Ancient Eurasian Peoples
The term "Eurasian" is indeed a vague classification, yet it is in a certain way more appropriate than other historic definitions that are as much or perhaps more vague than this. Such is the case of various peoples that Greek historians after Herodotus gathered under the common denomination of "Scythians", even though such definition included peoples of different origins and not completely related to each other if not by sharing the same geographic area for centuries and having eventually been either allies or antagonists at different stages in history. In later times and even now, most of them are classified as "Turkic", without adding any accuracy to the classification patterns given by former historians. Let us take as an example the Hungarians: in fact, while today anthropologists would hardly consider them to be a "Turk" people, most historians do not hesitate to place the ancient Hungarians among the Turkic groups, and before the Turks appeared in history, they were simply among the Scythians. In the same way, today it would be in appearance more reasonable to consider Hungarians closer to Scottish (being both peoples fully "European") rather than to Kazakhs or Uyghurs. Back in the dawn of history, both Scots and the ancestors of Hungarians were indeed together, among those peoples commonly called "Scythians" - but the Scots have never been Turks! - how can this be possible? Of course, not all Scythians became Turks, but it is also feasible that peoples like Hungarians have never been Turks at all, and perhaps not Scythians either, and that have been erroneously included in these groups in the absence of any more accurate definition.
Therefore, with the term "Eurasian" we intend to make reference to those peoples, mainly Japhetic, that in ancient times dwelled in the area of Mesopotamia and neighbouring regions, then extended towards Anatolia, Caucasus and Central Asia, furtherly expanded towards India, China, Siberia and maybe beyond, and that in various migration waves reached Europe and settled in the regions between the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. So, they were "Asians" in their early history to become "Europeans" later.
As we have already considered in the previous chapters, these peoples that are often confused with each other or even erroneously identified were originated in different Japhetic branches with the contribution of some Kushitic elements, sharing a common territory in Mesopotamia but displaced by the Semitic civilizations that compelled them to move eastwards. We take as a starting point in a concise way what has been said regarding the original background of some of these peoples:
ˇFrom Sumerians (Emegir) and Hurrian-Mitanni (Subartu/Magor) evolved the Hun-related tribes – Magyar, Sabir, Uyghur, Khazar, Székely, etc.
ˇFrom Meshekh emerged the Massageta-Alan groups, that under Medo-Persian and Ashkenazic influences constituted the background for the Sarmatian ethnogenesis.
ˇThe Scythians have a partially common origin with the first group as descendants of Magog, but instead of receiving a Sumerian-Hurrian cultural contribution, they evolved under Iranic influence and became closer to the second group.
Other features were acquired after centuries of sharing the same territory and so, having adapted themselves to the same conditions, their life styles became more uniform and consequently more difficult for outsiders to distinguish between the different groups. Therefore, that is why for the ancient Greeks all the peoples of the steppes beyond the Persian Empire were "Scythians", and later the same peoples for Arabs and Europeans were "Turks" - while some centuries before, many of the Europeans themselves would have been regarded as Scythians since they were outside the Greek-Roman realm. Once those Asian peoples settled and intermarried with Celtic, Germanic and other European groups, they were no longer "Scythians", while those that were still in Asia became "Turks". Such is the precision with which their ethnicity has been established!
Notwithstanding, an accurate research is extremely difficult, since the territories where such peoples dwelled were a melting pot of many tribes and sub-tribes always on the move. In spite of the fact that those were not reduced areas but boundless lands plenty of room for many peoples, they have been always contending for supremacy, making and breaking alliances, assimilating tribes from a different background or borrowing tribal names from unrelated groups, wandering or migrating westwards, then back to the east, then again towards the west, and so on. These peoples had no written records, which makes it even harder to reconstruct their history and original differences between the various tribes, and we must rely on external sources that cannot be always considered impartial.
An outline of their history route begins in Mesopotamia and the Ararat region, from where in successive migrations the Central Asian area became their "homeland", that is where these peoples were when acquired some relevance for historians, and from where they started their massive expansion towards every direction: the Far East, India and Europe, generating new ethnic entities that are at present the peoples populating most of Eurasia.
It is not easy to define who the true Scythians really were, since such term has been used with reference to different peoples sharing outwardly similar characteristics. The word Scythian comes from the Greek skythai, while their Persian name was "saka". Therefore, we may assume that Scythians and Saka are the same people and that both terms may be used as synonymous. In order to make this topic easier to understand, here we would call "Saka" the eastern branch -concerning mainly their relationship with Persia and India-, and "Scythians" the western branch, in connection with Europe. It is often ascribed the same identity to the "Askuza" of the Assyrian chronicles, which is not correct; the Askuza were a different people, recruited by the Assyrians to guard the frontiers of their empire and keep it off-limits for Scythians and any other eventual plunderer. It is also wrong to ascribe to Scythians any participation in the fall of Nineveh: The Assyrian Empire was overthrown by the alliance of the Southern Assyrian emerging power, namely Babylon, with the Medes and probably also the early Magyars. Scythians had nothing to do with such facts.
As it has been already said, the Scythians shared their lands with other peoples and are often confused with them, even by historians. Such happened since the very beginning of their history, so that it is important to define who were the "real" Scythians and to distinguish them from other groups. They belong to the descent of Magog, of Japhetic stock, and their original homeland was Northern Mesopotamia, namely the country of Magor/Matiene/Subartu, the Biblical Charan. In their early history they should have been deeply influenced by the Hittites, and presumably they spoke a Hattic language – not Iranic, as it is generally thought. Their ability in manufacturing metals undoubtedly belongs to the earlier phase of their history, very likely learnt from Hittites. Some Scythian tribes (or presumably Scythian in origin) were particularly skilled in iron working, a characteristic of Anatolian peoples. Also the alleged "Scythian-Phoenician connection" may be explained by the fact that Hittites were associated with Canaanite tribes and Scythians may have inherited their artistic style. It is in a later period that, having been displaced towards the steppes by the Middle Eastern civilizations, they were exposed to Iranian-related cultures and strongly influenced by the Medes. Some scholars support the hypothesis that Scythians and Phoenicians were ethnically related founding their theories on the art style developed by both peoples, but many other relevant cultural aspects show evidence of the deep differences between them, for example: Phoenicians excelled in architecture, whereas not any Scythian building has been found; Phoenicians are credited for the invention of modern alphabet, while Scythians did not know writing; Phoenicians were outstanding seafarers, whereas Scythians lived in the steppes and there is not any evidence that they even sailed the rivers within their territory; Phoenicians were peaceful merchants, while Scythians were warlike plunderers, and so on. The Phoenicians were Semitized Hamitic peoples, the Scythians were fully Japhetic without any single trait of Semitization. The Scythians expanded in a vast area since Assyrian times, often at other peoples' expense, like the Cimmerians, their early rivals in Anatolia that were displaced westwards. The Scythians themselves were pushed in several directions by Assyrians first and Massagetas later, so that in the period of the Persian Empire they were populating not only the historic "Scythia" (approximately modern Ukraine) but also Central Asia, the Indus Valley and the ancient Sakastan.
The Scythians were renowned by their ability in horse-riding, yet, it is a natural feature common to every people of the endless plains and taken isolate by itself is not enough to ascribe a common origin or ethnicity, in the same way as language or any other characteristic taken alone is not sufficient.
Concerning their origins, the Scythians' own legend claim that they descend from the three sons of Targitai, to whom they ascribed a prodigious birth. The mythical sons of Targitai were Lipoksai, Arpoksai and Kolaksai. Attempting to relate such names with some others apparently similar results in additional confusion and speculative un-scientific theories. These names indeed are not related to known patriarchs, but rather express their character. There are two main accepted keys to decipher the meaning of the names of the legendary Scythian ancestors: one based on old Persian and Ossetian languages, the other on Turkic tongues. Targitay is known also as an important name among Avars, considered a Turkic people. According to the Scythians life style, in many aspects resembling those of the native Americans (so-called "Indians"), the most creditable hypotheses support that their names recalled the spirits of natural phenomena, animals or warlike symbols and weapons. Therefore, according to the Iranic origin theory such names are connected with terms like arrow, sunshine, water, while for the Turkic theory they indicate nobility and possession – typical within Turk tribal names.
