The Eurasian Avars were a group of equestrian warrior nomads of Altaic extraction who established an empire spanning considerable areas of Central and Eastern Europe from the late 6th to the early 9th century. They were ruled by a Khagan, who led a tight-knit entourage of professional nomad warriors. Although the name Avar first appeared in the mid-5th century, the Avars of Europe enter the historical scene in the mid-6th century CE, having formed as a mixed band of warriors in the Pontic-Caspian steppe wishing to escape Göktürk rule. Their linguistic affiliation may be tentatively deduced from a variety of sources, betraying a variety of languages spoken by ruling and subject clans. Oghur, a distinct branch of the Turkic languages, figures prominently for the original Avar language.