Thread Rating:
  • 3 Vote(s) - 4.33 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Origin of the Alans
#46
(01-29-2016, 03:19 PM)Alanus Wrote: As such, R1b occurs in the Bell Beaker group (Neolithic) and predates the intrusion of the Yamnaya Culture (Early Bronze Age) into Europe and its associated cultures across Asia, where we find R1a as the heavier marker. (I prefer "intrusion" rather than "mass migration.) One BlogSpot's title really phrases it bluntly, "First R1b from Neolithic Europe... and it aint from the Steppe."
http://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2012/05/fi...nd-it.html

Have you read the recent books by Jean Manco? I know the lady and I get positive reviews from people I know.

Blood of the Celts: The New Ancestral Story
Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#47
See also:

http://eurogenes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/...tspot.html

concerning R1 sub-structure.
Martin

Fac me cocleario vomere!
Reply
#48
Robert and Martin,

I thank you both for these leads. At some point, I'll try to read Jean Marco on the Celts. Davidsky's blog on the R1 haplogroup "trading" is very interesting. And when you combine new gene-flow material, it seems to reinforce the steppe origin hypothesis for the Indo-European languages. At the bottom of the blog, there's an interesting link to the High Incidence of Long Distance Travel by Women, very interesting. 

When I started this thread, I had no idea how big a chunk I had to chew. The origin of the Alans is an incredibly detailed one; and we haven't even reached remarks and geographical data supplied by Herodotus and Strabo, both worth looking at. Plus Josephus and Pliny add to a story we've only scratched by referring to the Hanshu and Shiji.

So far, we've identified the Alans as generic Saka (Wusun/Yuezhi inclusive). Yet, there are aspects we haven't even touched, for instance Herodotus' and Strabo's remarks on Saka women marrying yet having additional lovers, which (to me) indicates this culture was matrilineal. We have nearly identical Altai and Bosphoran Alanic images of a warrior (chieftain?) approaching a bald priestess sitting upon what appears to be a throne. What can we think of it? Other cultural traits lead us to more obtuse spirituality, such as the ever-present broken mirror found in priestess tombs, along with history's first smoking pipes and "bongs" used for partaking cannabis. We have priestesses shaved bald and wearing incredibly tall hats. Two of these surviving hats-hairpieces are three feet tall, one worn by the Golden Woman of Issyk Kul, and another one worn by the Ukok Priestess. (Through recent forensics, the latter has been diagnosed with late stages of breast cancer, perishing when she fell from a horse).

And we have references to cannibalism with Massagetae and Issedones, where the flesh of the deceased is mixed with horsemeat and shared by the tribe. This appears to be confirmed by Rudenko, who found an Altai king with part of his buttocks removed, the buttocks then carefully stitched up. This partaking the "essence" of a chieftain must have had an important function in which everyone received the "spirit" of their fallen leader. The human flesh, of course, had to be an incredibly small percentage of a banquet that also included flesh of a hundred horses.

All of this is a cultural connection directly related to the Saka who became known as the Alans, just as DNA fills in the picture. At the moment, I'm pressed for time and need to finish two restorations for this coming weekend. So I really appreciate your input. It's a huge and fascinating story; and I don't believe it's ever been covered in the depth we see here on RAT. Smile
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
#49
The Arimaspoi and the Gold Guarding Gryphons-- Greek Sources on the Yuezhi

From Taishan Yu, we know the Yuezhi's eastern grazing lands ran from "inside and outside of Hetao " (the Ordos), and then extended northwest to the Altai and down to the Tian Shan. I know it's difficult to visualize the vastness of this territory. It's huge. Even modern archaeologists and historians have trouble picturing this geographical area, and they actually "shrink" it to a precise location-- the Gansu. This is an error of simplification, and describes a smaller area west of the Bend of the Yellow River... not even 1/4 of the actual territory the Yuezhi occupied prior to the Xiongnu invasion.

Join me for an enlightening Greek view of this location. It was originally recorded by Aristeas, the poetic Marco Polo of his day. His epic is no longer extant, but smatterings of it were copied by later Western writers. Aristeas traveled from the north Pontic trading marts, going eastward on the trade road until he reached the Issedones (the Pazyryk and Ukok cultures of the Altai). He never met the Arimaspi, only hearing about them, nor did he ever see a Gold Guarding Gryphon. I'm convinced the Yuezhi territories of the Chinese are an exact match to the location of the Arimaspi recorded by Aristeas the Greek.

