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Author: Laxman Burdak, IFS (R).
Reconstruction of the Oikumene (inhabited world) Ancient Map from Herodotus circa 450 BC

Getae (Γέται, singular Γέτης; Getae) or Getai (गेटा) was the name given by the Greeks to several Thracian tribes that occupied the regions south of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria, and north of the Lower Danube, in the Muntenian plain (today's southern Romania), and especially near modern Dobruja. This was in the hinterland of Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast, bringing the Getae into contact with the ancient Greeks from an early date. Scholars have suggested that "Getae" is the Greco-Latin variant of "Goth".[1][2][3][4]

Jat and Getae

Alexander Cunningham advocated, "Jat is the same word as Getæ, in all probability."[5]

James Tod[6] writes that the tribes here alluded to are the Haihaya or Aswa, the Takshak, and the Jat or Getae; the similitude of whose theogony, names in their early genealogies, and many other points, with the Chinese, Tatar, Mogul, Hindu, and Scythic races, would appear to warrant the assertion of one common origin.

James Todd[7] writes that At this period (A.D. 1330), under the last prince of Getic race, Tuglilak Timur Khan, the kingdom of Chagatai [8] was bounded on the west by the Dasht-i Kipchak, and

[p.75]: on the south by the Jihun, on which river the Getic Khan, like Tomyris, had his capital. Kokhand, Tashkent, Utrar,probably the Uttarakuru of ancient geography, Cyropolis, and the most northern of the Alexandrias, were within the bounds of Chagatai.

The Getae, Jut, or Jat, and Takshak races, which occupy places amongst the thirty-six royal races of India, are all from the region of Sakatai. Regarding their earliest migrations, we shall endeavour to make the Puranas contribute ; but of their invasions in more modern times the histories of Mahmud of Ghazni, and Timur abundantly acquaint us.

From the mountains of Jud to the shores of Makran, [9] and along the Ganges, the Jat is widely spread ; while the Takshak name is now confined to inscriptions or old writings. Jadu ka dang, the Joudes of Rennell's map ; the Yadu hills high up in the Panjab, where a colony of the Yadu race dwelt when expelled Saurashtra. The Salt Range in the Jhelum, Shahpur, and Mianwall districts of the Panjab, was known to ancient historians as Koh-i-Jud, or ' the hills of Jud,' the name being applied by the Muhammadans to this range on account of its resemblance to Mount Al-Judi, or Ararat. The author constantly refers to it, and suggests that the name was connected with the Indian Yadu, or Yadava tribe [10]

Inquiries in their original haunts, and among tribes now under different names, might doubtless bring to light their original designation, now best known within the Indus ; while the Takshak or Takiuk may probably be discovered in the Tajik, still in his ancient haunts, the Transoxiana and Chorasinia of classic authors ; the Mawaru-n-nahr of the Persians ; the Turan, Turkistan, or Tocharistan of native geography ; the abode of the Tochari, Takshak, or Turushka invaders of India, described in the Puranas and existing inscriptions.

The Getae had long maintained their independence when Tomyris defended their liberty against Cyrus. Driven in successive wars across the Sutlej, we shall elsewhere show them preserving their ancient habits, as desultory cavaliers, under the Jat leader of Lahore, in pastoral communities in Bikaner, the Indian

[p.76]: desert and elsewhere, though they have lost sight of their early history. The transition from pastoral to agricultural pursuits is but short, and the descendant of the nomadic Getae of Transoxiana is now the best husbandman on the plains of Hindustan.

The invasion of these Indu-Scythic tribes, Getae, Takshaks, Asii, Chatti, Rajpali, Huns, Kamari, introduced the worship of Budha, the founder of the Indu or Lunar race.

Herodotus says the Getae were theists, 3 and held the tenets of the soul's immortality ; so with the Buddhists.

Before, however, touching on points of religious resemblance between the Asii, Getae, or Jut of Scandinavia (who gave his name to the Cimbric Chersonese) and the Getae of Scythia and India, let us make a few remarks on the Asii or Aswa.

