The inhabitants SARMATIA (Ancient country) RUSSIA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The inhabitants (22)

Names of the inhabitants

Sauromatae or Sarmatians

An isolated nomadic people, do not use iron, their spears, bows, and arrows, use the lasso, make corselets out of horse-hoofs, sacrifice and eat mares, punished by Antoninus Second.

Sauromatae or Sarmatians

Perseus Project Index. Total results on 21/6/2001: 30 for Sauromatae, 36 for Sarmatians.

Ancient tribes


Amadoci (Amadokoi), a people of Sarmatia Europaea, mentioned by Hellanicus (Steph. B. s. v.) Their country was called Amadocium. Ptolemy (iii. 5) mentions the Amadoci Montes, E. of the Borysthenes (Dnieper), as an E. prolongation of M. Pence, and in these mountains the Amadoci, with a city Amodoca and a lake of the same name, the source of a river falling into the Borysthenes. The positions are probably in the S. Russian province of Jekaterinoslav, or in Kherson.


  Abasci, Abasgi (Habaskoi, Abasgoi), a Scythian people in the N. of Colchis, on the confines of Sarmatia Asiatica (within which they are sometimes included), on the Abascus or Abasgus, one of the small rivers flowing from the Caucasus into the NE. part of the Euxine. They carried on a considerable slave-trade, especially in beautiful boys, whom they sold to Constantinople for eunuchs. These practices were suspended for a time, on their nominal conversion to Christianity, during the reign of Justinian; but the slave-trade in these regions was at least as old as the time of Herodotus (iii. 97), and has continued to the present time. (Arrian. Peripl. Pont. Eux. p. 12; Procop. B. Goth. iv. 3, B. Pers. ii. 29; Steph. B. s. v. Sannigai.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  AgariI (Agaroi), a Scythian people of Sarmatia Europaea, on the N. shore of the Palus Maeotis (Sea of Azov), about a promontory Agarum and a river Agarus, probably not far E. of the Isthmus. They were skilful in medicine, and are said to have cured wounds with serpents' venom! Some of them always attended on Mithridates the Great, as physicians. (Appian. Mithr 88; Ptol. iii, 5. § 13.) A fungus called Agaricum (prob. German tinder), much used in ancient medicine, was said to grow in their country (Plin. xxv. 9. s. 57; Dioscor. iii. 1; Galen, de fac. simp. med. p. 150). Diodorus (xx. 24), mentions Agarus, a king of the Scythians, near the Cimmerian Bosporus, B.C. 240. (Bockh, Corpus Inscr. vol. ii. p. 82; Ukert, vol. iii. pt. 2, pp. 250, 433.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Agathyrsi (Agathursoi, Agathursioi), a people of Sarmatia Europaea, very frequently mentioned by the ancient writers, but in different positions. Their name was known to the Greeks very early, if the Peisander, from whom Suidas (s. v.) and Stephanus Byzantinus (s. v.) quote an absurd mythical etymology of the name (apo tan thurson tou Dionnsou) be the poet Peisander of Rhodes, B.C. 645; but he is much more probably the younger Peisander of Larauda, A.D. 222. Another myth is repeated by Herodotus, who heard it from the Greeks on the Euxine; that Hercules, on his return from his adventure against Geryon, passed through the region of Hylaea, and there met the Echidna, who bore him three sons, Agathyrsus, Gelonus, and Scythes; of whom the last alone was able to bend a bow and to wear a belt, which Hercules had left behind, in the same manner as Hercules himself had used them; and, accordingly, in obedience to their father's command, the Echidna drove the two elder out of the land, and gave it to Scythes (Herod. iv. 7-10: comp. Tzetz. Chil. viii. 222, 759). Herodotus himself, also, regards the Agathyrsi as not a Scythian people, but as closely related to the Scythians. He places them about the upper course of the river Marts (Marosch), that is, in the SE. part of Dacia, or the modern Transylvania (iv. 4: the Marts, however, does not fall directly, as he states, into the Ister, Danube, but into that great tributary of the Danube, the Theiss). They were the first of the peoples bordering on Scythia, to one going inland from the Ister; and next to them the Neuri (iv. 100). Being thus separated by the E. Carpathian mountains from Scythia, they were able to refuse the Scythians, flying before Dareius, an entrance into their country (Herod. iv. 125). How far N. they extended cannot be determined from Herodotus, for he assigns an erroneous course to the Ister, N. of which he considers the land to be quite desert. The later writers, for the most part, place the Agathyrsi further to the N., as is the case with nearly all the Scythian tribes; some place them on the Palus Maeotis and some inland; and they are generally spoken of in close connection with the Sarmatians and the Geloni, and are regarded as a Scythian tribe (Ephor. ap. Scymn. Fr. v. 123, or 823, ed. Meineke; Mela ii. 1; Plin. iv. 26; Ptol. iii. 5; Dion. Perieg. 310; Avien. Descr. Orb. 447; Steph. B. s. v.; Suid. s. v. &c.). In their country was found gold and also precious stones, among which was the diamond, adamas pamphainon (Herod. iv. 104; Amm. Marc. xxii. 8; Dion. Perieg. 