"This Aristeas visited the Issedones; beyond these live the one-eyed Arimaspoi, beyond whom are the Gryphons that guard gold... I cannot say how the gold is produced but it is said that the one-eyed men steal it from the Gryphons."  (Herodotus, Histories)

"Beware of the sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus that do not bark, the Gryphons, and the one-eyed men mounted on horses, who dwell about Plouton's Stream, that flows with gold." (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound)

"Now the place where the Gryphons live and the gold is found is a grim and terrible desert. Waiting for a moonless night, the treasure-seekers come with shovels and sacks and dig. If they manage to elude the Gryphons, the men reap a double reward, for they escape with their lives and bring home a cargo of gold." (Aelian, Natural History)

So, our "one-eyed men," the Arimaspi (Northeastern Iranian for "Horse-breeders"), live beyond the Altai. They ride horses, and "dwell about Plouton's Stream" (the Yellow River). And they go into a "grim and terrible desert" (the Gobi) where they steal gold from the Gryphons. Take a look at the map.


   
As a reference, we see the southern Yuezhi border as the Qilian Mountains (Altun Shan). To the east, we view the Bend of the Yellow River in the Ordos. Just north of it, we find the Gobi Desert which extends up to the Mongolian Altai, exactly the eastern portion of the Yuezhi's sphere as described in Chinese records of the Warring States Period (480 to 220 BC), and also recorded by Herodotus, Aeschylus, and Aelian, in the Greek texts. Possibly Aristeas reached eastward to the Issedones at Ukok, delineated on this map at the converging borders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China.

As for the Gold Guarding Gryphons? They are described by Aelian as existing in a "terrible desert," obviously taken from the epic poem of Aristeas. Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History believe Aristeas' Gryphons were based on bones and skulls of Protoceratops dinosaurs. The first "modern" specimen of a "sharp-beaked hound" was discovered in the Gobi during the 1920s by Roy Chapman Andrews, an AMNH archaeologist. Since then, hundreds of protoceratops skulls have been found in former Yuezhi territory.

   
Roy Andrews in the Gobi Desert with his 6.5 caliber Mannlicher (just in case a Gold Guarding Gryphon attacks).

   
The beaked Gryphon as described by Herodotus to Aelian, then found by Roy Andrews.

This gives credence to early Greek descriptions. It links the Yuezhi directly to the Arimaspi and Gryphons.  By combining Greek descriptions, Chinese geography, and Roy Andrews' discoveries, we find a territory much larger than the Gansu Corridor. Here is another map, showing the Bend of the Yellow River, the extent of the Gobi, the relative size of Gansu, then a huge tract northwest to the Altai. Please click on it to view the expansive detail.
   

More to come from Greek and Roman sources. Thank you for following this thread. 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
#50
Hi Alanus,

 The Yueh-shih must have been a strong nation or tribal grouping as the Hsiung-nu from the rise of Mao-tun in 209 BC took about 40 years to wear them down. I think before  Mao-tun's rise to the leadership of his tribe, after murdering his father, the Yueh-shih were the prominent steppe group, even Mao-tun was held as a hostage to the Yueh-shih before he stole a horse and escaped back home. 


 Even after being defeated and splitting into two groups the Ta Yueh-shih still had the strength to defeat both the Wusun and the Saka and even after being expelled from the Ili Valley by the Wusun  they were still able to attack the Saka again and destroy the Greek Bactrian kingdom and eventually establish themselves as the Kushan empire. I read where a lot of Yueh-shih remained in the Ili Valley after their defeat as did a lot of Sakas which would have made the Wusun stronger militarily, helping them to disassociate themselves with the Hsiung-nu and sign a treaty with Han China which lasted a while. I suppose we have to assume that their numbers were many.


 Even by the time of Claudius, it seemed that the traders who bartered with the Chera traders of India could have been Yueh-shih. The goods, including a lot of silk of these blue-eyed and red haired central Asians were laid out on the northern bank of the river, possibly the Indus for the Chera traders to inspect. A lot of these goods probably found itself heading for Rome via the Red Sea thereby by-passing  the enemy of Rome at the time, Parthia. 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"
Reply
#51
"Roy Andrews in the Gobi Desert with his 6.5 caliber Mannlicher (just in case a Gold Guarding Gryphon attacks)."
Somehow those 'gryphon tales' look very much like the ever-repeated fantasy stories told in Europe about the ends of the earth.. Should we take them seriously?

