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The Peoples of the North
The Peoples of the North are commonly known in ancient history as Japhetic, and the oldest existing records about their origins are the Hebrew Scriptures and some Assyrian Chronicles. In fact, they appear in history in a later time. As it was said in the introduction, the classification "Peoples of the North" goes beyond the traditional thought that Yephet referred to Indo-Europeans only. They are mentioned as becoming numerous and powerful in the future, and they indeed are the leading nations today.
The first Japhetic people that had some importance in the ancient world were the Mitanni, that inhabited a vast area between Northern Mesopotamia, East Anatolia and Canaan. They achieved in consolidating a state, Hanigalbat, in association with the Hurrians. Their language, very close to Sanskrit, suggests that the Aryana that migrated and settled in India were a Hurrian tribe (see India). The Hurrians are often identified with the Subarians, who were of Kushite origin, likely Sumerian. In such case, the term Hurrian refers to the same people after having adopted an Indo-European culture and language.
The Mitanni kingdom was destroyed by Assyrians, and other Hurritic settlements were subdued and assimilated by Semites. So they disappeared in early times, and some centuries elapsed until another Japhetic people worth of being considered by history emerged: the Medes, of Iranic stock. They unwillingly bore the Assyrian domination and helped Babylonians with a numerous army in their conquest of Nineveh. Nevertheless, the Medes did not achieve in having a leading role because they were obscured by their partners in alliance, the Persians. It is a common mistake to identify the Mitanni with the Medes only by the apparent name similarity: the Mitanni were descent of Magog, while the Medes were the offspring of Maday. They spoke also different languages. However, being the Mitanni a non-Semitic people they would have hardly been assimilated by Assyrians, while by affinity the Mitanni still dwelling in the region were likely absorbed by the Medes. The Persian Empire was conquered by Alexander the Great, who belonged to another Japhetic people, the Macedonians.
Alexander marked the starting point from which the peoples of the North began their leading role in history. There is a large amount of writings about great civilizations as Greeks and Romans, therefore, we would leave them aside to concentrate on other less known peoples.
The brief list given in the Scriptures mention together with Madai (Medes) and Yavan (Greeks) other names that are the subject of this chapter: Gomer, Magog, Tuval, Meshekh, Tiras, Ashkenaz, Riphat, Togarmah.
There are many fantastic theories lately about the Japhetic peoples, ascribing them completely erroneous identities claiming untenable arguments, based on anachronistic and groundless so-called proofs, without historic or scientific support, and alleging linguistic links that are quite bizarre. Such theories have mainly religious purposes. That is why in this chapter the identification research will be done in a double sense: who those peoples are and who they are not, even though this issue is quite obvious.
The fact that the oldest records we have about these peoples are written in the Hebrew Scriptures is not a reason for making of this subject a religious matter. The only way to know with certainty of whom the Scriptures speak about is through a scientific research without preconceived religious ideas, as the Bible is also a scientific and historic source. The Scriptures mention many peoples of ancient times, and it is scientifically proved that these peoples existed because archaeology and other ancient inscriptions confirmed what the Scriptures say. Otherwise, those names should have been interpreted as allegoric or symbolic. This makes an important difference with any religious book, in which the existence of many peoples, lands, cities or other names have not any historic or scientific proof. It is also essential to acknowledge that the Scriptures are of Israelite origin and inspiration, and the only suitable interpretation should agree with the Hebrew meaning of the words, that in most of cases is purely literal.
Gomer is mentioned very few times: in the table of nations in Bereshyit 10 and the genealogic records in Divre HaYamim 1, and in the anti-Israel alliance prophesied by Yehezkel in chapter 38:6. It is clear that the Scriptures refer to heathen people –"Goyim"–.
Gomer is fully identified with the people called "Gimirrai" by Assyrians, which wandered along the northern frontiers of the Assyrian Empire and in Asia Minor. The people of Gimirrai is known in history as the Kimmerii or Cimmerians, living in the area between Ararat and Asia Minor in the period of Assyrian expansion. Cimmerians did not leave any written record of themselves, as they were nomadic and illiterate, so the first mention we have of them after the Bible is in Assyrian Chronicles. Some ridiculous theories try to relate them with the so-called "lost Tribes" of Israel, here we present a brief chronological table showing their relationships with Assyria and the situation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the same period and after the exile:
3039 / 721b.c.e.
Cimmerians in war against Rusa, king of Urartu-Tilgarimmu (Ararat).
Israelites were still in Canaan, Samaria being besieged by Sargon II. Deportation of Israelites.
3054 / 706 b.c.e.
Sargon II fights Cimmerians that were attacking Assyria's northern borders.
Israelites exiled in Assyria and Media, in the east of the Assyrian Empire.
3055 / 705 b.c.e.
Sargon dies in battle against Cimmerians.
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3075 / 685 b.c.e.
Cimmerians attack Lydia, a kingdom in the west outside Assyrian borders.
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3079-3091 / 681-669 b.c.e.
Asarhadon defeats Cimmerians and enlarges Assyria's northern border.
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3091-3134 / 669-626 b.c.e.
Ashurbanipal defeats Cimmerians in Asia Minor.