317). According to Herodotus, they were a luxurious race (habrotatoi, Ritter explains this as referring to fine clothing), and wore much gold: they had a community of wives, in order that all the people might regard each other as brethren; and in their other customs they resembled the Thracians (iv. 104). They lived under kingly government; and Herodotus mentions their king Spargapeithes as the murderer of the Scythian king, Ariapeithes (iv. 78). Frequent allusions are made by later writers to their custom of painting (or rather tattooing) their bodies, in a way to indicate their rank, and staining their hair a dark blue (Virg. Aen. iv. 146; Serv. ad loc.; Plin. iv. 26; Solin. 20; Avien. l. c.; Ammian. l. c.; Mela ii. 1: Agathyrsi orsa artusque pingunt: ut quique majoribus praestant, ita magis, vel minus: ceterum iisdem omnes notis, et sic ut ablui nequeant). Aristotle mentions their practice of solemnly reciting their laws lest they should forget them, as observed in his time (Prob. xix. 28). Finally, they are mentioned by Virgil (l. c.) among the worshippers of the Delian Apollo, where their name is, doubtless, used as a specific poetical synonym for the Hyperboreans in general: mixtique altaria circum Cretesque Dryopesque fremunt pictique Agathyrsi.
  Niebuhr (Kleine Schriften, vol. i. p. 377) regards the Agathyrsi of Herodotus, or at least the people who occupied the position assigned to them by Herodotus, as the same people as the Getae or Dacians (Ukert, 2, pp. 418-421; Georgii,vol. ii.pp. 302, 303; Ritter, Vorhalle, pp. 287, foll.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Aorsi (Aorsoi: Strab., Ptol., Plin., Steph.B.), or Adorsi (Tac. Ann. xii. 15), a numerous and powerful people, both in Europe and in Asia. Ptolemy (iii. 5. § 22) names the European Aorsi among the peoples of Sarmatia, between the Venedic Gulf (Baltic) and the Rhipaean mountains (i. e. in the eastern part of Prussia), and places them S. of the Agathyrsi, and N. of the Pagyritae. The Asiatic Aorsi he places in Scythia intra Imaum, on the NE. shore of the Caspian, between the Asiotae, who dwelt E. of the mouth of the river Rha (Volga), and the Jaxartae, who extended to the river Jaxartes (vi. 14. § 10). The latter is supposed to have been the original position of the people, as Strabo expressly states (xi. p. 506); but of course the same question arises as in the case of the other great tribes found both in European Sarmatia and Asiatic Scythia; and so Eichwald seeks the original abodes of the Aorsi in the Russian province of Voloyda, on the strength of the resemblance of the name to that of the Finnish race of the Erse, now found there. (Geog. d. Casp. Meeres, pp. 358, foll.) Pliny mentions the European Aorsi, with the Hamaxobii, as tribes of the Sarmatians, in the general sense of that word, including the Scythian races who dwelt along the N. coast of the Euxine E. of the mouth of the Danube; and more specifically, next to the Getae (iv. 12. s. 25. xi. s. 18).
  The chief seat of the Aorsi, and where they appear in history, was in the country between the Tanais, the Euxine, the Caspian, and the Caucasus. Here Strabo places (xi. p. 492), S. of the nomade Scythians, who dwell on waggons, the Sarmatians, who are also Scythians, namely the Aorsi and Siraci, extending to the S. as far as the Caucasian mountains; some of them being nomades, and others dwelling in tents, and cultivating the land (skenitai kai georgoi). Further on (p. 506), he speaks more particularly of the Aorsi and Siraci; but the meaning is obscured by errors in the text. The sense seems to be, as given in Groskurd's translation, that there were tribes of the Aorsi and the Siraci on the E. side of the Palus Maeotis (Sea of Azov), the former dwelling on the Tanais, and the latter further to the S. on the Achardeus, a river flowing from the Caucasus into the Maeotis. Both were powerful, for when Pharnaces (the son of Mithridates the Great) held the kingdom of Bosporus, he was furnished with 20,000 horsemen by Abeacus, king of the Siraci, and with 200,000 by Spadines, king of the Aorsi. But both these peoples are regarded by Strabo as only exiles of the great nation of the Aorsi, who dwelt further to the north (ton anotero, hoi ano Aorsoi), and who assisted Pharnaces with a still greater force. These more northern Aorsi, he adds, possessed the greater part of the coast of the Caspian, and carried on an extensive traffic in Indian and Babylonian merchandize, which they brought on camels from Media and Armenia. They were rich and wore ornaments of gold.
  In A.D. 50, the Aorsi, or, as Tacitus calls them, Adorsi, aided Cotys, king of Bosporus, and the Romans with a body of cavalry, against the rebel Mithridates, who was assisted by the Siraci. (Tac. Ann. xii. 15.)
  Some modern writers attempt to identify the Aorsi with the Avars, so celebrated in Byzantine and medieval history.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Asaei (Asaii), a people of Sarmatia Asiatica, near the Suardeni and the upper course of the Tanais. (Ptol. v. 9. § 16). They are also mentioned by Pliny, according to the common text, as having been, before his time, among the most celebrated peoples of Scythia; but Sillig gives a different reading, namely Chroasai. (Plin. vi. 17. s. 19.)