You never said the 'one-eyed men' could ride horses! Wink
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#52
Hi, Michael

I believe we're beginning to visualize the actual size of these Saka tribes; and the Yuezhi, Wusun, and Sai, were all Saka, as were the so-called Massagetae who may have actually been the Saka haumavarga. General historians tend to think of steppe peoples in the same way they view sedentary Western tribes, not realizing the great amount of territory required for summer and winter pasturing of massive horse, cattle, and sheep herds. The Pazyryk and Ukok tribes used the Altai locations for summer pasturing only. We don't even know where they lived in the winter.

Thus we have the Wusun not in just the Illi, Chu, and Issyk areas, but right across the entire Seven Rivers region. At this same time-- due to constant warfare with the Xiongnu, deadly sibling coups, bridal trading from one tribe to another, and perhaps internal weakness of the Sai-- tribal structures were disintegrating. We find what can only be described as defections, even if seemingly involuntary. "When the Kunmo of the Wusun attacked and defeated the Da Yuezhi, the Da Yuezhi moved to the west and subjugated the Daxia [Sakaruli]; and the Kunmo of the Wusun took up his residence there. It is said: thus the Wusun contain people of the Sai race and the Da Yuezhi race." (the Hanshu, ch. 96B)

As you mentioned, the Yuezhi-- a far larger tribe than the Wusun-- controlled a huge area of the steppe after their migration. They took over Daxia, driving the Saka and Tochari across the Kush into Hellenistic India. About 10 years later, they proceeded south themselves and formed the Kushan state. Important for us (in our search for the earliest Alans), is their relationship with the Kangju (Sogdians). The Yuezhi didn't destroy the Kangju infrastructure but strong-armed a society expert in trade. The Shiji mentions Kangju paying tribute to both the Yuezhi and Xiongnu.

You've pointed out the possibilities of an eventual Red Sea exchange with Rome in the reign of Clodius. That's a possibility. But we also have Strabo's comments on camel trains coming north to the Aorsi. This fits well even in the slightly earlier period of the Yancai. If so, the trade route came up from Gandara, through Kangju, and then northwest following the Oxus (Amu Darya) to Yancai (later called "Alan"), to finally reach Graeco-Roman marts on the north Pontic. This route, straight from Kangju, also eliminates the Parthian problem and is recorded less than a century later. Here's a rough idea of the route:

   
The Amu Darya starts near Samarkand, flows through the Karakum desert, and ends as the Shiji's "shoreless sea" (Aral). This would be the initial portion of the route as followed by camel caravans. The present cities of Khiva and Qunghirot lie in what was the ancient state of Yancai-Alan, and I have a hunch this is the exact area where the Aorsi were "born."

Here is another map, this time showing the final connection to Rome, the route shown as a blue line.
   

Early Western historians couldn't understand pastoral traditions; they painted steppe cultures as the crudest people on earth, never realizing Chinese silks and Indic gems were supplied by these same "ignorant" tribes.

At this point in history (1st Century BC), I believe we are witnessing the products of fragmentation and tribal restructuring. Identifying gravesites to specific tribes becomes blurry even to archaeologists. Tombs in the Ili Valley and Ferghana are not from a single culture, some being Saka and Wusun (pit graves) while others are Yuezhi catacombs (specifically "podboi" construction). When we get to the Kuban and Crimea, early Alan territory, we find the same variances of pit and catacomb graves. I'm fairly sure the Alans were an admixture of Sakaruli, Yuezhi, and Wusun, who migrated to new pastures.

History repeats itself. Our itinerant explorer Aristeas wrote a great epic of how the Arimaspi attacked the Issedones, who in turn attacked the Scythians, who attacked the Cimmerians, all in a westward direction. That was sometime around 800-700 BC. Then it happened again, as you recounted-- Modun the Xiongnu Shanyu became powerful enough to attack the Yuezhi (ironically the Arimaspi) in 177 BC. The domino effect began again, starting what Western historians termed "The Migration Period," yet not fully realizing when and where it actually began. 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
#53
(02-10-2016, 08:41 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: "Roy Andrews in the Gobi Desert with his 6.5 caliber Mannlicher (just in case a Gold Guarding Gryphon attacks)."
Somehow those 'gryphon tales' look very much like the ever-repeated fantasy stories told in Europe about the ends of the earth.. Should we take them seriously?

You never said the 'one-eyed men' could ride horses! Wink

I must have forgotten that part of Aristeas' tale. The one-eyed men rode horses (according to Aeschylus) so they could get away from the gryphons. Also, it's better than trudging through the Gobi. Less sand in your boots. I wonder what kind of shovels they used. Garden spades? Coal shovels?