Suevi and Getes

James Todd[11] writes about the Suiones, Suevi, or Su that Now the Su, Yueh-chi, or Yuti, are Getes, according to De Guignes. Marco Polo calls Cashgar, where he was in the sixth century, the birthplace of the Swedes ; and De la Croix adds, that in 1691 Sparvenfeldt, the Swedish ambassador at Paris, told him he had read in Swedish chronicles that Cashgar was their country. When the Huns were chased from the north of China, the greater part retired into the southern countries adjoining Europe. The rest passed directly to the Oxus and Jaxartes ; thence they spread to the Caspian and Persian frontiers. In Mawaru-l-nahr (Transoxiana) they mixed with the Su, the Yueh-chi, or Getes, who were particularly powerful, and extended into Europe. One would be tempted to regard them as the ancestors of those Getes who were known in Europe. Some bands of Su might equally pass into the north of Europe, known as the Suevi. The meaning of Suevi is uncertain, but the word has no connexion with that of any Central Asian tribe.

Jat Gotra

Gait (गैट) Geta (गेटा) Gaite(गैट) Get (गेट) Getae (गेट) is a Jat gotra. This gotra is originated from word Getae of Greek language used for Jats.[12]

Distribution of Gait clan Jats

They live in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh. The people of this gotra are distributed in Charkhi Dadri area of Haryana, Jat Behror area of Alwar district and Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan. Originaly they were settled in Ajmer district from where moved to Karwas village in Kotputli and to Para village in Mahendragarh district in Haryana. Some families of this gotra moved from Haryana to Madhya Pradesh and started cultivation in areas around Bhopal.

Early history

From the 7th century BC onwards, the Getae came into economic and cultural contact with the Greeks, who were establishing Colonies in antiquity|colonies on the western side of Pontus Euxinus, nowadays the Black Sea. The Getae are mentioned for the first time together in Herodotus (4.93-97) in his narrative of the Scythian campaign of Darius I in 513 BC. According to Herodotus, the Getae differed from other Thracian tribes in their religion, centered around the god (daimon) Zamolxis whom some of the Getae called Gebeleizis.

During the period that the Odrysian kingdom flourished between the 5th century BC and the 3rd century BC, the Getae were mostly under Odryssian rule, serving them militarily, especially as cavalry, for which they were famous. After the disintegration of the Odrysian kingdom, smaller Getic principalities began to consolidate themselves.

Before setting out on his Persian expedition, Alexander the Great defeated the Getae and razed one of their settlements[13]. In 313, the Getae formed an alliance with Callatis, Odessos, and other western Pontic Greek colonies against Lysimachus, who held a fortress at Tirizis (modern Kaliakra)[14].

The Getae flourished especially in the first half of the third century BC. By about 200 BC, the authority of the Getic prince Zalmodegicus stretched as far as Histria (Sinoe), as a contemporary inscription shows.[15] Other strong princes included Zoltes and Rhemaxos (about 180 BC). Several Getic rulers minted their own coins. The ancient authors Strabo (16.2.38-39) and Cassius Dio (68.9) say that Getae practiced ruler cult, and this is confirmed by archaeological remains.

In 72/1 BC, Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus became the first Roman commander to march against the Getae. This was done to strike at the western Pontic allies of Mithridates VI, but he had limited success. A decade later, a coalition of Scythians, Getae, Bastarnae and Greek colonists defeated C. Antonius Hybrida at Histria (Sinoe) (Liv. per. 103; Cass. Dio 38.10.1-3). This victory over the Romans allowed Burebista (Byrebista) to dominate the region for a short period (60-50 BC).

Augustus aimed at subjugating the entire Balkan peninsula, and used an incursion of the Bastarnae across the Danube as a pretext to devastate the Getae and Thracians. He put Marcus Licinius Crassus in charge of the plan. In 29 BC, Crassus defeated the Bastarnae with the help of the Getic prince Rholes (Cass. Dio 52.24.7, 26.1). Crassus promised him help for his support against the Getic ruler Dapyx (Cass. Dio 51.26). After Crassus had reached as far the Danube delta, Rholes was appointed king and returned to Rome. In 16 BC, the Sarmatae invaded the Getic territory and were driven back by Roman troops (Cass. Dio 54.20.1-3). The Getae were placed under the control of the Roman vassal king in Thrace, Rhoemetalces I. In AD 12 and 15 these garrisons were fortified with Roman troops. In AD 45 the province of Moesia was founded.

