A majority of experts, understanding the name of Alan as an ethnonym, unconditionally consider them to be Iranian-speaking people, and mainly because the alleged descendants of both the Alans and the Assrs, Ossetians belong to the Iranian language family. However, a study of the historical sources and works of historians on the Alanian topic gives reason to consider this opinion erroneous:
So, having discarded the walking stereotypes, it is necessary to divide the ethnic unit of “Alans” into Alans, on the one hand, and Asses, on the other. This dichotomy is confirmed for an earlier era by other sources, primarily “Armenian geography” (ZUCKERMAN C. 2005: 69).
Recognizing this conclusion as a whole, other scholars have their own opinion about the ethnicity of the Alans, when evidences are given in favor of their Turkic origin, but such publications remain unknown to a wide circle of readers (LAYPANOV K.T., MIZIEV I.M. 2010; MIZIEV I.M. 2010-1 a.o.). In contrast, works restoring the history of Alan in Iranian mainstream are very popular. An example of which can be the fundamental work of A. Alemany (ALEMANY AGUSTI. 2000) which largely bases on the works of V.I. Abayev, which are also very known. Abayev is considered a great authority in the scythology despite his obvious bias association with his nationality. His field of research is rather narrow, in particular, the epigraphy of the Northern Black Sea region which he deciphered mostly erroneously because he did it only with the help of Iranian languages. At the same time, he overlooked many facts that could lead his research to the true path. For example, with his rich imagination, he didn't suppose the possibility of Ossetian origin for such place names as Azov, Vorskla, Kalitva, Oskol, Sochi and other names without reliable etymology.
Similarly other reputable scientists arbitrarily manipulate the facts and archaeological cultures, but without regard to linguistics, at ease draw us their own history of the Alans, for example, Tadeusz Sulimirsky (SULIMIRSKI T. 2008). However, when their ancestral home was being searched for somewhere in Asia, considering that the Iranian people had arisen just only there, then the Ossetians had to have come from Asia.
However their Urheimat was in the upper reaches of the Dnieper River and this fact has been evidenced in the place names of the nearest locality (see the section Iranic Tribes in the Eastern Europe at the Bronze Age).
At left: The Ancestral home of the Ossetians (yellow)
Long before the Scythian period, the Ossetians have being forced from their ancestral homeland by Baltic tribes arriving from the right bank of the Dnieper. They had to migrate southward, and for a while lived in the neighborhood with Mordvinians (as evidenced by the Ossetian-Mordvin lexical matches). The Ossetians appeared in the area of the Lower Don River only in the Sarmatian time period. At the same time, the upper reaches of the Dnieper were populated by people known in the Pontic steppes under the name of Alans:
According to the Greek geographer Marcian (or pseudo-Marcian) from Heraclea Pontica (ca 400 AD), "… the Rudon river flows from the mountain Alan, about this mountain and in general, in this country, a large area was inhabited by people of the Alans-Sarmatians, there were sources of Borisphen in their lands, which flows to Pontus. The land along the Borysthenes behind the Alans was inhabited by the so-called European Huns… " (Marcian P.: 39, quoted by Latyshev V.V. 1890). It is well known that Borisfen in ancient sources is the Dnieper River, while Rudon is one of the rivers of the Baltic Sea (KAZANSKIY M.M., MASTYKOVA A.V. 1999: 119).
The testimonies of ancient authors do not allow us to draw a conclusion about the ethnicity of Alans, furthermore, their assessments of the related connections of the described peoples for the most part seem to be conjectures. It is appropriate to recall the prejudice that ancients were better informed about the times nearest to them than we are now. However, it is believed also that this was not so. For example, scholars at King Alfred's time knew very little about the origin of the Anglo-Saxons (COLLINGWOOD ROBIN J. 1996, 127). As we can see farther, this remark applies directly to our topic.
Most evidences about Alans were left by Ammianus Marcellinus. He, as well as some other historians of their time, believed that the Alans were the Massagetai of the past, however, no evidence for this was given. In citing his description of the appearance of Alan, at some time because of a translation error, a significant inaccuracy about their supposedly "somewhat slanting eyes" occurred (Alemany Agusti, 2000, 2.17.2 ), this led to what should be indicative of their Asian origin. In the Russian translation of Aleman’s work, this passage, obviously after reconciliation with Marcellin’s text, is presented in a completely different way: “if you don’t look fierce, it’s still formidable”In the latest translation Marcellin’s text was read as follows:
Nearly all the Alani are men of great stature and beauty; their hair is somewhat yellow, their eyes are terribly fierce; the lightness of their armour renders them rapid in their movements; and they are in every respect equal to the Huns, only more civilized in their food and their manner of life. They plunder and hunt as far as the Sea of Azov and the Cimmerian Bosphorus, ravaging also Armenia and Media. (MARCELLINUS AMMIANUS. 2009. BOOK XXXI. II, 21)
A certain similarity between the Alans and the Huns, noted by Marcellinus, is a consequence of a nomadic way of life. The Alans were the first to be subjugated by the Huns in Europe and together they defeated the Ostrogoth tribal alliance in 375. The date of the Huns invasion into Alanian land remains unclear, so it is not known what time period the Alans remained in close contact with them. Ammian only writes that during the invasion of the Huns, many Alans were killed, and those that survived (most women) were included in their composition. In this case, one generation is enough for the defeated Alans to join the nomadic way of life. At the same time, the absence of a permanent residence, and not the similarity in the arrangement of carts or transport housing, could be taken as similarity. Moreober, Marcellinus could not know about the ideological differences between the Alans and Huns, which are usually reflected in the types of burials of the nomadic peoples. Research of Hun graves revealed a significant difference between them – some of them were kurgan burials and other without kurgan. Because of this difference, it was concluded:
At common unity of culture being material in all its ethnic components, researchers found traits marking ethnic differences in the types of burial structures. However, according to most experts, the union of Huns also had a complex multicomponent ethnic structure. This allows us to offer as a version to explain the differences in the construction of burial structures (mound or no mound) which are just some ethnic difference of the population (IVCHENKO A.V. 2003, 46).
