15 Kasım 2012 Perşembe

Scythians, Balkars, and Ossetians

After the fall of the Former USSR and the rise of the short-lived idea on sovereignty of the subjugated people, came an explosion of long-hidden publications that essentially protested fake histories instituted during the Soviet regime. One of the first books that challenged the enforced dogma was the offered work of Kazi Laipanov and Ismail Mussai Miziev, and it remains one of the much-cited works on the idiocy of the Scytho-Iranian hypothesis, in spite of the fact that has not been translated to English yet. 

By now (2012) the hypothesis shrunk from the “mainstream” status, which it mysteriously gained in the period 1950-1990s, to a defensive posture limited to fending off for an exclusively linguistic construction in conflict with every discipline on Earth that has an adjective “scientific” in front of it, including linguistics. Essentially, the polarization of the ideas fell from a coherent discussion to a dogmatic last stand vs. the flood of the evidence that can't be ignored any more. K. Laipanov and I. Miziev belongs to the number of those who first spoke out on the New Dress of the King:  “The King is naked!”

Among the highlights of the following chapters of the book, are:
Until the 1930s, even the official Russian historiography recognized in Scythians the Türkic tribes. In 1930s, the Soviet historiography has changed dramatically. The surviving information about religion of the Scythians, Massagetae/Masguts, and Alans does not contain even a hint at anything Iranic-Zoroastrian. In the absence of real facts, the religious beliefs, language, and mythology of the modern Ossetians were substituted for that of the Scythians. Typical for the Russian scientific practices of Potemkin villages. The Scythian golden plow, yoke, battle-axe, and drinking-cup that fell from the sky do have a Türkic mythological basis in the astronomical nomenclature.

The Nart epos of the peoples of Northern Pontic and the Caucasus, is connected with the Scythian mythology, the Narts of the epos are believed to be the Scythians, the epos is shared by the Abkhazes, Adygs, Ingushes, Karachai-Balkars, Nakhs, Kumyks, and Ossetians. Were the Scythians Iranian-speaking ancestors of the Ossetians, the names of the gods of smithy among the Abkhazians, Adygs, and Ossetians would have been Iranian, and not Türkic. Ditto for the name of the eponymic pra-mother of the Narts Satanai, where ana is as much “mother” in Türkic as the adam is “man”.

Scythian original way of divination using willow twigs and linden bast is confirmed by the oldest Türkic runiform book “Irk bitig” (“Book of Omens”), in contrast with Indo-Iranians.
Scythians buried with their dead dozens, and sometimes hundreds of horses, in contrast with Indo-Iranians.

Scythians' embalming bodies of the Scythian chiefs, in contrast with Indo-Iranians. Herodotus 6.71 described in detail the embalming procedure.
The Scythian names for the deities exactly match the Karachai-Balkar names for the deities, the Scythian mythology was inherited by the Balkars and preserved in their folk memory to this day, in contrast with Indo-Iranians. Scythians lived in felt yurts, they widely used felt products in their life, in contrast with Indo-Iranians.

Scythian original method of cooking meat in a stomach over a fire of bones and wood, in contrast with Indo-Iranian cooking methods.
Scythian method of scalping enemies by incising skin around the head at ear level; carrying around scalps of felled enemies, in contrast with Indo-Iranians. 

The Scythian rock art, their petroglyphs are found across Eurasia, in areas invariably populated by the Türkic people: Urals, Itil/Volga, Caucasus, Northern Pontic, Middle Asia, and Siberia. Numerous petroglyphs are complemented by Türkic written inscriptions, which caused experts like I.Kyzlasov to be astonished by the extent of literacy among the ancient Türkic people. The body of documented surviving rock inscriptions numbers in many hundreds. The spread of the rock art is congruent with the other hallmark traits: kurgan burials, Seima-Turbino Metallurgical Province, spread of cauldrons, and the like, none of which is typical for the Indo-Iranians.

K.Laipanov, I.Miziev
Origin of the Türkic peoples


On solution of the “Scythian” problem, of the Scythian and their progeny ethnicity greatly depends a solution for the ethnogenesis of the Türkic peoples, so below is a closer look at the issue. The problem is reviewed with extensive material, as stipulated by the prominent Caucasologist and Scythologist B. Piotrowsky. He wrote: “A correct solution for the Scythian problem can be approached only by examining the ancient society of the 7-6th centuries BC in the broad territory, including the Caucasus and Middle Asia (Piotrowsky, 1949, p. 130).

It has long been scientifically established that the direct genetic successors of the Pit Grave Kurgan Culture were Timber Grave Kurgan Culture tribes, and from them descended the culture of the Scythian tribes (Grakov, 1977, p. 151-153). If archeology provides an opportunity to follow the evolution of the ancient nomadic culture across the 3rd-1st millenniums BC, likewise the same opportunity is afforded to trace the evolution of the Scythian culture and its continuation in the culture of the medieval nomads of the Eurasian steppes.