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3100 / 660 b.c.e.
Gugu, king of Lydia, ask help to Assyrians against Cimmerians.
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3108 / 652 b.c.e.
Cimmerians capture Sardis.
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3120 / 640 b.c.e.
Cimmerians attack Ionian cities of Smyrna, Magnesia and Ephesus.
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ca. 3160 / 600 c.e.
Cimmerians are no longer in the Middle East but in Europe.
Historian Josephus Flavius in the Century I e.c. attests that Israelites are still beyond the Euphrates in exile.
Cimmerians were a primitive people of wanderer plunderers and hardly had any contact with great civilizations besides war. Assyrians either fought them or engaged them as mercenaries. Their social system was despicable for any Semitic people with regards to moral patterns. If the customs of Canaanites were considered abominable by Israelites, those of Cimmerians were even worse.
The Greek historians, following Homeric legends, erroneusly located Cimmerians' homeland by the northern shores of the Black Sea. The oldest records instead place them in Uishdish, within the Mannai's country in Ararat. The Assyrian records mention three Cimmerian kings: Teupa, Dúkdammì and Sandakatru, names which clearly reveal an Indo-Iranian origin, with possible Hurrian influence. They vanished from history soon after their displacement to the Aegean coastland, when they attacked the Ionian cities. They apparently merged with Thracian tribes, according to Greek historians. However, it is very likely that they were assimilated into a much numerous people which in those times was already dwelling in central and western Europe: the Celts, who were the large descent of Gomer. There are traces of Celts in Europe some centuries before Cimmerians appear in the Ararat and Asia Minor areas, therefore, the Celts emigrated towards the west in a very earlier period, when the Hattian and Hurrian kingdoms arose.
Celts did not call themselves that way, but "Cymry", and still today this is their ethnic name. Such name recalls their ancestor Gomer. The term "Celt", "Celtic" comes from "Keltoi", as Greeks called them. Romans knew them as "Galli" (Gaul), and it is also of Roman origin the term "Britanni" applied to some Celtic groups. Such word is not at all related to the Hebrew "B'rit", as Romans did not speak Hebrew, and Britons did never call themselves that way. Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Normans that came later knew them by their Roman name and adopted it once they conquered the Isles and settled there. It is in modern times that the British apply such term to themselves, as it is a matter of fact that English has been strongly influenced by Latin. Celts of Great Britain still call their land "Cymru".
Celtic society was organized according to a system of castes, much alike Indo-Aryans. Their religion was led by the druids and the centre of Celtic belief was the passing of souls from one body to another, what is typically Indo-European; such idea has never existed in any Semitic people.
Celts were present in Europe since early times: in the late Bronze Age around the year 2560 (1200 b.c.e.) they were in Central Europe, four centuries later they settled in the British Isles and between the 5th and 2nd centuries b.c.e. the Celtic peoples extended from Spain to the Balkans. They plundered Rome in 3370 (390 b.c.e.) and sacked Delphi in 3481 (279 b.c.e.). Greeks did not identify them with the same people known to them as "Keltoi" since they came from Northern Italy, so they called them after their Roman name, "Galatoi". This Celtic group was in counter-current regarding the Cimmerians (that emigrated westwards) and settled in Asia Minor (the former homeland of Cimmerians), in the area that since then was called "Galatia".
Celtic peoples have left many toponyms throughout Europe, either in their language or in Latin: the peninsula of Crimea apparently took such name from Kimmerii (Gimirrai, Gomer), after the erroneous information given by Homeric sources that placed there the Cimmerians' homeland. Umbria (Italy), Cumberland, Northumbria (England), and the Celtic name of Wales, Cymru; Galica (Ukraine/Poland), Galicia (Spain), Wales, to mention some few.
There is a good deal of serious information about Celtic history and culture, that is not related to fantastic theories or unlikely lineages. The purpose of this brief research is simply to show some grounds on which the identification of Gomer with the Celtic peoples is founded, and that the modern Celtic nations fully belong to Japhetic, Indo-European stock.
The descent of Magog is a wide range of peoples whose relationship with each other dates back to ancient times, nevertheless they shared some common characteristics that were considered by highly civilized peoples as primitive and barbaric, characteristics that they abandoned only many centuries later, even having become quite different peoples from their original stock: being organized in hordes of plunderers with a temporary territory usually in plain lands like steppes, not interested in building cities or writing their own historic records (often because they did not know writing), but excellent horse riders and weapon manufacturers. These peoples are known in ancient times under the general denomination of Scythians. Being nomadic hordes without a defined territory, the different groups wandered quite far away from each other and began to distinguish acquiring their own particularities that made of each people always more different from the others, so much that their common original characteristics almost vanished. In this way, the Scythians mentioned in Assyrian and Persian chronicles are not only the Scythians of centuries later, but include also the ancestors of Sarmatians, Huns, Ugro-Finnic and even some Celtic clans – in fact, some ancient Irish chronicles trace their lineage from Magog instead of Gomer; the appearance of Magog's name in the Milesian ancestry is of great significance, since Magog was the founder of the Scythian peoples, and the early Irish chroniclers were emphatic in their claim that the Irish were descended from Scythian stock.
