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Sarmatiana: A List of References, Old & New
#1
This is my 1,000 post! I thought I'd list some reference material that might aid the increased interest in Sarmatian history. Some of this stuff begins in the bronze age, while other references cover the iron age and finally the period when the Sarmatians and Romans meet head-on. There are also a few references to the Xiong-nu and Huns. They include primary and secondary sources, and the references run historically from Sintashta to the Altai to Tien Shan to the Ural steppe, to the Crimea to the Danube, from the Massagetae/Saka to the evolved Wusun/Sarmatians/Alans. I'll try to list them in chronological order, from bronze age to iron age, both historical and archaeological:

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language; David W. Anthony, 2007, Princeton: Copper Age to Bronze Age, includes lance heads, sagarii, etc.

The Horse in Human History; Pita Kelekna, 2009, Cambridge: overview of steppe tribes in early chapters, up to the Wusun/Alans.

Art of the Steppes; Karl Jettmar, 1967, Graystone: Tuva and the Altai, iron age

The Histories; Herodotus, 1910, 1997, Knopf: Book I, Massagetae, Queen Tomyris against Cyrus

In Search of the Indo-Europeans; J.P. Mallory, 1989, Thames and Hudson: language, Indo-Iranian overview.

The Sarmatians; Tadeusz Sulimirski, 1970, Praeger: a ground-breaking and extensive overview of Sarmatians.

The Golden Deer of Eurasia; Aruz, Farkas, Alekseev, Korolkova, 2000, Yale: not just art, but important articles on Asiatic admixture and hauma.

Records of the Grand Historian, Han Dynasty II; Sima Qian, trans by Burton Watson, 1993, Columbia: the Wusun and Xiong-nu, intermarriages, the heavenly horse.

Geography, Books 10-12; Strabo, 1928, 2000, Loeb: book 11.8.6-7, the Sacae (Saka), Massagetae, etc.

The War; Josephus, 1988, 2000, Whiston trans, Hendrickson: Book 7.7.4, the Alans devestate Media and Armenia.

History; Ammianus Marcellinus, 1939, trans Rolfe, Loeb: Book 31, customs of the Huns and Halani/Alans.

The Sarmatians, 600BC - AD450; Brzezinski and Mielczarek, 2002, Osprey: a beginner's overview, accurate in some places but incorrect in others, illustrated.

There are isolated references in Pliny, Tacitus, and Dio. In the History, Tacitus mentions a legion wiped out by the Roxolani, then it's payback time as the Romans defeat the Roxolani on a frozen Danube (Ister). In Germania, he calls the Sarmatians "debased" because they lived in wagons and upon horses, a stance that shows a Roman lack of understanding of pastoral cultures.

Several important archaeological PDFs are online: Nomads of the Eurasian Steppes in the Iron Age, ed by Davis-Kimball; Kurgans, Ritual Sites, and Settlements, the Eurasian Bronze and Iron Age, ed by Davis-Kimball. We are reviewing Truesdale and Simonenko on RAT Sarmatian threads, so check these out. This is just a partial list, but it presents an historic and archaeological picture of the eastern tribes that became known as the Roxolani and Alans to the Romans. :-)
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#2
Moved to Allies and Enemies of Rome

