the migration and (very slow) technical innovation. In other words, if the ice age ended 1,000 years later than it did, we would be enjoying the technological1 year 1,018 today.

1By "technological year" I mean "the equivalent year in terms of humanity's technololgical and intellectual development." Water wheels were a big thing.


You ask a really big question, my first thought is that under an ice age climate scheme life is going to be a real scramble for everything but especially for humans, rainfall is thinner and less predictable most places and there are huge deserts of salt and dust at the continental margins. Loess is actively deposited during ice ages, blown off exposed shores, denuded soils and wide dried riverbeds, so areas like the Loess Plateau are dusty deserts rather than lush farmlands, the steppes are all either under glaciers or they're tundra/frozen deserts within sight of the edge of the northern ice sheet.

All-in-all there's not really going to be anyone living in the areas that have traditionally spawned migrant "barbarian" hordes. In fact there's not going to be many people living anywhere in Europe. What happens with Doggerland and in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins would be something of a wildcard, Doggerland was forested, for a while at least, from the findings I've seen from seafloor surveys there, but I'd guess that Europe as a whole could barely support population on the level of the Roman Empire using modern farming methods, and that population can't support modern technology so there's some major issues with this set up.

  • $\begingroup$ Yup, I'm definitely thinking that river based cultivation was huge. This is still the downslope of the glacial period, so Europe basically becoming habitable during semi-recorded history is kind of a big part of it. Due to those environmental factors Rome didn't expand North much at all, more into north Africa and the south Mediterranean. $\endgroup$ – Brizzy May 29 '18 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Brizzy Nowhere outside the Tropics can you dependably grow crops without pumping deep underground aquifers, with the possible exception of the Nile, none of the modern rivers of Eurasia or Africa would flow year-round. $\endgroup$ – Ash May 29 '18 at 18:27

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