The analysis shows that the entire complex of medieval nomadic ethnic cultures in the Eurasian steppes ascends to the culture of the Scythians. Accordingly, these nomads are direct genetic successors of the ancient nomads' culture, the Pit Gravers. This is evidenced by:

1) the mobile, nomadic way of life, breeding of mainly small ruminants and horses, consuming horsemeat, koumiss, airan (buttermilk), etc.
2) the funeral rite complex: kurgan, accompanying the dead with horse corpses, timber grave and dugout caskets;
3) the mass of Scythian-Türkic linguistic, ethnographic and other concurrencies.

On all these parallels we wrote in a number of previous works, the reader is referred to them, it is not necessary to repeat them all over. However, it is necessary to illuminate some aspects of the problem in light of the latest developments in the science, especially the most critical of them, the language of the Scythians.


Not a single Greek, Latin (Roman), Byzantine, Arab, or Persian author ever claimed that the Scythians spoke Persian (Iranian) language, although many of these writers have stressed the finest details of their everyday life, culture, beliefs, customs, and habits. Especially important is the fact that Herodotus, whose information is routinely used by the Scythologists, was a native of the Asia Minor city of Halicarnassus, in one of the ancient Persian satrapies, he could not fail to distinguish the Persian (Iranian) vernaculars from the others, especially since he visited Persia and not once met Iranians outside of Persia.

However, Herodotus never says anywhere that the language of the Scythians was Persian or Persian-like. He writes that the Scythians and Sauromates are related tribes, close in way of life and language, but cites very little information on their language, but even that limited information, as we shall see below, confirms the paradigm about the Türkic-linguality of the Scythians.

The news on the language of the Sarmatians and Alans is very poor. One of the most respected writers of antiquity, Ammianus Marcellinus (4th c. BC) describes in detail life and customs of the Alans, the heirs of the Scythians and Sarmatians, but also does not provide information about their language (“The Sauromatae speak the language of Scythia” [Herodotus 4.117]).

The Antioch Greek Marcellinus knew not only Greek and Roman languages, but also was familiar with the Persian language, because from 354 to 363 he served in the Roman army and fought in the war with the Persians, he was living among them, he also knew the Alan soldiers of the Roman foreign legions, he had traveled much, but not once in his many books did he state about the similarity between the Persian (Iranian) and the Alan languages. However, to attention jumps the following statement in his book 31 (XXXI) of his “History”:

“Almost all Alans are tall and handsome, with a somewhat fair hair; they are threatening with their reserved menacing glint, they are very mobile due to the lightness of their arms, and in everything are like the Huns (Emphasis added. - Auth.), only with softer and more cultural way of life” (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 163).

It is important to note here that if the Alans “in everything are like the Huns”, who were Türkic, in our view the compiler of the collection V.M Atalikov correctly comments on that similarity: “obviously, it should be understood that in the language too?” (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 242).

That the language of the Scythians could not be Iranian directly writes the author of the 3rd c. BC Justin (2.3-5). According to him, “The language of the Parthians is middle between the Scythian and Median languages, a mixture of both” (Latyshev, 1900, p. 39).

Parthians (Pardy) and Dahae (Tokhars) were most prominent of the Scythian/Saka Masgut (Massagetae) tribes in the eastern part of the Middle Asia. The same stated al-Biruni on the language of the Masguts, who in his time were already called Alans:
“their (i.e.“the tribe of Alans and As” [gins al-Lan wa'l-As] language is a mixture of Hwarizmian (i.e. Chorasmian, Horesmian) and Badjanak  (i.e. Bechen, Besenyo, Patsinak [wa-lugathum al-an mutarakkibat min al-Hwarizmiyah wa'l-Bagnakiyah])”. The Bechen language was identical with the Kipchak language.

A.V. Dybo concluded that the Sogdian (Horesmian) language is a composite “Sprachbund” or areal grouping of languages incompatible with a family tree model, and not genetically derived from the Indo-Iranic branch. W.B. Henning found that the closest to Horesmian are not the Iranian languages, but the Indo-Iranian Pashto “...Khwarezmian strikingly resembles Pashto...”.

In today's nomenclature, the languages of the nomads in the Caspian-Aral mediterranean (“Parthian” of Justin) was a mixture of Indo-Iranian Pashto (“Median” of Justin) and Türkic (“Scythian” of Justin). We have two independent witnesses stating the same: the Sprachbund of the Middle Asia in the 3rd c. BC - 11th c. AD was Türkic/Indo-Iranian.

Recognizing conclusions of some authors about the Türkic-linguality of not only the Scythians, but also the Medians as being correct (Geibullaev, 1991, ch. 3, § 1), and following the logic, Justin pointed out that the Scythians and Medians spoke different dialects of the same Ancient Türkic language.

Besides mentioning common features of the Türkic culture (for example: horse flesh eaters, kumiss drinkers, etc.), Herodotus writes about the presence among the Scythians of the Mongoloid tribes. Thus, in the 23rd verse of the book 4 of his “History” he says, “above Yirks (Iyrcae, Iyrks) live other Scythians”, and then explains that these “people are said to be all bald from birth, men and females alike, they are snub-nosed and with big chins” (Herodotus 4.23, 1972, p. 192-193). From these words is clear that Herodotus describes Mongolian traits that characterized some of the Scythian tribes.

