Sarmatians, a forgotten prehistorical tribe of Europe?

Pick any book on the ancient history of Balkans and among the first known native tribes you will see Thracian, Dacian, Tribalian and Illyrian people. And while this is an indisputable fact, there is another tribe that for some reason almost every historian forgets, despite the enormous body of evidence of their presence. This tribe is known as Sarmatians.

The first mention of Sarmatians comes from Herodotus, in the 5th century BC. He claims that they are of Scythian stock, a mixture of Scythian warriors and Amazonian women to be more precise. Herodotus actually dedicates a lot of pages of his “History” to Scythians and Sarmatians. The reason for this – he got all the info first-hand, or to quote him: “It is not hard to get information from Scythians, as they all like to talk a lot.” This also means that Scythians were present in ancient Greece to some extent. So what were they doing there? Herodotus gives us the answer in another place – they were trading, mainly with wheat. He also mentions a few cases of Scythian rulers who got killed by their own people for getting dangerously charmed with Greek cults and culture and forgetting the Scythian ways.

Herodotus is also probably the main reason that no one seriously considers the possibility of prehistorical Europe as a part of Sarmatian territory. He clearly places Sarmatians above the sea of Azov. Namely, once the Scythian warriors mixed with the Amazonian women, Amazonians asked them to move to a neutral territory. “And crossing the Tanaïs, (river Don) they went a three days journey east from the river, and a three days’ journey north from lake Maeetis (Sea of Azov)” Hdt. 4.116

But funny enough, in his detailed account of the Persian invasion of Scythia, he marks Danube river as a border with Scythia. He does not mention Dacians, which you would expect to see there as a native tribe of modern day Romania. In fact, Herodotus does not mention Dacians at all in his book. For him Romanian side of Danube is already Scythia. (See Scythia Minor)

Almost seven centuries after the account of Herodotus, Ptolemy’s map confirms that Sarmatians are still in the general area that he described as their homeland. Ptolemy marked this area as “Sarmatia Asiatica”, as by his time Sarmatians had already spread from Black sea to Baltic.


 Sarmatia Asiatica (click to enlarge)

We see on this map that Amazonian tribe was still present in Sarmatia, just as Herodotus claimed.  But we also see something even more interesting – tribes of Sirbi, Albani, Suardeni and Tauri. If we consider that Suardeni could be Sardani, people of the seas, mentioned in my post  Bes, Egyptian god that is not Egyptian, all of these tribes are present at Balkans, not at some later date, but at the same time when Ptolemy made these maps in the 2nd century AD! On these same maps we see a tribe called Albani on the territory of modern-day Albania, considered to be “Illyrians” and we see a city called Serbinum, on the territory of modern-day Republic of Srpska. As for the tribe of Taurisci, we know that they lived in modern day Slovenia, and Pannonia, Serbia. They had probably given the name to the ancient city of Zemun, which was called Taurunum by Romans. But just like the Boii, they are considered to be a Gallic tribe.

Now, we do know that Romans had many military campaigns against Sarmatians in Balkans. One such a detailed account is by Ammianus Marcellinus in his “Rerum Gestarum”written in the beginning of IV century AD.  Amm. 17.12. (click to read the full text)

We clearly see from this account that Roman base for campaigns against Sarmatians was in Sirmium, in the region of Serbia today known as Srem, and called “Syrmia” by Romans. If this region owes it’s name to Sarmatians it would confirm that Sarmatians were present there before the Romans. But on the highlighted link about Sirmium we see a mainstream historians opinion that it’s name means “flow”, “flowing water”, “wetland” (in Thracian language) Sarmatians are not mentioned here at all, despite the fact that most important campaigns from Sirmium were against them, which even gave the emperor attribute “Sarmaticus”. Hmmm, I would be really curios to see how these same historians would explain the etymology of the Roman city “Sarmates”, modern day Paracin, Serbia…


Sarmates (Source: Digital map of Roman empire)

Luckily, we do not need this sort of etymologies to prove that Sarmatians were indeed present on Balkans, there are enough ancient accounts on this topic. Wikipedia article on Sarmatians does mention that they were present in Balkans, from where they were pushed by Goths, and later by Romans. We read the following: “The Sarmatians remained dominant until the Gothic ascendancy in the Black sea area. Goths attacked Sarmatian tribes on the north of the Danube in Dacia, which is known today as Romania.”

Now, even though Herodotus does not mention Dacians, he does mention the Geatae, a Thracian tribe as a native tribe of Romania. Some opinions are that they should be equated with Goths, some not. But anyway, Sarmats and Geatae in Romania? So the ancient Romanian capital of Sarmizegetusa, surely means “A city of Sarmatians and Getae”? Well not really according to our “historians”, just click the link and choose one of the bizarre theories proposed there. My favorite is “Palace illuminating the world of life” (?) *Note – Wikipedia article has been updated with this etymology on February 2016, three months after this article is published.

