There were two types of [Japanese] armor: the solid iron cuirass (tankō) and lamellar armor (keikō). The former may have been introduced from Southeast Asia and is seen on many clay figurines of sixth-century [C.E.] fighters. Although it was composed of separate pieces of metal fastened together by leather or bolts, the cuirass permitted little freedom of movement, and lost its popularity after the year 400 [C.E.].
Lamellar armor was of Northeast Asian origin and was the accepted battle wear after 500 [C.E.] because it was lighter than the cuirass and allowed greater mobility. It was especially well-suited for mounted warfare. About 800 pieces of iron went into each suit….
The history of the Maya is shrouded in the mists of antiquity…. We know that they were the inheritors of the spiritual traditions of the first Asiatic hunters who crossed the ancient land bridge from Asia into Alaska and then made their way through this uninhabited hemisphere to the tip of South America. The possibility of sea crossings from Asia becomes more and more likely too as archaeologists and anthropologists gain new respect for the seafaring capacities of ancient peoples.
We don’t know when these people first set foot in what was then a truly new world for human beings, but there are sites in South America that could date back over fifty thousand years. We do know that the first [Native Americans] brought with them from their Asian homeland important aspects of their spiritualities: shamanism; ancestor worship; a belief in the quadrated nature of the universe with a vertical fifth dimension at its center; the idea that various levels of spiritual reality exist above and below the earth; the conviction that jade, flint, and pyrite crystals could be used to communicate with the spirits; the tradition of ecstatic trancing to open the Otherworld and release its deadly and life-bearing energies; the practice of human sacrifice; and an unshakable belief in the survival of the soul after death.
— The Shaman’s Secret, pp. 7-9
The steppe horse should probably be considered a pony rather than a horse, and the distinction between pony and horse is recognized by horsemen today, even if that distinction is not precise. Ponies are generally smaller than horses, usually no more than fourteen hands high, and in the common view this is their principal distinction. However, there are other equally significant differences between ponies and horses, and these are important in considering the effectiveness and threat posed by the steppe peoples who rode them.
Ponies are tough, often stockier than horses, and surprisingly strong. Some modern ponies, such as the halflinger, while not as tall as a horse, may be as heavy. As a rule their proportions are different—their legs may be relatively shorter and thicker and their heads proportionately larger. Their manes and tails are often longer and their hair more coarse. Their generally smaller size may account for the fact that they live longer than horses and require less food, and food of lesser quality. All of these factors, along with some Paleolithic evidence, suggested to a Scottish scientist at the turn of the century that ponies and horses were distinct “races” in ancient times and that size alone might be a rather arbitrary distinction. Clearly the two are very close and are often interbred, but the question of their lineage is not so much a concern here as are the pony’s excellent qualities of strength, stamina and ability to subsist on little food. All of this was well known in antiquity. In the fifth century the Roman author Vegetius wrote of Hun horses that they were ugly and small, but rated them as best for warfare because of their toughness and obedience.
Armies that were fed from an agricultural surplus and limited in range of maneuver by their pace and endurance on foot simply could not undertake free-ranging campaigns of conquest. Nor did they need to; enemies similarly constrained could threaten them with defeat in battle but not by Blitzkrieg. The horse people were different. Attila had shown an ability to shift his strategic center of effort between fronts 500 miles or more apart. No such strategic maneuver had been attempted or had been possible before. Freedom of action on this scale lay at the heart of the ‘cavalry revolution.’
The horse people fought unconstrained in another sense. They did not seek to inherit or adapt to the half-understood civilizations they invaded. Nor did they seek to supplant others’ political authority with their own. They were warriors for war’s sake, for the loot it brought, the risks, the thrills, the animal satisfactions of triumph; all the spoils with strings.