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Continuing Mis-Identification of the Altai Culture
#16
Quote:Sorry nothing to do with Issedones but on their neighbours the Seres but without reading the paper identifying Cherala as Serica I have doubts about India being the home of the Seres rather than China. Firstly the word Seres which seemed to have something to do with silk growing and “Seraculture” and even if the Chinese would not name themselves after an occupation maybe the Greeks would. Eventually silk production spread to India via Tibet but not until about 140AD. A lot of the Roman geographers mentioned the Seres long before that.

Pomponius Mela the Roman geographer mentioned the Seres in mid 1st century when he wrote “In the furthest east of Asia are the Indians, Seres, and Scythians. The Indians and Scythians occupy the two extremities, the Seres are in the middle''.


A lot of the problem with some identifying India as Serica lies with Pliny the Elder who mentioned the Cheras who seemed to be a ruling Tamil dynasty who carved out a kingdom which was located on the west coast of India who sent an embassy to Claudius and described the Seres as living beyond the Emodi Montes or Himalayas. They gave a physical description of the Seres to Claudius as they knew them from sight as they traded with them often. They described them as tall with blue eyes, red hair and harsh voices. ( Were these men Wusun or Yueh-chih both people were renowned traders although Pliny does mention Tocharians elsewhere so he would have mentioned them as Tocharians if these Seres were Yueh Chih? The Wusun seemed to be China most westerly allies.) So were these Seres who traded with the Cheras
Indo-Europeans who traded with or worked for or even lived under the rule of the Chinese emperor and traded via India which then shipped goods to the Romans by sea to Egypt as the Parthians and the Sassanids after them over many years blocked land trade with Rome. :-) :-)

Michael the Greeks and Romans imported their silk from India via trade and the Indians got it from China. They did it to bypass having to go through a second middleman (Persia) and called the Indians the Seres because they though the silk came from there.

The paper is on Academia somewhere, I'm trying to find it.
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#17
Hi, Evan, Michael, and anyone else following this thread,

The PDF you're looking for is, Origin of the Name Seres, by Gosciwit Malinowski. Google it up and you'll find it. Malinowski presents a long list of authorities, going back to the Greeks. Basically, I think, he surmises the name could have come from intermediaries in India.

Interestingly, Malinowski notes this (pp. 18-19), "By the end of the 3rd Century BC, the powerful khanate Xiongnu had established itself in these parts and its aggressive policy caused migrations of neighboring peoples of Wusun (Issedones?), Yuezhi (Tochars, Kushans), and Saka... to migrate westward." So, here again, we have the Issedones in the wrong location, and Malinowski joins Barry Cunliffe in misreading Herodotus.

Interesting, however, the Issedones (Indo-Iranian cultures of the Altai and northern Mongolia) begin to disappear from their northern location at roughly the time the Xiongnu are consolidated into a war-machine. Possibly Malinowski is correct (whether he knows it or not). If these northern cultures moved south, across the Ungar Pendi, they would neighbor the Saka, a closely related IE culture in customs, weapons, and art. Were the Issedones, in their new home, the Wusun as discovered by the Chinese? Oddly enough, the proto Akhal-teke horses found in Altai kurgans closely match the "heavenly horses" of the Wusun. Also, the Pazyryk people and later the Wusun were friendly toward and traded with the Chinese. Other IE tribes did not trade with the Han until later, such as the intensive yet successful negotiations with the Yue-chi.

For info on the Issedones and related tribes, I've found Nomads of the Eurasian Steppes in the Early Iron Age to be helpful. The eastern tribes are well covered from Part III to Part V, by Yablonsky, Bokovenko, and Volkov. I'll close this post with a few pictures of an Issedone grave in northern Mongolia, and the Gryphon artifact buried with the warrior.