According to S.Ya. Lurie, the “bald men” are Argippeis, the predecessors of the modern Bashkirs (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 519). According to many scientists (E. Eichwald, Z.I. Yampolsky, and others), the Scythian tribes mentioned by Herodotus, the Iyrks (Iyrcae) and Turragets (Thyssagetae, Tyritae?) are a distorted name “Turks”, and they, like other Scythian tribes also, were Türkic-lingual (Yampolsky, 1966, p. 63, 1970, p. 10-11). Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Pliny (1st c. BC) also wrote about the Türks, Turragets (Thyssagetae, Tyritae?), Turks living in the same places as was mentioned by Herodotus (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 100, 108). In 5th. AD the Byzantine historian Zosimus wrote about the Huns: “Some call this people Unns, others say that they should be called Royal Scythians, or the nation which Herodotus described as living “with flattened noses” by the Istr” (quoted from Hahn, 1884, p. 199).

Quoting experts who did not bother to open a book on the subject they are quoted on is likely a bad idea, yirk/iyrk in Türkic is generic “nomad”, and is synonymous with other generic appellations for “nomads”: as, guz, gur, alan, and other supra-ethnic appellations that with time grew into ethnic names of Ases, Guzes and Oguzes, Gurs, Ogurs, Goths, Alans, and others. That partial blunder does not diminish the other observation that various forms of the ethnic names that start with variations of the “Tr” and describe nomadic people and societies headed by the nomadic people probably are variations of the name Türk/Turk.

In connection with these reports of the ancient authors very high importance attains the described by Ptolemy burial in the 1st c. AD at the Southern Buh of a Sarmatian horse-flesh eater. In the burial was found a statuette (a handle of a mirror) deposting “an Oriental-type male figure sitting cross-legged... where under sagittiform eyebrows are narrow-slit eyes with relief pupils. The straight nose with broad wings is slightly flattened” (Kovpanenko, 1986, p. 67-71).

To the said, we add another argument. We refer to the fact that P. Mela, Pliny, Dionysius, Periegetus, Claudius Claudian, Theophylact Simokatta, Zosimus, Prisk Pannnonian and other ancient authors call the “Scythians” not any other tribe, but namely the Huns. Prisk Pannnonian, a connoisseur of the nomadic world, reports that the Hun king Rua sent to Rome his ambassador called Asli (Wise in Türkic - Auth.), and in response the Romans sent to the Huns Plint, “who was originally Scythian”. One can hardly believe that the Roman diplomacy did not know who to send to whom, and the Roman court did not know whom Hesiod, Homer, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Strabo, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, and other Greek and Roman authors called “milkers of mares” and “horse eaters”.

The testimonies of the ancient authors are also corroborated by the latest scientific studies. The first Russian translator of the Herodotus Andrew Lyzlov freely navigated the European historiography of the 15th-16th centuries, he was well familiar with the works of ancient authors, in particular Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Justin, Curcius, Rufus, and Diodorus of Sicily, still in the 17th century he came to a conviction that the Tartars and Turks ascend in their culture to the ancient Scythian nomads. The A. Lyzov's view at various times was supported and developed by such prominent scholars as V.N.Tatischev, N.M Karamzin, E.I. Eichwald, A.S. Lappo-Danilevsky, A.N. Aristov, V.V. Latyshev, and F.G. Mishchenko. Above, we quoted a number of authors on this subject, in particular A.N. Aristov (1896, p. 400), E.I. Eichwald (1838, p. 56-60), and others.

The presence of the Türkic tribes among Scythians also recognized the official organ of the Russian Academy of Sciences. One of the volumes of its “Scientific Notes” on Scythians and Sarmatians stated: “On the Scythians and Sarmatians was written a lot, but very little with a critical tact and with extensive knowledge of the sources and latest works... If the Greeks and Romans in the extant writings used the two names not exclusively in the folkish sense, it then only it stands to reason that the numerous people may have been of different origin and language... Were already between them, the Northern Pontic Scythians, the people of the Türkic origin? Most likely, they already were at the time of Herodotus” (Scientific Notes, 1855, p. 114-115).

Many eastern authors, who were well familiar with the history and life of the Turko-Mongol tribes, called the Scythians “Turks”, and called the Scythia a “land of the Turks” 

Thus, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. even the official (Russian) historiography recognized a part of the Scythian tribes as Türkic tribes. From the 1930s, the concept of the Soviet historiography has changed dramatically in that matter, as described above. Now has come the opportune time for the objective study of all scientific problems.

Laipanov K.T., Miziyev I.M.
Cherkessk, 1993
Origin of the Türkic peoples 
Scythians/Skolots - Türks                              
Historical information                               
Life and customs of the Scythians                
Religious beliefs and mythology of the Scythians