It was literally the ends of the earth as the Greeks knew it. I love the misinterpretation, "These stories are received by the Scythians from the Issedones, and by them passed on to us Greeks... "arima" being the Scythian word for "one," and "spu" for "the eye." (Herodotus, IV, 27)

Nothing like pulling a tourist's leg. Big Grin

And here's the real kicker... very close to home if you were Greek. The oldest known depiction of a Gryphon was painted on the wall of a Minoan throne room on Knossos.
   
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
#54
Gryphons, One-Eyed Men, and Hadrian's Prized Horse

Robert asked an important question about the tales of Gryphons and One-Eyed Men-- "Should we take them seriously?"

The answer is "yes" for the case of Aristeas and "no" for subsequent poetic waxing and Greek art. It's very much like tales of Amazons cutting off their right breast, or even the reality (or fiction) of Amazons altogether. Every Greek and Roman statue of an Amazon shows a pair of healthy breasts. We even have illustrations of Arimaspic Amazons fighting Gryphons:
   

Poetic and artistic products of Aristeas' journey to the End of the Earth excited the imagination of ancient listeners and viewers, so exotic it was. Today, almost every historian believes in the trek of Aristeas, simply because there's a kernel of truth behind the fiction. He actually went to the Altai, if we dissect his description... which we can only read through Herodotus.

Greek emporia were established in Olbia, Feodosia, Panticapaeum, on eastward, by the Milesians by the end of the 8th Century B.C.... already a well-beaten path 100 years before Aristeas was born. Along the journey, he speaks of "bald-headed men," perhaps real people if we consider archaeological findings of a bald-headed priestess in Ukok, plus illustrations of three more bald-headed people (one Altaic Saka, a second from the Ordos, the third in the Bosphorus). Then Aristeas reaches the Urals where he meets "people with flat noses."

   

Traveling through the Ural Forest-Steppe Zone, our poet encountered local Samoyeds/Sami, definitely a "flat-faced clan." The geographic location of the Samoyeds coincides exactly with the Northern Trade Route followed by Aristeas. Here's a map of the last portion of the route, from the Ural River to the Altai:

   

It's fairly hard to create a journey into Nowhere if you haven't been there. The original poem "Arimaspea" then brought Aristeas to the land of the Issedones. If any historian is grounded in geography, and he or she can also read prose succinctly (evidently with the exception of Sir Barry Cunliffe), the journey's conclusion ends in the Altai (not Bactria-Margiana) where Aristeas meets the Issedones, shown here on the World Map according to Herodotus.
   

We've made it! After traveling through strange lands, we reach the easternmost location visited by Aristeas. At this point, the Issedones tell him about the Arimaspi and gold-guarding Gryphons. Perhaps an Issedonian chieftain proudly shows him a protoceratops skull, proof positive that Gryphons exist.

Aristeas never met the Arimaspi, only hearing about them. We don't even know if the Issedones told him Arimaspi had a single eye. That fiction arrives through Herodotus as related to him by the Crimean Scythians. Essentially, we are looking at a language problem. As an example, the Scythians couldn't fully understand the speech of the Sauromatae, the closest tribe (or culture) to them. Herodotus notes, "they [the Sauromatae] did not speak Scythian properly."

As we move eastward from the Scythians, just imagine further language barriers when we reach the Bald-Headed Men (who spoke Uralic), or the next group the Argippaei (perhaps the Sargatskya), and finally the Issedones. Consequently, the Scythians erroneously believed Arima-spi meant "one-eyed," even getting the inflection wrong. Here's another map, this time showing the huge lingual distance between the Scythians and the more eastern tribes:
 
   
Even though each language extends from the same language group-- Indo-Iranian-- we have difficulties, much like an Italian trying to understand a French menu. The Scythians spoke Northern Iranian while the Saka/Alans spoke Northeastern Iranian. Luckily, we have documented linguistic examples of the base syllable "asp" of the word Arimaspi. First we have Rasparagus/Asparagus, the Rhoxalani king who became a Friend of Rome, and presented the magnificent gelding Borysthenes to Emperor Hadrian. Asparagus was a horse breeder and his personal name included "asp"-- Saka/Alan for "horse." In the time of Emperor Leo, we find the consul Aspar (the "horseman"), an Alan who reached patrician level.