Also their religion had many features in common with those of some native Americans – Scythian shamanism involved ecstasy produced by smoking hemp (cannabis); they had no temples and worshipped the forces of nature and were very superstitious, believing in witchcraft and talismans. Scythian shamans, called enaree, were effeminate.
One of the best known features typical of Scythians was their ability in manufacturing gold, usually to make jewels that they wore in considerable amounts, and even their horses were adorned with golden outfits. Indeed, not existing any Scythian written record, most of what is known about their culture derives from the objects attesting their extremely fine workmanship that have been found in their frozen tombs in the Eurasian plains.
The Scythians, pushed away by the Assyrians, occupied the northern shores of the Black Sea from the Tanais to the Danube until the third century b.c.e., when the Sarmatians virtually obliterated them from history. The Sarmatians were also called "Royal Scythians", as they were thought to be one of their tribes that prevailed over the others. Very probably the conquerors took many of the characteristics of the subdued Scythians, so that outwardly they seemed to be the same people. Yet, the Sarmatians were not related to Scythians and had a quite different social structure. The common belief that Scythians practised a matriarchal system has not any archaeological support. They were polygamous and male chauvinist, while the Sarmatians became famous for their warrior women and the absolute social equality between male and female. Paradoxically, according to Herodotus' report, among the Scythians there were many eunuchs, the enarei, who spoke with high-pitched voice and were engaged in female works; many of them were shamans. Some scholars assert that there was indeed a "Royal Scythian" tribe, but anyway not to be identified with the Sarmatians.
While the European Scythians disappeared and were assimilated by Sarmatians, Goths and other peoples, the Sakas followed a different direction: the East. They are reported in the Persian records as those who rendered the war idle. When king Dareyavesh tried to engage a conventional battle with them they applied their withdrawal tactic, as they had nothing to lose – no cities, no treasures, no booty to take. They lived in the steppes and they were the plunderers that swooped down on the cities, but the contrary was not possible as they had not any established civilization. There was no profit in conquering them, on the contrary, there was an expense in protecting the borders from them – only peoples with a similar life style were interested in fighting for the supremacy over the steppes.
The Persian inscriptions distinguish three Saka tribes: 1) Saka Tigraxawda, characterized by their pointed hats, that lived in Turkestan; 2) Saka Hawmavarga, apparently fond of alcoholic beverages, that inhabited the region then called "Sakastan", by the eastern border of the Persian Empire; and 3) Saka Paradraya, those "beyond the sea" described above as the western branch of the Scythians. Tribes of the Turkestan and Sakastan groups migrated to India, and will be considered later, in the India section.
The Sarmatians' origin and identity is often a controversial matter because they are either identified with other peoples or distinguished from the same ones. It is evident that they did not spring up from the nothingness to overthrow the Scythians, but they came from somewhere and were already a people or a complex of peoples. In the same way as the term "Scythian" has been applied in a broad, generic manner to indicate the wandering peoples of the steppes – and that here we attempted to render more specific by defining with such term only the Saka of the Persian records –, also the term Sarmatian does not refer to a single, well-defined people, but to a more or less homogeneous ethnic complex. As it was stated before, the peoples of the steppes were continuously moving, making alliances, assimilating other clans or assuming other tribal names, and so on. That is why the same tribe names result as belonging either to one or other group, according to different authors, and perhaps both versions are correct. That is the case of the Alans, Roxlans and Yazygs, regarded as Massageta tribes by some authors and Sarmatian tribes by others, or the Alans considered themselves as a separate people that joined the Sarmatians later or else, associated with the Huns, overwhelmed the Sarmatians (only to be in turn overcome by the same Huns and Magyars). Such was the complexity involving those peoples of which the only written records existing come from external sources.
Besides this, the peculiarity that characterized the Sarmatians – the warrior-women – was emphasized and exaggerated by ancient Greek writers, so that it is not an easy task to separate the myth from the reality. Here we intend to expose the possible truth on the basis of archaeological finds and feasible social circumstances of that epoch.
The name issue may be solved by linking the different denominations to definite time periods. In this way, we can notice that in early records we find the Massagetas and after they have virtually vanished the Sarmatians appeared; yet, the three main branches of the Massagetas kept their own names, which were then regarded as Sarmatic tribes. Indeed, it is the main group that is known by a different name, so that Massageta and Sarmatian should be considered as quasi-synonymous terms.
They are the "Moshkhi" of the Assyrian chronicles and Meshekh of the Bible, and their original homeland was in Eastern Anatolia and Southern Caucasus. They apparently split up into three main groups: the western one, the Yazygs, that inhabited in the Balkan/Danubian area; the middle one, the Roxlans, between the Dniepr and the Don; and the eastern tribe, the Alans or Alanians, between the Don and the Volga. These three branches evolved separately and undoubtedly they mixed with the local population, mainly the Yazygs, living among Thracians acquired a mixed descent from Tiras, and the Roxlans became in a certain way part of the Scythian people, perhaps to be identified with the enigmatic "Royal Scythians". The Alans probably kept their ethnicity more exempt from external influences. Therefore, the Sarmatian ethnic complex may be listed among the descent of both Meshekh and Magog as their primary original stocks.
Concerning the warrior-women, which is the feature that has inspired more than any other the fantasy of the writers, there are in fact archaeological finds that confirm that Sarmatian women were very active in the military life of their people. There is a considerable number of graves in which Sarmatian women were buried with their own weapons, and are richer in ornaments than those of the male soldiers. Such a strong character of female Sarmatians may be a long-lasting tradition: Tamyris, queen of the Massagetas, headed personally her army and became famous for having defeated the Persian kings in 3231 (529 b.c.e.). Notwithstanding, it is possible that not always women were engaged in war activity, but only when required by particular circumstances: probably the Sarmatians were less numerous than their neighbours, and in order to prevail they needed to recruit women to supply the lack of male warriors. A similar situation exists today in the State of Israel, that needs a strong Defence Force in order to survive and stand against the enemy hordes. Yet, this is not a traditional feature of the Jewish people. Therefore, even though among Sarmatians it was indeed a tradition, it is likely that the actual participation of women in bellicose activities was limited to certain periods or perhaps to some clans or tribes. According to Herodotus and other writers, a Sarmatian girl must remain virgin and cannot marry until she has killed a man in battle. Concerning this aspect, there are contradictory versions, as some authors assert that they were engaged as warriors and performed masculine roles as long as they were unmarried, but after the wedding they carried out a normal womanly family life. Other writers witness that Sarmatian women have been seen engaged in hunting and war together with their husbands and dressed like them. Both versions may be true, as they may regard different tribes, clans or social classes having their own rules.
This particularity was not exclusively Sarmatian; there were also some American native cultures in which female members assumed male roles, like the Yuma, the Kaska, some tribes of the Great Plains, etc. – It is also very likely that some native Americans actually descend from Sarmatians or are in some way related to them, as we will mention later. At present, similar customs exist among the Kazaks, whose children of both genders are trained in horseback riding since very young age.
Up to this point the exposed facts are feasible and supported by archaeological evidence, but such a singular feature was amazing for the writers in such a way that they created a myth rendering their accounts not thoroughly creditable. Herodotus, for instance, asserted that the Sarmatians were the offspring of Scythian men and Amazons, that obviously did not exist. The women eventually learnt the Scythian tongue, but he stated that the men could not learn the women's language. This is somewhat unlikely; although it is known that in Hunan, China, a written code -"nushu"- was known only by women, who taught it only to their daughters and kept it secret from male members of their family, it does not seem to be a spoken language and in any case there is no proof that such a peculiarity existed among Sarmatians – since they had no known writing records, if such assertion credits any reliability will remain a mystery.
Whenever it concerns their early history, the Sarmatians are often called Sauromatians, chiefly implying the idea that the historical Sarmatians are the result of the mixture with the Scythian element. Even though both peoples (Sauromatians and Scythians) seem to have been associated since long before one conquered the other, mutual assimilation took time. For example, the Sauromatians did not forge iron; according to Pausanias, they used wood, stone and even bone to make their weapons. It is amazing that such a primitive people achieved in war overcoming the armies of much more developed cultures. Indeed, it was their battle tactics that proved successful: relying mainly on their horses rather than on their weapons, they used to ride around their enemy and fling their arrows at them instead of engaging a hand to hand fighting, quite resembling the very same tactics used by Northern American natives.