This claim is confirmed in many points, not the least of which is the fact that "Scot" and "Scythian" share the same etymological root, and the early Irish were originally known as Scots, that later left Ireland and settled in the country that still bears their name (Scotland), displacing and subduing the native Picts.
Here we present the Scythians in general as a conventional term, for a more detailed and specific definition see additional page: Scythians.
It was common among such nomadic peoples that some hordes would join other larger groups even not related to them by culture or origins; therefore, it is not unlike that some Scythians were assimilated by Celts. Even the AngloSaxon genealogies acknowledge Magog as their forefather.
The common Japhetic background and close relationships held by the descent of Gomer, Magog, Meshekh and Tuval makes it difficult to define if a people comes from either one or the other of these four patriarchs; besides, it is certain that up to some degree they have mixed with each other during the period when they shared the same territorial area and also much later.
It seems that in some way the original land of Magog was related to the ancient Subartu or Saparda in Mesopotamia, homeland of a people called the "Royal Scythians" by the Greeks and "Magor" by Egyptians, known also as Saka, Sabir, Modhar, Madyar, from whom Hungarians (whose national name is Magyar) would have been originated after a long-lasting wandering in Asia. The fact that the only people in present times that still keeps at least in part the name of Magog in their ethnic name are Hungarians is significant. Hungarians' legendary ancestor-kings were "Nimród" or "Ménrót" and "Magor", and according to a well known legend, "Hunor and Magor" were Nimrod's sons, who married the daughters of the king of Alans. Ancient myths often have some root of truth in them. The Hungarian legend of origin explains the mixing of three main groups in a mythical manner, but clearly indicating that Magyars, Huns and Alans were the main element of their ethnic origins. Scythians, whose homeland was Subartu, were often associated with the "Sabir" (from where likely the name "Siberia" comes), perhaps the same people also known as "Huns". The Hungarian tradition that their co-ancestors Magor and Hunor were Nimrod's sons leads to the conclusion that Huns actually were in Mesopotamia in ancient times, and even though it is less likely that Huns descend from Nimrod, they had Nimrod as their ruler. Actually, scholars of Oriental history believe that the Magyars were also exposed to the Sumerian culture, and they have found that knowledge of the Ural-Altaic languages such as Magyar, helps to decipher Sumerian writings. Cuneiform writing was found to be used by the Magyars long before they entered the Carpathian Basin. The similarity of the two languages has led researchers to form a Sumerian-Hungarian connection. Alans, the third element, descend from Meshekh (see below). This mixed group was later enlarged with the Hunogurs and Avars that joined them, peoples that anyway come from one of the four Japhetic ancestors mentioned above.
Huns were divided into different groups and their descent is found not only among Hungarians; two important Hunnic groups were Bulgars and Horvats, that settled first in the Ural area and then in the Balkans, but were completely Slavicized, while the Danubian Huns interacted with Magyars to found the Hungarian/Magyar nation (see "The Huns").
One of the branches of the "Royal Scythians" dwelled for a while among Medes and Iranic peoples before emigrating to the steppes between the Aral, the Caspian and the Azov Seas to become known in history as "Sarmatians". They were mainly characterized by their warrior-women. This was too much astounding for the Greeks, who created legends about their origin, asserting that Sarmatians were the offspring of Scythians and the daughters of the Amazons. Sarmatians were anyway very different from Scythians. Female Sarmatians have been seen frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands, in war taking the field, and wearing the very same dress as the men. It was said that no girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle. They transferred some of these characteristics to the Norsemen, who dwelled among Sarmatians before settling in the Nordic lands (see Ashkenaz). Their religious practices were typical of the clan-tribal cults of pre-Zoroastrian Iran, the worship of nature, the sky, the earth and fire; and there is evidence of fire cult practices, which implies that they sojourned among Medes in early times. Sarmatians and their kindred Scythians were allied against the Persian Empire and after for some centuries, until Sarmatians conquered the Scythians, replacing them as rulers of the vast area between the Urals and the Danube by the 2nd century b.c.e.; Sarmatians were undisputed rulers of the Eurasian plains until Huns arrived about 4130 (370 c.e.). Sarmatians disappeared a couple of centuries later, assimilated either by Slavic or Alan-Hun-Magyar peoples (more information about Sarmatians in additional page).
As it was said before, the descent of Magog includes numerous peoples that became quite different and whose links between each other are to be found in the darkness of ancient times.
The peoples that still keep many of the original characteristics of Magog are the various Turk nationalities, that achieved also to re-settle in their ancient homeland, Asia Minor.
Concerning this name, a fanciful and bizarre interpretation (or better, misinterpretation) is often given, in order to support some pseudo-theological theories. Therefore, it is necessary to make it clear who Meshekh is not before going on with the true identity of this people.
Meshekh is a Hebrew name, equivalent to the Assyrian "Moshkhi" – notice that in Semitic languages only the consonants are written and are essential for every word derivation: any word that has one of the root consonants changed cannot be related in any way and has a completely different origin.