[attachment=12924]NewfindinginMongolia4(2).jpg[/attachment]

[attachment=12925]NewfindinginMongolia3(2).jpg[/attachment]


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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
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#18
this is from Beckwith's Empires of the Silk Road. A picture, because I'm afraid most diacritics wouldn't copy-paste
[attachment=12926]ScreenShot2015-10-20at18.31.32.png[/attachment]


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#19
Hi Evan, sorry but that is my point, the established geographers like Ptolemy and Pomponius Mela always thought the Seres were not Indian, a look at Ptolemy’s map shows that he thought the Seres were located east of the Pamir Mountains and north of the Himalayas stretching to the Eastern Sea but obviously the Roman traders, merchants, politicians and writers thought that the Seres were Indian. Serindia in Tang dynasty times was Chinese Turkestan, Tarim Basin or roughly present day Xinjiang province. The region you mentioned Cherala I am assuming is the kingdom of the Chera rulers on the South-Western side of India, Kerala. I am not disputing that some Romans may have considered the Seres as Indian, just the credible geographers like Ptolemy knew better. Smile Smile
They exported mainly black pepper and silk to Rome via the Roman controlled Red Sea port of Berenice but while the Romans maintained a small Red Sea fleet to combat piracy most of the vessels who conducted this trade were captained and crewed by Persians as they knew the Monsoon trade routes and winds as Persian then and in Tang times was the “Lingua Franca” of the Southern Seas and trading ports just as Sogdian was the language of the land routes. Pliny wrote that the Cheras sent a delegation to Claudius and they described them as tall with blue eyes, red hair and harsh voices and that these Seres bought their goods to the northern riverbank and laid them out for the Chera traders to inspect, purchase and ship downstream and along the western coast to the Malabar region of Southern India and export to various markets including Egypt. I am not sure if this river was the Indus or the Ganges but I am assuming that it was the Indus. So even the Cheras were probably mistaken in assuming that the Indo-Iranian middlemen were Seres or Chinese.

Alanus I read an interesting article about 5th Century AD Tashtyk burial masks and how although considered a Turkish tribe, a lot of the death masks looked more Europoid and they liked to tattoo themselves like the Pazyryk people. They first appeared around the 1st century AD and I suppose there is a possibility that some members were originally Indo-Iranian. They lived near the Yenisei river in Siberia and at some stage the Issedones according to some geographers controlled this region. Could a lot of them have been absorbed by other tribes and peoples over time. I also read in a recent book that the ancestors of the Akhal-teke horses were also bred by the Massagetae who just happened to be the neighbours of the Issedones/Wusun.

http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestu...rior-race/
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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#20
How remarkably interesting! Much appreciated. Confusedmile:

The "Asvin" or "Aswin," were exactly "the horsemen." They're recorded in the oldest of Vedas, their leader being the woman warrior, Vishpala. The Asvin were the first to arrive in northern India from the steppe. (They originated in the Sintashta/Androveno culture, as did the Issedones and Arimaspoi.) At some point, before reaching India, Vispala lost her leg in a battle with the Kela. The Asvin made a prosthetic leg for her so she could fight future battles.

The Indo-Aryan term "Aswin" means the exact same thing as "aspi" found in Herodotus' tribe, the Arimaspi (Arimaspoi)-- "the horsemen." It's probable the Aswin, Issedones, and Arimaspi, all extended from the Sintashta/Androveno Culture, the Aswin going south, the Yue-chi going southeast, while the Karasuk Culture (pre Issedones and Arimaspi) went to the Minusinsk Basin and then the Altai and northern Mongolia. It would be the formation of the Xiong-nu that drove the latter tribes south into the Illi Valley and Ferghana.

Also interesting, and quite telling, the photo of the Issedone/Arimaspi grave in Mongolia I showed in my last post is incredibly similar to the shallow Wusun grave-mounds found in the Illi Valley.

Here is the grave's interior, the mummy encased in log-work:
[attachment=12927]NewfindinginMongolia5(2).jpg[/attachment]

And here is one of the deceased "horseman's" prized possessions:
[attachment=12928]NewfindinginMongolia2(2).jpg[/attachment]


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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
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#21
Thanks, Michael

Amazing that the silk traders received by the Roman court-- blue eyes, red hair, and harsh voices-- are exactly like the Wusun and Yue-chi described by Sima Quan in his history. The Yue-chi, due to their original location in the Takla Makan, also traded in nephrite jade. Of all the Indo-European tribes, the Wusun and Yue-chi were predisposed to trading with other cultures.

