For the Hungarians, the Orient represents more than a mere geographical notion, because there had always been an awareness of an Oriental origins in the Hungarian people.
Before the conquest of the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century C.E. the Hungarian tribes roamed the steppes for about a thousand years. In the course of their wanderings, they appear to have established relations with a host of peoples.
The Oriental origin of the Hungarians was first documented in the medieval chronicles, where the first ruler of Hungary was described as Attila’s successor, and the Hungarians as descendants of the Huns. It was during the 19th century, with national independence and the progress of civil society that brought about the corroboration of national identity. The question of where the origins of the Hungarian people lay, and which languages could be deemed as relatives of their language, became a focus of general interest.
The 19th century was a period in which Oriental studies flourished across Europe, encouraging scientific scrutiny in Hungary as well. Hungarian travelers and scholars were attracted to the East by the prehistory of their own nation and played a significant role in the geographical, geological, ethnological, zoological and botanical documentation of Asia.