Massagetae

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Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent
Massagetae Map 500 BC

Massagetae (Sanskrit: महाजट, Greek: Μασσαγέται, Massagetai; Latin: Massagetae) were an Ancient Iranian peoples [1][2][3][4][5] of antiquity known primarily from the writings of Herodotus. Their name was akin to Getae[6] (=Jat) and Thyssagetae.[7] (=Small Jat)

Massagetae habitations

Reconstruction of the Oikumene (inhabited world) Ancient Map from Herodotus circa 450 BC

Massagetae habitations the steppes of Central Asia east of the Caspian Sea, in modern-day Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, western Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan.

Origin of name

From time to time, reputed history scholars scholars have advocated that the word "Massagetae" means "Great Getae". In Pehlevi, a language that was spoken in Persia (or Central Asia), the meaning of the word "massa" is "great".[8][9][10] Hence, the Pehlevi language word "massa", and the English language word "great" are synonyms.

Massagetae map in 323 BC

Professor Balbir Singh Dhillon wrote:

"The classical and modern authorities say that the word "Massagetae" means "great" getae (Jats). The ninth-century work De Universo of Rabanus Maurus[11][12] states, "The Massagetae are in origin from the tribe of the Scythians, and are called Massagetae, as if heavy, that is, strong Getae."[13]

History

A number of different versions have been transmitted concerning the death of Cyrus the Great. One version reported Herodotus, [1.201] When Cyrus had achieved the conquest of the Babylonians, he conceived the desire of bringing the Massagetae under his dominion. Now, the Massagetae are said to be a great and warlike nation, dwelling eastward, toward the rising of the sun, beyond the river Araxes, and opposite the Issedonians. By many, they are regarded as a Scythian race.


Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer describes the Massagetaeans as follows:

"The Massagetae was a large, warlike, half-nomadic Sakan tribe whose land lay eastward beyond the Araxes River in Eastern Persia. Tomyris was the widow of a Sakan chief and was both queen and leader of the army. She had at least one son, Spargapises."[14]


According to Herodotus, Cyrus the Great of Persia met his death in a battle with the Massagetae living beyond Araxes river. They were a people from the southern deserts of Khwarezm in today's Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The queen of the Massagetae, Tomyris, prevailed, although Cyrus had defeated Tomyris's son Spargapises. Herodotus mentions: Of all the combats in which the barbarians [a term meaning non-Greeks which was not a derogatory term in Herodotus's time] have engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the fiercest.

Mentioned in Mahabharata

They have been mentioned in Mahabharata Shalya Parva in Sanskrit shloka 80 along with Tarakas as under:

महाजठर पादाङ्गास तारकाक्शाश च भारत
पारावत मुखाश चान्ये तदा वृषमुखाः परे ।। 80 ।।

Historian Satya Shrava has dicussed about the mention of the Massagetaeans in Mahabharata; He writes:

"The Sakas are mentioned in our literature dating back to almost 5000 years to the period of the Mahabharata battle."[15]
"The Mahabharata says that the Mrgas, a part of the Sakadvipa, or the people of the Margiana, were brahmanas and the Masakas or the Massagetae were kshatriyas or warriors."[15]
"The Jats are none other than the Massagetae (Great Getae) mentioned in Diodorus as an off-spring of the ancient Saka tribe.... a fact now well-known."[15][16]

Ta-Yue-Che and Siao-Yue-Che

Bhim Singh Dahiya writes:

"It is important to note that the Chinese word 'Yue-che" is pronounced as "Gut-tia" according to Karl-Gren, meaning the "Moon People".[17] Later on, the Chinese chronicles show, that under pressure of another tribe of the same stock, called by the Chinese as Hiung-nu or Hoa, the Yue-che moved southward and westward. The branch that was numerically weaker went to the South towards Tibet and were called 'Siao-Yue-Che", meaning the "little Yue-che". The main body moved westward and occupied Dahia (or Tahia, Bactria, Balkh). They were called "Ta-Yue-che" meaning the "Great Guttia" or great Jats. As shown above the word 'Yue-che' is pronounced as Guttia and therefore Ta-Yue-che is exactly the same as the word "Massa Getae" of the Greeks and the Persians. All the Chinese sources agree that the Kusanas were from the Yue-che race. The Chinese author of Thung-Kiang-Nu, writes in the year 555 A.D. that the Aptal or Hephthalites were of the race of Ta-Yue-che. Further the encyclopaedia of Ma-Tuan-g-Lin says that the Yeta are of the race of Ta-Yue-che, and further that the I-Tan belonged to the same race as Yue-che."[18]

Bhim Singh Dahiya goes on to state that:

"The Chinese were right in stating that the Hiung-nu were a part of the Yue-Che (reads as Guti) people, and these Guti people had two divisions, the Ta-Yue-Che and the Siao-Yue-Che, exactly corresponding to the Massagetae and Thyssagetae of Herodotus (a classical Greek writer of fifth century BC), meaning the "Great-Jats" and the "Little-Jats" respectively. Almost every tribe of Ancient Middle East (West Asia) and Central Asia, is represented among the present day Jats in India."[19]

Customs

According to Herodotus:

"Herodotus [1.215], In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favourite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow-heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for head-gear, belts, and girdles, of gold. So too with the caparison of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance."

