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.)


  1. Was it Sarmatians or Scythians who ended up settling in northern India as well? They really traveled amazing amounts, both for the time and for today, over some truly inhospitable terrain.

    1. I *think* it was Scythians (more specifically the Eastern Scythians, a.k.a., Saka).