Moreover, besides being close to Pannonia, from where Romans were campaigning against Sarmatians, Sarmizegetusa is very close to modern day Timisoara. The name of this city has a strange resemblance to Themiscyra, capital of Amazons according to Herodotus, but yes, this just has to be another coincidence too…

According to 10th century Byzanthian chronicle “De Administrando Imperio” Serbs and Croats came to Balkans from Northern Europe, but that same text mentiones tribes with the same names above the sea of Azov. How can we really explain all these similarities between names if not trough Sarmatians? On the side note, if Serbs and Croats really came for the first time on Balkans in the 6th century, conquered the local non-Slavic population and brought the Slavic language with them, what is the case with Slovenians, Bosnians, Montenegrians, Macedonians and Bulgarians? All of these people came from Bohemia? Really? Because at the same time of this supposed migration, in 680AD, when Bulgar tribes had entered Bulgaria, they imposed their rule over a dominant Slavic population, hence Slavic language remained to this date. How can this be possible if Slavs were not already present on Balkans in large numbers?

Even in pre-Roman Portugalia we see the same tribes again – Seurbi and Seurri, Albiones, Tarbell (Tribal?) and Neri, which was another name for Taurisci.


 Pre-Roman peoples and languages of Iberia

Can this also be a coincidence? Hardly so, because Sorbs in Germany are still called “Lusatians” to this date. This is all easily explainable if we consider that some of the “Gaulish” tribes were actually Sarmatian. As Herodotus describes, Scyths and Sarmatians were nomads, their houses were on wagons, always on the move, so it would not be strange to see them on different parts of the continent. Also, they are the ones who first mastered the horse riding, one of the main attributes of Celts and Gauls, who had horse-burials, just like Celts and Gauls, and they are the ones who brought Indo-European language and R1 haplogroup to Europe – these are the facts accepted by the mainstream historians. But this means that a very early contact had to be made, much earlier than those same historians are willing to accept. In my article Genetics speaks – who is who on Balkans I presented official data on how Sarmatian haplogroup R1 had spread into Europe. The first contact was in Balkans as early as 4200BC! This is a scientific data that has not yet been explained by the official history.

R1a migration

r1a migration

If this is true, can we assume that Sarmatians were indeed one of the earliest tribes of Europe? That would mean that Serbs, Croats and Albanians still carry their name, even though genetically Balkan people are a mixture of (less) Sarmatian R1a and (more) Mesolithic Europeans (Lepenski vir and Vinca culture) while Sarmatians left more of their DNA in Northern Slavic countries, like Poland, Ukraine and Russia. And maybe this is pushing it too far with guesswork, but Vinca culture is actually a perfect candidate for the original country of Amazonians. We do know that up to it’s demise that was brought by a warrior culture from the east, they lived in matriarchate for several millenia, making almost no other images but those of mother-goddesses. Vinca culture actually officially ends in the same year, 4200BC, at the exact same time that R1a appears on Balkans. Indeed, ancient authors do place origins of Amazonians in Turkey, as well as as around the river Don in Ukraine. But Vinca was in the middle of this area. Even the name of Amazonians was explained trough a Slavic word “muž” – man, husband – meaning “without husbands”, but this theory is later dismissed. In any case, Slavic language had to come from somewhere on Balkans and these are the only two dominant haplogroups in Balkan dna. If Scythians really spoke only Iranian language, (not necessarily the case) than that of native tribes had to be some form of Slavic? Herodotus claims that Sarmatian is a spoiled version of Scythian, because Amazonians never learned it properly.

Anyhow, for a country to bear a name of a smaller group of invaders over a larger local population is nothing new on Balkans. Some of the known examples from more recent history are Romania, Bulgaria and Hungaria. Do we have a same case here, just at earlier historical times? The fact remains that Serbs and Croats cannot explain their names via Slavic etymologies. The fact also remains that Sarmatian Serboi inhabited the very passage from Scythia to Babel, and as described by Herodotus, trough this passage Scythians had conquered Babel and they had ruled there for 28 years. Is this the real story behind the Slavic medieval chronicles described in my article Did Serbs construct the tower of Babel? Is this also the reason why the medieval seat of power of the Poles, genetically purest Sarmatian nation, was the Wawel castle built just around the time when Slavic chronicles link origin of Slavs (trough Serbs) with Babel? And if R1a migration went by upper Danube to Poland, could it also carry the Slavic language, hence medieval chronicles claim Slavic origin from Serbs?

Can Sarmatian connection also explain the megalithic site of Babele in Romania? This word has a very strange resemblance to “balbal” or “baba” Scythian stones, placed since times immemorial to commemorate ancestors and which left traces in so many of Balkan toponyms like “Baba’s tooth” on Balkan mountain. (“Baba” in Balkans means “grand-mother”.) And while at Romanians, why does the name of Dacian king Decebalus sound like “Lord of Dacians” if we replace “balus” with “Baal” – a “lord” in the languages of Levant?

Why does the ancient name of Danube river – Ister, sound so much like Ishtar, Babylonian goddess of fertility? And why is it so hard to tell Scythian gold from Thracian and why these golden artifacts resemble so much those from Assyria and Babylon? So many questions to be answered, but the most important – is there much more on Sarmatians to be told but we don’t know it simply because we lean too much on Roman historians who didn’t bother to glorify the enemy, a “barbaric” nation that was about to be assimilated into the new world order of the glorious Roman empire?