As it has been stated, they were not a single people but consisted in three main groups that developed separately, and often this term is used primarily to indicate those Sarmatians that overthrew the Scythians, namely the Roxlans. It was the territory occupied by the Roxlans that was previously called Scythia and then renamed Sarmatia (approximately modern Ukraine). They were deeply influenced by the submitted Scythians, that were much more numerous and with whom intermarried becoming one people. It happened roughly the same paradox that took place between the few and rather primitive Romans that conquered the more advanced Greek world but were culturally absorbed by it.
Some centuries later, the Alans came from the East and took over the leadership of the Sarmatian confederacy. Having previously been settled beyond the Tanais, they evolved in a different environment, closer to the Ashkanian/Parthian realm and consequently exposed to the dominant Iranian culture. They were influenced by it in such a way that many researchers consider Sarmatians as Iranic peoples. The Alans established their cultural supremacy over the Scythian-Roxlan tribes and marked the golden age of Sarmatia until they were vanquished by the Huns, with whom they likely had a previous alliance. Many Sarmatians followed the Huns in their relentless advance to the west – henceforth we find the Alans as the third ethnic element contributing to the formation of the Hungarian people: after the Huns' retreat, Sarmatia was occupied by Khazars and Magyars, who assimilated the previous Scythian-Sarmatian inhabitants and in a later period emigrated to the Danubian Basin, to join the Huns settled there. These historical facts validate the essential truth illustrated in a romantic way by the Legend of the White Stag, in which two men, a Hun and a Magyar, married two Alanian princesses, portraying two strong peoples (the male characters, who are brothers) that assimilated the same weaker one (the female counterpart, represented by two sisters) before they gathered to become one people (see the White Stag at "The Huns" and "Origins of the Hungarian Nation").
The collapse of Sarmatia pushed its inhabitants westwards to wander throughout Europe and join other peoples. Alans are known to have reached Spain and even crossed the Gibraltar Strait to North Africa. Others returned back to their ancient homeland in Caucasus and are represented today by the Ossetians (intermarrying with Iranic peoples whose language prevailed) and some groups that evolved into a Turkic cultural identity.
By the end of the fourth century c.e. Sarmatia ceased to exist, not only as a political entity but also as a people: its inhabitants were almost completely replaced by others and left no significant remains except their graves. When the Rus' vanquished Khazaria, they expelled the Magyars living in Sarmatia and with them, the last vestiges of Sarmatian culture. There are more Scythian-Sarmatian elements present in Central European nations than in Russia, and more traces of them in the Balkans than in Ukraine.
The third main group were the Yazygs, that inhabited since ancient times in the Balkans. In that region they coexisted with Thracians and Scythians. They are mentioned in different sources as the Jata, Jasi, Iasi, etc., and it is likely that they were in some way related to the Goths and the Juts, peoples that were originated in Thrace. The Gothic historian Jordanes asserted that the Goths were Massagetas, identifying both peoples with each other.
There is enough evidence regarding the Yazyg presence in the Danubian/Karpathian region even before Roman times. Some writers like István Gyárfás in his work "The History of the Jász-Kun" ("The History of the Yazygs and Kumans"), vol.I, reports that the Greek geographer Ptolemy mentioned the Jász among the peoples of Pannonia in the area of Sabaria (present-day Szombathely, Hungary) – Notice that the name "Sabaria" is very likely related to ancient Subartu, Sabirs, Siberia, etc. The scholar Adorján Magyar has done an outstanding research in his effort to demonstrate that Hungarians are autochthonous rather than Asiatic, precisely because the Jász are mentioned by Roman accounts as the people dwelling in Pannonia. He reached some interesting conclusions though mainly founded on linguistics, that is not a decisive factor for establishing the origin of a people. He asserted that the Hungarian language existed in the Danubian Basin since ancient times, and that some terms that are similar to Greek words having the same meaning are not of Greek origin but the contrary, since they exist in Uyghur and other languages that had no contact with Greek civilization. Nevertheless, he recognizes that they are close to Canaanite words and therefore of likely Middle-Eastern origin. Indeed, such links between unrelated languages are explainable by the evidences that point out to the Sumerian/Hurrian origin of Hun and Magyar languages, and that many Sumerian terms passed on to Akkadian as well as to Massageta/Sarmatian tongues, and in a lesser amount also to Greek. The scholar assumed that the name of the Dacian capital, Sarmizegetusa, is connected with the word "Sarmatian", though it is not certain that such term existed in those times with reference to the Jász or any other people. Even though the Jász may have contributed to the formation of Hungarian ethnicity and language, it is not tenable the thesis that Hungarians are autochthonous since the Sarmatic element is a minority complement to the primary Hun/Magyar ethnicity and is even less relevant than the Khazar component, all of them undoubtedly of Asiatic origin. At most, the Yazyg presence in early times may be considered as the embryo that legitimated the further settlement of related peoples in that land.
As well as the terms Sarmatian and Alan are often applied in a generic way, also the word Jász may be referred not only to these Balkan Sarmatians but also to Siberian peoples, namely Eastern Alans, the "As" or "Aorsi" (not the Ashkenazic As of the Don river - see under Ashkenaz).
The Yazygs' territories were close to the Roman Empire, which was enlarging its borders in every direction and consequently, both parties got engaged in war against each other since the beginning of the Roman expansion in the Balkans. After a two-and-a-half-century conflict, Romans achieved in conquering all the Balkan area and Yazygs had to contribute with their cavalry to the Roman army. In this way, Yazygs became part of the multi-ethnic complex of soldiers commonly known as "Romans" (as the true original Romans were not so numerous, their armies were mostly composed by peoples of every conquered nation). Being part of the Roman legions, Yazyg warriors moved within the Empire. Their cultural influence in Western Europe is not noticed or not acknowledged, but it does not mean that it is irrelevant. In fact, the most cherished British myth is not British at all, and is not Anglo-Saxon either: the Legend of the Knights of the Round Table, is Sarmatian. The probable origin of this myth in Britain is to be found in a Yazyg contingent that the Romans distributed in Northumbria to guard the frontier from Pict invaders. Their general was called Artorius, who may be identified with the legendary king Arthur. All the other elements of the legend are Sarmatic, and belong to similar myths among Hungarians, Ossetians and other peoples that keep the ancient Sarmatian traditions in their own cultural heritage. Herodotus mentions the sword worship in connection with the Scythians; the magic atmosphere surrounding the "sword in the stone" is found in the ancient Anatolian traditions as well as among the Huns and Magyars, and the name Excalibur is related to the Sarmatian iron forgers; also the name of king Pendragon, the lady of the lake, magicians and sorcerers, the chalice hovering in the air and all the main elements of the Arthurian legend belong to the Sarmatian mythology. It was after the introduction of Christianity in Great Britain that the legend was adopted and adapted according to the patterns of Medieval British society as their own myth of origins.
The Yazyg warriors introduced as Roman soldiers (that by number would be rather insignificant) are not the only Sarmatian component of the British ethnogenesis. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxon peoples that settled in Great Britain and established the foundation of the English nation, consisted also of a third element: the Jutes (or Juts). There are several reasons to assert that the Jutes were Yazyg - not only by the similarity between the terms Jasi, Jata, etc. and Jut, Jute, which may have only a very relative value, but also because of the Juts' life style and traditions. Before their arrival in England, the Juts and the Angles were neighbours in the continent: they inhabited respectively in Jutland and Slesvig. Yet, that was not their original homeland; the Juts came from the south and conquered the peninsula that was called Jutland after them. By the end of the fourth century c.e., Sarmatic groups began to move westwards: Alans driven from the Danubian Basin by the Huns, Juts expelled from Jutland by the Danes. Alan tribes settled in the Gaul and some of them went further to Spain and North-Africa, while the Juts crossed the Channel and founded the kingdom of Kent.