According to Marcellinus, the Alans occupied the territory from the Pontic steppes to the Vistula River in the north-west and till the north-eastern shores of Caspian Sea, but they penetrated farther to the east and southeast in separate groups. Perhaps the latter gave reason to separate the Alans on European and Asiatic parts, while Europe and Asia at that time was shared by the Tanais River (Don). Many other groups also were collectively called Scythians or Alans in accordance with the dominant tribe, and at one time the Alans were such a tribe, which follows from the words of Marcellinus:
Little by little they (i.e., Alans – VS) subjugated neighboring tribes in numerous victories and spread their name on them, as the Persians did (MARCELLINUS AMMIANUS. 2009. Book XXXI. I, 13)
Among subjugated tribes were Neuroi, Melanchlainoi, Gelonians, Agathyrsians, and other tribes, previously mentioned by Herodotus, and the several ones that appeared later. The undoubted presence of the Turkic tribes among the Alans is shown by their completely Turkic names (Ιτιλησ, Αραβατησ, Thogay), and the ethnonyms Alans and Asses are still using to refer specifically to the Turkic peoples. For example, the Megrels, the neighbors of Karachais, call them Alans, the Karachais and Balkarians use the term "Alan" when referring to the word "kinsman", "fellow tribesman" (LAYPANOV K.T., MIZIEV I.M. 2010: 268, 294), and the Chuvash, especially the elderly, say: "Epir Assem" (we are Asses). Just the Ossetians call the Balkars as the Asses too. However, they themselves are called with a similar word the Asses (Avsses) by the Georgians. At the same time, there is no single self-name for Ossetians, their widespread name comes from the Georgian, and the self-identification of individual Ossetian sub-ethnoses (Digorians, Irons, etc.) do not contain any hints of the ethnonyms of Alans or Asses.
Describing different peoples, Marcellinus often speaks about peculiarities of their language and from the texts it is clear that he is well acquainted with the Persian language. However, he does not say anything about the Alan language. If they spoke one of the Iranian languages, he should have mentioned it. He simply says that the population of the Black Sea region, among whom he singled out the Jaxamatæ, the Mæotæ, the Jazyges, the Roxolani, the Alani, the Melanchlænæ, the Geloni, and the Agathyrsi, speaks different languages and has different customs (MARCELLINUS AMMIANUS. 2009. BOOK XXII, VIII, 31). The difference between the Alanian language and others can be seen from the narration of Lucian about the Scythian Arsakomas (Αρσακομασ) and his loyal friends Longhates (Λογχατησ) and Makentes (Μακεντησ), who helped him kidnap a bride. In the text, the latter, pretending to be an Alan, was to speak their language (Ibid 3,11). We can conclude from this that the Scythian and Alanian languages to some extent differed. Moreover, the names of these heroes cannot be deciphered through the Iranian languages, but they are well explained by Old English. Name Λογχατησ (longchate:s) can be translated as "a long-haired" (OE lang, Eng long and OE hād/hæd “hair”). While OE maca "a friend, companion", according to Holthausen, are found in such Anglo-Saxon proper nouns as Meaca, Mackenthorp, Mackensen (A. HOLTHAUSEN F. 1974: 209, 216), and OE. ent "a giant" suit for the name Makentes. Thus, Makentes need not to pretend to be an Alan, he really was an Alan.
The presence of the Anglo-Saxons in Eastern Europe in Scythian time can be convincingly confirmed by the decoding of the epigraphy of the Northern Black Sea Coast and the then some realities by means of the Old English language. In this way The Alan-Anglo-Saxon Onomasticon was compiled, a small part of which is given below.
ακινακεσ (akinakes), a short, iron Scythian sword – OE ǽces "an ax" and nǽcan "to kill" suit well.
Αργαμηνοσ (argame:nos) – OE earg “cowardly”, mann “a man”.
Αριαπειθεσ (ariapeithes), the name of a Scythian king – OE ār „honor, dignity, glory” (ārian "to honor"), fǽtan „to decorate” (“adorned with glory”).
Beorgus, the Alanian king who invaded Italy in V century AD – OE beorg 1. "a mountain, hill", 2. "protection".
Γωαρ (go:ar), Alanian leader in Gaul at the beginning of the 5th century, several places in the west have the same name (BRAUN F. 1899, 98) – OE gear "protection, weapon".
Ηλμανοσ (e:lmanos), Olbia, Vasmer – OE el “strange”, mann "a man".
Eochar, Alanian king in Armorica (north-west France) – OE eoh "a horse" and ār "a messenger, herald, apostle".
Ιδανθιρσοσ (idanthirsos), Scythian king – OE eadan "performed, satisfied” and đyrs "a giant, demon, wizard".
Ιεζδραδοσ (iedzdrados), Olbia – OE. đræd "thread, wire”, while the first part of the name semantic approach OE īse(r)n "iron, of iron".
Λικοσ (likos), the son of Spargapeithes – by OE līc "body" could be called a man of large stature.
Μαστειρα (masteira), the Alanian, the wife of the king of the Bosporus Leukanorus – OE māst "most", āre "honor, dignity."
Respendial, Alanian king in Gallia in early 5th century – OE respan "to reproach" and deall “proud, brave”.
σαγαρισ (sagaris), battle axe, the Scythian weapon – OE sacu "strife, war" and earh "an arrow".
Σαδιμανοσ (sadimanos) – OE sǽd "sated, satiated" and mann "a man".
Sangibanus, Alanian king in Gallia in the 5th c. – OE sengen "to burn" and bān "a foot, bone".
Σαυλιοσ (saulios), the son of Gnuros – apparently from OE sāwol "soul".
Σπαροβαισ (sparobais), Panticapaeum – OE spær "gypsum, limestone” and býan "to build" ("a mason, builder").
Τασιοσ (tasios), the Roxolanian leader at the end of the 2nd cen. BC – OE tæsan "to wound"
Φαδινομοσ (phadinomos), Tanaïs – OE fadian "to lead" and nama "name".
Φηδανακοσ (phedanakos), Tanaïs – OE fadian „to lead” and naca „a boot, ship”.
Φλιανοσ (phlianos), Olbia – OE fleon "to escape, avoid".
Scientific conscientiousness requires a quote from an author who has his own opinion on this issue:
… of the nine ancient, undoubtedly Alanian proper names to the west, only one name can be explained from the point of view of the German language, and even then with a stretch. This name is Eochar (BRAUN F. 1899, 96-97).