  Bastarnae (Bastarnai) or Basternae (Basternai), one of the most powerful tribes of Sarmatia Europaea, first became known to the Romans in the wars with Philip and Perseus, kings of Macedonia, to the latter of whom they furnished 20,000 mercenaries. Various accounts were given of their origin; but they were generally supposed to be of the German race. Their first settlements in Sarmatia seem to have been in the highlands between the Theiss and March, whence they pressed forward to the lower Danube, as far as its mouth, where a portion of the people, settling in the island of Peuce obtained the name of Peucini. They also extended to the S. side of the Danube, where they made predatory incursions into Thrace, and engaged in war with the governors of the Roman province of Macedonia. They were driven back across the Danube by M. Crassus, in B.C. 30. In the later geographers we find them settled between the Tyras (Dniester) and Borysthenes (Dnieper), the Peucini remaining at the mouth of the Danube. Other tribes of them are mentioned under the names of Atmoni and Sidones. They were a wild people, remarkable for their stature and their courage. They lived entirely by war; and carried their women and children with them on waggons. Their main force was their cavalry, supported by a light infantry, trained to keep up, even at full speed, with the horsemen, each of whom was accompanied by one of these foot-soldiers (parabates). Their government was regal. (Polyb. xxvi. 9; Strab. ii. pp. 93, 118, vi. pp. 291, 294, vii. p. 305, et seq.; Scymn. Fr. 50; Memnon, 29; Appian, Mithr. 69, 71, de Reb. Maced. 16; Dion Cass. xxxiv. 17, li. 23, et seq.; Plut. Aem. Paul. 12; Liv. xl. 5, 57, et seq., xliv. 26, et seq.; Tac. Ann. ii. 65, Germ. 46; Justin, xxxii. 3; Plin. iv. 12. s. 25; Ptol. iii. 5. § 19; and many other passages of ancient writers; Ukert, Georg. d. Griech. u. Rom. vol. iii. pt. 2, pp. 427, 428.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



