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Avars (äˈvärz) [key], mounted nomad people who in the 4th and 5th cent. dominated the steppes of central Asia. Dislodged by stronger tribes, the Avars pushed west, increasing their formidable army by incorporating conquered peoples into it. Reaching their greatest power in the late 6th cent., they plundered all of present S Russia and the Balkans. Their siege (626) of Constantinople was unsuccessful, but they continued to dominate the Hungarian plain until Charlemagne defeated them. The Avars were not mentioned after the 9th cent. It is doubtful that the modern Avars, a pastoral, Muslim people of the Dagestan Republic, are descended from the original Avars.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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