The Jute settlement in Sutheastern England was led by Hengist and Horsa, who became the kings of Kent - the double kingship is a typical feature of the Scytho-Sarmatic peoples. Besides this, the Kentish people were well-known by their warlike character, and they organized their army in a Yazyg/Alan style. Their property succession laws and family rules and those of the Alans were alike, as well as their agriculture techniques and other traditional customs. A further support to the hypothesis that the Juts were Sarmatians is given by the fact that many Kentish family names are identical to clan names of Scytho-Sarmatic origin found in Asia (see India, Jats).
This is what concerns the Sarmatian peoples in Europe; they will be mentioned again in this chapter in relation to their presence in Asia. As it has been already said, their contribution to the Western culture is not noticed or not recognized; the main cause of such oblivion is surely owing to assimilation into other peoples that founded the modern nations and gave them their language and characters. Yet, there are some essential elements that have been universally adopted as hallmarks of the modern Western civilization, which are of Scythian/Sarmatian origin: trousers and coats were worn by these peoples since ancient times - notice that also Northern American natives wore trousers, and such particularity together with other interesting details might be associated with a probable common origin.
See map of the Sarmatian settlements and migrations in Europe.
Besides the already mentioned Sarmatian tribes acknowledged as being the same ancient Massagetas, there are other peoples that may be regarded as Sarmatic although probably of different origin. Among them, the Croats or Croatians are worth considering since their name has been perpetuated from ancient times until today, and are still recognized as a nation even though almost completely Slavicized (as well as Bulgarians and other peoples). Their exact ethnic classification is complex as they share common features not only with Sarmatians but also with Huns: indeed, their origin is to be found in the Hurrian-Mitanni civilization, but they evolved under strong Iranization like a large number of Sarmatian tribes, and were related to both Sarmatians and Huns throughout their history.
It is a fact that most of the present-day Croatians are genetically different from the Slavic peoples and very close to Kurds and Armenians, who are still inhabiting in the same area of their origins. Besides the genetic factor, there are historic records that point out to a Hurrian identity of Croats:
ˇIn an inscription of Tushratta, king of Mitanni, his own people are called "Hurrwuh", meaning Hurrites, and such term may be identified in the Croatians' own national name, "Hrvat".
ˇThe Avestic literature mentions the people of Harahvaiti, and several records of the Persian Achaemenid kings make reference to a province in the east of their empire, in present-day Afghanistan, named "Harauvatya", which sounds very similar to Croatia's modern name, "Hrvatska". The geographic displacement is historically coherent, as the Hurrians are credited as the founders of Khwarezm, connected with the Székely Huns' origins and the land from which they departed to settle in Transylvania. In a later period, also Croats dwelled in the Carpathian area.
ˇSince the 4th until the 10th century c.e., the Croatians were established by the Azov Sea and the Tanais, the same region that was inhabited by Khazars and Magyars in that period. Orosius referred to them as "Aryan Horites" (notice that Horites is the name of Hurrites in the Bible); then also Zachariah the Rhetor speaks of them as the "Aryan Hrwt".
By that time their state in Eastern Ukraine was known as "Red Croatia" and its inhabitants as "Sarmatian Horites". Croatians spoke an Iranic language then, and their rulers had Iranic names. Since the 6th century c.e., another branch of them settled in the Carpathian region and founded the "White Croatia". The assignment of colours to represent the four cardinal points is typical of Iranian cultures, and that is why their different territories were called that way. Their coat of arms, composed by red and white squares in a chessboard style, is of Iranic origin as well.
It was during the period of the Great Migration of the Peoples that the Croats moved westwards and their main settlement, the "Great Croatia", extended by the 10th century c.e. over a territory that roughly coincides with modern Czech/Slovakia and Southern Poland. By that time they were strongly Slavicized, before they moved southwards and settled in their present territory by the Adriatic Sea.
Following their history since their origins until modern times, it is evident a sequence of events that link them with the Hungarian peoples: we have already considered the possible identity of ancient Magyars with the Mitanni, whose land was known as Magor/Mada/Matiene, in Hurrian territory (see: "The Huns"). The Mitanni ruled over the Hurrites, and both peoples migrated to Central Asia during Assyrian domination over their land. Hurrians settled in the area of modern Afghanistan/Turkestan and founded the kingdom of Khwarezm, from where the Székely Huns migrated to the Carpathian region. The area of Khwarezm was next to the province of the Persian Empire called Harauvatya, regarded as the original Croatia. Then we find the "Sarmatian Hurrians" having their own realm, the Red Croatia, in Khazarian territory next to the Magyars' land in Ukraine. Both peoples were driven westwards by the Rus' expansion and chose the Danubian Basin as their new settlement. The Croatians dwelled near the Magyars, first at the north of them and subsequently moved close to the southern Hungarian border. The Croats followed the same destiny of most Eurasian peoples in Eastern Europe, that were either Slavicized, Germanized or Romanized, while Hungarians were the only exception, achieving in keeping their roots and building their own national identity. A few Croatians were assimilated by Hungarians, hence the very common Hungarian family name "Horvát". The Croatians' definitive territory between Hungary and the Adriatic Sea was still under Austrian-Hungarian sovereignty, like in ancient times the Hurrites were under Mitanni rule.
Even though the modern Croatian language is Slavic, attempts to restore the old tongue are being done, mostly through the rural dialects that have kept Iranic archaisms and still present traces of Hurrian-Mitanni terms.
See map of the Croatian migrations in comparison with the Hungarian routes.
Identity and Assimilation in Europe
Concerning the peoples here defined as Eurasians, they have left a genetic legacy in most of present-day European nations, though hardly a cultural or linguistic heritage - with the exception of Hungary. Archaeological findings, external written records and some toponyms are the main or sometimes the only witnesses of their presence. As well as Scythians and Sarmatians, the largest number of them have been Slavicized (Bulgars, Croatians, etc.), others have been Germanized (like the Juts), Romanized (peoples settled in present-day Romania), or were assimilated within the Hungarian nationality. In the Caucasus area, tribes of the same peoples have evolved into a more defined Iranic identity (Ossetians) or else a Turkic ethnicity.
Therefore, it is still difficult to define which was their original culture and language; different schools propose controversial theories in opposition to each other: the Iranic on one side and the Turkic on the other. As it has been said in the introduction of this chapter, they have been gathered under conventional definitions in different periods of history, and since Turks appeared long after they existed, the Iranic background is more plausible. Notwithstanding, an accurate research credits the Mesopotamian-Anatolian origin for most of these peoples, and perhaps Iranic for some of them.
Here is a brief exposition regarding other groups that in the "Dark Ages" took part in the Great Migration of the Peoples that led them from the Asian steppes to the Russian plains first, to the Danubian Basin and the Balkans later, and eventually into Central and Western Europe:
ˇAvars: The Avars are related to the Huns, having shared with them approximately the same territorial range both in Asia and Europe and have been often either allied or antagonists. In the same way as the Huns are identified by some scholars with the Hsiung-nu of the Chinese chronicles (without certainty), the Avars are thought to be a branch of the Juan-Juan, though further proofs are required to establish such identity. There are different opinions regarding their origins, though the most feasible hypothesis indicates Khwarezm as their homeland from where, like the Huns, they expanded first eastwards reaching China and furtherly westwards into Europe. Therefore, a Khwarezmian background associates the Avars with the Huns, Magyars, Székely, Croatians, and consequently with Hurrian-Mitanni and Sumerian origins. Nevertheless, according to archaeological findings in Avar graves, their somatic traits were those of a Turk-Mongol people when they reached Europe, and to add mystery to the enigma of their origins, many Jewish items were found as well. This peculiarity may be owing to their sojourn in Khazaria, where they have certainly been influenced by Judaism, while their Mongol features indicate a previous long stay in China and perhaps a mixed background, result of intermarriage with local peoples. Among their characteristics, the Uyghur features seem to be the most remarkable.
