In various times Mongols have been equated with the Scythians, the Magog and the Turkic peoples. Based on Chinese historical texts the ancestry of the Mongol peoples can be traced back to the Donghu, a nomadic confederation occupying eastern Mongolia and Manchuria. The identity of the Xiongnu is still debated today. Although some scholars maintain that they were proto-Mongols, the fact that Chinese histories trace certain Turkic tribes from the Xiongnu complicates the issue. The Donghu, however, can be much more easily labeled proto-Mongol since the Chinese histories trace only Mongolic tribes and kingdoms (Xianbei and Wuhuan peoples) from them, although some historical texts claim a mixed Xiongnu-Donghu ancestry for some tribes (e.g. the Khitan).
The Donghu are mentioned by Sima Qian as already existing in Inner Mongolia north of the state of Yan in 699-632 BC. Mentions in the Lost Book of Zhou (Yizhoushu) and the Shanhaijing indicate the Donghu were also active during the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). The Mongolic-speaking Xianbei formed part of the Donghu confederation, but had earlier times of independence, as evidenced by a mention in the Guoyu ("晉語八" section) which states that during the reign of King Cheng of Zhou (reigned 1042–1021 BC) the Xianbei came to participate at a meeting of Zhou subject-lords at Qiyang (岐阳) (now Qishan County) but were only allowed to perform the fire ceremony under the supervision of Chu (楚), since they were not vassals by covenant (诸侯). The Xianbei chieftain was appointed joint guardian of the ritual torch along with Xiong Yi. These early Xianbei came from the nearby Zhukaigou culture (2200-1500BC) in the Ordos Desert where maternal DNA corresponds to Mongolic Daurs and Evenks (Tungusified Xianbei). The Zhukaigou Xianbei (part of the Ordos culture of Inner Mongolia and northern Shaanxi) had trade relations with the Shang dynasty (1600-1046BC). The Zhou clan lived near the Beidi (who included the Xianbei) for 14...
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