The most enlightening fact surfacing from this discussion seems to be the phase, "horsemen." All steppe cultures were horsemen, but in this case the connotation appears to indicate more, such as "horse breeders" as opposed to simply a "horse rider." This connection, "asvin" or "aspi" or "wusun" (corrected Chinse form, "aswin") is worth further research. :cheer:

I'm not surprised that the Turkic speaking Tashtyk appeared to have Indo-European physical traits. I would imagine a great number of Pazyryk--Northern Mongolian individuals remained behind to become a Turkic admixture. A great portion of the horses, themselves, remained in Ferghana and were bred by Turkic tribes for Tang China's aristocracy-- very high-priced.

A Turkic woman on an Akhal-teke influenced horse (not a small and shaggy Mongolian horse) examines a stele erected by the earlier Indo-Iranian tribes.
[attachment=12929]12108180_10207858112871475_5034590469291508047_n.jpg[/attachment]


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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
#22
Hi Alanus, it must be the way I wrote my last post but the delgation that met Claudius were Chera traders from Kerala who were of Tamil origin. While they were in Rome they were probably asked about the mysterious Seres who produced silk & they must have described the people who they dealt with who they thought were Seres but who were not Chinese really but enterprising Indo-Iranians or Tocarians who traded Chinese silk for other goods as Chinese silk would have fetched a good profit on the Indian sub-continent. Smile Smile
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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#23
Michael,

Gotcha. The delegation included Tamils, and they described the intermediaries between the Chinese and themselves as people we now recognize as Tocharians or Yue-chi.

Here's another note (or connection) to the Altai, very similar to the Turkic-speaking Tashtyk tribe you mentioned as having European features. This additional tribe originally called themselves the "Ashina," derived from "ashin," and similar to "asvin" and "aswin," eg Wusun. Originally they were metal workers in the Altai and spoke Indo-Iranian, their language similar to Saka. By c. AD 440, when they entered Chinese history, they were Turkic speakers who had just broken from their Rau-ran overlords. The Ashina continued using Indo-Iranian titles for their rulers. The progenitor of their tribe had an identical legendary childhood as the Wusun's founder, abandoned on the steppe and raised by a raven.

It would appear that more that one tribe, later Turkic-speaking, started off as Indo-Iranian with Europoid features, the Turkic peoples of today still looking Iranian. Here is a Tashtyk death mask as an example:
[attachment=12930]inside_right.jpg[/attachment]

And here is the most famous steppe breed of all time, your favorite and mine-- the Akhal-teke-- straight from the Altai kurgans to today's Turkmen breeders. Her name is Star. On the steppe, a white-spotted horse was favored due to the belief they had harder hooves. A mount with a star on its forehead was considered a lucky horse, a "qash-ka-i." :-)

[attachment=12931]Star,Akhal-teke,female.jpg[/attachment]


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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
#24
Well, I'm back... but evidently hurting. Dodgy

For more news-- perhaps related to Herodotus' most eastern tribe, the nefarious Arimaspi-- we might consult an online PDF, First Excavation of Pazyryk Kurgans in Mongolian Altai, by Torbat, Giscard, and Batsukh. This team of archaeologists went to the Baian-Olgii Aimag region in 2004, discovering ten burial complexes and hundreds of tombs on the Mongolian side of the mountains. In 2005, they went back, specifically to Baga Turgen Gol (Little Swift River) and excavated 3 tombs. As far as I know, no excavations have been done to the south on the Mongolian steppe. However, this French-Mongolian team found evidence of what I would consider a large population of the Altai Culture living beyond the established areas studied earlier by the Russians.