From the Saka/Alan language itself, asp meant horse, not "one-eyed." We have a linguistic link from the Arimaspi to Asparagus the Rhoxalanus, and to Aspar the Alan. The designation "Arimaspi" was borne by the bearers, not coined by the Greeks (like "Massagetae" was). Possibly even "Yuezhi" was the Chinese version of "Aspi." Anyway, we should forgive Herodotus who received an incorrect translation from Western Scythians. Mistakes happen. And naturally, they often bring fiction to a higher level... as Greek audiences visualized a horde of one-eyed men galloping into a den of sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus. 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
#55
 Hi Alanus, just to add to the Aspar theme for horsemen, we also have the Alan king Respendial, who led the Alans as they crossed the Rhine with the Vandals and Suebi in 406 AD. Gregory of Tours mentions that Respendial was the Rex Alanorum (king) while the Alan who defected to the Romans with his followers, Goar is given no title. I would love to know what was going on with the politics of these two men at the time which enabled the Romans to detach Goar and his followers from the main Alan grouping. Alemany in his Sources on the Alans wrote that the name Respendial is reminiscent of the Roxolani king Rasparaganus's name with the espe and there was also a reference on a Greek inscription at Olbia (Rhespindialos) which was dated a lot earlier than 406 to a time when the Sarmatians (probably Roxolani) ruled Olbia.

  Just adding another theory from the French publication Les Alains by Vladimir Kouznetsov and Iaroslav Lebedynsky, in regards to the Roxolani and the meaning of the prefix Roxs or Ruxs which still causes a lot of debate (light, shining, fair, Rus). It seems that in Ossetian, some words are shown in a double form ( Ruxs / roxs " light "); the first is that of the Eastern Ossetian or Iron, base of the literary language, the second that of Western Ossetian or Digor often described by linguists as more archaic. 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"
Reply
#56
Hi, Michael

Thanks for the valuable input. Smile

Your observation that the "esp" in Respendial and Rhespindialos has the same inflection as "asp" (horse) fits perfectly. While "Rhespindialos" has been Greacised, we still have the old "h" found in earlier spellings of Roxolani, ie Rhoxalani (Murray, 1823; Rawlinson, 1885).

Yes, interpretations of the actual meaning of "Rhoxalani" vary and are debatable. I'm not a linguistics expert but have always used an analytical and sane approach to name origins. In the case of Rhoxalani/Roxolani, the title was self-designated by the tribe itself... not assigned by the Greeks or Romans. This automatically rules out postulations that "Rhox/Rox" meant "white." I don't think any admixtured tribe or clan would designate themselves in such a manner, "Hey, folks. We're white and you're not! So, there!"

For instance, Brzezinski and Mielczarek defer to, "the most convincing derives from Iranian raokhshna-- 'light' or 'white'; in the language of the nomads 'white' often means western-- giving 'Western Alans." B & M also lump the "Iazyges and Roxolani'" within the same subchapter title, evidently believing the two tribes were almost culturally the same... despite the fact Iazyges were Sauromate, not Sarmatians, while the Rhoxalani were Alans, and also evolved Sarmatians.

The term "light" is actually a clue, but it's not a shade or lack of color. It's reflection, as in "sunlight," or "starlight." Let's look at Alexander's Bactrian wife-- Rhoxshan/Rhoxane/Roxana. In "rhox," we have a derivative from Bactrian/Sogdian, incredibly close to Alanic as one of the Saka languages, a part of the Northeastern Iranian group. According to Jona Lendering, her name meant "Little Star." I agree, since a star is "bright" and "shining," as opposed to "white" or "Western." In the closest Indo-Iranian context to Bactrian, we have Rhoxalani-- "Shining Alans," a self designation by a tribe of heavily-armored cavalrymen. We should be wary of any derivatives from Ossetic, not recorded in writing until the Middle Ages; and by that time heavily-evolved, including Turkic and Georgian influences. Anyway, that's my guess based on logic.

I hope we're trying to establish an Alan origin through splinter portions of the Yuezhi, Wusun, and Sacarauli, plus remaining tribes from the Middle Sarmatian Culture that seem to disappear from the Ural steppe. History is really evolution. Nothing truly disappears; it's a phoenix.  We're finding newer references linking the Altai Cultures to the Yuezhi, and likewise I believe the Arimaspi were the same people. As for the Issedones? There's a distinct probability they were the Wusun. I might add Pita Kelekna equated Wusun/Usun with "Alan." I think that's really a long reach, as is Linda Malcor's idea of Wusun meaning "White Alan." Where do they get these wild connections from? The History Channel?

When it comes to Issedones/Wusun, we should note the Altai Cultures disappear altogether by 200 BC. Pazyryk and Ukok are abandoned, and the tribes move elsewhere... not long before the Wusun appear in Chinese history. I realize this is implication by absence, but where did they go within a migration cycle that rotates clockwise and north-to-south? Whether the Wusun are the exact tribe, structurally and culturally, I'm not sure. However, the physical location of the Yuezhi (most easterly) and Wusun (just west of the Yuezhi) could indicate they were the two easternmost tribes described by Aristeas. At the moment, evidence of the Wusun being the Issedones is circumstantial but not goofy.

