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The Roman writer Priscus gives the following eyewitness description of Attila: "Short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with grey; and he had a flat nose and tanned skin, showing evidence of his origin." Kim argues that the composition of the Huns became progressively more "Caucasian" during their time in Europe; he notes that by the Battle of Chalons (451), "the vast majority" of Attila's entourage and troops appears to have been of European origin, while Attila himself seems to have had East Asian features.
At the same time, the Huns invaded the Sasanian Empire.
He also compares the name Massagetae, noting that the element saka in that name means dog.
While not arriving at an etymology per se, Atwood derives the name from the Ongi River in Mongolia, which was pronounced the same or similar to the name Xiongnu, and suggests that it was originally a dynastic name rather than an ethnic name.
In the 18th century, the French scholar Joseph de Guignes became the first to propose a link between the Huns and the Xiongnu people, who were northern neighbours of China in the 3rd century BC.
The East Romans began to feel the pressure from Uldin's Huns again in 408. The East Romans tried to buy Uldin off, but his sum was too high so they instead bought off Uldin's subordinates.
According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that was part of Scythia at the time; the Huns' arrival is associated with the migration westward of an Iranian people, the Alans.