On a sadder note, I have been seriously demoted, now back to Primus Pilus. Also, I lost my "Thank Yous." I loved those Thank Yous: it made me feel appreciated after 7 years here on RAT. Now I have a "0 Reputation," like I no longer exist. Maybe it's because I'm a barbarian.

   
I used to have a nice string of wreaths, but now I'm left with two bronze ones... just impressive enough to toss on my grave.
How do you like my tattoos? Rolleyes
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
#25
While on the Altai here is an interesting article about a 2500 year old Siberian princess who's tomb was accidently discovered by diggers.
Shy
http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestu...excavator/

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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#26
(10-17-2015, 12:57 AM)Alanus Wrote: Beautiful artifacts made by the Altai cultures are consistently shown in museums around the world. At the Hermitage or National Museum in Washington, or in the Ashmolian, these examples are always labeled as something like, "Scythian, 400 to 300 BC, Pazyryk."

Scythian? Excuse me, but did the Scythians move 4,000 kilometers northeast from their well-recorded geographical location? If we casually read Herodotus, Strabo, or Pliny, or look at Ptolomy's map, we know the Scythians lived in the western steppe above the Black Sea, NOT in the far eastern Altaic region.
It is sure confusing how the same word can be used for a specific people inhabiting the western steppes, and as a generic term for peoples living in the Eurasian steppes in the middle of the first millennium BCE with a similar way of life, style of art, etc. But if you look at how ancient writers use terms like Skythes, Saka, and Gimmeraya, I think that you will find that they were often used as generic words for “people from the northern steppes.” Scythians lined up next to Bactrians in Arrian's version of Gaugamela for example (Anabasis Alexandrou 3.11, 3.13) and Bactria is pretty far from the western steppes.


One thing which you might want to think about is the difference between the ways people call themselves, and the ways which they try to organize the diverse peoples in the wider world. Its pretty common for people to pick a generic name and apply it to foreigners who would not recognize it let alone use it to identify themselves, even if they know what those foreigner call themselves. Think of the beginning of the Gallic War: “there are three peoples in Gaul, only one of whom are Galli, and they call themselves something else anyways.” Or how an Anglo-American can call someone a Hispanic, when they call themself a Columbian, or a Texan, or a Maya. People need convenient names for large groups of foreigners, and they often create these names by taking the name of some specific people and applying it to people who seem similar or live in the same area.


Does that make any sense? And what is your favourite generic term for the nomadic peoples of the steppes in the middle of the first millennium BCE?
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#27
Hi, Sean
Your explanation of the need to "categorize" people with a commonly recognizable name does make sense. However, we can do better than that, especially if we isolate the customs and art of any given culture. I object to the continuing references to the Pazyryk as "Scythian," because we should know better... and we do know better.

You asked, "What is your favorite generic term for the nomadic peoples of the steppes in the middle of the first millennium BCE?"

I don't have a term for All the steppe people of that period.. because they're not the same, either by culture, religion, or genetics. The term "Scythians" certainly applies to the tribes located west of the Urals, these wonderful pot smoking, scalp-taking, Europoids who so impressed the Greeks. But, we can draw a line through the steppes, north to south below the Urals, and discover the tribes living east of the rivers Oxus and Araxates were an entirely different people, with different cultures, different art, different weapons (including heavy armor), a different religion... plus a significant Asiatic (Mongoloid) admixture. Unlike the Scythians, they were influenced by the proto-Mongols and Chinese. They were Saka or Sacae, as were the Pazyryk and Ukok Cultures, a fact noticed by Rudenko back in the 1920s. Yet almost 100 years later, archaeologists still refer to them as "Scythians."

Why does it bother me? Because we need explicit terms, not generalities. All people who rode a horse and wore trousers were not the same. (Some of them were Texas cowboys.) In like fashion, I'm opposed to the lazy term of "Sarmatian," particularly when it's used to classify the Alans. The Alans descended directly from the Saka, and they were not related to the Early or Middle Sarmatian Cultures. A Saka is a Saka, and an Alan is an Alan, and no amount of misnomering will change that fact.