Also, Awesome post.
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#3
Thanks for moving this thread, Evan. :dizzy:
I figured that this was the place for it.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#4
Hi, haven't seen a Sarmatian thread for a few days.
Although I love the military side of Sarmatian history there just aren't enough written sources (except Russian) so I turn to books about the history of the Steppes or Central Asia to get a handle on nomadic and semi nomadic life. Some of the books I have are
The Empire Of The Steppes by Rene Grousset
Warriors Of The Steppe by Erik Hildinger
The Heritage Of Central Asia by Richard N. Frye
A new book I received which doesn't cover military but really gets into how busy nomadic life was is Nomads Of South Siberia by Sevyan Vainshtein. I am surprised that the Roxolani had any time to fight the Romans as mares had to be milked up to seven times a day between June and September, how they might have 2 or 3 winter grazing grounds etc and sheep had to be sheared and pits dug and covered with branches in winter to protect their young stock. Which brings me to my next question.
Did the Sarmatians make their own swords and or did they trade for them. I just assume the local smith would be busy repairing cooking equipment, wheels for wagons and various horse equipment. This lifestyle was tough and created tough soldiers. Another interesting fact from this book about an unwritten law of the steppes passed on from ancient times was that "To steal a tethered horse was an automatic death sentence."
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#5
Quote:Hi, haven't seen a Sarmatian thread for a few days... I am surprised that the Roxolani had any time to fight... Which brings me to my next question.
Did the Sarmatians make their own swords and or did they trade for them. I just assume the local smith would be busy repairing cooking equipment, wheels for wagons and various horse equipment.
Regards
Michael Kerr

Michael,

Thanks for adding to the list. I have Grousset and Hildinger but forgot to include them. According to Simonenko, the Sarmatians were not expert swordmakers. But his stance can be easily refuted, when in fact even the early Sarmatians were VERY knowledgeable sword-smiths. This is mentioned by Truesdale who states that the Chinese borrowed Sarmatian iron technology to develop their long-sword, which became the Type 1 Sarmatian blade. This was in the 5th to 4th century BC.

Check these two weapons (below) found at Filippovka:

[attachment=6766]EarlySarmatianswords002.JPG[/attachment]
This is a 4th century BC sword, 87.5 cm long, forged by an Early Sarmatian Period smith. It has a central rib and wide grooves to each side of it. The design shows up in later Chinese blades. Most likely, this is also a folded steel blade.


[attachment=6767]EarlySarmatianswords006.JPG[/attachment]
This is the Filippovka akinakes, almost identical to the Issyk Kul akinakes worn by the famous "Golden Man" (actually a queen or high warrior-priestess). It was made in the late 5th century to 4th century BC... even older than the sword above. This akinakes was constructed by intricate welding of its various parts, even the gryphon heads are hand forged. A Russian article (Dec. 2007) notes that the iron weapons found in Lake Issyk Kul were fashioned by a method that can only be reproduced today by working in an inert gas.

These early Sarmatian blades do not, in any fashion, correspond with Simonenko's statements. They are very advanced works of art made by a process of sandwiched welding we later find in Chinese swords. :woot:

The illustrations above are from The Golden Deer of Eurasia, a joint project of the Metropolitan, the Hermitage, and the Tuva museums. :-)


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Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#6
Is there a book or article about the Sarmatians in Britain? Stationed way up in the Derbyshire Dales I'd love to find a connection between their horse breeding expertise and the current Dales pony Confusedmile:
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#7
Quote:Is there a book or article about the Sarmatians in Britain? Stationed way up in the Derbyshire Dales I'd love to find a connection between their horse breeding expertise and the current Dales pony Confusedmile:

Oh, dear.

Hardly anything I know of. Ammianus tells us about the 5,500 Iazyges sent into the north, but they were Sauromatae, the link between the Scythians and Sarmatians. I imagine the Dales pony could very well stem from them.

We now know that the Sarmatians had two types of horse, a smaller (probably pony-like) breed and a larger breed used for warfare. The Pazyryk (Altai) steeds were built similar to the modern Akhal Teke. Emperor Hadrian's prized horse was given to him by a Roxolani chieftain. And I believe the Andelusian extends from the Alans. All of this confutes what was written only a few years ago, but it shouldn't come as a surprise... considering a majpr occupation of the Saka/Sarmatians was horse breeding. :whistle:

If Britain has a Sarmatian influence within its breeds, I would think they may have arrived c.396 with the 5 cavalry units mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum. Perhaps they came from the Equites Taifali Iuniores, Equites Taifali Seniores, or the Equites Cataphactarii which went to Morbium in the north.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#8
Do not forget
Sauromatischees und sarmatisches Fundgut nordöstlich und östlich des Kaspischen Meeres by Rebecca Wegener, from the BAR International Series no 2072 (2010)
Another good one
Das Hunnenreich by István Bóna (Stuttgart 1991)
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#9
Hi, Eduard

