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I'm reading this book called "A History of Alans in the West", Bachrach,Bernard. I'm not certain on how accurate this author is nor how trustable his sources on his work are. But there was one passage which I quote:

"They worshipped a symbol of sorts - a naked sword thurst into the bare earth.The sword (it is unclear if any sword was adequate or if there was a special one) seems to have represented the god of war who in Latin was called Mars. This god of war is the only god concerning which we have information, and may indeed have been their only god."

The only symbol of Alanic background which so far I've managed to obtain is the shield pattern of the Comites Alanii.

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson/...arison.png


Now, these lines of thoughts are all too frail and may only be a product of coincidence, but I'd like to know what you guys think about it.

- Excalibur was said to be a sword thrust on earth, or a rock. It was supposedly a sword of great importance.

- There are lines of research which indicate that if Arthur really existed, he could have been a great horseman. The Alanii are cited multiple times in multiple sources as being a warrior-based equestrian nomad tribe.

- The time period of the pressure made on Alan tribes from Huns in the Black Sea region to resettle in western areas seems close to the time period of records of the possible coming of Arthur in Britannia.

- This line in the book also called my attention: "Culturally the Alans had developed patterns of assimilation which facilitated their absorption of conquered peoples as well as their own ability to be assimilated by other cultures". So it isn't far-fetched to believe Arthur was assimilated into Briton tribes.
Hi Alan, to me Bachrach’s sources are good but he does make some wild assumptions that a lot of people don’t necessarily agree with like the town names in Northern France and Southern France with Alan names. He does associate Alans with the Armorican cavalry and claims that William the Conqueror won the battle of Hastings due to the steppe feigned retreat tactic by his Armorican cavalry. He is correct about Alans worshipping the sword and the Comites Alani was made up of Alan troops. They were based in Northern Italy and probably stationed at Ravenna. Augusti Alemany in his excellent book Sources on the Alans is a bit more specific than Bachrach and names them as a vexillatio palatine under the Magister Equitum praesentalis (cavalry detachment attached to the Emperor’s headquarters).

When it comes to the sword in the ground or stone (Excalibur) although to the Alans the sword was important I would be wary of comparing this to the sword in the stone stories of Arthur. Steppe cultures revered many things among them the Sword of light, the Spear of Victory and the Cauldron of Renewal. Their Sharmans also believed that natural outcroppings of rock and stone were a focus of supernatural power which I suppose makes sense when you are constantly searching for pasture yearly on the endless steppes. A lot of authors I have read like Littleton and Malcor try to tie in the Arthurian legends with the Iazyges and compare the Arthurian tales with the Alannic tales of the Narts as the hero of the Narts, called Bartraz is compared to Arthur but if you read the tales of the Narts they are more akin to ancient Greek mythology due to their contact with the Greek Pontic traders from the Greek cities on the Black Sea than Celtic legends and Arthur did not try to wipe out his knights like Baltraz attempted with the Narts in revenge for murdering his father. Alanus who is a regular contributor on this forum in regard to Alans and Goths may be able to enlighten you more about Alans fighting in Britain as I think either an Alan or Taifali cavalry force were sent to Britain at some time but I don’t think they stayed. Supposedly 5500 Iazyges were sent to Britain around 175 AD but these were different cavalry than the later Alans. I also wonder how many of them returned to Gaul with Clodius Albinus when he unsuccessfully fought for the throne against Septimius Severus in 196AD. Confusedmile:
Regards
Michael Kerr
The maps together with his explanations seem plausible, though. The cities were all settled by them or were at the very least marked under the generalistic term "Sarmatians" by ancient sources.
Quote:I'm reading this book called "A History of Alans in the West", Bachrach,Bernard. I'm not certain on how accurate this author is nor how trustable his sources on his work are. But there was one passage which I quote:

"They worshipped a symbol of sorts - a naked sword thurst into the bare earth.The sword (it is unclear if any sword was adequate or if there was a special one) seems to have represented the god of war who in Latin was called Mars. This god of war is the only god concerning which we have information, and may indeed have been their only god."

.

You'll probably enjoy this book. It's theories have been discussed here before. They were....interesting.
http://www.amazon.com/From-Scythia-Camel...op?ie=UTF8
Quote:You'll probably enjoy this book. It's theories have been discussed here before. They were....interesting.
http://www.amazon.com/From-Scythia-Camel...op?ie=UTF8
I read on the Amazon website that one of the authors, Linda Malcor, writes 'fantasy fiction'. 'Nuff said!
Quote:I read on the Amazon website that one of the authors, Linda Malcor, writes 'fantasy fiction'. 'Nuff said!

Not that I know of. Her academic field is folklore and myth which is, I suppose, sort of the same as fantasy fiction but with a thin veneer of respectability to it. Wink
The Welsh name for excalibur is caledfwlch.

I think the whole Alanic idea is based on the erroneous belief that you have to be a pastoral nomad in order to get on a horse and fight - despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.

Virtually everything in the Arthurian mythos can be given a Celtic origin. The British were fielding cavalry (alongside chariots) before Caesar landed in Kent. The sword from the stone motif has been claimed to be a folk memory of Bronze Age swords which were cast in bipartite stone moulds.