I'm an analytical historian. I study steppe art-forms because they're the remaining "gateways" into the past, especially when written records are absent. Saka art is Not like Scythian art. Saka religion was Not like Scythian religion, so on and so forth. Let's face it-- Was Buffalo Bill a Scythian?   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
#28
Back to you, Michael

The article in the Siberian Times headlined, "2,500-Year-Old Female Warrior Accidentally Beheaded by Excavator."
Also, the article contained some interesting photos of early Pazyryk horse gear and arrowheads. Perhaps the most shocking was a pic of the supposedly 16 year old "female" warrior's head after "reconstruction." Take a look at THIS!

   

Wow! Do you really think some young Arimaspi dude would take her home to meet dad? I don' thin' so! I mean she really got hit hard by the excavator.

A few days after this shocking news, the Siberian Times printed what amounted to a retraction. The archaeologists discovered she was a he... and obviously not a particularly handsome guy. To salvage something from this fiasco, here's a pic of the arrowheads.

   

Well, hey! Don't take an excavator in the face. Big Grin
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
#29
(01-11-2016, 11:23 PM)Alanus Wrote: Hi, Sean
Your explanation of the need to "categorize" people with a commonly recognizable name does make sense. However, we can do better than that, especially if we isolate the customs and art of any given culture. I object to the continuing references to the Pazyryk as "Scythian," because we should know better... and we do know better.

You asked, "What is your favorite generic term for the nomadic peoples of the steppes in the middle of the first millennium BCE?"

I don't have a term for All the steppe people of that period.. because they're not the same, either by culture, religion, or genetics. The term "Scythians" certainly applies to the tribes located west of the Urals, these wonderful pot smoking, scalp-taking, Europoids who so impressed the Greeks. But, we can draw a line through the steppes, north to south below the Urals, and discover the tribes living east of the rivers Oxus and Araxates were an entirely different people, with different cultures, different art, different weapons (including heavy armor), a different religion... plus a significant Asiatic (Mongoloid) admixture. Unlike the Scythians, they were influenced by the proto-Mongols and Chinese. They were Saka or Sacae, as were the Pazyryk and Ukok Cultures, a fact noticed by Rudenko back in the 1920s. Yet almost 100 years later, archaeologists still refer to them as "Scythians."
I am not a specialist in the steppes, so I can't comment on what is the best way to divide up steppes peoples for scientific purposes. But if we look at Darius' tomb inscription DNe, the Old Persian version has the Sakā Haumavargā and the Sakā tigraxaudā amongst peoples of the east, but also the Sakā paradraiya between the Yauna (the Ionian) and the Skudra (the Thracian). I suspect that the Babylonian says Gimmeraya instead of Sakā in all three places but I don't have it on hand to check. So to a speaker of Old Iranian Sakā may have been just as vague as Scythian in modern English. Being loose with these terms has ancient precedents!

Maurice Strategikon XI.2 informs readers that Scythians, Avars, Turks, and Huns have more or less the same way of war. Most people would say that there had been no Scythians for hundreds of years when that manual was compiled, but educated Greeks (like educated Babylonians) preferred to use ethnic terms which were traditional rather than ones which the peoples named would recognize. I don't think that any specialists is confused by calling the Pazyryk finds "Scythian," and if the name can lead beginners astray, at least they are using some kind of non-Greek evidence to understand the non-Greek world!

Edit: Against my view, one could point to the way in which stereotypes about "Persians" or "the near east" influence professional scholars' views of the Achaemenid army, or the mischief which ensues from the chance that there are both ancient and modern peoples who call themselves Hellenes and Makedones.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#30
Also, I noticed something about the eastern Scythians at Gaugamela. In Rufus' version of the King's order of battle (4.11.3-16), there are no Scythians on the Persian left, but there are Massagetae who are missing in Arrian. And Herodotus tells us that some say the Massagetae are a Scythian people (1.201) and that they live opposite the Issedones beyond the Araxes (a few chapters later). So it looks like some Greeks called this contingent Scythians, and others called them Massagetae.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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