The Avars appeared in Europe in the 6th century c.e., ruling over an extended territory from the Volga to the Elbe and from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans, and were powerful until the end of the 8th century. Their kingdom arose after they subdued the weakened Bulgars in the Volga region. Associated with the Onogurs and the Kabars, they conquered the Danubian Basin, where remnants of Attila's Huns were still dwelling. Their dominions were organized as a confederation known as the Avar Ring. At their decline, the Avars were in turn assimilated by Árpád's Hun-Magyar tribes in the Upper Danubian Basin, while in the Southern Balkan region, they were absorbed by the Bulgars and consequently Slavicized together with them. The remaining of the Avars in other lands were completely Slavicized (in the Adriatic region) or Germanized (in Austria).
There is still an existing people called Avars in the Caucasus, mainly in Kabardino-Balkaria and Daghestan, but their actual relationship with the historic Avars is still not confirmed. Nevertheless, it seems that the present-day Caucasian Avars may indeed descend from ancient Avars settled in that area during the Khazar rule.
ˇKumans, also known as Polovtsi or Kipchak: The Kumans appeared in Europe in a later period (11th century c.e.), at the end of the Great Migration, when the movement of all the preceding Eurasian peoples was over and the modern nations' identities were either defined or at the last stage of formation.
The Kumans were Turks, likely related to the Seldjuks, Kimaks and other tribes. Although they were present in a very vast area, from the Siberian steppes to India, Egypt and Ukraine, they never consolidated any empire because the lack of unity within the different tribes, that often fought each other. For a short period they ruled over part of India and also a relevant contingent of the Mamluks that took the power over Egypt were Kipchaks. In Europe they were intermittently in war with the Pechenegs, a people of their kin with whom they were previously allied and at last they absorbed. Always in war against the Russians, elsewhere the Kumans were characterized by their ambiguous behaviour: while they were continuously attacking Byzantium, other Kumans were serving as mercenaries in the Byzantine army. A relevant number of them settled in Bulgaria, a kingdom that was often in war with Byzantium, and the Kumans were on both sides or else as a third party, sometimes fighting against Bulgarians and sometimes allied with them. Also Slavic kingdoms engaged Kuman mercenaries, that frequently had to fight Kuman raiders. After their defeat in the Volga in 4998 (1238 c.e.), they no longer achieved independence and fled to the nations which they have formerly fought, like Russia and the Balkan states, where usually served as mercenaries. Most of them settled in Hungary, becoming an important contingent of the Hungarian army. Their character led them to be in continuous contrast with Hungarians, and as a result they were expelled and gathered the Kuman tribes in Bulgaria. They were later requested back in Hungary, but on their way they joined the Vlachs in the revolt that led to the independence of Walachia in 5090 (1330). Few decades later, the Kumans disappeared as an ethnic entity, being assimilated by the different nations where they inhabited. Their presence in the past is mainly recognized in some toponyms in which the term "kun" is part of the name.
They have been previously mentioned in relation with the Yazygs ("The History of the Jász-Kun", by István Gyárfás), and because of this association some scholars assumed that both peoples may have a common origin. Nevertheless, the sole fact of being mentioned together or even being assigned a common territory does not relate them ethnically. The Yazygs were largely integrated in the Hungarian or Bulgarian nationality when Kumans arrived in the Balkans, and would hardly been still recognized as Yazygs. The Kumans on the contrary, were a contrasting element within the societies with whom they coexisted. They were probably allocated in some districts that once were specifically assigned to the Yazygs and that kept their historical toponym with the addition of the new element. Therefore, both names were associated. Such a thing is not a rarity in the Eastern European area, and there are very recent examples of totally different peoples being gathered in a single administrative unit, such as some Soviet Republics like Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria or Checheno-Ingushetia. There is also a political reason behind this distribution of the territory to non related peoples: if the Kumans would have been given a district for them alone, loyalty to the state would have not been granted.
ˇPechenegs or Patzinaks: There is not much information available concerning this people; they appeared in the European scene about a century before the Kumans and were like them of Turk ethnicity, though sometimes they were called "Scythians" by the Byzantines.
The Pechenegs introduced an originality in battle tactics: the war wagon, a kind of tank of that epoch. They settled in the later 9th century c.e. in the region between the Caspian Sea and the Don, from where they began their advance westwards along the lands by the Black Sea towards the Bosphorus. They fought against all their neighbours: Khazars, Magyars, Russians, Bulgars, Ghuzz, etc. The Pechenegs reached Thrace, made alliance with the Bulgarians and, like the Kumans, attacked Byzantium but were recruited as mercenaries in the Byzantine army as well. Having become a continuous threat for its Balkan dominions, Byzantium engaged the Kumans to fight them and the Pechenegs were driven to Walachia, losing their coastland territories. In 4882 (1122 c.e.), the Varangian Guard defeated them definitively and almost exterminated them. The survivors were absorbed by the Kumans.
The Pechenegs might be the same people as the "Pasiani" of ancient chronicles, to be identified with the "Besenyö" of the Hungarian accounts, and probable origin of the name "Bosnia".
ˇGoths: The Goths can hardly fit the characteristics of the peoples here described as Eurasians, and it is only because their own historian, Jordanes, asserted that the Goths are Massagetas that they are mentioned here. Jordanes, being a Goth himself, should have known what he was saying and his opinion is worth being respected even though not thoroughly creditable. There are some traces that actually connect the Goths with the Scytho-Sarmatian peoples, and some scholars identify them with the ancient "Guti" of Mesopotamia, but there are not enough evidences for such association beyond the name similarity. It appears more appropriate to place the Goths among the Thracian peoples that evolved into Germanic, therefore as descendants of Thiras. Nevertheless, they may have been an old Scythian or Massageta tribe that since ancient times dwelled in Thracia and followed the evolution common to Germanic peoples. Such is the case of some Scytho-Sarmatic tribes that adopted a Celtic or Germanic identity and behaviour, like the Scots, Jutes, etc. Notwithstanding, either were the Goths Germanized Massagetas or originally Germanic, it is more suitable to deal with them in an essay regarding Germanic peoples.
As well as the Danubian Basin was the European "promised land" for the Eurasian peoples, in Asia the same status corresponded to the Indus Valley. The choice of that land however was connected to historic links existing since ancient times, namely, the relationships between Mesopotamia and the Harappan civilization.
There are many Sumerian documents as well as Assyrian records mentioning the flourishing trade they had with "Meluhha, Makkan and Dilmun", lands that have been identified respectively with Harappa (Meluhha), the Arabian coastland by the Southern Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman (Makkan), and the Arabian coast by the Northern Persian Gulf (Dilmun). It is possible that Meluhha might be related to the Biblical land of Ophir, though this one seems to indicate Southern India instead of the Indus Valley. Ophir's trade was connected with the Kingdom of Sheva and the Horn of Africa rather than with the Mesopotamian region. Although a research concerning the civilization of Harappa and its unique cultural features is a quite interesting topic as well as the mysterious Harappan undeciphered writing, it is not the subject of this chapter, but it is necessary to take account of it as the background for the subsequent settlement of Eurasian tribes and other peoples. Indeed, Harappa's origins are to be found within the Kushite stock, closely related to Sumerians, with whom they should have had not only commercial exchange but also a strong cultural relationship owing to a common ethnicity. In a later period, Harappa established links also with Hurrians. It is a proven fact that the Indo-Aryan peoples are not autochthonous but reached the Indian subcontinent from the west and displaced the Kushite population previously settled. It is also certain that they were not homogeneous and that they arrived in different migration waves, and that the tribes of the Indus Valley were and are still different from the other peoples of India.
The controversial issue of the Aryan invasion of the Indian subcontinent as well as the cultural diversity existing between the peoples of the Indus Valley and the rest of India since ancient times until today may be solved through the accurate research of their origins in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. In early times, that area was inhabited by Japhetic peoples: Cimmerians, Scythians, Mitanni and Askuza, that were of different descent. They were all culturally related to Hittites and Hurrites and spoke similar languages of the Indo-European branch. Far from being identified with each other as it is often assumed, they were rather in permanent rivalry and fighting for territorial supremacy. This situation caused the first migration waves in their early history, subsequently they were displaced from their original homeland by the Assyrians. The later cultural influence of the Medes over Eurasians enhanced the differences between them and other kin peoples, which led scholars to establish the present conventional classification (though not necessarily accurate) that distinguishes the Indo-Europeans into the Indo-Aryan and the Indo-Iranian branches.