  Cercetae (Kerketai, Strab. &c.; Kerketioi, Dion. Perieg. 682; Kerketaioi, Hellanic. fr. 91), one of the peoples of Sarmatia Asiatica, who occupied the NE. shore of the Euxine, between the Cimmerian Bosporus and the frontier of Colchis, but whose relative positions are not very exactly determined: their coast abounded in roadsteads and villages. (Hellanic. l. c.; Strab. xi. pp. 496, 497 ; Ptol. v. 9. § 25; Steph. B. s. v.; Mela, i. 19. § 4; Plin. vi. 5.) Their name is now applied to the whole western district of the Caucasus, in the well known forms of Cherkas for the people, and Cherkaskaia, or Circassia, for the country.


  Savari (Sauaroi, Ptol. iii. 5. § 22), a people in the N. of European Sarmatia, between the rivers Turuntus and Chesinus. Schafarik (Slav. Altertlh. i. p. 212) identifies them with the Sjewer, a powerful Slavonian race which dwelt on the rivers Desna, Sem, and Sula, and possessed the towns Tschernigow and Ljubetsch, both of which are mentioned by Constantine Porphyrogenitus (de Adm. Imp. c. 9). The name of the Sjewer does not occur in history after the year 1024, though their land and castles are frequently mentioned subsequently in Russian annals. (Ibid. ii. p. 129.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Zygi (Zagoi; Strab. xi. p. 496), a wild and savage people on the Pontus Euxinus in Asiatic Sarmatia, and on the heights stretching from the Caucasus to the Cimmerian Bosporus. They were partly nomad shepherds, partly brigands and pirates, for which latter vocation they had ships specially adapted (cf. Id. ii. 129, xi. 492, xvii. 839). Stephanus B. (p. 290) says that they also bore the name of Zugrianoi; and we find the form Zygii (Zugioi) in Dionysius (Perieg. 687) and Avienus (Descrip. Orb. 871).


Tauroscythae (Tauroskuthai, Ptol. iii. 5. § 25), called by Pliny Tauri Scythae (iv. 12. s. 26), a people of European Sarmatia, composed of a mixture of Taurians and Scythians. They were seated to the W. of the Jazyges, and the district which they inhabited appears to have been called Tauroscythia. (Cf. Strab. ap. Hudson, p. 87; Capit. M. Ant. 9; Procop. de Aed. iii. fin.)


Serbi or Sirbi (Serboi or Sirboi, Ptol. v. 9. § 21), a people in Asiatic Sarmatia, according to Ptolemy (l. c.) between the Ceraunian mountains and the river Rha, above the Diduri and below the Vali. Pliny, however (vi. 7. s. 7), places them on the E. shore of the Maeotis, between the Vali and the Arrechi. (Comp. Schaffarik, Slav. Alterth. i. p. 165.)