James Todd[16] writes - The various tribes inhabiting the desert and valley of the Indus would alone form an ample subject of investigation, which would, in all probability, elicit some important truths. Amongst the converts to Islam the inquirer into the pedigree of nations would discover names, once illustrious, but which, now hidden under the mantle of a new faith, might little aid his researches into the history of their origin. He would find the Sodha, the Kathi, the Mallani, affording in history, position, and nominal resemblance grounds for inferring that they are the descendants of the Sogdoi, Kathi, and Malloi, who opposed the Macedonian in his passage down the Indus ; besides swarms of Getae or Yuti, many of whom have assumed the general title of Baloch, or retain the ancient specific name of Numri ; while others, in that of Zjat Jat, preserve almost the primitive appellation. We have also the remains of those interesting races the Johyas and Dahyas, of which much has been said in the Annals of Jaisalmer, and elsewhere ; who, as well as the Getae or Jats, and Huns, hold places amongst the " Thirty-six Royal Races " of ancient India.[17]

Getae and Dacians

There is dispute among scholars whether the Getae were Dacians or had some other relationship with them.

Several sources from the Antiquity claim the ethnic or linguistic identity of the two people. In his Geographica (Strabo), Strabo wrote about the two tribes speaking the same language[18]. Junianus Justinus considers the Dacians are the successors of the Getae.[19]. In his Roman history, Cassius Dio shows the Dacians to live on both sides of the Lower Danube, the ones south of the river (today's northern Bulgaria), in Moesia, and are called Moesians, while the ones north of the river are called Dacians. He argues that the Dacians are "either Getae or Thracians of Dacian race" (51.22)[20], but also stresses the fact that he calls the Dacians with the name used "by the natives themselves and also by the Romans" and that he is "not ignorant that some Greek writers refer to them as Getae, whether that is the right form or not" (67.6)[21].

In accordance with these testimonies, some Romanian and Bulgarian scholars[22] developed hypotheses and theories arguing for common cultural, ethnical or linguistical features in the space north of Haemus mountains where both the populations of Dacians and of Getae were located. The linguist Ivan Duridanov identified a "Dacian linguistic area" [23] in Dacia, Scythia Minor, Lower Moesia and Upper Moesia. The archaeologist Mircea Babeş speaks of a "veritable ethno-cultural unity" between the Getae and the Dacians, while the historian and archaeologist Alexandru Vulpe finds a remarkable uniformity of the Geto-Dacian culture.[24] There were also studies on Strabo's reliability and sources.[25]

Some of these interpretation have echoed in other historiographies.[26]

The Romanian History of ideas and historiographer Lucian Boia states: "At a certain point, the phrase Geto-Dacian was coined in the Romanian historiography to suggest a unity of Getae and Dacians" [27]. Lucian Boia takes a skeptical position and argues the ancient writers distinguished among the two people, treating them as two distinct groups of the Thracian ethnos.[28][29] Boia contends that it would be naive to assume Strabo knew the Thracian dialects so well,[30] alleging that Strabo had "no competence in the field of Thracian dialects".[31] He also stresses that some Romanian authors cited Strabo indiscriminately.[32]

His position was supported by other scholars. The historian and archaeologist G. A. Niculescu also criticized the Romanian historiography and the archaeological interpretation, particularily on the "Geto-Dacian" culture.[33]

Getae and modern Jats

There have long been attempts to link the Getae and Massagetae to the Jats of South Asia. While W. W. Hunter wrote in 1886, the "weight of authority" that the Jats were an Iranian people – most likely Scythian/Saka in origin,[34] Alexander Cunningham (1888) suggested that the Zanthi, Iatioi, Xanthii and Zaths mentioned by ancient sources such as Strabo, Ptolemy and Pliny were synonymous with both the Getae and the Jats.[35]

James Tod [36] considers Getes and Jats to besame.

More recent authors like Tadeusz Sulimirski,[37] Weer Rajendra Rishi,[38] and Chandra Chakraberty,[39][40] have also linked the Getae and Jats.


