On Aryan origins of Europe

What does the word Aryan mean? According to the official etymology it means “noble”. Somehow it seems that ever since Hitler’s ideology of white race supremacy this word leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, so it became unimaginable to look for other analogies. But this word could indeed mean “white”. The etymology “noble” is derived from Sanskrit, but in the same language there is a meaning “white” too, as we can see (though indirectly) trough etymology of a name of the hero Arjuna. In his case we read the following: “The name Arjuna means “bright” or “shining” (lit. “bright” or “silver” (cf. Latin argentum)” So, silvery bright…what color is that? But besides this Sanskrit primer, this word can be attested in many other languages, like “ayran” white yogurt of Turks, or possibly even English “air”. (unknown etymology).

So let us, just for the sake of the argument, imagine shortly that it does mean “white”. What are the implications? First of all, it is an accepted fact that the name of Iran comes from the word Aryan (and possibly Ireland according to some). Now in the case of Iran, we do know from the ancient sources that on Caucasus once existed Caucasian Albania. (See my article on Sarmatians) Wikipedia article states: (the native name for the country is unknown) and few lines later continues: “After the rise of the Parthian empire, the kings of Caucasian Albania were replaced with an Arsacid family and would later be succeeded by another Iranian royal family…” So, would it be possible that the country name was “Arya” or “Iran” while Greek and Roman historians simply translated the word to their language – a word meaning “white”, which was by the way a normal practice at the time? This theory could erase many “unknown” attributes we have seen so far. Indeed, white people are generally called Caucasian…

Second point, the tribe of Caucasian Albani was Scythian (who are presumed to have Iranian roots) and as we saw in the article on Sarmatians, we see their name on Balkans, together with Caucasian Serboi. We don’t know when these toponyms appeared on Balkans, but we know from Ptolemy’s maps that they were already present in the 2nd century AD. However, Scythia minor on Balkans was known to Herodotus as early as the 5th century BC.

It is also a well-known fact that Scythians liked to use colors when naming tribal areas. That is why we have White Serbia and White Croatia in Czech republic and Germany, but also Belarus (literary white Russia) and hundreds of other Slavic toponyms like Belgrade in Serbia (white city) – which is also one of the ancient names of both Kiev and Moscow and attested also in Ukraine, Bulgaria and other Slavic countries, than Bela Palanka (white town), Bela crkva (white church) etc.

So what is the reasoning behind this? Does “white” refer only to skin color? According to some theories Scythians and ancient Slavs used colors to mark cardinal directions, and besides white, red, black and yellow (golden) were also used. But even though this is a very plausible theory, it does not explain why do we see the color white on so many different corners of the world, in other words – where do the boundaries end and re-start again? But there could be another explanation and it could have something to do with the ancient dualistic beliefs. For example, ancient Slavic pantheon indeed had “White God” and “Black God”. If we look at the Balkan Albania, “white country”, we see Montenegro next to it, a country whose name means “Black hill / forest”. This “black forest” we see again in Germany, under a German name “Schwarzwald” and Schwarzwald borders with snow-covered Alpes, a mountain chain whose name also comes from the word “white”. Another example is Russian Belogorsk and Chernogorsk (white and black forest / mountain) Could this really be a coincidence? Because if it isn’t it would mean that Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania are all Sarmatian territory names.

In any case, if Aryans really existed, there is no better candidate than Scythians.Here are the three very good reasons for that:

1. Historically, Scythians are the only nation for which we know for sure that stretched from Balkans to India. They in a way defined borders of what will be later known as a Persian empire, even though they are not to be confused with Persians, other ancestors of Iranian people, as ancient authors like Herodotus clearly mention wars between Persians and Scythians.


Sarmatia, Scythia and Indo-Scythia (Note, unlike shown here, Sarmatian influence probably spreads all the way to Adriatic sea and surely to Northern Europe)

2. Genetically, it is a proven fact that “Indo-European” haplogroup R1 developed in Yamna culture of Modern day Ukraine. The spread of this haplogroup mimics the borders of Scythia.

R1a migration

R1 a migration

As we see, genetic map is a bit wider than Scythia but it is possible to spread it even further, all the way to Portugal where tribes under names Seurbi and Albiones were attested in pre-Roman times. Note that Lusitania is labeled as Indo-European (?) while all other regions have a distinct origin.


3. Linguistically, according to one of the two theories (opposing theory claims Anatolian origin) it is believed that the language that we know today as “Indo-European” developed in the same Yamna culture and spread together with R1 haplogroup.


Indo-European language migration (Yamna theory)

As a bonus, the oldest Swastika in the world, a symbol considered to be of Aryan origin, has been found in Mezine, Ukraine. It is a bird-shaped object with swastika motifs made from the tusk of a mammoth and dated to 10,000 BC! Swastikas are also present in Vinca sript, dated to at least 6th millennia BC and origins of this script are on Balkans.

So let us leave aside all the Nazi ideology which gave a very bad reputation to Arians. The word “Arian” may have nothing to do with a skin color or a race to start with but more with a delicate system of religious beliefs and the Orion constellation, but that is another story… In that case can we allow ourselves to see things from a different perspective – as a very important and largely neglected episode from the history of our civilization?


Orion, compare with Arjuna – the archer

Related articles:

Sarmatians, a forgotten prehistorical tribe of Europe

Who really built Singidunum, modern day Belgrade?


The point of this text was not to portray Balkan people as direct descendants of the Arians. The fact is that Balkan people have larger percentage of Mesolithic I2 haplogroup than R1, as shown in the post Genetics speaks, who is who on Balkans

There is however a likely possibility that Sarmatians were present in Balkans much earlier than thought, and that they had mixed with local population leaving behind the genetic and cultural influence. What are the traits of this old culture and what is the later Sarmatian influence is a matter of a much more complicated debate. Scythians were like any great nation probably a mixture of different tribes, most of all Iranian, Slavic and Tatar.