Brown could apologize for not knowing that Old English should be used for the decryption. With its help, it is also possible to decipher many ethnonyms of Scythian-Sarmatian times:
Αγαθιρσοι (agatirsoi), according to Herodotus the tribe of the Agathyrsians – OE đyrs (thyrs) "a giant, demon, magician" is well suited for the ethnonym. For the first part of the name, we find OE ege "fear, terror", and the whole means "terrible giants or demons". However, OE āga "owner", āgan "to have, take, receive, possess" suite phonetically better. Then the ethnonym can be understood as "having giants". Below, we decipher the ethnonym the Thyssagetai (see Θυσσαγεται) as a nation of giants in the north of Scythia. Thus, we can suppose that the Agathyrsians subdued the Thyssagetai
Βουδινοι (budinoi) Boudinoi, rather, Woudinoi, the people who lived, according to Herodotus, in the country, overgrown with various trees – OE widu, wudu “tree, wood", Eng wooden.
Θυσσαγεται (thussagetai), the Thyssagetai, one of the folks in Northern Scythia mentioned by Herodotus, or Thyrsagetae (by Valery Flaccus) – the presence of the morpheme getai/ketai (Μασσαγεται, Ματυκεται, Μυργεται) in the names of several tribes is noteworthy. In addition, the Thracian tribes Getae (Γεαται) are known in history. We can suppose that this word means "people". The closest to it is the Chuv kĕtỹ "a flock, herd". Then Thyssagetai were "unruly people" (OE đyssa "rowdy”). If the form of Valery Flaccus is more correct, as it is likely, since it echoes the name of the Agathyrsians. (see Αγαθιρσ, Αγαθιρσοι), then the Thyrsagetae means "the people of giants and wizards" (OE. đyrs "a giant, demon, wizard").
Μελαγχλαινοι (melankhlainoi), меланхлены – Herodotus places Melanchlainoi to north of the Royal Scythians and explains their name as "dressed in black" (Gr. μελασ "black"). In fact, Melanchlainoi is Old English name, as ancient Angles had a proper name Mealling, originated from OE a-meallian "to get furious" (see HOLTHAUSEN F. 1974: 216), which together with OE hleonian "to protect" was used by the newcomers for calling their relatives. One might think that they were particularly militant.
Νευροι (neuroi), the people standing second after Agathyrsians in Herodotus' list – Herodotus indicated that they left their homeland and settled among the Budinoi. (IV, 105). OE neowe, niowe means "new". The nominalization of the word could give neower "a newcomer". The Anglo-Saxons could not call themselves newcomers, it is assume that such name them could be given to a new group of tribesman by local settlers, ie, the Anglo-Saxons, who came here earlier.
Rosomonoi, the people mentioned by Jordanes – "people of horsemen" (OE. hros/hors "horse" and mann "man".
Σκυθαι (skythai), Scythians – OE. scytta "a shooter". The Scythians were considered the best bow-shooter and in the ethnonym "Scythian" was considered a synonym for the shooter. The idea of the Germanic origin of the word has long been mentioned by V.I. Abaev: "Gmc. *scutja is an ideal etymon for σκυθασ" (ABAYEV V.I., 1965: 21).
Having so much evidence of the presence of the Anglo-Saxons in Ukraine during the Scythian-Sarmatian time, which is also confirmed by separate lexical matches between the Old English and Slavic languages and the participation of the Anglo-Saxons in the creation of the Rostov-Suzdal Principality (see the sections Anglo-Saxons in East Europe, Anglo-Saxons at Sources of Russian Power ), consider how they might be connected with the Alans.
The Urheimat of Anglo-Saxons found by the graphic-analytical method, was located on the ethno-producing area between the Sluč, Prypyat’ and Teteriv Rivers (it is marked by red dots on the map at left). This area is divided into three roughly equal parts by the Uzh and Ubort Rivers. It can be assumed that on these subareals formed close German dialects, the speakers of which formed three separate ethnic units.
Place names, which cannot be deciphered by Slavic languages, but can be deciphered with the help of Old English and Old Saxon, in doing so not only confirms the localization of the ancestral home of the Anglo-Saxons, but also indicates their presence in continental Europe for a long time and sometimes graphically depicts the migration routes. During the long search for the toponyms of the Anglo-Saxon origin, more than four hundred were found (see the map Google Map below). This topic is discussed in more detail in the section Ancient Anglo-Saxon Place Names in Continental Europe, some of the most convincing examples from the general list are the following:
Avratyn, a few villages in Right Bank Ukraine – OE ǽfre "after, constant", tūn "village".
Boriatyn, villages in Lviv and Zhytomyr Regions of Ukraine, Briansk and Tula Regionf of Russia, Bariatino, the adminostrative center of Kaluga Region, Russia, Boratyn, villages in Lviv, Volyn, Rivne Regions of Ukraine – OE bora "a son", tūn "village".
Bryansk, a city in Russia – OE bryne "fire".
Burtyn, a village in Khmelnytsk Region – OE būr "a peasant", tūn "village".
Delatyn , a town in Ivano-Frankivsk Region – dǽl, dell "valley", tūn "village".
Irpen', a river, rt of the Dnieper – OE ear 1. "lake" or 2. “ground”, fenn “bog, silt”, could mean “sludgy lake” or “boggy ground”.
At right: The Irpen' River.
The photo from the site Foto.ua
Khotyn, a few of towns and villages with this or with derivate of it in Ukraine, Russia, Belorus, Poland – OE. hof “court, area”, tūn "village".
Konotop, ten towns and villages in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Poland and a few derivatives of it – OE. cyne- «royal», topp "a top".
Korsun, several villages and rivers in Ukraine, Russia, ans Belorus – OE cursian «to braid, plait, weave».
Kyrdany, a village in Zhytomyr Region – OE cyrten, "nice".
Mius, a river flowing in Sea of Azov – OE mēos "moss, swamp".
At left: The Mius River
Photo 0f Оlga GOK. Rostov on Don.
Myrutyn, a village in Khmelnytsk Region and the village of Myrotyn in Rivne Region – OE mūr "wall", tūn "village";
Resseta, a river, rt of the Zhizdra, lt of the Oka – OE rǽs "running" (from rǽsan "to race, hurry") or rīsan "to rise" and seađ "spring, source".
