Sarmatians, a forgotten prehistorical tribe of Europe?

Pick any book on the ancient history of Balkans and among the first known native tribes, you will see Thracian, Dacian, Tribalian and Illyrian people. However, there was another group whose significant historical presence is often overlooked by historians, despite substantial evidence confirming their activities in the area. They were the Sarmatians.

Who were the Sarmatians?

The first mention of Sarmatians comes from Herodotus, in the 5th century BC. He claims that they are of Scythian stock, a mixture of Scythian warriors and Amazonian women to be more precise. Herodotus actually dedicates a lot of pages of his “History” to Scythians and Sarmatians. The reason for this – he got all the info first-hand. Or to quote him: “It is not hard to get information from Scythians, as they all like to talk a lot”.

These tribes had a presence even in ancient Greece, engaging primarily in trade activities, notably in wheat, as documented by Herodotus. He also mentions a few cases of Scythian rulers who got killed by their own people for getting dangerously charmed with Greek cults and culture and forgetting the Scythian ways.


Herodotus is also probably the main reason that no one seriously considers the possibility of prehistorical Europe as a part of Sarmatian territory. He clearly places Sarmatians above the sea of Azov. Namely, once the Scythian warriors had mixed with the Amazonian women, the Amazons asked them to move to a neutral territory.

“And crossing the Triver Don, they went a three days journey east from the river, and a three days’ journey north from Sea of Azov” Hdt. 4.116

But funny enough, in his detailed account of the Persian invasion of Scythia, he marks the Danube river as a border with Scythia. He does not mention Dacians, which you would expect to see there as a native tribe of modern-day Romania. In fact, Herodotus does not mention Dacians at all. For him, the Romanian side of Danube is already Scythia. (See Scythia Minor)

Almost seven centuries after the account of Herodotus, Ptolemy’s map confirms that Sarmatians are still in the general area that Herodotus described as their homeland. To be more precise, Ptolemy marked this area as “Sarmatia Asiatica”, as by his time Sarmatians had already spread from the Black Sea to Baltic.

The tribes of Sarmatia Asiatica VS the tribes of the Balkans

This map shows that the Amazonian tribe was still present in Sarmatia in Ptolemy’s time, there where Herodotus had located them seven centuries earlier. In the same area, we see tribes of Sirbi, Albani, Suardeni, and Tauri. The Suardeni could be the same as Sardani, people of the seas, mentioned in my post Bes, Egyptian god that is not Egyptian.

Interestingly enough, on Ptolemy’s maps of the Balkans, we may see these same tribes. There was a tribe called Albani on the territory of modern-day Albania, and we a city called Serbinum, on the territory of the modern-day Republic of Srpska (modern Srbac). As for the tribe of Taurisci, we know that they lived in the modern-day Slovenia, and Pannonia, Serbia. They had probably given the name to the ancient city of Zemun, which was called Taurunum by Romans.

Now, the Romans had many military campaigns against Sarmatians in Balkans. One such a detailed account is by Ammianus Marcellinus in his “Rerum Gestarum” written at the beginning of IV century AD.  Amm. 17.12. (click to read the full text)

We clearly see from this account that the Roman base for campaigns against Sarmatians was in Sirmium, in the region of Serbia today known as Srem, and called “Syrmia” by Romans. If the name “Syrmia” indeed originates from the Sarmatians, it would support the idea that the Sarmatians were in the area before the Romans. However, according to mainstream historical interpretations linked to Sirmium, the name is thought to mean “flow,” “flowing water,” or “wetland” in the Thracian language. (?)

No mention of Sarmatians at all, despite the fact that most important campaigns from Sirmium were against them, which even gave the emperor attribute “Sarmaticus“. Hmmm, I would be really curious to see how these same historians would explain the etymology of the Roman city “Sarmates“, modern-day Paracin, Serbia…

Luckily, we do not need this sort of etymologies to prove that Sarmatians were present in Balkans. There are enough ancient accounts on this topic.

Now, even though Herodotus does not mention Dacians, he does mention the Geatae, a Thracian tribe as a native tribe of Romania. Some believe that they are the same as Goths, some not. But anyway, Sarmats and Geatae in Romania? So the ancient Romanian capital of Sarmizegetusa, surely means “A city of Sarmatians and Getae”? Well not really according to our “historians”, just click the link and choose one of the bizarre theories proposed there. My favorite is “Palace illuminating the world of life” (?) *Note – Wikipedia article has been updated with this etymology in February 2016, three months after this article is published.

Moreover, besides being close to Pannonia, from where Romans were campaigning against Sarmatians, Sarmizegetusa is very close to modern-day Timisoara. The name of this city has a strange resemblance to Themiscyra, the capital of Amazons according to Herodotus, but yes, this just has to be another coincidence too…

According to 10th-century Byzanthian chronicle “De Administrando Imperio” Serbs and Croats came to Balkans from the Northern Europe. But that same text mentions tribes with the same names above the sea of Azov. How can we really explain all these similarities between names if not trough Sarmatians?

On the side note, if Serbs and Croats really came for the first time in Balkans in the 6th century, conquered the local non-Slavic population and brought the Slavic language with them, what is the case with Slovenians, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Bulgarians? All of these people came from Bohemia? Really? Because at the same time of this supposed migration, in 680 AD, when Bulgar tribes had entered Bulgaria, they imposed their rule over a dominant Slavic population, hence Slavic language remained to this date. How can this be possible if Slavs were not already present on Balkans in large numbers?

