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The early history of Kazakhstan is a shadowy procession of nomadic empires, most of whom swept into the region from the east and left few records. Recurring themes down the millennia include a great deal of large-scale slaughter and a contrast between Kazakhstan’s far south, which was within the ambit of the settled Silk Road civilisations of Transoxiana (between the Syr-Darya and Amu-Darya rivers), and the rest of the country, which remained the domain of nomadic horseback animal herders until the 20th century.