The quite erroneous interpretation that is usually given is that Meshekh is the ancestor of Muscovites: such assertion is simply groundless and has not any support neither linguistic nor historic or ethnic. MeSHeKH (Meshekh) and MoSKVaH (Moscow) are written in Hebrew in a completely different way, as shown here:
The only letter that both terms have in common is the initial "mem"; then Meshekh is written with other two letters: "shin" and "khaf", while in Moskvah the following letters are "samek", "qof", "bet" or "vav", and "he" (there are two alternative spellings for the "v" sound). In Hebrew, as well as in any other Semitic language, "shin" and "samek" are not interchangeable, as also "khaf" and "qof" are not. This evidence, so elementary and essential, is enough.
There are other overwhelming proofs that demonstrate how ridiculous is to identify Meshekh with Moscow, but this is the topic of the following chapter: "The Real Identity of Gog and Magog".
Meshekh is closely related to other two Japhetic patriarchs: Togarmah and Tuval, with whom has shared the same territory.
The "Moshkhi" mentioned by Assyrians are to be identified with the Massagetas, who were beyond the northern boundaries of the empire, though different groups of them were wandering from Asia Minor to the Central Asia steppes, often associated with the Scythians. The Moshkhi settled within the land of Tilgarimmu, in the north of Ararat, and their capital was Mtskhet. One of the first Georgian kings, Farnavaz (few years after Alexander the Great) was descendant of Mtskhetos (Meshekh). There is still today an ethnic group among Georgian people called "Meskhetians".
In the travel diaries of Pethahiah of Regensburg, written in the second half of the 12th century c.e., "the Ararat country" is identified with "Meshekh Land", from where some messengers were sent to Baghdad and those messengers related that "the kings of Meshekh and all their Lands became Jews" and that there were teachers among the inhabitants of Meshekh "educating their children in Torah". The term "Meshekh" clearly refers to the Georgian tribe of Meskhi. However no support has been found for the theory that this tribe as a whole or partially adopted Judaism.
The Massagetas became famous for their bellicosity and were often considered as one of the Scythian groups. Their queen Tamyris is known for having achieved an overwhelming victory over the Persians in 3231 (529 b.c.e.). They apparently split up into several ethnic branches, like the As (Aorsi), Yazygs, the Roxlans and the Alans, that later became the leading Sarmatic tribe. Josephus Flavius, for example, described the Alans as part of the Scythians living around the Tanais River (Don) and the Azov Sea, and the Greek historian Herodotus wrote that the Alans were sometimes difficult to distinguish from the Scythians. Part of the Alanian-Sarmatian tribe settled in Transcaucasia and their descendants are among others the present-day Ossetians.
Alans were overwhelmed by the Huns about the year 4130 (370 c.e.) and became part of the Hungarian nation (see above). Others joined the Vandals and Suebians and invaded Western Europe and North-Africa. Jordanes, the Gothic historian, asserts that also the Goths are Massageta by origin, that emigrated from the Caucasus to the Baltic Sea shores, from where they invaded later almost all Europe.
Nevertheless, a consistent number of the descent of Meshekh remained in the Caucasus area and was assimilated by Togarmah in such a way that Mtskhetos is considered one of the founders of the Georgian nation and of the first capital, Mtskhetha – tradition has made of him not Togarmah's uncle but his grandson, just because Thargamos is the father of "all Georgians". Even today, peoples of Daghestan know their Eastern Georgian neighbours as "Mosok/Masek/Mosoch". In history records, the Kavkaz Mountains are also known as "Moskhian Mountains". Josephus Flavius considered the Moschs, as well as the Iberians, as being of Anatolian origin. In his commentary he wrote that the Mosoch were derived from the Biblical Meshekh and that they afterwards received the name of Cappadocians, though from the designation of their capital Mazakha it is obvious that the name of their whole people was the same (Josephus, Antiq., I, 124-125).
In the same way as it happens with Meshekh, Tuval has been erroneously identified to justify pseudo-theological or political bias, with the city of Tobol'sk. Such [mis]interpretation is hermeneutically and exegetically unacceptable and completely groundless. For a deeper analysis of this topic, see the following chapter: "The Real Identity of Gog and Magog".
Tuval (usually written "Tubal") is mentioned in early times by the Assyrian king Tiglat-Pileser I about the year 2650 (1100 b.c.e.) and refers to them as a people dwelling close to Togarmah.
As well as Gomer and Magog, they are likely a group of various peoples that followed separate ways in history since early times
Their original homeland was Asia Minor, where they were known as "Tibarenoi", and may be related to some of the Sea Peoples coming from the same area as well as with the Hittites.
The Tybareni moved in two different directions: 1) by the sea towards the west and 2) to the Caucasus area in a first stage, subsequently westwards.
1) The emigration of Tybareni towards the west has an interesting similarity with some of the Sea Peoples, who abandoned their seafaring tradition once they found a land to settle. The Tybareni reached the western coast of Italy in early times and it is likely that the names "Tyrrhenian Sea" and "Tiberi" (ancient name of the river Tevere, by which Rome was built) have the same origin. Once settled in Italy, they are known in history as "Etruscans" (though they called themselves "Rasenna"). The origin of Etruscans in not completely certain, but this is the most founded hypothesis. The first reasonably scientific account was given by Herodotus in the 5th century b.c.e. He tells that the Etruscans originated in Lydia, in Asia Minor, and that half the population emigrated to the west by sea led by Tyrrhenus, the son of the king. Notice that he asserted that only half the population reached Italy.