The Aryans of India belonged to the Vedic culture, while the peoples of the Indus Valley were related to the Mesopotamian and Iranian world. Therefore, it is helpful to shed a little light on the identity of the controversial "Aryans" before dealing with the Eurasian settlement in India. As well as the terms "Scythian" or "Turk" have been widely used as a general definition for a complex of peoples not always related to each other, the word "Aryan" has been misused as a synonym of "Indo-European" or "non-Semitic", including the racist misconception of "white race" (maybe it is something different from the human race?...). The Aryans or Aryana were only one of the Sanskrit-speaking peoples dwelling among the Hurrians, and probably the first ones that left the Anatolian homeland by pressure of neighbour tribes. Unlike other Hurritic groups that interacted with the Kushitic cultures in the region, they were reluctant to assimilation and developed the system of caste division in a more marked way. Here we find an interesting parallelism that may be the key for identifying the Aryans that invaded India with a similar people that followed the opposite direction to settle in Europe: the Celts. Even though it may seem a hazardous hypothesis, there are many common features between the Vedic and the Celtic culture that suggest a common origin of both peoples.
The Celts began their migration westwards in the late Bronze Age; about the same period from the same land the Aryana began their wandering towards the east. Cultural incompatibility with their neighbours is a plausible reason for leaving their country. The last surviving Celtic tribe in the region, the Cimmerians, were expelled by the Assyrians and later from their acquired homeland in Ukraine by the Scythians. On the other side, the Aryans - having been unable to coexist with their Mesopotamian neighbours - invaded the Indus Valley and destroyed the peaceful civilization of that area, subduing the remaining peoples to their caste system (such facts are supported by evidences that many are trying to deny in order to render the Aryan invasion a myth). These peoples, Celts/Cimmerians in the west and Aryans in the east, shared many common characteristics, of which some are worth to be briefly considered in order to draw a conclusion whether they are the same people or not:
ˇThe Celts had a very well defined caste system, in which the druids were at the top level, immediately followed by the warriors, exactly in the same way as the brahmins and the kshatryas in the Vedic society.
ˇThe privileges and rules of the brahmin caste and the druids are quite similar, so that some scholars assert that both priesthoods do not only resemble to each other, but that they are exactly the same.
ˇBoth the Celts and the Aryans believed in reincarnation, a concept that was not shared by their neighbour peoples. The early Celts burned their dead in the same way as the Aryans did.
ˇNot only the Celts' religion was identical to the Aryans' Vedic one, but also their laws, institutions, traditions, myths, etc.
ˇThe most significant symbols of Aryans and Celts are the same: the swastika and the sunwheel, commonly known as "Celtic cross".
ˇThe Celtic language shows evidences of a common origin with Sanskrit.
The above mentioned elements and some others are exclusive of these two peoples, peculiarities that perhaps are not enough to give a complete answer to the question if the early Aryan conquerors of India were Celts or not, but certainly show that they had a common ancestry. They evolved separately in quite dissimilar environments and it is natural that differences emerged, but in the beginning they may have been quite alike, closely related to each other if not the same people.
The Eurasians that are the subject of this chapter were undoubtedly different from them, even though in origin they have shared the same homeland and were subject to the same empires and along history they often met again, most of times in contrast to each other. That is what happened also in the Indus Valley region.
The civilization of Meluhha/Harappa/Sarasvati was in close touch with Sumer/Arrapkha/Mitanni, and it is very likely that Hurrian tribes settled in the Indus Valley since ancient times, establishing a footstep for further migrations into that area. Yet, both regions had undergone drastic changes and these cultures seem to have disappeared: in Mesopotamia, Sumerians were replaced by the Semitic Akkadians and Subarians/Hurrians by the Semitic Assyrians; in the Indus Valley the Harappan civilization collapsed under the Aryan invasion. Nevertheless, they still existed, although displaced. In the midpoint between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, Hurrian/Mitanni tribes founded the kingdom of Khwarezm, from which some important Eurasian peoples like Huns and Sabirs expanded throughout the continent, from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea and southwards to the Indian Ocean. Neighbouring Khwarezm, other Japhetic peoples were also ready to conquer the Indus Valley: Medes, Scythians, Massagetas and Parthians.
As it has been said above, Sakas and Scythians are the same people and only for a better understanding here we distinguish the western tribes by their Greek name (Scythians) and the eastern groups by their Persian one (Saka). In the same way as the term Scythian is applied in a general manner to different peoples not always related to each other, also the word Saka is commonly used in reference to many Eurasian tribes besides the Sakas proper. Therefore, when it is said "the Scythian origin of the Rajput" or other peoples of India, it should be understood in a broad sense, including Sarmatians, Huns, Khazars, etc. and not only Sakas, and such statement is generally enunciated in order to point out that they are different from the Aryan Indians. Although both Sakas/Eurasians and Aryans were not autochthonous of the subcontinent but conquerors (as well as further invaders like Moghuls and Muslims), there is a historic link between the Indus Valley and the Eurasians' homeland in Mesopotamia by which the settlement of the Saka ethnic complex in the region should be considered natural, dating back to early times.
Yet, it is essential to establish that by recognizing that the peoples of the Indus Valley are not Aryan Indians we acknowledge a historical truth beyond any political or religious claims. There are biased efforts on both sides to blame the counterpart: Hindus trying to deny the Aryan invasion as determinant for the collapse of the Harappan civilization and claiming that all Indians are of the same origins, opposed by Muslims that emphasize the historical facts that prove the different origins. Even though the Indus Valley peoples are certainly different from Aryan Indians and that the caste system was imposed them by Hindu domination, such evidence does not justify the Muslims' claims: when the Eurasians settled in Sakastan they surely did not practise a religion imported from Arabia many centuries later.
The presence of Eurasian peoples in the Indus Valley dates back at least to the second century b.c.e., as it is attested by Herodotus, the Chinese chronicles, Persian documents and other sources. Sakastan was the name given to the Parthian province comprising the regions of Sindh, Pundjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, inhabited by Saka peoples.
The settlement of the first Saka tribes in the Indus Valley was followed by a sequence of events quite similar to those happened in the Ukrainian Scythia: different Eurasian peoples succeeded one another in exerting territorial hegemony, assimilating the previous inhabitants and so contributing to the ethnic complexity and making more difficult an accurate classification of the distinct origins of each people. In the 2nd century b.c.e., the Kushan (Yue-zhi) arrived in the region expelled from China by the Hsiung-nu, and established an empire that endured almost four centuries. Their origin is subject of discussion as they spoke or adopted the Bactrian language written in Greek characters. Their ethnonym however, suggests a Mesopotamian background and they might be related to the Khazars or be their eastern counterpart. Other elements apparently connect them with the enigmatic Tokharians (Daxia), who were probably Scythians. The Kushana were defeated by the Sassanians in 3993 (233 c.e.), that constituted over the territory administrative units called "Kushanshahs".
If the word "Saka" or "Scythian" has been used and sometimes misused to indicate a group of more or less related ethnic entities, the term "Hun" has been applied in a quite erroneous manner to utterly unrelated peoples. So, in the Central Asian and Indian region, it is frequent to find mentions of the "Red Huns" or the "White Huns", though none of them were Huns at all. The only relationship between the true Huns and these allegedly referred to as such is the historic period, but nothing else. Whereas in Europe the Scythians were succeeded by Sarmatians first and by Hun tribes later, in Sakastan neither Sarmatians nor Huns played a relevant role, and their presence in the area was marginal. These preliminary remarks are essential to continue with this essay, in order to give a brief description of the peoples that took control of the region after the Kushan:
First, the Chionites -improperly called "Red Huns"- pushed the Kushan southwards and took part of their territory, establishing an ephemeral kingdom ruled by the Kidarite dynasty. They were in turn shoved into Gandhara by the Alchon, a kin tribe, that were followed by another related tribe, the Nezak. All these still not accurately classified peoples preceded the most relevant invaders of the Indus Valley in that period: the Hephthalites or Hayathelaites, also known as "White Huns", that undoubtedly were not Huns. Such a name was them given by Procopius in his work "History of Wars", yet acknowledging that they were quite different from the "European" Huns. Indeed, not only their physical features but also their culture, language, traditions, etc. were markedly dissimilar to each other. There are divergent theories about the origin of the Heftalites, of which the most creditable has been framed by the Japanese scholar Kazuo Enoki, who has taken account of various undisputed facts and left aside faint and misleading elements, like apparent name resemblances. Considering the cultural features of the Heftalites, their geographic distribution and migratory flows, Enoki concludes in a convincing manner that they were of Iranian origin. A peculiarity of the Heftalites was that they practised polyandry, a feature that has never been connected with any Hunnish people but rather with some Aryan clans and with Tibet. The Heftalites were defeated in the 6th century c.e. by an alliance of Kök Turks and Sassanians, and almost disappeared.