Rikhta, a river, lt of the Trostianytsia Rive, rt of the Irsha River, lt of the Teteriv River, rt of the Dnieper and a few villages in Kiev and Khmelnytsk Regions – OE riht, ryht “right, direct”;
Romodan a town in Poltava Region – OE. rūma „space”, dān "humid, humid locality".
Seym, a river, lt of the Desna River, lt of the Dnieper – OE seam "side, seam";
Werhulivka (Vergulivka), a village in Luhansk Region – OE wergulu "nettle”.
Wolfa, a river, lt of th Seym River, lt of the Desna River – OE wulf “wolf”.
Wytebet', a river, lt of the Zhizdra, rt of the Oka – OE wid(e) "wide", bedd "bed, river-bed".
Yagotyn, the town in Kiev Region – OE iegođ „a little island”.
Anglo-Saxon place names in continental Europe
On the map Anglo-Saxon place name are indicated by red points. The settlements of Markovo, Markino and similar have violet color.
Red space marks the Urheimat of the Anglo-Saxons.
The red asterisks mark the battlefields at Adrianople (378) and on the Catalaunian Plains (451) which in the Alans took part.
Having found in the above list the names of several Alanian leaders (Αρδαβουριοσ, Beorgus, Γωαρ, Eochar, Μαστειρα, Respendial, Sangibanus, Τασιοσ a.o.), we can assume that the Alans were in fact either related to the Anglo-Saxons, or a part of them. Jordanes in his work "The Origins and Deeds of the Goths" mentioned the tribe of the Rosomoni, inhabiting the northern Black Sea coast. This name can be understood as a "people of horsemen" and see in it Anglo-Saxons, if for deciphering to take OE hros/hors "horse" and mann "man". Additional confidence in the correctness of such assumptions is given by the name of Rosomonian woman Sunilda, which sounds quite Germanic: OE. hild, OIcl. hild-r "war, fight" (cf. Brunnhilde, Matilda etc). Similar names were given to women, called "shieldmaiden", or otherwise valkyries.
However, since there are reasons to consider the descendants of the Alans as modern Ossetians and the Turkic peoples of the Caucasus, recognizing the diversity of the population of the Northern Black Sea region, we have no choice but to agree with the assumption that a tribal alliance, in which the main role was played by the Anglo-Saxons, was hidden under the common name Alans. It should be borne in mind that identification with "prestigious" ethnos by individuals or groups of people, without even adopting its language is a widespread phenomenon even in our time. The Anglo-Saxons could play a major role in this alliance, and the ancestors of the Ossetians were the only members of the union. Explanation of the dominant position of the Anglo-Saxon in this tribal alliance is that a part of them occupied an area in the Donbas which was rich on deposits of copper ore. Copper smelting and the fabrication of everyday objects for use, allowed them to gain economic advantage over population of other ethnicity in the Northern Black Sea, and as a consequence, political dominance. Evidence of the Anglo-Saxons' stay in the Donbas is given in sections The Sarmatians and The Ethnic Composition of the Population of Great Scythia According Toponymy).
Herodotus wrote that among all Scythian tribes were the “Royal Scythians”. Strabo also singled out the “Royal Sarmatians” among the tribes of the Iazyges, Urgs, Roxolani, Aorsi, the Siraces. Obviously the definition of "royal" refers to a dominant tribe. J. Harmatta believes that the peak power of the Sarmatians occurred at the last quarter of the 2nd and the first half of the 1st century B.C. (HARMATTA J., 1970, 39). Under conditions of stability, the development of trade, ways and means of communication had resulted in different ethnic groups which began to appear in the Black Sea steppes at the beginning of the 1st millenium A.D. They were included in the tribal alliance of the Alans. Historians come to the conclusion of the possibility of a warlike tribe to rule/control the masses of population ethnically alien them:
Ethnic diversity and flexibility, cultural exchange, often over long distances, long-range policy and regional differences occur become ever more apparent in the study of steppe empires. The understanding of modern social anthropology, that the early medieval people consist of different groups which gather around a relatively small core, and soon began to feel being attached to it, is confirmed (POHL WALTER, 2002: 3).
In addition to names of the Alanian leaders, the Germanic origin of Alans is confirmed also by friendly relations of the Alans with the Germanic tribes of Goths, Vandals and Suevi (Suebe). These relations supposed to have some more serious explanation than a situational alliance of the tribes of different languages without a purpose and reason. Obviously, the common Germanic ethnopsychology helped Alans quickly find mutual understanding with the Goths and Vandals, than with other people. In 378, the Alans in alliance with other Gothic disparate units, under the general command of Fritigern participated in the defeat of the Roman army at Adrianople.
The Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Alans, migrating under the pressure of the Huns in search of new lands for settlement. They have not moved a single stream, but each of these people by their own way and only temporarily united for military purposes. Even the Alans, moved out at least in two groups, making it difficult to establish their migration routes. As always, during migration of peoples, their way has been marked by settlements, where a part of the migrants remains to stay for various reasons. This phenomenon was observed by the ancient migrations of the Bulgars, Cimbri, Angles, and Saxons. The trail of the Alans to Adrianople is marked by the cities of Bulgaria Varna (OE wearnian "to warn, be careful") and Burgas (OE burg "borough"). The chain of place names that may mark the path of further movement of the Alans after Adrianople, consists of the following:
Haskovo, a village in southern Bulgaria – OE hassuc "wet, row grass", Eng. hassock. Better OE has "hot", cofa "cave". There are hot springs in this area.
Rashkovo, a village in Sofia Region, Bulgaria – OE. ræscan "to tremble, swing". Most likely the Old English word had another meaning, as it does in its related Old Norse raska, which is translated as both "to tremble", and as "to rock", "to displace". This meaning is much better suited for names of settlemants of migrants. Cf. Raška, Raškovići, Raškovci.
Berkovitsa, a town in Montana Province, Bulgaria – OE berc "birch".
Raška, a town, the center of Rashka district in Serbia – see Rashkovo
Sige, a village in the municipality of Žagubica, Serbia – OE sige 1. "lowland", 2. "victory".
Raškovići, a village in the municipality of Goražde, Bosnia and Herzegovin – see Rashkovo
Berkovica, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina – OE berc "birch".
Raškovci, a village in the municipality of Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina – see Rashkovo
Vinkovci a city in eastern Croatia – OE wincian "wink".