"Herodotus [1.216], The following are some of their customs; - Each man has but one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Araxes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures."

They were similar to the Scythians in their dress and mode of living. Each man had one woman, yet their wives were held in common, this custom differentiating the Massagetae from the Scythians. Queen Tomyris succeeded her dead husband, the former king of the Massagetae. The Massagetae worshipped only one god, the sun, and sacrificed a horse in its honour.

Continuity

Ammianus Marcellinus considered the Alans to be the former Massagetae.[20]. At the close of the fourth century CE, Claudian (the court poet of Emperor Honorius and Stilicho) wrote of Alans and Massagetae in the same breath: "the Massagetes who cruelly wound their horses that they may drink their blood, the Alans who break the ice and drink the waters of Maeotis' lake." (In Rufinem)

Important Scholars who identified Massagetaeans as "Great Jits or Jats" of Asia


  • Tadeusz Sulimirski wrote: "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."[23]




  • Arnold Joseph Toynbee wrote: "It may not be fantastic to conjecture that the Tuetonic-speaking Goths and Gauts of Scandinavia may have been descended from a fragment of the same Indo-European-speaking tribe as the homonymous Getae and Thyssagetae and Massagetae of the Eurasian Steppe who are represented today by the Jats of the Panjab."[26]


  • Arnold Joseph Toynbee, also wrote: "It had been carried from the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin into the Indus Basin by the Massagetae themselves, together with their tribal name (the Jats), in their Volkerwander- ung in the second century BC."[27]



  • Sir John Marshall, (Former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India) wrote: "These Scythian invaders came principally from the three great tribes of Massagetae (great Jats), Sacaraucae, and Dahae (still exists as a Jat clan of Punjab)[34], whose home at the beginning of the second century B.C. was in the country between the Caspian sea (sea) and the Jaxartes river (Central Asia)."[35]


  • James Francis Katherinus Hewitt wrote: "Further evidence both of the early history and origin of the race of Jats, or Getae, is given by the customs and geographical position of another tribe of the same stock, called the Massagetae, or great (massa) Getae."[36]


  • Syed Muhammad Latif wrote: "A considerable portion of the routed army of the Scythians settled in the Punjab, and a race of them, called Nomardy, inhabited the country on the west bank of the Indus (river). They are described as a nomadic tribe, living in wooden houses, after the old Scythian fashion, and settling where they found sufficient pasturage. A portion of these settlers, the descendants of Massagetae, were called Getes, from whom sprung the modern Jats."[37]


  • Sir Richard Francis Burton wrote: "The Massagetae (greater Jats or Goths) are opposed to the Thyssa (or lesser) Getae, and both used the sagaris."[38]


  • Satya Shrava wrote: "The Jats are none other than the Massagetae (Great Getae) mentioned in Diodorus as an off-spring of the ancient Saka tribe.... a fact now well-known."[39][40]