Sarmatians of Western Europe

Even in pre-Roman Portugalia, we see the same tribes again – Seurbi and Seurri, Albiones, Tarbell (Tribal?) and Neri, which was another name for Taurisci.

Can this also be a coincidence? Hardly so, because Sorbs in Germany are still called “Lusatians” to this date. This is all easily explainable if we consider that some of the “Gaulish” tribes were actually Sarmatian. As Herodotus describes, Scyths and Sarmatians were nomads. Their houses were on wagons, always on the move. It would not be strange to see them in different parts of the continent. Also, they are the ones who first mastered the horse riding, one of the main attributes of Celts and Gauls. They had horse-burials, just like Celts and Gauls. And they are the ones who brought Indo-European language and R1 haplogroup to Europe. These are the facts accepted by mainstream historians.

But this means that a very early contact had to be made, much earlier than those same historians are willing to accept. In my article, Genetics speaks – who is who on Balkans I presented official data on how Sarmatian haplogroup R1 had spread into Europe. The first contact was in Balkans as early as 4200BC! This is a scientific data that has not yet been explained by the official history.

R1a migration
R1a migration Source:

If this is true, can we assume that Sarmatians were indeed one of the earliest tribes of Europe? That would mean that Serbs, Croats, and Albanians still carry their name, even though genetically Balkan people are a mixture of (less) Sarmatian R1a and (more) Mesolithic Europeans (Lepenski Vir and Vinca culture) while Sarmatians left more of their DNA in Northern Slavic countries, like Poland, Ukraine, and Russia.

And maybe this is too much guesswork, but Vinca culture is a perfect candidate for the homeland of Amazonians. We do know that up to its demise, brought by a warrior culture from the east, they lived in matriarchate for several millennia, making almost no other images but those of mother-goddesses. Vinca culture actually officially ends in the same year, 4200BC, at the exact same time that R1a appears on Balkans. Indeed, ancient authors do place origins of Amazonians in Turkey, as well as around the river Don in Ukraine. But Vinca was in the middle of this area.

In any case, Slavic language had to come from somewhere on Balkans and these are the only two dominant haplogroups in Balkan DNA. If Scythians really spoke only an Iranian language, than that of native tribes had to be some form of Slavic? Herodotus claims that Sarmatian is a spoiled version of Scythian because Amazonians never learned it properly.

Anyhow, for a country to bear the name of a smaller group of invaders is nothing new on Balkans. Some of the known examples from more recent history are Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungaria. Do we have the same case here, just at earlier historical times? The fact remains that Serbs and Croats cannot explain their names via Slavic etymologies. The fact also remains that Sarmatian Serboi inhabited the very passage from Scythia to Babel. And as described by Herodotus, trough this passage Scythians had conquered Babel and they had ruled there for 28 years.

Is this the real story behind the Slavic medieval chronicles described in my article Did Serbs construct the tower of Babel? Is this also the reason why the medieval seat of power of the Poles, genetically purest Sarmatian nation, was the Wawel castle built just around the time when Slavic chronicles link origin of Slavs (trough Serbs) with Babel? And if R1a migration went by the upper Danube to Poland, could it also carry the Slavic language. Is his why medieval chronicles claim Slavic origin from Serbs?

Can Sarmatian connection also explain the megalithic site of Babele in Romania? This word has a very strange resemblance to “balbal” or “baba” Scythian stones, placed since times immemorial to commemorate ancestors and which left traces in so many of Balkan toponyms like “Baba’s tooth” on Balkan mountain. (“Baba” in Balkans means “grandmother”.) And while at Romanians, why does the name of Dacian king Decebalus sound like “Lord of Dacians” if we replace “balus” with “Baal” – a “lord” in the languages of Levant?

Why does the ancient name of the Danube river – Ister, sound so much like Ishtar, Babylonian goddess of fertility? And why is it so hard to tell Scythian gold from Thracian? Or why these golden artifacts resemble so much those from Assyria and Babylon? So many questions to be answered, but the most important – is there much more on Sarmatians to be told but we don’t know it simply because we lean too much on Roman historians who didn’t bother to glorify the enemy, a “barbaric” nation that was about to be assimilated into the new world order of the glorious Roman empire?




  1. It will be nice to know something about Cimmerians or Cimri people. Serbian dynasty Nemanjic had that name on their family coat of arms.

  2. In ancient Slavic letter “B” was pronounced as a “w” . Even now many Slavic countries uses it , so this would mean that ancient Babel is Wawel

  3. Interesting article. I study this subject for some time now. Clearly, traditional history depictions avoid comprehensive view of Sarmatia for some time now. Wikipedia doesn’t even have “Sarmatia” article at all, only “Sarmatians”. Also, I agree with the Author of this article that “we lean too much on Roman historians who didn’t bother to glorify the enemy.” That is clearly apparent from the titles Roman emperors assumed in Marcomannic Wars against German and Sarmatic tribes (“de Germanis” and “de Sarmatis”).

    I suppose, since this is more difficult area of research, interdisciplinary approach is required, such as linguistics, archeology, genetics, anthropology, historiosophy, or political history. Also, a wide area that Sarmatia once covered crosses the boundaries of several countries. Curious fact is that a legendary and not acknowledged by academic historians chronicle of Prokosz (written in Krakow in X century AD), names Sarmat (1800 BC) as the originator of Sarmatia. Of course this is not taken seriously by historians. But again, in India the name Sarma, Sarmat, or Sharma is a known family name in brahmin social class, so that points to the indo-european connection that linguistically and genetically is already strong.

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