Since this period, a new ethnonym is always more frequent in history records: "Turk". Such term became a general classification that in many cases replaced the former one of Scythian applied to most Eurasian peoples, bringing up to date the ethno-cultural reality: in fact, the old Scythians did no longer exist as such but evolved into new diversified peoples, adopting also different languages that in Asia were mainly related to Turkic tongues. The Turks however, were not directly connected with the ancient Scythians. Both names have been used in the same way, ascribed by other peoples to any nomadic tribe coming from the Siberian or Central Asian steppes, regardless of their actual ethnicity. This generalization made more difficult an accurate definition of each single group.
The Turks evidently did not come out from nowhere but descend from somebody. According to Chinese sources, it appears that the Turks were a branch of the Hsiung-nu (or Xiong-nu), the same people that are allegedly the ancestors of the Huns, a theory that is still neither confirmed nor refuted. In such case, the Turks would be indeed related to the Huns, even though the Huns definitely were not Turks. This does not exclude that some Hun tribes may have been mixed with Turk ones and became Turk. This seems to be the case of the Kök Turks (closely connected with the Khazars), described as "having white complexion, red hair and green eyes", a description that perfectly fits the Huns. If such hypothesis proves true, the so-called "White Huns" (Heftalites) were crushed by genuine Huns, the Kök.
There are relevant elements in favour of a Hsiung-nu origin of Turks:
ˇChinese documents assert that the Kök Turks were related to the Uyghurs and that both were part of the Hsiung-nu.
ˇThe Hsiung-nu were ruled by 24 chiefs, and the Turk original tribes (Oguz) were 24, according to their own legends.
ˇThe first Turkic writing was Runic, which links Turks and Huns with a possible common origin.
ˇThe Turks' homeland apparently was the Altay region, the same territory of the Hsiung-nu.
Besides the relevance that the actual origin of Turks may have concerning Sakastan, their rule over that land is essential to define the ethnogenesis of the peoples of the Indus Valley, because the oldest lineages of the existing tribes and clans date back to that period, not before. The Kök Turks indeed, were not an homogeneous people, but a confederacy that included Huns, Sarmatians and Scythian-related tribes, which originated the present-day inhabitants of Sindh, Pundjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kashmir and neighbouring regions, with contributions of Iranic elements from the Sassanid Persian rule. These Eurasian conquerors found in the Indus Valley not only a fertile and desirable land to settle, but also inhabitants of their same stock, with whom they merged. On the other side, the Aryans have always done every effort to colonize the region and have exerted their influence up to some degree. Yet, they were not able to subdue the tribes of Sakastan as they did with the other peoples in India, whom they assigned the lower levels into their own caste system. They had to act in a different way, and in order to find favour with the new rulers, they granted all of them the status of "kshatrya", regardless of their actual social position. Such is the origin of the Rajput, the "Royal offspring". The Eastern Sakastan became Rajputana, "land of the Royal offspring", or Rajasthan, "Land of Kings".
Indeed, the name Rajput stands for a social definition rather than a purely ethnic one, that includes different tribes not immediately related to each other but sharing a long-lasting interaction and a closely connected ancestry. Rajput clans are not only Saka in the strict sense of the word, but also Massageta, Hunnish and even Medes. All Rajput-related tribe names can be traced back to one of these origins, with the valid support of their cultural features, historic records and other witness elements like the coinage.
Among the 36 Rajput tribes we find some names that are similar to those of their counterparts in the west, as in the following list:
ˇJatt or Jat, whose relatives were the Jász/Yazyg of the Danubian Basin and the Jutes of Kent and whose direct ancestors were very likely the As/Yazyg of the Siberian steppes. Therefore, of Massageta/Sarmatian stock. Arabs called them "Zott", name that they used as general term for any people coming from the Indus Valley.
ˇGujjar, Gujrati, identified with the Khazars by authoritative scholars. Indo-Aryan languages, lacking the "kh" and the "z" sounds, convert them respectively into "g" and "j". Khazars were part of the Kök Turks before establishing their own independent kingdom in the Volga Basin, and it was in this period that the Gujjars/Gujratis appear in the Indus Valley. They settled mainly in Gujarat, namely, "Land of the Khazars".
ˇSisodiya, one of the most prominent clans; according to the Rajput scholar Mulchand Chauhan, derive their name from the Sassanid dynasty, therefore ascribing them a Medo-Persian origin. Beyond the precision or reliability of this claim, there are other important elements, anthropological, historic and cultural, that prove the non-Aryan but Indo-Iranian origin of this tribe.
ˇDahya, who may be identified with the Dahae of the Persian chronicles, a Scythian tribe mentioned together with the Saka Tigraxawda and the Saka Hawmavarga. The Dahae were nomads from the lower Yaksartes (Syrdarya), outstanding archers that eventually served as mercenaries to the Persians against Alexander the Great and later sided with him in the conquest of the Pundjab, where they settled. They were related to the Parthians as well. Their character has been inherited by the Dahya Rajput.
Other Rajput clans have names that recall those of Eurasian tribes, like the Hun Rajcula, or are traceable to the Scytho-Sarmatic peoples that belonged to the Kök Turk hordes or even those that settled in the Indus Valley during the Kushan and Heftalite rules.
Further evidences of the ethnic background of the Rajputs are given by documents of that period attesting the character of their original religion, that consisted in sun-, fire- and sword-worship. All their rituals and ceremonies, like drinking from the skull and other practices, are completely strange to Vedic Aryans and are definitely features typical of Scythian-related peoples.
The Rajput clans emerged during the Kök Turk rule. In fact, the term "Rajput" is never mentioned in any Sanskrit document before that period. They established various kingdoms and dynasties in the Indus Valley and even in other regions of Northern India, like the royal house of Kannauj, a Gujjar family.
The Scythian character of the Rajputs, that of being always in conflict with their neighbours because of their lack of unity, yielded advantage to the expansionist policy of the Aryan rulers of India, that achieved in subduing most of the Indus Valley to their religious structure based on caste divisions. Notwithstanding, that region remains a conflictive area where different alternative religions emerged, a natural tendency of the non-Aryan inhabitants to search for something different from their neighbours' system.
A special mention deserve the Jat people, sometimes identified as Rajput and sometimes distinguished from them. Indeed, the differences between the two groups are not ethnic but socio-cultural, and the same tribe may be regarded as Rajput or Jat, depending on the geographic area. There are not fixed patterns to establish whether one clan may be considered either one or the other from outside; it is a subjective self-definition. Jats are however, one of the 36 "royal tribes" of the Rajput society; consequently, it would be more appropriate to distinguish if a Rajput clan is Jat or not.
The Jats undoubtedly descend from the easternmost branch of the Sarmatian people, the Yazyg of Central Asia, that curiously have the same name of the westernmost branch in the Danubian region: Jász, Jat, Jut. During the British rule over India, colonizers and scholars noticed to their astonishment that many Jat people had apparently English family names or very similar. Certainly the proud Jats would have never adopted British surnames for their own ancestral clans, and they did not result from intermarriage either. Other foreign powers ruled over the Indus Valley before and for longer periods than England, yet no Jat clan names corresponding to the previous rulers have been found. Besides this, no other Indian people had such names except Jats. This peculiarity led scholars to research about these Jat-British homonyms: those names in England may be traced back to a Jut origin, mainly Kentish; among the Jats, they exist since the distant past. This appears to be more than a coincidence; Jats and Juts are the same people. This assertion finds confirmation in historic records, for example, the Roman writer Ammianus Marcellinus, who called all Sarmatian peoples "Alani", wrote: "Alani once were known as the Massagetae. The Alani mount to the eastward, divided into populous and extensive nations; these reach as far as Asia and, as I have heard, stretch all the way to the river Ganges, which flows through the territories of India". British scholars and also officers compared the Jats' warrior character with that of the Kentish men as well as their traditional laws, for instance, the double heritage part for the youngest son, still practised among Indian Jats. An accurate research about this people which takes account of all the relevant characteristics of their ethnicity reveals that they are among the purest Sarmatic tribes existing today. See map of the Indus valley peoples.