Excalibur is not worshipped in the Arthurian tales, unlike the Grail. The Grail and Spear of Longinus, connected to Christ's Passion, can be seen to derive from the miraculous cauldrons and spears of Celtic myth associated with the pagan deities The Daghda and Lugh.
Personally I'm of the opinion that the Sword in the Stone is a purely mystical element not based on anything real. Every euhemeristic "explanation" I've seen for it just raises more questions than it answers.
The motif of the sword and stone appears to be later than the sword and lake pairing. Given the proven penchant of Celts for throwing weapons into bodies of water, gaining a sword from a lake would seem a relatively easy task - even if a Lady of the Lake (or "moistened bint" according to Monty Python) was not in the picture.
Oy, but think about this: Why hasn't the sword in the lake rusted? Because there's a divine power in the lake (the Lady), or the sword's scabbard (it being a consecrated item), or both. In any case, another miracle.
Not up to date on the Arthurian/Celtic legends on the ‘Sword in the Stone’ and the ‘Lady of the Lake’ and the Celtic rites of throwing important objects into bodies of water however getting back to original question on connections between the Alans and Excalibur, the Alans were not the only people of the Steppe who worshipped the sword.
Herodotus mentions how the Scythians worshipped Ares/Mars in the form of an ‘akinakes’ set up on a platform of bundles of brushwood. Other sources mention that the Maeotians, Sauromatae both of these groups worshipped a sacred sword and Sarmatians after them as well as the Circassians. Ammianus probably heard about these ancient rites and wrote in his book about the Alans
Quote:‘they fix a naked sword in the ground and reverently worship it as Mars, the presiding deity of those lands over which they range.’

I think it was this passage from Ammianus that prompted Bachrach to claim that their form of sword worship contributed to the Celtic/Arthurian sword in the stone. I think Bachrach even mentions later that Arthur could be Goar/Eochar the king of the Alans who were stopped by Germanus while on their way to punish the Armorican rebels in about 447 AD. But even after the Alans other steppe peoples worshipped the sword including Attila's Huns.
The Huns worshipped the Sword of Mars as mentioned by Priscus who while on a mission visiting Attila’s court heard that
Quote: Attila’s power was growing and their God had indicated this by revealing the Sword of Ares, which is a sacred object honoured by the Scythian (Hun) kings since it was dedicated to the guardian of wars. In ancient times it had disappeared and then was found through the agency of an ox when a herdsman noticed his heifer was limping and bleeding so he followed the trail of blood and found a sword which the animal had trodden on while grazing. He dug it up and took it straight to Attila. He was pleased by this gift and concluded that he had been appointed ruler of the whole world and would be invincible in war.
So besides the Celts and Alans there were a host of peoples who similarly revered the ‘Sacred Sword’ so maybe the story goes back even further to Indo-European roots.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Hello, Alan

Nice name. Wink
The above responders are correct in their judgment of Linda Malcor and her cohort Littleton. They tried to connect "Arthur" with the Iazyges (who were not Sarmatians, but Saraumatae related to Scythians). Amazingly, Littleton & Malcor were totally unaware that around 396-98 several Roman cavalry units were sent into Britain by either Flavius Stilicho or the Praefect of Gaul-- including the Equites Taifali Seniores (the bears), Equites Taifali Iuniores (the dragon & pearl), and Equites Cataphractarii... all heavily steppe-based contingents of probable Alans, Goths, and Taifali (which previously had been the cavalry associated with the Tyrfingi Goths for eight generations.) The Tyrfingi woshiped "Tyrfing," a planted sword; a ceremony probably adopted from the Taifali. Here is the "dragon and pearl" shield used by the original and reenacting Taifali Iuniores:


[attachment=10640]6.jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=10641]3.jpg[/attachment]

It's origin, like the dragon itself, is Chinese. And here is a repro Chinese sword with the same symbol (also an authentic example in the Metropolitan Museum). Likely, the symbol was carried by the Sarmatians from China to the Western Roman Empire, and finally to Britain by the Taifali unit. Oddly enough, the Chinese dragon is now the national flag of Wales. It's a small world. :whistle:

[attachment=10642]25.jpg[/attachment]


If you're looking for "Arthur," consider the "bear"... aka "Artos" in most IE languages. A possible leader of the bears may have been the historical Thiudebalth of southern Wales, a Tyrfingi Goth called Theithfalt in the Welsh vernacular... or his son, Saint Theodoric, aka Saint Tewdrig. The favorite candidate for "Arthur" by Welsh authors is Athruis ap Morgan ap Tewdrig. He is rather "late" in the historical continuum, and supposedly took the epithet of "Arthwyr." If you translate Welsh into English, "Arthwyr" becomes "bear's grandson." That projects Saint Theodoric as the "Bear," perhaps the real-life man who would become the legendary "Arthur."

However, there was no historical nomen as "Arthur," since the epithet would have been written as "Artor/Artur" prior to the 6th century. The name as we know it doesn't show up until Nennius in the 9th century, by then a folklore legend.

And in closing, yes just about every steppe tribe worshiped a sword in the ground, usually within a circle, and usually higher than surrounding soil or sand, and often atop a kurgan or structure, even possible as a "sword in the stones." Most Arthurian symbols, like the grail, can be argued as extending from Celtic or Sarmatian (Alan/Taifali); but as Michael has noted, they actually arrive from a much earlier Indo-European origin, including ancient soma cups used in India. :grin:
Oh!! I forgot to mention "Excalibur."

If you are a Celt, particularly traditional Welsh, the name comes from "Excaliburnus." It shows up in the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth, a 12th century fabulist. So much for authenticity. Cool

Another explanation literally comes "from the Chalybes." The ancient Latin word for steel is "chalybis." So, originally the name could have been "Exchalybis," or "ex" (from) "chalybis" (steel). The Chalybes were situated near the south-eastern Black Sea shore. They were first mentioned by Herodotus. In my hometown, Taki Shalybe moved here from Iran back in the mid 1960's. It's an even Smaller world. :dizzy:
The dragon was adopted by the Anglo-Saxons too. If you look carefully you can see the golden wyvvern of Wessex - perhaps a draco standard - hoisted over the heads of the English army on the Bayeux Tapestry.
Were the Britons using the dragon/wyrm standard in the 5th century? Or did it start to be used only after the conclusion of the Anglo-Saxon invasions?
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