It has been also suggested that the Etruscans were part of the Pelasgians, or Sea Peoples of Lemnos, although the evidence is that the Pelasgians were a mixture of various peoples including some of the biblical Canaanites known as Phoenicians. This hypothesis does not exclude that Tybareni were counted among the Pelasgians.
2) Other group of Tybareni followed a route that partially coincides with the Cimmerians. They were also closely related to Meshekh and often both peoples are mentioned together. By their Anatolian origin and relationships with Hittites, they are also referred to as Hetto-Iberians. In ancient Roman sources the whole Transcaucasian Georgia is called Iberia, as well as the Greek name for Georgians, that seems to be connected with the Armenian ethnonym "Ivirk". Such variation from "Tibarenoi" to "Iberi" is typical of the ethno-toponyms of the Classical times of the Black Sea and the Caucasus areas, which are often characterized by such a disappearing of the dental consonants d, t or t', as in the following examples: Tuni=Uni, Dvali=Vali, Toreti=Oreti, and Tibari=Iberi. This is a founded explanation of such fluctuation, as any apparent relationship between "Iberi" and "Ivri" (Hebrew) is unfounded. The close relationship between Iberi and Moshkhi is coincident with the frequent mention of Tuval and Meshekh together.
The Iberians inhabited the land of Togarmah since early times, about year 2000 b.c.e. and also in early times a consistent part of them emigrated westwards, to the west of the Pyrenees, giving their name to the Iberian Peninsula. There their descendants are now commonly known as "Basques", though their national name is "Euskadi", whose origin has been a matter of controversy but now it is proved that they came from the ancient Iberia in Caucasus and their language is still related to some languages spoken in Georgia. The very name "Basques" applied to them comes from "Abaski", another name given to Iberians of Caucasus in ancient times.
Once settled in their new land, most of Iberians mixed with Celtic peoples, giving origin to a new ethnic group, the Celtiberians. This fact is not isolated, since Iberians have previously met Cimmerians in the Black Sea area. Part of these Celtiberians are thought to have emigrated in Ireland, as that isle was known by Romans as "Hibernia", though such hypothesis is based only on conjecture.
Togarmah is the father of a complex of Caucasic peoples that inhabited the vast mountain area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, including all Transcaucasia and the Ararat Mounts, from Anatolia to Media. This territory was in early times shared with other Japhetic peoples, so that even today the term "Caucasian" is used to define a white person, since many of the European peoples (Gomer, Meshekh, Tuval, Ashkenaz, Riphat) have sojourned in the land of Togarmah. Some of these peoples, coming from Asia Minor, were also assimilated up to a certain degree, so that they were included as part of Togarmah's offspring and in turn have contributed with their Anatolian cultural characteristics and influences. In fact, the Hittite and Hurrian elements present in Caucasian peoples are many.
Once again, the oldest records available about them are the Hebrew Scriptures and the Assyrian Chronicles: while in the Bible the names of Togarmah, Ararat and Minni refer mainly to the land, Assyrians mention Tilgarimmu, Urartu, Hayassa and Nairi as kingdoms. These terms refer to the two main nations that have their origin in Togarmah: Armenians and Georgians.
According to these peoples' own records, their ancestor was "Thargamos", who achieved independence from Nimrod's rule; either history or legend, this tradition matches with others that mention Nimrod as the first one who reigned, leading to prove that all Japhetic nations had the same original homeland. Thargamos was the father of many sons that may correspond to the same number of peoples, though not all of them are clearly identifiable. They were Haik, Karthlos, Bardos, Movakos, Lekos, Heros, Kavkaz and Egros. Some traditions add another son called Khozar. [According to Khazarian records, Togarmah had ten sons, called Ujur, Tauris, Avar, Uauz, Bizal, Tarna, Khazar, Janur, Bulgar and Savir, whose names obviously coincide with different Turkic tribes once settled in the area around the Black and Caspian Seas].
His first-born Haik or Hhaos inherited all the area around Mount Ararat, from the Black Sea to the lakes Van and Urmiah, and is the founder of the Armenian nation, that is still called "Hayastan" and corresponds to the Assyrian Hayassa, in the land of Urartu (Ararat). This civilization was in origin closely related to Hittites and to Hurrites. During the early period, Urartians were organized in a series of tribal states known as Nairi, vassals of Assyria, but about the 9th century b.c.e., they became an unified kingdom. Since then, the Assyrian Chronicles report several campaigns to keep the control over the country. The name "Armenia" appears for the first time in history in the inscription of the Persian king Dareyavesh I.
The other sons of Thargamos settled right north, in the Caucasus. Karthlos is identified with the father of the Georgian nation, whose ethnic name is "Kartvelians" as well as Georgia's official denomination is "Sakart'velo". Kavkaz has given the name to the whole area between the Black and Azov Seas in the west and the Caspian Sea in the east, and to the Mounts crossing from Crimea to the Apsheronsk Peninsula. Although the geographic area bearing his name is easily recognizable, it is less clear which peoples are to be considered his descent, that may be identified with the Circassian tribes (Abkhaz, Adyge, Kabardin and Cherkess).