In regard to the geographical expanse occupied by the Yuezhi, I forgot to mention they dealt in jade. On the maps I posted earlier, we can see the Yuezhi territories reached the eastern Tarim Basin, the abutting mountains being the primary source of nephrite, the highest quality jade. The Qingzhong Yipian (a Warring States text) notes, "Jade originates from the mountains nearby the Yuzhi [Yuezhi], which are a distance of 7,000 li from Zhou." Two other pre-Qin texts, the Kuiduopian and Guanzi, mention, "jade of the Yuzhi."

   
   
An Eastern Zhou scabbard slide dated to about 300 B.C. The time period falls exactly with the jade trade between the Yuezhi and Chinese, as mentioned in the above sources.  This piece is carved from Tarim nephrite and has a single "chilong" (hornless dragon), not a double chilong found on Han-era examples. Through a solid Yuezhi connection, it's my favorite chunk of antiquity as I also have the pommel, guard, and chape.

The long and peaceful relationship between this Saka tribe and the Chinese shows how adept at trading the Yuezhi were; and this carries over to the Kushan years when trade was actually amplified, as was the spread of Buddhism. In the second year CE, a pioneering Yuezhi monk carried Buddhism to the Western Han Court, verbally reciting the sutras. So, the Yuezhi also hold a prominent place in China's, Korea's, and Japan's religious history. 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
#57
  Hi Alanus, point taken about the dangers of trusting Ossetic but I think prefixes usually stand the test of time. Unfortunately Ossetic as well as Pashto and Pamir, separated by distance, time and interaction with other language groups have probably changed and with changing dialects and vocabulary, these groups probably wouldn’t understand each other now (Pashtun is spoken by about 40 million people in Afghanistan and Pakistan). The closest language to Ossetic would probably be Yaghnobi whose speakers live in Tajikistan as this dialect is supposedly closest to Sogdian, unfortunately there are probably only about 12,500 Yaghnobi speakers left.


  I also have my doubts about Rhox/Rox meaning White or Western Alans as I have also read in some books and papers that White or Western had the same meaning for the Aorsi (Aurusa, from Avestan, supposedly the oldest Northern Iranian language). Alemany mentioned the Arab author Ibn Rustah who travelled widely in the Caucasus,  he wrote in the 10th century that it was the (Rhox/Rox-alani  Ruhs-as) from where the Alan kings were chosen, so shining makes sense and maybe at some time they were displaced as the leading tribe of the Alans and migrated west like the (Royal Scythians much earlier.)

  Kouznetsov and Lebedynsky also mentioned that prior to the nineteenth century, most Ossets would not have been aware of their Alan links and the name Os was given to them by the Russians.

 Although using Google Translate is time consuming translating the French text to English from Les Alains the authors mention how Russian ethnographers reported the existence of a tribe called Salyr from the Olam group in the 1930s, this tribe back then consisted of about 1500 families living in the vicinity of Khodjambas in south-western Turkmenistan who although their language had become Turkified as they spoke a Turkoman dialect similar to their Turk neighbours, they differed from their neighbours in their clothing, customs and strict endogamy. They claimed that their ancestors had migrated from the Mangychlak region in Kazakhstan between the Caspian and Aral Seas which was dominated by the Alan-Qala “Fortress of the Alan” northwest of the former Chorasmia whose people along with their neighbours the Massagetae probably developed the ancient world’s first heavy cavalry. Whether the fortress was built by the Alans or built by people later on who were aware that the land was once occupied by Alans I am not sure.

 Both the authors of Les Alains and Alemany in his book Sources on the Alans mention the Arab scholar Al-Biruni who wrote of the Alans or As who inhabited the lower course of the Oxus river but who because of a change in the river bed emigrated to the coast of the Caspian Sea. He wrote that their language was a mixture of the old Indo-European Chorasmian language and Pecheneg. He was writing in the 11th century so the Alans who remained in the region’s language would have changed due to Pecheneg influence. But Al-Biruni could still detect the ancient Chorasmina dialect which could have been a parent language to Ossetian as he was born in the region. 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"
Reply
#58
The First Greek to Meet the Wusun

Hi, Michael Smile

No doubt the Chorasmians (with a handy little second syllable of "as") were partial progenitors of the Ossetians, and naturally the Alans. Earlier, I made a guess(timate) of the possibility of Arimaspi being Yuezhi, then added the scenario of Issedones being Wusun. That postulation came from geography, thanks to Herodotus, plus clockwise tribal migrations of the time period.

