(White Huns), an association of tribes in the fifth and sixth centuries that formed a state in what is now Middle Asia, Afghanistan, northwestern India, and part of eastern Turkestan.
The best-substantiated theory of the Ephthalites’ origin is that they belonged to the eastern Iranian tribes, although they may have included other ethnic groups as well. A number of researchers contend that the Ephthalites’ principal territories were To-kharistan and eastern Afghanistan. The nucleus of the Ephthalite association apparently comprised warlike nomadic tribes that came under the influence of a settled urban culture.
Beginning in the early fifth century the Ephthalites warred against the Sassanids, who were forced to pay them a tribute. In 460 they began a series of campaigns in the western part of northern India. The Ephthalite association disintegrated under attacks by Indian, Sassanid, and Turkic rulers that took place in India in the 530’s and in Middle Asia and Afghanistan in the 560’s.