Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Alans in Flavius Josephus, Jewish Wars, ch.VII (4)

Ushta os,
 today a quick visit to some of the most warlike horsemen in the ancient western Eurasia: the Sarmatians.

Alans were most likely the eastern division of the Sarmatian 'nation' or as Iranica defines them a tribal grouping of the Northeren Iranians   -  'an ancient Iranian tribe of the northern (Scythian, Saka, Sarmatian, Massagete) group, known to classical writers from the first centuries A.D. (see, e.g., Seneca, Thyestes 630; Annaeus Lucan, Pharsalia 8.223, 10.454; Lucian, Toxaris 51, 54, 55, 60; Ptolemy, Geographia 6.14.3, 9, 11; and other sources below). Their name appears in Greek as Alanoi, in Latin as Alani or Halani. The same tribes, or affiliated ones, are mentioned as the Asaioi (Ptolemy 5.9.16), Rhoxolanoi, Aorsoi, Sirakoi, and Iazyges (Strabo 2.5.7, 7.2.4; 11.2.1, 11.5.8; 7.2.4). In early times the main mass of the Alans was settled north of the Caspian and Black seas. Later they also occupied the Crimea and considerable territory in the northern Caucasus'

Below the Alan/Sarmatian incursion into Western Asia of 72 A.D. as described by the famous ancient Roman historian Titus Flavius Josephus who is describing the Alans using a lasso to take down and capture enemy warriors - here a king of ancient Armenia.

I. Traill translation, crica 1850

''The nation of the Alans — whom, I think, we have elsewhere stated to be Scythians inhabiting the banks of the river Tanais [Don River], and the lake Maeotis [Sea of Azov] —designing at this juncture to penetrate into Media and the parts beyond it, for plunder, addressed themselves to the king of the Hyrcanians, who was master of the pass which king Alexander [the Great] had closed with iron gates.

Being granted ingress by him, they fell in great numbers upon the Medes, who entertained no suspicions, and pillaged a populous country, abounding in flocks and herds, no one venturing to oppose them. For Pacorus [Pacrus of Media Atropatene, later Great King of Parthia], later Pacorus II of Parthia], the sovereign of that country, fled in terror to his fastnesses; and, having abandoned all besides, with difficulty recovered from them his wife and concubines, who had fallen into their hands, by a ransom of a hundred talents.

[coin of Pacorus when the king of Parthia from above given webpage]
Prosecuting, therefore, the work of rapine unresisted and quite at their leisure, they proceeded as far as the confines of Armenia, laying every thing waste. Tiridates [Tiridates I of Armenia], who reigned there, meeting them, and giving them battle, was on the point of being made prisoner in the engagement; a noose having been thrown over him by one at a distance, who would have dragged him away, had he not instantly cut the cord with his sword and effected his escape. The invaders, only rendered the more fierce by this opposition, desolated the country; and, carrying off' a vast multitude of men, with much booty besides, from both kingdoms, returned once more to their own homes.''*
Interesting article on the waves of the Sarmatian migration by Jurij Vinogradov
At the top a sketch-in-progress of a warrior throwing a lasso 


original spelling