Bardos seem to have settled in the east, founding the nation known as Caucasic Albania, whose capital was Barda. Nevertheless, peoples of that region, called also Aghvank, Artsakh, Shirvan (now Adzerbaidzhan) were not very much related to Georgian peoples as they were since ancient times part of the Scythian-Massageta groups, from whom the present Turkic population descend.
Egros is from whom Megrelians and Lazis (Adzharians) come, whose land is the legendary Colchis of the Greeks. Lekos is the progenitor of the Lesghian groups, settled mainly in Daghestan. The other peoples of whom Togarmah or Thargamos is the forefather are Svanetians, Kachetians, Imeretians and Gurians, though it is not possible to ascertain from which of his sons they may descend.
Unlike Armenians, the Georgian peoples did not establish a kingdom identified with their own nation since early times. They shared the land and mixed with other groups, mainly Meshekh and Tuval, but also Ashkenaz. In fact, while Assyrians called their country "Tilgarimmu", acknowledging Togarmah, Greeks and Romans called it "Iberia", identifying it with the Tybareni. Georgians themselves had Mtskhet as their capital. The complex ethnicity of this area and the predominance of the Scythian-Massageta group of peoples is well defined by Strabo, who stated that "the region of the Caucasus contained seventy tribes, the greater part being Sarmatian".
The identity of Riphat is usually suggested vaguely or defined with lack of precision. The general interpretation links this personage with Paphlagonia, though without giving further valid information about the peoples or nations that may have generated. Paphlagonia is of course, a good starting-point, being in Asia Minor, the land from where most Japhetic peoples began their history. The first recorded migration of Paphlagonian peoples is directed to Ararat and the Caucasus, from where they continued their way northwest and settled in the area between the Karpathian Mounts and the Pripyat River (both names related to Riphat). This is the land where the Slavic peoples trace their origins.
These peoples were known to Greeks as "Aenetas", as Homer, Strabo and other authors attest that before the Trojan war, they were living in the area near Troy and in Paphlagonia. In those times there was a migration of "Aenetoi" to Urartu. The same people were called "Antes" or "Veneti" by Pliny, Ptolemy and others. These ancient Venedians were neither Celtic, nor Goths, Scythians, Alans, Sarmatians or any other, but an independent historic community, that in some areas and periods assimilated partially some groups of these peoples, mainly Sarmatians, by the obvious reason of sharing the same territory. Veneshä is the ancestral homeland of all Slavic peoples. The name "Slav" replaced the general denomination of "Venedi", "Ante", "Wend" and other related terms in a later time, though these denominations were contemporary during the period in which Slav became general instead of Venedian; in fact, many authors considered that "Antes, Veneti and Slavs were three tribes of the same people"; others considered these terms interchangeable. Venedians, or Slavs, have unique features that make them distinguishable from any other group that has dwelled in the Eastern European plains, having replaced Sarmatians and overcome also the invasions of Huns and others, they still kept their characteristics that allow to classify them as a separate group. Only the Scandinavian colonization of Russia has marked a difference between Russians and the other Slavic peoples (see Ashkenaz). They were the Finns who called them "Rus", meaning "Swedes", as they still call Sweden "Ruotsi", while the name of Russia is "Venäja" in Finnish language.
Even though the Venedians were considered by Romans a bellicose people similar to Scythians, the Greek historian Procopius praises them by their lifestyle, saying that "They are not ruled by one man, but since ancient times they have lived in a democracy". This quality places them closer to Ashkenazic peoples, with whom they have interacted since the very beginning of their history. Other characteristics still kept after millennia show an evident connection of the ancient Slavs with Mesopotamia, for example, the Slavic weights and measures system is based upon the Babylonian. Another interesting detail is that an ancient apocryphal Hebrew book, the "Secrets of Henokh", was preserved only in the Slavic version.
Ashkenaz is commonly identified with Germany because of the well-known branch of Jewish people defined as "Ashkenazim", whose language, Yiddisch, is of German origin. Notwithstanding, such identification is not thoroughly correct. Germans are only partially descendants of Ashkenaz, while other nations qualify before them.
Ashkenaz is recorded in the Bible only three times: in the table of nations of Bereshyit 10, the genealogies of Divre HaYamim 1, and in Yirmeyahu 51:27, where is mentioned together with Ararat and Minni (Armenia). This last mention is a valuable information about the land where Ashkenaz was settled in that historic period. The other important source, as in most cases, are the Assyrian Chronicles, that refer to the same people as "Askuza". The identification of the "Askuza" with any Scythian group is incorrect, since Assyrians established with them a different relationship, just the opposite they had with Scythians. In fact, they recorded a remarkable fact that is characteristic of Ashkenazic peoples even many centuries later: while Assyrians had to keep permanent control over the boundaries of their empire because of plunderers that used to perform sudden raids and withdraw, they recruited the Askuza to fight the Scythian and other invaders on the field, without need of employing their own army. This has been typical of the Ashkenazic peoples for centuries, to make war as a profession either for themselves or for whoever engaged them.