Thanks for the additions.
I'll have to brush up on my German. :dizzy:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#10
Alanus wrote:
Quote:According to Simonenko, the Sarmatians were not expert swordmakers. But his stance can be easily refuted, when in fact even the early Sarmatians were VERY knowledgeable sword-smiths.
According to the book "Nomads of South Siberia" because the blacksmith was so important for day to day work and busy he could not tend to livestock etc. People either paid him in silver, goods or a share of the loot on raids. I just thought that "Bosporus Kingdom" would be the obvious trading area to acquire the latest in weaponry if you cannot produce it yourself.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#11
Hi, Michael

As you noticed from my above post, and the early Sarmatian swords shown, some steppe blacksmiths were not only making weapons... they were artists. It takes a good knowledge of metalurgy to be an excellent swordsmith, an actual welder; and once you have the reputation, you no longer find time to produce mundane items. :-)

Unfortunately, there are no Roman references that describe the technique. Pliny does mention that the "best iron' (sword blade blanks?) "arrives upon camels from the east." Wink
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#12
Hi, I noticed in previous discussions about swords and scabbard slides that different threads were used to attach slide to scabbard. In the book even in 1931 when the author lived among these people that when a horse died they used his mane, tail and leg tendons for extra strong threads. He also described the sagaris which the locals still used in 1931. His theory was it had like a hammer head opposite the sharp end for hammering tent pegs etc.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
Reply
#13
The author-- and tribal customs he describes-- makes sense. A horsehair from a stallion or gelding has the tensile strength of 1 pound. If you weave it or braid it into whatever (including Sarmatian lariets), you have strong cordage. As you noted, some slides were probably attached to the scabbard with horsehair.

Good to know the ubiquitous sagaris made it into the 20th century. Confusedmile:
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#14
Alanus wrote:
Quote:The author-- and tribal customs he describes-- makes sense.
Yes these people have gone now and without his records no one knows about nomads too much. One other gem which might interest you as an archer. They were originally horse archers and hunted game but changed to crossbows and by 1931 some had rifles.
Sorry I have delved away from the subject a bit. But just one more tidbit about horses. Even in 1930s the majority of poor Tuvans (the place where the author stayed) rode mares as they were worth more to lifestyle with milk and foals than geldings. Richer men rode geldings because they could afford them. Also diseases and predators wiped out a lot of their herds quite often and I wonder if there was some calamity or drought which drove Roxolani to raid Moesia when they were attacked by Romans. The Romans always liked to picture their enemies as raiding predators without looking into why these people undergo raids.
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
Reply
#15
Those are all good points. The Romans didn't take the time to learn about any of the cultures on the other side of the Danube. Either Heather or Kulikowski mentions this; that the people living beyond Rome's borders, from the lower Ister to Pannonia, were considered "The Others," "The Outsiders." Both of these authors have written valuable books on the Goths, and they mention Sarmatians here and there within the text.

You noticed that mares were valuable, but the richer men (the noble Sarmatians in antiquity) rode geldings. This, again, corresponds to the steppe lifestyle unchanged since time immemorial. How coincidentall that your author studied the Tuvans. Tuva was one of several northeastern necropoli, the whole region including the Yenisy River and Sayan mountains. Along with the Altai communities, it lasted from the 6th to 3rd century BC, and then a major group of wars erupted from China northward. This caused the Saka to dispurse, many moving south to the Tien Shan and Pamir pastures.

The Russian author you're referring to is Sevyan Vainshtein?-- the book, Nomads of South Siberia. It's listed on Amazon for $43, a chunk of change for a paperback. After it was published, the traditional Tuvan lifestyle disappeared, replaced by a hammer and sickle.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply


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