According to Herodotus (4.93), the Getae were "the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes." When the Persians, led by Darius the Great, campaigned against the Scythians, the Thracian tribes in the Balkans surrendered to Darius on his way to Scythia, and only the Getae offered resistance (Herod. 4.93).

One episode from the history of the Getae is attested by several ancient writers (Strabo[41], Pausanias[42], Diodorus Siculus). When Lysimachus tried to subdue the Getae he was defeated by them. The Getae king, Dromichaetes, took him prisoner but he treated him well and convinced Lysimachus there is more to gain as an ally than as an enemy of the Getae and released him. According to Diodorus, Dromichaetes entertained Lysimachus at his palace at Helis, where food was served on gold and silver plates. The discovery of the celebrated tomb at Sveshtari (1982) suggests that Helis was located perhaps in its vicinity[43], where remains of a large antique city are found along with dozens of other Thracian mound tombs.

The Getae's two principal Gods were Zalmoxis and Gebeleixis.

"This same people, when it lightens and thunders, aim their arrows at the sky, uttering threats against the god; and they do not believe that there is any god but their own." - Herodotus, 4.94.

Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia mentions[44] a tribe called the Tyragetae, apparently a Daco-Thracian tribe who dwelt by the river Tyras (the Dniester). Their tribal name appears to be a combination of Tyras and Getae.

The Roman poet, Ovid, during his long exile, is asserted to have written poetry (now lost) in the Getic language.


At the close of the 4th century|fourth century AD, Claudian, court poet to the emperor Flavius Augustus Honorius and the patrician Stilicho, habitually uses the ethnonym Getae to refer poetically to the Visigoths.

During 5th century and 6th century several writers (Marcellinus Comes, Orosius, John Lydus, Isidore of Seville, Procopius of Caesarea) used the same ethnonym Getae to name populations invading the Eastern Roman Empire (Goths, Gepids, Kutrigurs, Slavs). For instance, in the third book of the History of the Wars, Procopius details: "There were many Gothic nations in earlier times, just as also at the present, but the greatest and most important of all are the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Gepaedes. In ancient times, however, they were named Sauromatae and Melanchlaeni; and there were some too who called these nations Getic."[45]

The Getae were also assumed to be the ancestors of the Goths by Jordanes in his Getica written at the middle of the 6th century. Jordanes assumed the earlier testimony of Orosius.