While the Askuza known by Assyrians dwelled in the area of the lake Van, another branch of the same people settled around the 12th century b.c.e. in the north of the Caucasus by the river Don: they called themselves "As" ("Aesir", "Aesar" in plural), where they founded a city that was called Asgard, and the sea that became part of their territory was renamed "Asov", now Azov. Even the Black Sea was known as "Euxinus", a Greek word for Ashkenaz, what proves that since early times they were the rulers of the sea.
* The same term "As" is also the ethnonym of other peoples that are not related to the Ashkenazic Aesir. Indeed, many sources that mention the "As" refer to Sarmatic peoples of the steppes, who were outstanding horsemen but not seafarers, just the opposite to the As people we are speaking about here. Hence, the common mistake of identifying the Askuza of Assyrian chronicles with the Scytho-Sarmatic As instead of the Ashkenazic As.
The Aesir were known for their warships and for fighting with iron weapons as well as their bravery in battle. They achieved in controlling the trading routes along the rivers Don and Volga, and settled their colonies by the Baltic Sea in early times, in the land that recalling their forefather Ashkenaz is still known as "Skandinavia" and "Skåne". Nevertheless, their definitive choice of Scandinavia as their headquarters was done some centuries later. Meanwhile, they were still dwelling by the Black Sea shores, trading or fighting with their neighbours. Their sojourn in the Caucasus and the Southern Russian plains is better recorded in their mythology than in history. In fact, Scandinavian legends or "sagas" are interesting and revealing stories, like the following examples.
The Askuza were known as people living near the lake Van, but they probably joined their kindred Aesir in a later period. Even though this is still unknown, the fact that Scandinavian deities were divided into two categories, the Aesir and the Vanir, may suggest a re-gathering of both peoples. The capital of their paradise, the "Valhalla", was called Asgard, like the city they founded by the Don. The As deities conquered Asgard after having defeated a race of giants, whose names were "Gumir", "Hymir", "Ymir", etc., which may refer to their successful wars against Cimmerians (Gimirrai, Gomer), whom the Aesir compelled to emigrate westwards – some centuries later they still defeated repeatedly the Celts in Western Europe, perpetuating such rivalry.
There was a special category of "disir" (female deities) called "Valkyrias" portrayed as spear-wielding, helmet-wearing, mounted maidens of war, who interfere with the bloody battles and call the chosen ones to Valhalla. They are present in every battle and choose the men who shall die, and they control victory. These warrior-girls recall Sarmatian female fighters, and it is very likely that ancient Scandinavians began to employ their women in war after having learnt it from Sarmatic peoples, with whom they may have also mixed.
The Aesir were divided into several groups that in successive stages emigrated to their new Nordic homeland. Even though the first people settled in Scandinavia were of their stock, the land had to be conquered because other groups were already possessing the southern part of the peninsula, the Goths or Gotar among them. The Goths seem to be descendants of Meshekh, as their own historian Jordanes asserts that they and the Massagetas are the same people. Nevertheless, the Goths acknowledged that peoples of Ashkenaz were living there before them, as the Gothic historian says: "There is a great island situated in the surge of the Northern Ocean, Skandza by name. Now in the island of Scandza, whereof I speak, there dwell many and diverse nations". He describes them also as very tall peoples. The fact that the "island" was already known as "Skandza" is important to assert that Ashkenazic peoples were living there previous to any other. Goths re-named the southern part "Gotiskandza" or simply "Gotland".
The Goths were already known to the Aesir, as trade with the Baltic areas was well established since long time before their migration. One of the Aesir tribes, the Erilar, were particularly impressing for being very tall and bellicose. The Aesir sent them north to secure land and establish trade. The clans of Erilar (called "Eruls" or "Heruls" by Romans) enabled the other Aesir groups ("Svear", "Normans" and "Danes") to establish settlements throughout the region. The Erilar eventually made peace with the Goths. While the Svear population flourished, the Erilar and Goths formed a powerful military alliance of well-known seafarers. The Erilar then, gradually returned to their ancestral land, beginning in the 2nd century c.e., and terrorized all of the peoples of the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, including Romans. The Romans were impressed with the warlike Erilar, and recruited them to fight in the Roman army. Then, they were the Erilar who invaded Rome marking the definitive end of the Western Roman Empire. Nevertheless, the Erilar were still in great demand as soldiers in the imperial guards of the Eastern Roman Empire. Erilar factions were fighting and battling everywhere throughout Europe.
In a subsequent period, the Aesir peoples emigrated and settled in the whole Scandinavia, expelling the previous inhabitants. The Svear was the prevailing tribe that founded Sverige, the "Realm of the Svears", the official name of Sweden until now. They expelled the Goths and other Germanic peoples, becoming the rulers of the Baltic Sea. The western part of the peninsula was easily conquered by the Hringar or Normans, who founded "HringaríkiR", Norway. The tribe of the Danes pushed on southwards and expelled the Juts and the Angles (that joined Saxon groups and emigrated in Great Britain), becoming the owners of the "Danes' Mark". These events preceded the historic period known as "the Viking Age".
