Monday, April 23, 2012

Truth or a lie #3


The Sarmatians didn't have a hat with flaps worn over the face, but someone had a hat with flaps sewn above the face.
If you go to the Hermitage Museum's collections database and type in "Sarmatian", one of the entries that comes up is this:
Fur; h. 21 cm
Tashtyk Culture. 3rd - 4th century
Oglakhty Burial VI, Grave No. 4 (Excavations of Prof. L.R. Kyzlasov), South Siberia, Khakassia Republic, left bank of the River Yenisei, near Mount Oglakhty
Source of Entry:   Archaeological Expedition to Khakassia of the Moscow State University. 1969
There it is- a hat with flaps over the face. It's kind of odd and I highly doubt they were worn that way since they'd cover the eyes and all that. Perhaps they were wrapped around the sides of the face and tied under the chin to keep the sides of the face warm? Or else tied behind the head to help hold it on?
You may notice that the caption says nothing about Sarmatians, but instead mentions the Tashtyk culture. The Tashtyks might be the same people as the Yenisei Kirghiz ( Name culture=lingo for archeological finds of uncertain affinity), but they're too far east to be Sarmatians (they definitely aren't Alans in service to Mongols). The child's coat from the kurta post is another Tashtyk artifact, but so close to Sarmatian style that I have no issue presenting it as something to base a pattern on for Sarmatian personae (steppe nomads shared a lot of similarities). This hat I haven't seen anywhere else so it's probably something particular to the Tashtyk.
Grousset, R., 1970, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, Rutgers University Press, 718 pp.
Xipoliya Yanke Suo Jian Xiajiesi Monijiao" ("Siberan Rock Arts and Xiajiesi's Manicheism") 1998 Gansu Mingzu Yanjiu

Monday, April 16, 2012

Truth or a lie #2


This find is detailed in the book "The Golden Deer of Eurasia". Deer were a common motif in Sarmatian art. These particular statues have wooden cores covered in gold leaf that was hammered on and attached by tiny bronze nails. While they were all made based on some set template, the degree of craftsmanship present varies wildly. Some of them were undoubtedly made by artisans who knew exactly what they were doing. Others were made by people who probably hadn't tried anything like this before. Some show influences from other cultures that those Sarmatians would have been interacting with at the time- meaning that, whoever this leader was, he was important or beloved enough that foreigners took part in paying tribute to him. Below are select pictures from the book. I'd like to try my hand at making one of these someday. Maybe I can get Bob to join me so we have a range of skills from his sculpting experience and my lack thereof. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Truth or a lie #1


Depending on who you ask, the Alans were Sarmatians or they weren't. It's not a question of "can they trace their genealogy back to older Sarmatian tribes (because they can)- it's a question of where the cultural cutoff is. They were around much longer than the rest of the Sarmatians, so that's to be expected. I haven't learned the details of the differences yet...I have two library books on the Alans sitting on my shelf staring woefully at me while my nose is buried in various paleontology books and papers.
 Anywho, the Sarmatians proper made it all the way from their homelands north of the Caucasus to Britain. They didn't actually choose to go all the way to Britain- it was a single regiment of Iazyges soldiers in the Roman army. The Alans, however went marching all the way to Gaul, where they eventually joined with the Vandals after their king was killed. They then group crossed Gibraltar and went raiding in northern Africa. Another group of Alans traveled eastward and ended up living in what is now Beijing, China as a military attachment in the Mongol army, who then ruled the city. They didn't quite make it all the way to the easternmost part of Eurasia (that would be north of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia), but they still spanned almost the entire continent east-west.
The journeys of various Alan groups are really quite fascinating. They did an awful lot to influence things in western Europe that are never mentioned in world history textbooks. Expect some future posts to give more detailed accounts of their travels and fates.

(Apologies for the lack of references. They'll be added later in April after comprehensive exams are over.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy April Fool's Day!

It’s become tradition, on April Fool’s, for people on the internet to post something untrue and present it as true, then reveal the next day that it was all a prank and they made it up (or else post something true which people believe is false, then the next day revealing that the prank is that it’s actually true, as a clever friend of mine once did). But we all know how the world works- if it’s jokingly presented as truth for the purpose of pranking or for irony, someone will miss the memo and think it fact.

So instead, let’s play a game of “Two truths and a lie.” I’m going to say three things about the Sarmatians and on the 8th, 15th, and 22th I have scheduled the posting of each topic wherein I will explain how and why each is true or false