The Real Scythians of Messopotamia

Fred Hamori
based on a work by Gyula Mészáros

It is a common fallacy to call Scythians Iranians based on the fact that the Greeks continued to use the Scythian name long after the disappearance of the Northern Mesopotamian & Anatolian Scythians who were conquered and absorbed by the Iranian Suoramata. The association of the conquered with the conqueror however is common but still inaccurate. After this event there occurred such a confusion in the minds of the Greeks concerning their previous northern neighbors that they applied the term to other nomadic or equestrian people with similar outward habits, including the Saurmatians, Huns, Turks and later even Germanic tribes. This progression only occurred over a long time when the "Scythian" term became a gross generalization of a horse-nomad. Yet the original Scythians were not nomads and had cities, ships arts and trades, which the early Greeks admired. The later Pseudo Scythians often copied some of their arts and habits but were but a poor imitation of the original.

The real Scythians, however lived first in Anatolia before the 7th century BC, then moved in large numbers to the Kuban Region in early 6th century BC, then to the Pontic Steppes and later to eastern Europe and to Turkestan. Before this time they must have conducted long term trade with the region also. They greatly influenced the culture of the peoples they interacted with including the so called Finnougrians in the north and also the Hunic-Turkic peoples in the east and probably also some Indo Europeans. The important question which we may never be able to answer with absolute certainty is, were they the real ancestors of the common language strata found  in Uralic and Altaic? This can only be partially true unless their influence was from a much much earlier time then their northern migration. The reason I even mention this is that it appears that the decoded words I have found in Scythian is often found in these languages also, as well as their late descendants in the Kartwelian Languages of the Caucasus. Following this historical introduction a systematic review of the Scythian language remains will be introduced using early Anatolian languages as comparison, based on the linguistic researches of Gyula Mészáros (Hattic and Pakhy languages), with some addition from my own review of Hurrian and Sumerian.

We know relatively little of the early Scythian language, except that it came from ancient Anatolia and therefore it may be related to the languages of that region such as Hattic, Hurrian, Subarian. Indeed if these are used as a guide much of the language of these "real Scythians" from 6century BC to the 2nd century BC can be decyphered, whereas they cannot be understood with the help of Iranian languages. Only the later Sauromata and later pseudo Scyth language remains can be understood with Iranian. To make the confusion more complete, the conquering Sauromata also must have absorbed large Scythic elements which often kept many of their old customs, but were forced to change their languages. Therefore outwardly they must have seemed to be the same people. The explosion of Scythic peoples in the east could not just be a population explosion of one people but the whole conquered patchwork of peoples.

First of all a comparison of early Scythian customs, art forms, religious beliefs and even their first historic mention is all from Anatolia and Northern Messopotamia. First in Assyrian documents. The early Greek writers confirm this also. Therefore they were not a northern people at all ! Nor an eastern one from Central Asia. Plinius writes of their origins "Ultra sunt Scytharum populi, Persae illos Sacas in universum appellavere a proxima gente, antiqui Arameos." They came from an area in Northern Messopotamia often called Arameos, which is but a name of Urartu whose first king was called Aram. Later the term was also applied to Syria where another colony of Scythians & Hati-Hittites (2000BC to 714BC) settled after the collapse of their old empire in Anatolia. Indeed this was but one of the reasons for the spreading of Anatolian people to the north also. Both Assyrian and Mede attacks forced them to look for new lands to settle./Meszaros

Herodotus also tells of the origin of the Scythians from the area of eastern Anatolia watered by the Araxes River (modern Turkish Aras) and not the Amu Darya which the historians of Alexander invented to enlarge their own conquests. Herodotus writes: "The nomad Scythians living in Asia (once only the near east) were attacked by the Sarmatians and were forced to cross the Araxes and wander to the land of the Kimmerians."  I can only surmise that the Kimmerians were the aboriginals of eastern Europe, who based on the stories of Homer are of far nothern descent. They also were both farmers, herdsmen and horsemen just like the Scythians.

This is but one late version of a confused story, other early Greeks tell it differently that the warlike Scythians crossed over on their own account. The Sarmatian attack was a later event, but they must have been a long time thorn in their side because Herodotus mentioned them living to the north of the Scythians of the Black Sea regions and not close to their old homelands along the Araxes.

Hesiod, 7th Century BC, writes: The inventors of bronze working were the Scythians. The early Messopotamian name of the metal Zubur, indicates that the northern Messopotamian Subartuan's or a people of the region were indeed the inventors of the process. The Scythians also of this region were therefore but a different designation of such people that the Greeks associated with them.

The Greeks also associated the invention of iron working with the Scythians. This again is a northern Messopotamian and Anatolian invention and being Anatolian in origin the Scythians also had some great iron working tribes like the Kalybs tribe which gave steel its name in many early European languages. In time they became absorbed by the Sarmatians and Yazig. They must have also been remembered by the Yazig cavalry taken by the Romans to early Britain and were the foundation of the King Arthur myths of Ex-Calibur, and the sword myths which are all early Anatolian traditions. These traditions were also found in Hun and Magyar traditions and mentioned by Herodotus amongst the early Scythians.

Besides bronze and iron they are credited by the early Greeks to have invented the bellows used for metal smelting. The invention of the pottery wheel and the boat anchor. Products of a very early civilization.

Therefore when Justinius II writes that the Scythians are one of the most ancient races in the world, older than the Egyptians, He cannot be talking of simply the late Scythian immigrants to the Pontic steppes but the early northern Messopotamian cultures. Similarly he cannot be talking of the Iranian tribesmen which spread into Central Asia. Nor is he talking of the later Hun tribes for sure, since they were hardly known for a such a long time in the west.