Since the complete conquest of Scandinavia, the Ashkenazic peoples are known in history as "Vikings" or "Normans", "Norsemen", though they assumed different names according to the areas where they established new colonies. The denomination "Vikings" is commonly applied to the whole nation, but in fact they used this term only "part-time", when they engaged in warfare. As it has been said before, they considered war as a profession and they were called "Vikings" or "Berserks" during the period in which they were practising such activity, but they never used such term as an ethnic definition.
Their deadliest weapon was a double-edged, light and extremely sharp sword. A Viking usually carried a protective shield or a battle-axe. But among all their weapons, there was one that transformed the Vikings into an incredibly effective invading force: the "drakkar", typical Viking ship. Sleek and steady, quick and easily manoeuvered, the ship was a technological work beyond anything Europe had seen before. The classic ship had a simple design, but was built with great sophistication.
Once the Svears were undisputed owners of Eastern Scandinavia (Sweden), they began to return to the places of their ancestors (if they ever left completely their original land), sailing rivers and establishing colonies and commercial stations. These Swedish tribes were known as "Rus", and the Viking settlers as "Vaeringar". For more than five centuries, the Baltic was known as "Varangian Sea", and the nation they founded is still called "Russia". The Swedish Vikings founded Holmgard (Novgorod) and other centres that became the heart of Russian civilization.
The Svear leader Rurik was the first official ruler of the newly founded "Kingdom of Rus", unifying the Scandinavian settlers and the Slavic dwellers. While Vikings over extensive parts of west and southwest Europe were regarded as cruel marauders who wrought havoc on their victims with the sword and fire, in the Russian plains the Vikings came on peaceful errand, to trade and to colonize. In fact, the tradition says that Slavic tribes (Krivichians, Ves, Chuds and others) invited the "Rus" (Svear) to rule and reign over them. The capital was transferred to Kiev, in the heart of Slavic territory, and both peoples, Scandinavian and Slav, became the unified nation of "Russia" or "Ros". It was almost three centuries later when a Varangian leader founded the new capital, Moskva, name that refers to the muddy water of the river by which the city was built – such name is not related to any people or ethnic definition; the founders of Moscow were the Swedish/Slavic mixture already known as Russians.
Following the tradition of their ancestors and kindred groups like the Erilar, many Varangian enlisted to serve in the Byzantine army and navy. They became the imperial bodyguard and took part in many of the great battles of the Byzantine Empire. The Varangian Guards were among the best-paid of the Empires troops – so well paid that membership had to be purchased. Vikings from all over Scandinavia and Russia came to Byzantium (now Istanbul), spent time in the Varangian Guard and returned home wealthy.
On the western front, the Normans and Danes were the well-known warriors and raiders, though they also founded settlements and mixed with the local population. They reached any land accessible by sea, established a fluent traffic with America and recent discoveries show evidence of them also in Australia. The Sagas relate that it was Leif Eriksson who discovered "Vinland" in the year 4761 (1001 c.e.), but many scholars assert that other Vikings had reached America before him.
In Europe they displaced or fought Germanic and Celtic peoples, contributing to the ethnic composition of some European nations that assimilated the Norman settlers.
Even though Scandinavian languages are closely related to Germanic ones, the Germanic peoples have a different origin. That is why the term "Ashkenazi" fits only partially to Germans, who have a large Gothic and Celtic ancestry that prevails over the Nordic component.
To conclude, it is interesting to notice how erroneous the popular image of the Vikings is, that they are hardly recognized if shown as they really looked, without horned helmets. In fact, and there is not any archaeological evidence that Vikings ever wore such a bizarre hat. Those who actually wore horned helmets were the Celts. The Norse deities and Valkyrias were indeed represented with horned or winged headgears, but this is a tradition they kept from ancient times – Akkadian/Babylonian deities were also shown in this way. The same origin have the dragon heads placed on the bows of Viking ships, as that was one of the symbols of Marduk (Wotan).
There is no doubt regarding the identity of Tiras as the ancestor of the Thracian peoples, and some information is available about their characteristics, mainly from Greek sources. Herodotus wrote: "The Thracian people is the most numerous one of the world; they have several names, according to their specific regions, but their habits are more or less the same. Only their chronic disunity prevented them from being the most powerful of all nations". History attests that they were indeed a most savage race, also described as a "ruddy and blue-eyed people, fighting with their own tribal factions".
Among other characteristics it is said that they have never had their hair or beard cut, and that the Thracians were often employed as mercenaries.
Other historical sources assert that the number of branches coming out of the Thracian genealogical tree would amount to approximately 200 diversified peoples.
It is also assumed that Thracians took part in the Trojan War, if such war ever happened.
These and other facts have led some scholars to assert that Thracians are the ancestors of the Germanic peoples, which may be feasible since also Celts, Scythians, Goths and other groups have settled for a period in Thracian lands. Their description fits in many aspects with those of the Germanic peoples, that are thought to have emigrated to the northwest after having taken part in the Trojan war. Nevertheless, without further evidences, this assertion should be considered as a conjecture.