Valpovo, a city in eastern Croatia – OE hwelp(a) "whelp".
Szekszárd (Szekszárd), a city in Hungary, the capital of Tolna county – OE sex, siex, "six", eard "land, place, settlement".
However, judging by the density of the Anglo-Saxon toponymy (see Google Map above), most of the Alans first moved to the Carpathian Mountains, and then, after crossing the Carpathians, advanced to Transylvania. This path among others is marked by the following place names:
Rakhiv, a city in Trancarpathia – OE. raha "chamois".
Bârsana, a village in Maramureş County, Transilvania, Romania – OE. bærs, bears "perch".
Rohia, a village in Maramureş County, – OE. raha "chamois".
Brad, a city in Hunedoara County in the Transylvania region – OE. bræd "width".
Arad, the capital city of Arad County, Romania – OE. ared, arod "quick, rapid".
A further way of the Alans, through the territory settled by Germanic tribes, is difficult to trace because of the similarity of local dialects to Old English. However, it is known that the Alans together with the Vandals and Suevi reached Spain, where they founded their kingdom, and after the destruction of the kingdom by the Visigoths, they along with the Vandals crossed into North Africa. The kings of the newly created kingdom here officially called themselves the kings of the Vandals and Alans (BRAUN F. 1899: 96). This state pursued a too aggressive foreign policy and existed only until 534, falling under the blows of Byzantium.
While driving through France, the Alans also founded their settlements and their way to Spain across southern France can be marked as follows:
Bourg-en-Bresse, a commune, the capital of the Ain department,– OE burg "borough, town", bræs "ore, bronze".
Lyon, a city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region – OE lion "to lend", "to preserve".
Lemps, a commune in the Ardèche department – OE. limpan "to belong", "to be fit".
Gignac, a commune in the Hérault département in the Occitanie region – OE. geagn "against", gegn "right".
At left: Alanian kingdom in Spain.
The map of Wikipedia.
The Alanian kingdom existed in Spain for a short time (409-426), but Alanian presence here is reflected in a few place names, using the Old English language for decryption, for example:
Alenquer, a municipality in the Oeste Subregion in Portugal – there is an explanation of the name as "Alanian temple" involving OG kerika "church". The name can be given by Visigoths, but this word is not fixed in the Gothic language, and there was in OE cirice "a church".
Madrid, the capital of Spain – the first mention of the city is preserved in the Arab transcription: مجريط (Majrīṭ, pronounced as maʤrit). There are several versions of the origin of the name, but we can substantiate an Alanian origin: OE māg "bad, shameless" and rīđ "a stream, river". Madrid is located on the small Manzanares River.
Murcia, a city in south-eastern Spain, the capital of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia – OE murcian "be unhappy, complaining".
Utiel, a municipality in the comarca of Requena-Utiel in the Valencian Community, Spain. – OE ūtian "to banish, steal".
It should be said that the idea of the Germanic ethnicity of the Alans is not new, both ancient and modern historians wrote about this. In particular, Norman Davies ranks among the East Germanic tribes, in addition to the Swabians, Lombards, Burugundians, Vandals, Gepids, Goths, also Alans (DAVIES NORMAN. 2000. 241). This opinion was not universally recognized, mainly because Ossetians were unconditionally considered their direct descendants (BRAUN F. 1899: 96).
Some evidence of friendly relations between the Alans and Goths provides also archaeology. While the Slavic tribes of the Zarubintsy culture were displaced by the Sarmatians from the Forest-steppe Dnieper Land between the rivers Tyasmyn and Stugna, "the relation the Sarmatians and the bearer of the Cherniakhiv culture in the 2nd-4th centuries was totally different than the situation between the Sarmatians and Zarubintsy people". The Sarmatians were involved in the creation of the south-western region of the Cherniakhiv culture, and their funerary rites are like Chernyakhiv ones (BARAN V.D., Otv. Red., 1985: 9-10). The Chernyakhiv culture was created by the Goths who came to the Black Sea but its cultural Sarmatian traits were superstrate, "that is, they are superimposed on the already established culture in the process of its spread to new territories" (GUDKOVA O.V. 2001:39). In this connection, we can assume that cultural interaction of the Goths and some part of the Sarmatians was due to the similarity of their languages and customs preserved since Germanic community.
Taking all this into account, we have to make a final conclusion that only a part of the Alans could be the Germanic-speaking people (during when the Great Migration had gone to Central Europe and then in Spain and Africa, and, as it turned out, subsequently into the British Isles). In other words, the name Alans could hide as German-speaking, Iranian-speaking, and even Turkic-speaking tribes of the Northern Black Sea region, causing by the transfer of the name of a dominant tribe to the other participants of the union of different tribes.
Quite recently correspondences has revealed that between the cycle of legends concerning King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail , there is a connection with the Scythian-Sarmatian world. In 2000, a book was published wherein authors try to explain these relationships (LITTLETON C. SCOTT, MALCOR LINDA A. 2000). One of these connections was noticed as one of the first, and later Dumezil recalls it. In the multinational epic of the peoples of the Caucasus about the Narts, a described episode of the death of one of the heroes named Batraz has a parallel in the death of King Arthur. Both die from the fact that their swords are thrown into the water.
The one of the book "From Scythia to Camelot": Morte D'Arthur by Daniel Maclise
The book was controversial in the scientific world, as evidence of the authors are based on analogies which maybe not so convincing. The reasons for these connections in influencing a small number of the Yazyges who served in the Roman legions during their campaigns into Britain in the 2nd century on the culture of the indigenous Celtic population look unconvincing too. The Celts, hostile to the Romans, could not have close cultural contacts with them, the more it is doubtful that they were subjected to the cultural influence of the Yazyges. Such an influence could have been made by new numerous migrants, namely by the Alans, who undoubtedly had common cultural elements with the Iranian-speaking population of the Northern Black Sea Coast, but historical data on the relocation of the Alans to Britain are absent. Although Linda Malcor explains the name of Lancelot, one of the knights of King Arthur as “(A)lan(u)s à Lot” (Alan of Lot, the area in Southern Gaul, where at one time massed Alans). One would assume that other Alans came to Britain with Lancelot.