It is Deodorus Siculus who talks of the death and disappearance of the true Scythians at the hands of the Sarmatians, who could not have been their relatives, and therefore not real Scythians. The early Scythian art style is an extension of Messopotamian art, a fact which cannot be denied any longer. The illustration of early Scythians also looks like a branchycephalic Anatolian race, which from early times has also been slowly spreading into Eastern Europe (Körös Culture). They absorbed some northern dolycephalic peoples also but these represented less then 10% of their population. Today in Europe the territory of Old Hungary is the center of branchycephalic types. This type is growing throughout Europe and dolycephalic types last remnants are in England and the northern Germanic areas. Looking at early Scythian representation one may as well be looking at the representation of a Hurrian or Assyrian, minus the curly hair.

One of the main introductions of the Scythians is iron weapons and horse riding. Both of Anatolian origin. Current research however has found that horse riding originates from the early Yamna Culture of eastern Europe, and more likely originated in te area of later Kimmerian (western) and Scythian (eastern) areas flowing past the Ural Mountains.
The earliest charriots are also found to be  from eastern side of the Ural Mountains, from the Andronovo Culture complex.

Representation of horse soldiers from the Mitani-Hurrian state from 12century BC and Hittite reliefs from the 14th and 12th century show its early sporadic use, just waiting for the right equipment to be developed.

The horse is utilized mainly to pull a chariot rather than an unstable back of the horse, until basic saddles are invented by the scythians and much better saddles and stirrups are invented by the Hunno-Turkic peoples. (1AD Hun stirrups). The name of the horse, warhorse and charriot in Hungarian are all from northern Messopotamia. Horse riding equipment like saddles, reins, strirrups are from Hunno-Turkic languages. None by way of any Indo European language, which are claimed to be from the Scythians, by way of the early Alanic language in the area. There were of course many other languages in the Scythian areas of eastern Europe.

The Scythians were famous above all because of their horsemanship and great knowledge of raising and riding horses. This comes from their old homeland as is shown by the documents of Sargon (722-705BC).

North East of Urmia-lake in Urartu, there was a Sangi-buti land with two cities famous for its horses.
The Chaldi (Urartu) signs from the 8th century BC also talk of the land between the Transcaucasian Kura and Araxes River area and often mentions their horses. From a military expedition they obtained 10,000s of horned cattle and 100, 000 s of sheep, and 100s of horses. /Mescaninov, Leningrad (Chaldi ...?)

After this introduction I have used the pioneering work of Gyula Meszaros, into a comparative study of the language of the Scythians. Introducing basic words and their application in recorded Scythian names and titles which remain in many examples. Unfortunately no large textual remains are found today making it difficult to validate all of his comparisons. Even so this is a great lurch forward in a long stalemated study which up to now were utilizing simplistic associations with sound alike names, that could be described in many random ways, but forming no cohesive system.

Before the end of this sections let me at least give a few examples of what will follow in a later report.

Sco-lo-et-i =the name of the ruling Scythian people
Sco-lo-pi-t-(us) = a Scythian kings name /Justinius II

1)Sco =rule, chief /Scyth
šxa =man, sir /Pakhy
sha =chief /Hatti
išha =sir /Hittite
sag' =head, isag=chief /Sumer
sang =head, peak /Ugrian
2)lo =people, folk, (army-large group)
lu-lu =people /Sumerian
la =army /Hatti
?lo-fu =chief -head ruler of the late Huns near China
3) et =to be/being

They believed that they originated from the son of the sky/weather god, called TAR
Hence the name TAR-gi-ta or more correctly tar-xu-ta =HIGH/WEATHER God.+son's+ land./Meszaros.

His children therefore are TAR-XU, which can be compared to the name TURK also, however the name of the sky/weather god in Lapp and Ugrian is Tor-em/tiermes.
History has also shown that the Magyar term is generally found in early references in association with Scythians rather than in the north and the Hungarian Chronicles state their Scythian links. But these are different branches of a once related group to which Scythians serve only as a later offshoot. Each group with languages that have somewhat different phonetic characteristics, but often with similar terms and an agglutinative language structure, no gender in pronouns, and so on. The following sections will cover the proposals of Gyula Meszaros written in the 30s and ignored ever since.

 Mészáros claims that the Scythians had a triple kingship system, which is symbolized in their legend of origin and also at times when under attack three leaders arise to rally the people against the invaders. This is like the Khazars and Magyars, who each ruled a special area of society. One, the theocratic king or the ruler of the royal house, which is Leipoxis is much like the Hungarian Kende, who had no power outside of his area. There was the ruler of all the armies, the Scythian Arpoxais, who wielded considerable power over the free men, the nobles and army, this was the Gyula title whose name was Árpád, who was the Jula in Kazaria. Then there was the last ruler Kolaxis in Scythia and the Hungarian Horka, who was the ruler over the common people. The Hungarian Horka was the chief judge also. He ruled over the "black heads", the common workers, farmers, craftsmen etc. Horka? Kara= black in Turkic. The common people were called the "Pa-ra-la-ti" in Scythian. Pa-ra= land-black-people, but this also means dust, sand in Sumerian "par-im", Hungarian "por" and Turkic "bar" also. The "Para-szt" are the lowly peasants in Hungarian. The only strange thing with this explanation is that the legend seems to emphasize the importance of Kolax(is) as the chose one of god,  which indicates that he should be compared also with the title Gyula.  He alone is able to lift the various tools of gold that god rains down from above. Perhaps these too just represent the tools of the workers, which the warrior king and the theocratic king cannot and must not touch! But not so, only the first two the golden plow and yoke are work tools, the sword should be for Arpoxais and the golden goblet generally used for prayers should be for Leipoxais.

For a list of Scythian word particles, words and titles which are compared to other languages
select the following
Scythwrd.htm list.