|The Avars, mysterious horse-riding warriors who helped hasten the end of the Roman Empire, dominated the plains between Vienna and Belgrade, Serbia, for more than 2 centuries. Then they vanished without a trace. The Avars left no written records. Grave goods and historical accounts of others suggest they dominated the plains of modern-day Hungary. Elites were buried in burial mounds, surrounded by weapons and finely decorated gold and silver vessels. They were often buried with horses. The earliest stirrups in Europe are from Avar graves.|
The first Avar burials were a near-identical match for an individual buried just a few decades earlier in eastern Mongolia. The first Avars in Europe probably made the journey of 7000 km themselves. After their arrival on the fringes of the Roman Empire, the Avars pushed into central Europe, along the Danube River between modern-day Vienna and Belgrade. They even lay siege to Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 623 C.E. They were defeated by Charlemagne. Their genetic signature soon dwindled to almost nothing in the regions they once ruled. The Avars faded into history and left only a mystery.