If the Alans arrived in Britain from Southern Gaul, the more they could do it from Northern Gaul. It is known that Flavius Aetius, the honored leader, the actual governor of Gaul, known for his victory over the Huns on the Catalaunian Plains in 451 near the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, gave Armorica area (north-west France) into the possession to Alanian King Eochar (otherwise Goar). It is known that Eochar with a part of the Alans did not follow the king Respendial to Spain and stayed in central France.
Invasions of Roman Empire by Goths, Huns, Vandals, and Anglo-Saxons in 4-6 cen AD
In the subsequent time there were several rulers named Alan in Armorica and, in addition, the local place names testify that the peninsula of Brittany and the adjacent area were inhabited by the numerous Alan horde:
Brest, a city in the Finistère département in Brittany – OE. breost "breast".
Kerlouan, a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany – OE. ceorl "man, peasant", own "own".
Landéda, a commune in the Finistère department – OE. land "land", ead "wealth, happiness".
Landerneau, a commune in the Finistère – OE. land "land", earnian "earn, win, gain".
Landivisiau, a commune in the Finistère – OE. land "land", eawis "apparent".
Locarn, a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department of Brittany – OE. loc "lock", ærn "house".
Rostrenen, a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department of Brittany – OE. rūst "rust, red", ren "house".
A chain of place names (deciphered by the use of Old English language) stretches from the battle area of the Katalaun fields to this cluster of place names. It includes the following settlements: Sézanne, Bernay-Vilbert, Rambouillet, Brou, Berne-en-Champagne, Laval, Cornillé, and Rennes. It is significant that the name of Rambouillet is deciphered by Old English as "sheep's wool" (OE ramm "ram", wull "wool"). Obviously, the local population has long been engaged in sheep breeding here and subsequently there was created a royal sheepfold where a fine-fleeced sheep rambulie breed was bred.
English monk Bede the Venerable in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People asserted that the tribes of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes arrived in Britain in the 5th after Roman legions left it. He reports the names of such leaders as Angles Hengist and Horsa (BEDE, XV), which can be translated from Old English as "a stallion" and "a horse". These names are suitable for horsemen, the Alans. However the inhabitants of Jutland, from where, according to Bede, Angles came, were not riders as also other Germanic people. The Bede described these events in after nearly 150 years and obviously used scanty data about the ancestral home of the Angles of the Roman historian Tacitus (ca. 56 – ca. 117 A.D.).
There is in the English county of Oxfordshire on a hillside near the town of Uffington, a strange figure by length of 110 m and in the form resembling a horse. Mysterious figure is made by filling ditches with broken chalk; its origin is unclear. The prevailing view is that the figure is of Celtic origin and this is proven, among other things, by similarity of the strange head of the figure to images on Celtic coins of the first cen. AD. However, with careful study it turned out that there is overlapping of two different figures – a horse and a dragon (or a snake) (BOTHEROYD SILVIA und PAUL F. 1999: 416). It can be assumed that the original figure of the dragon was later turned into the figure of a horse. It is not excluded that this was done during the reign of King Alfred the Great as is also supposed. In this case, the figure could be modernized by Alans riders which had the horse as a symbol of worship borrowed from the Iranians (which were a part of the multinational Sarmatian alliance).
Uffington White Horse. Photo from Wikipedia.
In principle, the similarity between the ethnonyms of the Angles and the Alans can indicate their common origin. The name of the tribe of the Ρευκαναλοι (Reukanaloi) (i.e., the "Light" or "Wild" Alans) renders of a possible metathesis in word Alan. If n in this ethnonym sounded like ng (ŋ), then the transformation of "Angl" in "Alan" would be quite possible (angloi → aŋloi → alŋoi → alanoi). This explanation assumes the German origin of the word.
The German tribe of Anglii has been known since Tacitus' time. The preferred etymological theory deduces this name from *angula “hook", supposedly because the country inhabited by them had a curved shape. Another theory, namely the Turkic origin of ethnonym is more suitable in terms of semantics. Old Turkic oğlan (ohlan) "a son, boy, young man" had another meaning, namely, "a rider" (Chuv. dial. yulan "a horseman"). The name of the light cavalry (Pol. ułani, Eng. Uhlans) is arisen from this Turkic word. This plausible explanation encounters phonetic difficulties of which overcoming is tentative. The root oğ is represented in Turkic languages by only a few derivative words, but by itself has no sense. We can assume that it is a variant of the root oŋ (oŋğ) having several meanings – "a pat", "right", "light, convenient", "to improve ", i.e. oğlan originally could exist in the form oŋğlan and it gave angl- and alan-. Attempts to connect the ethnonym Alan with the Turkic oğlan have been known for a long time, but they are considered questionable (LAYPANOV K.T., MIZIEV I.M. 2010: 73), for some reason unknown .
The Alans, having moved to the left bank of the Dnieper, were in close contact with Iranian tribes for quite a long time and could participate in the formation of a common cultural environment. How much Angles and Saxons were involved in it is difficult to say. Most likely, elements of the Sarmatian culture were brought to Britain by the Alans. In the north of France in the Calais area there are several toponyms, deciphered using the English language: Berck, Bernay-en-Ponthieu, Rambures, etc. Distance from here to the island of Britain is only one step, not without reason the name of the Passa de Calais, which separates it from the mainland, is translated from French just so. In good weather, the Alans could repeatedly safely cross the island long before the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. The Alans, having moved to the left bank of the Dnieper, were in close contact with Iranian tribes for quite a long time and could participate in the formation of a common cultural environment. How much Angles and Saxons were involved in this is difficult to say. Most likely, elements of the Sarmatian culture were brought to Britain by the Alans. In the north of France, in the Calais area deciphering them using the English language there are several toponyms,: Berck, Bernay-en-Ponthieu, Rambures, etc. Distance from here to the island of Britain is only one step, not without reason the name of the Passa de Calais is translated from French just so. In good weather, the Alans could repeatedly safely cross the island long before the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. When the Vikings began their predatory attacks on Normandy in the 9th century, it was already populated by people speaking the French language, because by the middle of the 10th century they had adopted the religion and language of the French (SAWYER PETER. 2002: 11), that is, the Alans were absent there. William the Conqueror went on a campaign from the mouth of the Somme River near Calais. It is not to exclude that the Angles and Saxons also might have used this same way. Still, a sea voyage from Jutland to Britain for people who did not have a long tradition of navigation would be a very risky venture.