References

  1. Karasulas, Antony. Mounted Archers Of The Steppe 600 Bc-ad 1300 (Elite),Osprey Publishing , 2004, pg 7, ISBN 184176809
  2. Wilcox, Peter. Rome's Enemies: Parthians and Sassanids, Osprey Publishing , 1986, pg 9, ISBN 0850456886
  3. Gershevitch, Ilya. The Cambridge History of Iran, 1985, Volume two, Cambridge University Press, 1985, pg 48 ISBN 0521200911
  4. Grousset, René. The Empire of the Steppes, 1989, Rutgers University Press, pg 547 ISBN 0813513049
  5. All the year round - Page 422 by charles dickens
  6. Leake, Jane Acomb (1967). The Geats of Beowulf: a study in the geographical mythology of the Middle Ages (illustrated ed.). University of Wisconsin Press. p. 68.
  7. Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1939). A Study of History. Volume 2. London: Oxford University Press. p. 435.
  8. Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma Publications. p. 95.
  9. Elliot, H. M. (Sir), Encyclopaedia of Caste, Customs, Rites and Superstitions of the Races of Northern India, Vol. 1, Reprinted by Sumit Publications, Delhi, India, 1985, first published in 1870, pp. 134.
  10. Dhillon, Balbir Singh (1994). History and study of the Jats: with reference to Sikhs, Scythians, Alans, Sarmatians, Goths, and Jutes (illustrated ed.). Canada: Beta Publishers. p. 8. ISBN 1895603021.
  11. Leake, Jane Acomb (1967). The Geats of Beowulf: a study in the geographical mythology of the Middle Ages (illustrated ed.). University of Wisconsin Press. p. 68.
  12. Maurus, Rabanus (1864). Migne, Jacques Paul. ed. De universo.
  13. Dhillon, Balbir Singh (1994). History and study of the Jats: with reference to Sikhs, Scythians, Alans, Sarmatians, Goths, and Jutes (illustrated ed.). Canada: Beta Publishers. p. 8. ISBN 1895603021.
  14. Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer (1999): Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide (2, illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 395. ISBN 1576070913, 9781576070918.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Shrava, Satya (1981). The Sakas in India (revised ed.). New Delhi: Pranava Prakashan, 1981.
  16. Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats
  17. Jari-Churpentier, Die-Ethno Graphische Stellung der Toohaser, 1917, Pp. 347-388.
  18. Dahiya, Bhim Singh (1980): Jats, the ancient rulers: a clan study (First Edition: 1980). Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 25
  19. http://www.iranian.com/History/2005/March/Gutians/
  20. "iuxtaque Massagetae Halani et Sargetae", "per Albanos et Massagetas, quos Alanos nunc appellamus", "Halanos pervenit, veteres Massagetas"
  21. Collins, Steven M. (2005). Israel's Tribes Today (illustrated ed.). Book 4 of Lost tribes of Israel, Steven M. Collins. Bible Blessings. ISBN 0972584935, 9780972584937.
  22. Israel's Tribes Today - The Two Houses of Israel Information Center
  23. Sulimirski, Tadeusz (1970). The Sarmatians. Volume 73 of Ancient peoples and places. New York: Praeger. pp. 113–114.
  24. Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma Publications. p. 95.
  25. Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma Publications. p. 95. "Some of the Indian writers including Rahul Sankrityayan and Ujagar Singh Mahil in his book "Antiquity of Jat Race" say that Jats inhabiting the northern India are the descendants of Massagetae, or Malta (great) Getae or Jat."
  26. Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1939). A Study of History. Volume 2. London: Oxford University Press. p. 435.
  27. Royal Institute of International Affairs; Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1962). A Study of History (2 ed.). Volume 10. Oxford University Press. p. 54.
  28. Rawlinson, George (1873). The sixth great Oriental monarchy: or, The geography, history, & antiquities of Parthia. Longmans, Green, and co. p. 118.
  29. Rawlinson, George (1893). The story of Parthia. G. P. Putnam's sons. p. 110.
  30. Rawlinson, George (2004). The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World (2, illustrated ed.). Volume 3 of The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: The History, Geography and Antiquities of Chaldaea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, and Sassanian, Or the New Persian Empire, George Rawlinson. Gorgias Press LLC. p. 66. ISBN 1593331711, 9781593331719.
  31. Rawlinson, George (2007). Parthia. Cosimo, Inc. p. 110. ISBN 160206136X.
  32. Rawlinson, George (2010). The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: Or, The History, Geography and Antiquities of Chaldæa, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, and Sassanian Or New Persian Empire. Volume 3. Nottingham Society. p. 66.
  33. Rawlinson, George (2012). The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 6. (of 7): Parthia The History, Geography, And Antiquities Of Chaldaea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, And Sassanian or New Persian Empire, With Maps and Illustrations. Tredition. ISBN 3847205145, 9783847205142.
  34. Dahiya, B. S., Jats, the ancient rulers: a clan study, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India, 1980, p. 23.
  35. Sir John Marshall, (Sir, Hon. Fellow of King's College, Cambridge University, and formerly Director-General of Archaeology in India), A Guide to Taxila, Cambridge University Press, London, 1960, p. 24.
  36. Hewitt, J. F., The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times in India, South-Western Asia and Southern Europe, Archibald Constable & Co., London, 1894, pp. 481-487.
  37. Latif, S. M., History of the Panjab, Reprinted by Progressive Books, Lahore, Pakistan, 1984, first published in 1891, p. 56.
  38. Burton, Richard Francis (Sir) (2008). The Book of the Sword. Cosimo, Inc. p. 90. ISBN 1605204366, 9781605204369.
  39. Shrava, Satya (1981). The Sakas in India (revised ed.). New Delhi: Pranava Prakashan, 1981.
  40. Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats

See also

External links


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