See also


  1. Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats
  2. Lozinksi 1964: "The Name Slav" by B. Philip Lozinski (Essays in Russian History, Archon Books,1964)
  3. Vernadsky 1952: "Der sarmatische Hintergrund der germanischen Voelkerwanderung," (Sarmatian background of the Germanic Migrations), G. Vernadsky, Saeculum, II (1952), 340-347.
  4. Iranic Identity of Mauryas
  5. Cunningham, Arch. Survey Reports, II, 54 ff.
  6. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume I,, James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya
  7. James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya, Vol I, pp.74-76
  8. Chagatai, or Sakatai, the Sakadwipa of the Puranas (corrupted by the Greeks to Scythia), " whose inhabitants worship the sun and whence is the river Arvarma." [For the Chagatai Mongols see Elias-Ross, History of the Moghuh of Central Asia, Introd. 28 ff.]
  9. The Numri, or Lumri (foxes) of Baluchistan, are Jats [?]. These are the Noniardies of Rennell. [They are believed to be aborigines (IGI, xvi. 146; Census Report, Baluchistan, 1911, i. 17).]
  10. IGI, xxi.412; Abu-1 Fazl, Akbarndma, i. 237; Elliot-Dowson, ii. 235, v. 561 ; Ain, ii. 405 ; ASR, ii. 17 ; Hughes, Diet, of Islam, 23).
  11. James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya, Vol I, pp.73fn-4
  12. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihas (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998 p. 237
  13. Alexander the Great - Sources
  14. [1]
  15. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 18.288
  16. James Todd Annals/Sketch of the Indian Desert,p.1292
  17. See sketch of the tribes, Vol. I. p. 98
  18. [2]
  19. Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus: "Daci quoque suboles Getarum sunt" (The Dacians as well are a scion of the Getae)
  20. [3]
  21. [4]
  22. Giurescu, Constantin C. (1973) (in Romanian). Formarea poporului român. Craiova. p. 23. "They (Dacians and Getae) are two names for the same people [...] divided in a large number of tribes". See also the hypothesis of a Daco-Moesian language / dialectal area supported by linguists like Vladimir Georgiev, Ivan Duridanov and Sorin Olteanu.
  23. Duridanov, Ivan. "The Thracian, Dacian and Paeonian languages".
  24. Petrescu-Dîmboviţa, Mircea; Vulpe, Alexandru (eds), ed (2001) (in Romanian). Istoria Românilor, vol. I. Bucharest. "It should be noted Al. Vulpe speaks of Geto-Dacians as a conventional and instrumental concept for the Thracian tribes inhabiting this space, but not meaning an "absolute ethnic, linguistic or historical unity".
  25. Janakieva, Svetlana (2002). "La notion de ΟΜΟΓΛΩΤΤΟΙ chez Strabon et la situation ethno-linguistique sur les territoires thraces" (in French). Études Balkaniques (4): 75–79. "The author concluded Strabo's claim sums an experience following of many centuries of neighbourhood and cultural interferences between the Greeks and the Thracian tribes."
  26. The Cambridge Ancient History (Volume 3) (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1982. ISBN 1108007147. "In chapter "20c Linguistic problems of the Balkan area", at page 838, Ronald Arthur Crossland argues "it may be the distinction made by Greeks and Romans between the Getae and Daci, for example, reflected the importance of different sections of a linguistically homogenous people at different times". He furthermore recalls Strabo's testimony and Georgiev's hypothesis for a 'Thraco-Dacian' language."
  27. Boia, Lucian (2004). Romania: Borderland of Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-86189-103-2.
  28. Boia, Lucian (2004). Romania: Borderland of Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-86189-103-2.
  29. Boia, Lucian (2001). History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Central European University Press. p. 14.
  30. Boia, Lucian (2004). Romania: Borderland of Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-86189-103-2.
  31. Boia, Lucian (2001). History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Central European University Press. p. 14.
  32. Boia, Lucian (2001). History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Central European University Press. p. 14.
  33. Niculescu, Gheorghe Alexandru (2004–2005). "Archaeology, Nationalism and "The History of the Romanians" (2001)". Dacia - Revue d'archéologie et d'histoire ancienne (48–49): 99–124. He dedicates a large part of his assessment to the archaeology of "Geto-Dacians" and he concludes that with few exceptions "the archaeological interpretations [...] are following G. Kossinna’s concepts of culture, archaeology and ethnicity".
  34. W. W. Hunter, 2013, The Indian Empire: Its People, History and Products, Routledge, 2013, p. 251.
  35. Alexander Cunningham, 1888, cited by: Sundeep S. Jhutti, 2003, The Getes, Philadelphia, PA; Department of East Asian languages & Civilizations University of Pennsylvania, p. 13.
  36. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume II, Annals of Bikaner, Publisher: Madras: Higginbotham and Co. 1873. pp.158
  37. The Sarmatians: Volume 73 of Ancient peoples and places,pages=113–114, publisher:Praeger, New York, 1970 The evidence of both the ancient authors and the archaeological remains point to a massive migration of Sacian (Sakas)/Massagetan ("great" Jat) tribes from the Syr Daria Delta (Central Asia) by the middle of the second century B.C. Some of the Syr Darian tribes; they also invaded North India.
  38. [ & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity, page=95, publisher:Roma, 1982
  39. The prehistory of India: tribal migrations, publisher: Vijaya Krishna Bros , 1948, page 35
  40. Racial basis of Indian culture: including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, publisher:Aryan Books International,1997,ISBN=8173051100
  41. [5]
  42. Pausanias: Description of Greece
  43. Delev, P. (2000). "Lysimachus, the Getae, and Archaeology (2000)". The Classical Quarterly, New Series 50 (Vol. 50, No. 2): 384–401. doi:10.1093/cq/50.2.384.
  44. Pliny the Elder: The Natural History. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A., Ed.
  45. History of the Wars (Book III): The Vandalic War

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