Of course a part of the Alans remained in the North Caucasus and this is evidence by local place names (see the map at right).
Righ: Anglo-Saxon toponymy in the Azov region and the North Caucasus.
Place names marks the path of the Alans from Donbass to the foothills of the Caucasus and their settlement in Caucasian Alania. The most convincing examples are given below:
Yeya, a river flowing to Azov Sea and originated names – OE. ea "water, river".
Sandata, a river, lt of the Yegorlyk, lt of the Manych, lt of the Don River – OE. sand "sand", ate "weeds".
Bolshoy and Malyi Gok (Hok in local pronunciation), rives, rt of Yegorlyk, lt of the Manych, lt of the Don – OE. hōk "hook".
Zelenchuk,name of several rivers and settlements in the Kuban region and Ukraine – OE. selen "tribute, gift", cuc, cwic "alive".
Guzeripl' (Huzeripl' in local pronunciation), a settlement in the Maikop municipal district of the Republic of Adygea – OE. hūs "house", "place for house", rippel "undergrowth".
Baksan, a river and a town in Kabardino-Balkaria – OE. bæc "back", sæne "slow".
Mozdok, a city in North Ossetia and villages in the Kursk and Tambov Regions – OE. mōs "food", docce "sorrel".
In general, the distribution of Anglo-Saxon place names in the North Caucasus corresponds to the territory of the Caucasian Alania in the basin of two Zelenchuk rivers (see map below). Procopius of Kessaria, the first to mention the Alans in the Caucasus, indicated that in the west their neighbors were Zegii or Zygians (Fr. Zigues on the map), Abasgoi or Abasgians (Awaz on the map).
Distribution map of "Alan" antiquities
according [Zuckerman C. 2005: 72, Fig 1].
Some information about the Caucasian Alania was left by Hungarian monk Julian, who visited it in 1235 during the search for the ancestral homeland of the Hungarians on behalf of the Hungarian King Bela. He described the country of Sikhia on the western slopes of the Caucasus to east of the city of Matrica as follows:
… the inhabitants (of this country – VS) represent a mixture of Christians and pagans: how many towns, so many princes, of whom no one considers himself subordinate to another. Here is the constant war of a prince with a prince, a small town with a town: during the plowing, all people of one place armed together go to the field, together mow, and then on the adjacent space, and in general coming out of their settlements for the cutting of firewood, or for whatever work, they all go together and armed, and in a small number they cannot go out safely from their settlements (GARDANOV V.K. 1974: 33).
It is clear from the description that there was no tribal alliance or the leading tribe in Alanya that can be spoken of. If there were Anglo-Saxons in these places, then they would have existed in very small numbers. William Rubruk, sent by King Louis IX, was ambassador to Mongolia in 1253. He met with the Alans in the Crimea, and noticed that they are called there aas (RUBRUK WILGELM de, 1957: XIII). He also noted that the Alans do not drink Kumys, from which it can be concluded that they were not Turks, as Kumys is their national drink (Ibid: XII). Furthermore, he sometimes mentions the Alans on the North Caucasus and, in particular, notes that they were excellent blacksmiths. Alans could learn the blacksmith's craft during their stay in the Donbas.
In 1888, on the right bank of Bolshoy Zelenchuk River, a stone stele with an inscription by Greek letters was found 30 km from the village of Nizhniy Arkhyz (see the figure on the right). The decoding of the inscription was made by V.F. Miller using the Ossetian language. With small corrections, the reading is now accepted in science, and the dating of the stele is determined by 941 year (DHURTUBAYEV M. 2010: 198).
Miller believed that there was a Christian city in this area, from which the ruins of churches were preserved, and suggested that it was the center of the Alan diocese (metropolis), which is mentioned in Byzantine literature. However, not all agreed with the decoding of Miller, because he introduced eight additional letters into the text, which were absent on the stele and without which it can not be by means of the Ossetian language (Ibid).
At right: Drawing of the inscription of Zelenchuk stele in Dhurtubayev'в book taken from V.A. Kuznetsov (Ibid: 199).
The inscription has various reading options, including the use of Ossetian, Kabardian, Karachay-Balkarian, Vainakh and, possibly, other languages, and disputes about its language continue to this day. The stele itself was not preserved, attempts to find it in 1946 and 1964 did not bring success (KAMBOLOV T.T. 2006: 166). Without the original, one cannot speak about the accuracy of text rendering, and this additionally complicates the decoding of the inscription. The strange thing in this story is that Miller, Abaev, and other experts in Iranian languages did not give a decryption of the name Arkhyz itself, which could add them confidence about the Ossetian origin of the stele.
The fact is that in the mountainous region of Arkhiz there are several toponyms which are decrypted precisely with the help of the Ossetian language:
Arkhyz, a river, lt of the Psysh, lt Of the Great Zelenchuk, lt of the Kuban River – Os. ærkh "piece" "splinter", "sliver".
Kardonikskaya, a stanitsa (village inside a Cossack host) in Zelenchuk district of Karachay-Cherkessia – Os. kærdo "rear-tree", nigæ "riverside covered with grass".
Mara, a river, rt of the Kuban' River – ос. mæra "hollow".
Synty, the former name of the aul of Lower Teberda in Karachai-Cherkessia – Os. synt "raven", syntæ "net, snare".
Zagedan, a town and a river, rt of the Bolshaya Laba River in Karachay-Cherkessia – Os. dzag "full", don "water, river".
Such an accumulation of Ossetian place names on a small territory indicates the presence of the Ossetians at some time in Alania, what could be reflected in written sources. Subsequently, the Ossetians could be forced out by the Alans to the places of their modern emplacement, and this entailed confusion in the localization of Ossetia, which Zuckerman notes:
… having only inaccurate translations, Muller made almost surreal conclusions about the location of ethnic groups: he placed the Alans in the west, at the source of the Kuban River, the Ases to the east, then again the Alans – even further east, in the country of Ardoz (ZUCKERMAN C. 2005: 78).
The lack of reliable historical evidence gave grounds for Abaev to draw a hasty conclusion about the Ossetian text on the stele and declare the existence of Ossetian writing in the Middle Ages. However, other data supporting this conclusion have not yet been discovered. Having my own opinion about the ethnicity of the Alans, I think that the inscription was made in a language close to Old English. I wrote the clearer signs on the stele as follows: … Saxe đefoi … arg paka bar paka đae fogrt an pal an aps lane fogrt laka netđer đ ođ…. It is clear from the text that a Saxon was buried at this place, but I do not dare to give my full decryption to this passage in the hope that specialists in the Old English language can do it.