  Sindi (Sindoi Herod. iv. 28), a people in Asiatic Sarmatia, on the E. coast of the Pontus Euxinus and at the foot of the Caucasus, in the district called Sindice. (Herod. l. c.; Hipponax. p. 71, ed. Welck.; Hellanic. p. 78; Dionys. Per. 681; Steph. B. p. 602; Amm. Marc. xxii. 8. § 41, &c.) Besides the sea-port of Sinda, other towns belonging to the same people were, Hermonassa, Gorgippia, and Aborace. (Strab. xi. p. 495.) They had a monarchical form of government (Polyaen, viii. 55), and Gorgippia was the residence of their kings. (Strab. l. c.) Nicolaus Damascenus (p. 160, ed. Orell.) mentions a peculiar custom which they had of throwing upon the grave of a deceased person as many fish as the number of enemies whom he had overcome. Their name is variously written, and Mela calls them Sindones (ii. 19), Lucian (Tox. 55), *sindianoi/. Eichwald (Alt Geogr. d. Kasp. M. p. 356) holds them to have been a Hindoo colony. (Comp. Bayer, Acta Petrop. ix. p. 370; St. Croix, Mem. de l'Ac. des Inscr. xlvi. p. 403; Larcher, ad Herod. vii. p. 506; Ukert, vol. iii. pt. 2. p. 494, &c.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Siraceni (Sirakenoi, Ptol. v. 9. § § 17, 19), a great and mighty people of Asiatic Sarmatia on the east shore of the Maeotis, beyond the Rha and on the Achardeus, in the district called by Strabo (xi. 504) Siracene. They appear under various names. Thus Strabo (xi. p. 506) and Mela (i. 19) call them Siraces; Tacitus (Ann. xii. 15, seq.) Siraci (in Strabo, xi. p. 492, Sirakoi); and in an inscription (Bockh, ii. p. 1009) we find the form Sirachoi. They were governed by their own kings, and the Romans were engaged in a war with them, A.D. 50. (Tac. l. c.; Strab. ib. p. 504.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Suarni a rude people of Asiatic Sarmatia, in the neighbourhood of the Portae Caucasiae and the Rha. They possessed gold mines (Plin. vi. 11. s. 12). They are probably the same people whom Ptolemy calls Surani (Souranoi, v. 9. § 20) and places between the Hippie and Ceraunian mountains.


Thyssagetae (Thussagetai, Herod. iv. 22), a numerous people of Asiatic Sarmatia, living principally by the chase. They dwelt to the north-east of a great desert of 7 days' journey, which lay between them and the Budini. Stephanus B. (s. v.) erroneously places them on the Maeotis, apparently from misunderstanding Herodotus. They are called Thussagetae by Mela (i. 19) and Pliny (iv. 12 s. 26), and Thyssagetae by Valerius Flaccus (vi. 140).


  Turcae (Tourkoi, Suid. s. v.), a Scythian people of Asiatic Sarmatia, dwelling on the Palus Maeotis, which appears to be identical with the Iurkai of Herodotus (iv. 22, &c.). The various hypotheses that have been started respecting the Turcae only show that nothing certain is known respecting them. (Cf. Mannert, iv. p. 130; Heeren, Ideen, i. 2, pp. 189, 281, 307; Schaffarik, Slav. Alterth. i. p. 318, &c.) Humboldt (Central-Asien, i. p. 245, ed. Mahlmann) opposes the notion that these Turcae or Jyrcae were the ancestors of the present Turks.


Veltae (Oueltai, Ptol. iii. 5. § 22), a people of European Sarmatia, dwelling on both banks of the river Rhubon, identical, according to Ukert (iii. pt. ii. p. 435), with the Sclavonian Veleti, or Lutizi, who dwelt on the Oder.


  Hamaxobii (Hamaxobioi, iii. 5. § 19; Iamblich. de Abstin. iii. 15; Pomp. Mel. ii. 1. § 2; Plin. vi. 12; Steph. B. s. v. Abioi), a people of Sarmatia, situated to the E. of the Scythian Alauni, who wandered with their waggons along the banks of the Volga, and belonged to the Sarmatian stock. (Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. i. p. 204.)

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