Sarmatians

Sarmatians on Roman relief, second half of the second century AD

The Sarmatians (z/; Latin: Sarmatae, Sauromatae; Greek: Σαρμάται, Σαυρομάται) were a large Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Originating in the central parts of the Eurasian Steppe, the Sarmatians started migrating westward around the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, coming to dominate the closely related Scythians by 200 BC. At their greatest reported extent, around 1st century AD, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south. Their territory, which was known as Sarmatia (ə/) to Greco-Roman ethnographers, corresponded to the western part of greater Scythia (it included today's Central Ukraine, South-Eastern Ukraine, Southern Russia, Russian Volga and South-Ural regions, also to a smaller extent north-eastern Balkans and around Moldova). In the 1st century AD, the Sarmatians began encroaching upon the Roman Empire in alliance with Germanic tribes. In the 3rd century AD, their dominance of the Pontic Steppe was broken by the Germanic Goths. With the Hunnic invasions of the 4th century, many Sarmatians joined the Goths and other Germanic tribes (Vandals) in the settlement of the Western Roman Empire. Since large parts of today's Russia, specifically the land between the Ural Mountains and the Don River, were controlled in the 5th century BC by the Sarmatians, the Volga–Don and Ural steppes sometimes are also called "Sarmatian Motherland".[1][2]

The Sarmatians were eventually decisively assimilated (e.g. Slavicisation) and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of Eastern Europe.[3]

Etymology

Map of the Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–138 AD), showing the location of the Sarmatae in the Ukrainian steppe region

Sarmatae probably originated as just one of several tribal names of the Sarmatians, but one that Greco-Roman ethnography came to apply as an exonym to the entire group. Strabo in the 1st century names as the main tribes of the Sarmatians the Iazyges, the Roxolani, the Aorsi and the Siraces.

The Greek name Sarmatai sometimes appears as "Sauromatai", which is almost certainly no more than a variant of the same name. Nevertheless, historians often regarded these as two separate peoples, while archaeologists habitually use the term 'Sauromatian' to identify the earliest phase of Sarmatian culture. Any idea that the name derives from the word lizard (sauros), linking to the Sarmatians' use of reptile-like scale armour and dragon standards, is almost certainly unfounded.[4]

Both Natural History book iv) and Jordanes recognised the Sar- and Sauro- elements as interchangeable variants, referring to the same people. Greek authors of the 4th century (Pseudo-Scylax, Eudoxus of Cnidus) mention Syrmatae as the name of a people living at the Don, perhaps reflecting the ethnonym as it was pronounced in the final phase of Sarmatian culture.

English scholar Harold Walter Bailey (1899–1996) derived the base word from Avestan sar- (to move suddenly) from tsar- in Old Iranian (tsarati, tsaru-, hunter), which also gave its name to the western Avestan region of Sairima (*salm, – *Sairmi), and also connected it to the 10–11th century AD Persian epic Shahnameh's character "Salm".[5]

Oleg Trubachyov derived the name from the Indo-Aryan *sar-ma(n)t (feminine – rich in women, ruled by women), the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian word *sar- (woman) and the Indo-Iranian adjective suffix -ma(n)t/wa(n)t.[6] By this derivation was noted the unusual high status of women (Matriarchy) from the Greek point of view and went to the invention of Amazons (thus the Greek name for Sarmatians as Sarmatai Gynaikokratoumenoi, ruled by women).[6]

Other Languages
адыгабзэ: Сарматхэр
አማርኛ: ሳርማትያ
العربية: سارماتيون
aragonés: Sarmatas
asturianu: Sármatas
azərbaycanca: Sarmatlar
башҡортса: Сарматтар
беларуская: Сарматы
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сарматы
български: Сармати
català: Sàrmates
Чӑвашла: Сарматсем
čeština: Sarmati
Cymraeg: Sarmatiaid
dansk: Sarmatere
Deutsch: Sarmaten
eesti: Sarmaadid
Ελληνικά: Σαρμάτες
español: Sármatas
Esperanto: Sarmatoj
euskara: Sarmaziar
فارسی: سرمتی
français: Sarmates
Frysk: Sarmaten
galego: Sármatas
հայերեն: Սարմատներ
हिन्दी: सरमती लोग
hrvatski: Sarmati
Bahasa Indonesia: Bangsa Sarmatia
íslenska: Sarmatar
italiano: Sarmati
עברית: סרמטים
ქართული: სარმატები
қазақша: Сарматтар
Latina: Sarmatae
latviešu: Sarmati
lietuvių: Sarmatai
magyar: Szarmaták
Nederlands: Sarmaten
日本語: サルマタイ
norsk: Sarmatere
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sarmatlar
پنجابی: سرمتی لوک
polski: Sarmaci
português: Sármatas
qırımtatarca: Sarmatlar
română: Sarmați
русский: Сарматы
Scots: Sarmatians
slovenčina: Sarmati
slovenščina: Sarmati
српски / srpski: Сармати
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sarmati
suomi: Sarmaatit
svenska: Sarmater
Türkçe: Sarmatlar
українська: Сармати
Tiếng Việt: Người Sarmatia
Zazaki: Sermeti