News of the Alans in the Caucasus came from travelers in the Caucasus until the 18th century. The last evidence of the presence of the Alans north of the Klukhor pass in the amount of “one thousand souls” was the message of Jan Potocki in 1797 (ZUCKERMAN C. 2005: 82).
Restoring the prehistory of the Anglo-Saxons in a wide area of Eastern Europe, it should be noted that most of them were not directly related to the Alans. While the Alans, who settled on the Northern Black Sea coast and remained there until the arrival of the Huns, the Angles and Saxons the Angles and Saxons moved their way towards Germany, and from there they already reached the British Isles. The study of Anglo-Saxon place names in Central and Eastern Europe helps to restore the picture. As in the case with the mass migration of peoples, part of migrants remains always at the place of temporary residence. The rest of tribesmen set out again after some time (a year or two or more). So a chain of settlements, whose names often survived to our time, arises along the way. In our case, we have two such chains of the Anglo-Saxon place names, one which crossed central Poland, and the second goes along the Carpathian Mountains and through the Moravian Gate to Bohemia. Obviously, the Angles moved through central Poland and then through northern Germany. The Saxons came in Bohemia and through the valley of the Elbe River entered Germany where the states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt is now. Here, most of them stayed permanently. The other part has moved on to the North Sea coast where is now the state of Lower Saxony.
One of the evidence of movement of the Anglo-Saxons through Poland, the name of the village Czorsztyn in Lesser Poland Voivodeship was decoded as "jutting rock" (OE. scorian "to jut out", stān "stone, rock"). Really, there is in this village a steep rock on the shore of the reservoir formed by the Dunajec River (see. photo at the right). Similar words are or were present in German (OHG scorra "rock", Ger. Stein "stone"). In addition, there are in Poland several settlements which contain the component sztyn (Wolsztyn, Falshtyn and possibly others), all they can have as German (Teutonic) as Anglo-Saxon origin. Anglo-Saxon origin may be assumed more justified only if they are part of a chain or cluster of names as can seen in the case with Czorstyn. However many place names in the band passing through the Central Poland have clear Anglo-Saxon origin. For example, the name of the village of Kornaty can be interpreted using OE. corn "grain", ate "oats". Another fact is more interesting. There are in the band ten settlements called Konotop and four called Konotopy. These names have Slavic appearances, but the fact that they are so numerous with questionable Slavic interpretation and that they form a strip, caused to assume their non-Slavic origin. Only the Anglo-Saxon origin could such opportunity be provided. The movement of the Saxons through Czech Republic is marked by place names such as the Olomouc, Chrudim and several others, including the component tyn corresponding OE tūn "village". Interpretation of other place names can be found in The Complete List of Anglo-Saxon Place Names in Continental Europe
With the beginning of the Hun invasion, the Alans who remained in Eastern Europe were forced to seek new lands for the settlement. Some of them, along with the Visigoths, went west and at the end-ends their remains ended up in Africa, where they disappeared without a trace. A small part of the Alans went to the mountains of the Caucasus, but most of them migrated through the Central Russian Plain to the Upper Volga and for a long time continued to play a prominent role in history until they were finally assimilated among the larger surrounding population (see Anglo-Saxons at Sources of Russian Power, The Development of Siberia and Far East by the Anglo-Saxons).
In the corpus of historical sources about the time of the "Great Migration of Peoples" one cannot but include the Old Englsh poem "Widsith" ("The Traveller's Song"), and I thank Antoni Wręga for this straight tip. In its final form, the poem took shape no later than the 7th century, but was based on more ancient Germanic legends. A wandering poet (OE. scop "singer") mentions meetings on his way with persons "whose historical prototypes lived at different times between the 3rd and 6th centuries." (SMOTRITSKAYA O.A. 1982: 251). He reports that he arrived at the court of the Ostrogoth king Ermanarich (IV c.) from the east from the country of Ongel, understood as England, which puzzles researchers of the text of the poem ( ibid.: 253). Some of them even believe that the text of the poem should be amended in the sense that the singer came to the king from the west (ANSCOMBE ALFRED. 1915: 126).
The author lists the numerous tribes and names of kings, which he visited during his wanderings and repeatedly calls the Huns and (Hred) Goths the first, but, surprisingly, he never mentions the Alans and their kings. This can be explained by the fact that this was not necessary, for he himself was an Alan. On the other hand, it was dangerous to wander alone in those turbulent times, which makes us assume that he traveled with the Alans.
Talking about the Anglo-Saxon presence in Eastern Europe at the Scythian-Sarmatian times, we cannot ignore the similarities of the ethnonyms "Saks" and "Saxons". The Saks were a Scythian tribe which settled in Central Asia, but their language is unknown. One can judge it only on certain words. One of such word is the name of one of the Sakian leaders Skunha. This "Sak Skunha" was depicted on the monuments during the Achaemenid’s epoch, consisting of several rock-hewn figures and inscriptions on them (a few hundred kilometres from Hamadan). As can be seen from the inscription that Darius seized Skunha and captured /mastered his country. Searching for the explanations of Skunha’s name was carried out by using Iranian languages and for this purpose, Os sk'uänxun (Digorian dialect) and sk'uyxyn (Irons dialect) with the same sense of "to different" have been involved. Participle of the verb, from which these words originate, could mean "famous", "valiant" (FREIMAN A.A. 1948: 239). This explanation is convincing enough, but the scientific objectivity makes checking other options just persuasive. A. Freiman believed that the Ossetian word is cognate with other Iranian words and has also a match in some Indo-European languages which are based on the concept of "pay attention". However, there is OEscunian “to avoid" (an obscure origin) and having no matches in the other Germanic languages. Semantic relation, albeit remote, exists with the Ossetian word (for example, the source sense could be "to separate, distinguish”), so it's possible they have a common origin. These considerations suggest that the issue of ethnicity of the Saks yet cannot be resolved definitively.
ANGLO-SAXONS AT SCYTHIAN TIME
GERMANIC TRIBES AMONG SARMATS