So here's some great news from Zhivko Voynikov (Some Ancient Chinese Names in East Turkestan and Central Asia, p. 75, PDF) "In fact, the modern [Chinese] term Wusun [Russian, Usun] perfectly conveys the ancient a(s)wen/a(sh)wen, corresponding to the Greco-Roman 'Asiani.' " (I'm not keen on Yu's last association-- Asiani-- because the name appears to be clearly associated with the Yuezhi/Kushans by Strabo.)

Voynikov gives us more. In the Tabulae Peutingeria, they appear as Eusseni, and Ammianus Marcellinus referred to them as the Euseni. Also, Essedones, Assidones, Issidones, and of course Herodotus' Issedones. "The meaning of the ethnomyn is derived from Khotan-Saka asana-- worthy, noble. Modern Ossetians are distant descendants of these people [the Wusun]: they have even preserved the ancient name; in Ossetian, aess-- truth, righteousness, which is where the self-given name Asi (truthful, honest) comes from... The name Asan can be seen as a Sarmatian name in inscriptions from the Bosphorus Kingdom."

To this remarkable linkage, we can ad the Vedic twins Ashvins/Asvins, which I may have mentioned earlier. Arthur Anthony Macdonell gives this translation, "asv-in = horseman. Their origin is to be sought in a very early pre-Vedic age [ie. the Indo-European homeland]"  So, Wusun/Usun/Asan has a deep root in the earliest of steppe cultures; and we can even add the Gokturk rulers, who originated from the Ashina clan and continued to use Indo-Iranian titles.

So the Wusun/Usun were the Aswen/Asi/Eusseni... and the Issedones.
And as it turns out, our old wayward stranger Aristeas became the first Greek to meet the Wusun.  Wink

Here's an additional tidbit from Voynikov: the root of Ferghana, "high country," valley in the mountains.
Saka-- Parkaniya
Scandinavian-- Fiorgyn
Old High German-- Fergunna
Gothic-- Fairguni

Thank you, Michael Kerr... and thank you, Zhivko Voynikov. 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
#59
Now to "The Yuezhi Problem." Who Were They?

So far, we've identified the Wusun as the Aswen/Asi/Asiani. They are mentioned by Strabo (11.8.2), "The best known of the [Saka] nomads are those who took away Bactriana from the Greeks, I mean the Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli, who originally came from... the other side of the Iaxartes River [Syr Darya]"  We don't know where Strabo retrieved his information from, and his reference to the Pasiani (Asiani) is either repeating his listing of the Asii, or perhaps a gloss or later scribal addition, or another name for the Kangju. In essence, he's still incorrect by listing the Asii (Wusun) and Pasiani (Kangju?), since the Sakarauli entered Greek Bactria first and then the Yuezhi (his Tochari) took the region from the Saka and established the Kushan state. The Wusun never crossed into Bactria, but remained in the Semirechye (the Seven Rivers area).

Now we can attempt to establish the relationship of the Yuezhi/Kushans to the early Alans. First of all, who were the Yuezhi (or Arimaspi), anyway? To identify them, we find some amazing clues. Back in 1980, H.W. Bailey gave a perfect connection, even if he was discussing ancient poetry, "The two dialects, Digoron and Iron, of the Ossetic amalgam of Sarm[atian], Alan, and Arsi peoples form part of the otherwise lost northern Iranian Saka language." (Bailey, Traditions of Heroic and Epic Poetry, p. 236) We notice that Arsi is close to Aorsi, the latter being a founding Alan tribe and connected to the territory of Yancai.

Four years later, C. H. Beck drops a footnote (p. 193, note 45) in his chapter on The History of Ancient Iran. He criticizes Otto Maenchen-Helfin, "In The Yueh-chih Problem Re-examined (JAOS, 65, 1945, pp. 79-80) , Maenchen-Helfin discusses the western movement of the Asii-Asiani-Aorsi-Arsi, and he asserts these were the lords of the Tokarians." Actually, Maenchen-Helfin more-or-less hit the jackpot, since the Tokarians were the Kushans/Yuezhi.

Once again we see Asii (Wusun), probably due to the authors using Strabo as the authority. But let's concentrate on the other tribe, the Aorsi-Arsi... simply because they were a northern branch of the Yuezhi confederation.

Here is the linguistic connection according to Voynikov (p. 7), "Behind the name yuezhi or ruzhi lies another ethnonym-- Arsians, Arshians (Arsi, Arshi) , which coincides with the only known name native Tocharian language speakers gave themselves. Arki, arsi, akwi, point to the adjective 'arsye'-- white, brilliant, shining, or respectively noble."