A widespread erroneous theory claims that also Roma (Gypsies) are Jats or else connected with them, such hypothesis is utterly groundless, but as is not the subject of this chapter, it has been exposed in other essays (see: Origin of Roma and Sinti and Myths, Hypotheses and Facts about the Origin of Roma).
Beyond the East
The Eurasians were undoubtedly the most widespread peoples throughout the continent. From their original homeland they reached the Arctic in ancient times, which means that their expansion eastwards ended not at the Pacific Ocean, but at the Atlantic Ocean.
The "Bering Strait theory" is the only creditable hypothesis about the origin of most American native peoples, who are biologically quite similar to Eurasians; they are indeed Eurasians. Before going on with the exposition of this subject, it is right to make clear that the term "American" natives used here intends a general, geographic denomination and not an ethnic one (in the same way as "Eurasian"). Such term is used with great respect for those peoples, and is found to be more neutral and appropriate than "First Nations" or "Indians", with the purpose of not offending those tribes, which have their own ethnic denomination that is undoubtedly the most correct, but difficult to apply to the whole complex of peoples. Having done this clarification, if the term "American" natives offends somebody, please let us know.
In the same way, our purpose is to present the origin of nations from a scientific viewpoint, according to evidences and leaving aside religious concepts. The Biblical statements perfectly harmonize with science, while many religious interpretations of them conflict with scientific proofs. Therefore, we can safely say that American natives are in the largest proportion Japhetic peoples (definitely neither Semitic nor Hamitic). It is true that ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and probably other peoples engaged trade relationships with the Americas - according to some products found in Egypt and the Middle East that existed only in the American Continent -, but there is no proof that they established colonies or gave origin to any specific tribe; perhaps if some of them settled, they were absorbed by the local population. It is also ridiculous the assertion that American natives may descend from the Israelite "lost Tribes", a speculative theory that has not any scientific support and deserves no further mention.
Therefore, what concerns to the American natives (mainly North-American) and the likely relationship with a Scythian/Sarmatian origin of most tribes is still a creditable hypothesis rather than a confirmed fact, based on many relevant elements: besides the anthropological and biological features, there are important cultural characteristics that they share with the Eurasian peoples, some of them have been already mentioned above - personal names that recalled the spirits of natural phenomena, animals or warlike symbols and weapons; shamanism involving ecstasy produced by smoking; religious ceremonies performed without temples; worship of the natural forces; belief in the power of talismans. Concerning social customs, many tribes wore trousers, in some of them female members assumed male roles. Regarding war tactics, their main "weapon" were the horses, riding around their enemy to fling their arrows at them instead of engaging a hand to hand fighting, etc. -.
The particular familiarity that some tribes acquired with the horse leads to think that they had an atavic heritage transmitted through generations which did not know that animal, that was the main friend of their ancestors. Some American natives were very skilled riders, excelling the Europeans that made them know the art of riding and using the horse in battle. Among those peoples, a special mention deserve the "Nermurnuh", or also "Nimenim", "Nemene", "Nuumu", commonly known as "Comanche". Without asserting that they were Sarmatians, which is likely but still not proven, here we mention some common features between both peoples that might lead to trace an ancient common origin of Sarmatians and Comanche.
Even though the Comanche were apparently a branch of the Shoshones, they distinguished from the other tribes by their unique and unequalled characteristics. They were not an unified people, but a complex of related tribes: Kewatsana, Kotsai, Kwahadie, Motsai, Nokoni, Patgusa, Penateka, Pohoi, Tanima, Wasaih and Yamparika. In the same way as Eurasian groups, they did not always keep the same denomination but changed their names over the years. Since they did not have historic records, it is not possible to determine their remote origins (though all American natives believe to be autochthonous); the Comanche seem to have completely lost their memory of how their life was before they knew the horse; in fact they believed to have always had horses, even before the Europeans introduced this animal in the Americas. If this phenomenon may have an explanation, a likely one is that they remembered their remote past in the Asian plains and forgot their "exile" without horses in America - when the horses appeared again, their ancestral memory was restored. Undoubtedly, it is hard to imagine the Comanche without horses, as their whole social structure was founded on breeding, training and riding-based war tactics. They had expertise in selecting equine breeds in order to obtain horses with the desired characteristics, and were also skilful in taming wild mustangs. Their enormous herds, exceeding in number those of any other tribe, were acquired through every possible means: trade, theft, breeding, etc. The Comanche' social life was thoroughly oriented around the art of war, more than any other American native people, and was developed through their mastering horsemanship. Comanche horses were so well-trained that they responded to spoken and touch commands. While on foot a Comanche warrior was not better than any other, on horseback was matchless. Galloping at full speed, a Comanche warrior could lean over to use his horse as a shield while he shot arrows from under the horse's neck. He could also rescue a fallen friend by pulling him up onto his horse while in motion. An accurate description of their skill was given by the documentary artist George Catlin, who said: "Amongst their feats of riding, there is one that has astonished me more than anything of the kind I have ever seen, or expect to see, in my life: a stratagem of war, learned and practised by every young man in the tribe; by which he is able to drop his body upon the side of his horse at the instant he is passing, effectually screened from his enemies' weapons… as he lies in a horizontal position behind the body of his horse, with his heel hanging over the horse's back; by which he has the power of throwing himself up again, and changing to the other side of the horse if necessary. In this wonderful condition, he will hang whilst his horse is at the fullest speed, carrying with him his bow and his shield, and also his long lance of fourteen feet in length, all or either of which he will wield upon his enemy as he passes; rising and throwing his arrows over the horse's back, or with equal ease and equal success under the horse's neck…". We do not know if any Eurasian people reached the same level of expertise in the art of riding, but this achievement by Comanche fits only for a people that knew the horse since the dawn of history rather than to one which learnt about this animal in relatively recent times.
There are other features that are common to Comanche and Sarmatians: Both boys and girls were given their first mounts at the age of four-five years old. Boys worked hard to become warriors since they were teenagers; girls also became accomplished riders and when they grew up, they went antelope hunting with the men. Horses were not only essential for war, but also enabled the Comanche to travel great distances following the migrations of the buffalo, animal from which they obtained food, clothing and shelter. Contrary to the stereotype, the Comanche did not wear feathered headgears like the Sioux but leather caps, usually with buffalo horns, and instead of the typical moccasins they wore high boots, like Eurasian peoples. Although both boys and girls were engaged in horseback riding and hunting, their social parity ended in adulthood; the Comanche society was dominated by men, who were even polygamous. This characteristic is in opposition to Sarmatian society, but in harmony with Scythian culture. The leadership of the group or tribe was not hereditary but conferred to a male warrior according to his war achievements.
Concerning religion, it was similar to the Eurasian shamanism although Comanche seem to have believed in a main supreme Creator and a Paradise. They revered the earth, sun, moon, rivers, etc. and believed in spirits dwelling in natural forces and animals, but they did not have special celebrations, rites, priests or doctrines. The Comanche buried their dead and, if he was a notable warrior, his horse was killed and buried with him. This custom is also found among Eurasian tribes.
In proportion to their number, Comanche have killed much more European and American colonists than any other native tribe, but as well as many Eurasians, their behaviour towards other peoples was ambiguous and they were always in war with some or many other American native groups as well. Europeans first and American colonists later took advantage of this situation to fight the native inhabitants and conquer their lands.
The native American peoples are all of them worth being mentioned, a task that requires a separate essay. Therefore, the Comanche here have been chosen as an emblematic case that allows us to propose a comparison between their culture and those of the Eurasians.