The Aorsi name-- brilliant, shining-- is amazingly close to the inference the Roxolani gave to themselves, the Shining Alans. It denotes "royal," as does rauli in the Sakarauli's self-designation. In the above references, old and modern, the Arsi (Yuezhi) are frequently linked to the Asi (Wusun). Being the far larger culture, I would place the Yuezhi as the major Alanic component, followed by the Wusun, and those Sakarauli and Kangju who were absorbed into the Wusun and Yuezhi. To these, we possibly add remnants of the "Middle Sarmatian Culture" once occupying the lower Ural steppe, and who later show up in southern Kazakhstan (according to Kazakh archaeologists, a tenuous connection).

The Yuezhi have an amazing history, bouncing back from near destruction by the Xiongnu, then defeated by the Wusun, to build themselves up and conquer Kangju, take Bactria, and establish the Kushan state. They were too big to be a "tribe," and appear to be a major confederation, as their northern branch arises as the cultural core of the Aorsi, Northern Aorsi, and eventually "Alania." 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
#60
Defining the Alans.... and Tribes Who Were Not.

We have made some amazing discoveries. The "Sarmatian Problem," if we can define it, appears to be a complete nebulosity as to Who the Sarmatians actually were, as we see in modern references by historians and anthropologists. In the third field of study, archaeologists simply avoid the problem and will not assign particular graves from the Caucasus, Kuban, and Crimea to any sect/culture beyond the all-inclusive term "Sarmatian."

From what we've discovered, the term "Alan" can stand by itself as a perfect designation for late Saka coalitions which arrived in Europe from the Central Asian steppe. The arrival of the Alans can be pinpointed prior to the turn of the millennium when we find the Chinese statement, "Yancai has changed its name to Alanliu."

The subsequent tribes (or coalitions) found in Strabo-- with the exception of the Siraces-- become the forefront of the Alan Culture. Although the Siraces have been mentioned in previous posts as possible Alans, they are recorded back to the late 5th Century BC-- long before the Alanic intrusion. They were last mentioned in the wars of 47 BC and disappear from record precisely when the Rhoxalai and Aorsi arrive. They appear to be a western extension of the Middle Sarmatian Culture-- actual Sarmatians, but not Alans who were rooted in the Saka Culture.

To place Alan tribes within the Saka continuum, we lineally record the religious, linguistic, historical, cultural, and self-perceived "Royal" connection from the Altai, to the Semirechye and BMC, and finally to Europe:

Issedone/Asii/Wusun/Aswen/Euseni/Alan/Osseti

(arim)Aspi/ Arsi/Yuezhi/Ruezhi/Aorsi/Alan/Osseti

plus Rhoxalani/Roxolani, the "Royal" lead splinter group (probably Wusun/Euseni)

the Osseti become sole survivors of both Royal factions

Here's a quick rundown. From the BMC and Semirechye, the Yuezhi and Wusun expanded to the northwest, but not from pressure by the Xiongnu. (The Xiongnu confederation split into two factions; and with the aid of the Han, the Southern Xiongnu literally wiped out the Northern portion, a form of self-destruction.) The Saka migration northward was likely an economic one, or a move to better grazing lands, or even a population explosion. Initially, we know the Yuezhi could field 100,000 warriors. That equates with a population of one-half million. The Wusun held a lower number, but may have had a population of 200 thousand. That's a lot of savy barbarians who considered themselves elite.

And now for speculation. The two factions, both describing themselves as "royal," evidently split from a founding and singular coalition prior to the journey of Aristeas. (The largest known kurgans arrived at the apex of three "Royal" dynasties, 600 to 400 BC, and in three separate locations-- geographically in the Northern Pontic (Scythians), a second one at Issyk Kul (Sakarauli), and easternmost in the Altai (Issedones/Aspi). Before Aristeas arrived, the Altai group split to Essedone and Aspi, perhaps the latter taking the Ukok Plateau. When they finally reached Europe, the two groups may have formed the resulting northern affiliations of Aorsi/Major (from the Yuezhi, catacomb grave) and Rhoxalani/Minor (from the Wusun, pit grave), both considering themselves as "royal, honest, noble, worthy." "We're the Worthiest and you just think you are. So, there!"  As such, we find two leading Alan groups-- separate from one another-- entering Europe.

Thank you for reading this. More to come... hopefully. 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


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Alans Dateline & Maps for Arthes Comerus Gallus Romus 17 6,596 11-26-2005, 09:49 AM
Last Post: hoplite14gr

Forum Jump: