Sacae

For other uses, see Saka (disambiguation).

Saka
East Iranian languages in the 1st century BC is shown in orange.
Total population
Unknown
Regions with significant populations
Central Asia
Pakistan
Northern India
Languages
Scythian language Sakan language
Religion
Scythian religion
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Iranians

The Saka (Old Persian Sakā; Sanskrit शाक Śāka; Greek Σάκαι; Latin Sacae; Old Chinese: *Sək) were a Scythian tribe or group of tribes of Iranian origin.[1]

Greek and Latin texts suggest that the term Scythians referred to Iranian tribes from the much more extensive region of Scythia, which included parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.[2][3]

Classical European and Persian accounts

B. N. Mukerjee has said that it is clear that ancient Greek and Roman scholars believed, all Sakai were Scythians, but not all Scythians were Sakai .[4]

Modern confusion about the identity of the Saka is partly due to the Persians. According to Herodotus, the Persians called all Scythians by the name Sakas.[5] Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, AD 23–79) provides a more detailed explanation, stating that the Persians gave the name Sakai to the Scythian tribes "nearest to them".[6] The Scythians to the far north of Assyria were also called the Saka suni "Saka or Scythian sons" by the Persians. The Assyrians of the time of Esarhaddon record campaigning against a people they called in the Akkadian the Ashkuza or Ishhuza.[7] Hugo Winckler was the first to associate them with the Scyths which identification remains without serious question. They were closely associated with the Gimirrai,[7] who were the Cimmerians known to the ancient Greeks. Confusion arose because they were known to the Persians as Saka, however they were known to the Babylonians as Gimirrai, and both expressions are used synonymously on the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 515 BC on the order of Darius the Great.[8] These Scythians were mainly interested in settling in the kingdom of Urartu, which later became Armenia. The district of Shacusen, Uti Province, reflects their name.[9] In ancient Hebrew texts, the Ashkuz (Ashkenaz) are considered to be a direct offshoot from the Gimirri (Gomer).[10]

Thus the Behistun inscription mentions four divisions of Scythians,

  • the Sakā paradraya "Saka beyond the sea" of Sarmatia,
  • the Sakā tigraxaudā "Saka with pointy hats/caps",
  • the Sakā haumavargā "haoma-drinking Saka"[11] (Amyrgians, the Saka tribe in closest proximity to Bactria and Sogdiana),
  • the Sakā para Sugdam "Saka beyond Sugda (Sogdiana)" at the Jaxartes.

Of these, the Sakā tigraxaudā were the Saka proper. The Sakā paradraya were the western Scythians or Sarmatians, the Sakā haumavargā and Sakā para Sugdam were likely Scythian tribes associated with or split-of from the original Saka.

Ancient South Asian accounts

Pliny also mentions Aseni and Asoi clans south of the Hindukush.[12] Bucephala was the capital of the Aseni which stood on the Hydaspes (the Jhelum River).[13] The Sarauceans and Aseni are the Sacarauls and Asioi of Strabo.[14]

. Asio, Asi/Asii, Asva/Aswa, Ari-aspi, Aspasios, Aspasii (or Hippasii) are possibly variant names the classical writers have given to the horse-clans of the Kambojas.[15] The Old-Persian words for horse, "asa" and "aspa, have most likely been derived from this."[16]

If one accepts this connection, then the Tukharas (= Rishikas = Yuezhi) controlled the eastern parts of Bactria (Chinese Ta-hia) while the combined forces of the Sakarauloi, Asio (horse people = Parama Kambojas) and Pasinoi of Strabo occupied its western parts after being displaced from their original home in the Fergana valley by the Yuezhi. Ta-hia (Daxia) is then taken to mean the Tushara Kingdom which also included Badakshan, Chitral, Kafirstan and Wakhan[17] According to other scholars, it were the Saka hordes alone who had put an end to the Greek kingdom of Bactria.[18]

History

Migrations of the 2nd and 1st century BC have left traces in Sogdiana and Bactria, but they cannot firmly be attributed to the Saka, similarly with the sites of Sirkap and Taxila in Pakistan. The rich graves at Tillya Tepe in Afghanistan are seen as part of a population affected by the Saka.[19]

Indo-Scythians

Main article: Indo-Scythians

Tadeusz Sulimirski notes that the Sacae also invaded parts of Northern India.[20] Weer Rajendra Rishi, and Indian linguist[21] has identified linguistic affinities between Indian and Central Asian languages, which further lends credence to the possibility of historical Sacae influence in Northern India.[20][22]

Kingdom of Khotan

Main article: Kingdom of Khotan

Language

Main article: Saka language

The language of the original Saka tribes is unknown. The only record from their early history is the Issyk inscription, a short fragment on a silver cup found in the Issyk kurgan.

The inscription is in a variant of the Kharoṣṭhī script, and is probably in a Saka dialect, constituting one of very few autochthonous epigraphic traces of that language. Harmatta (1999)[full citation needed] identifies the language as Khotanese Saka, tentatively translating "The vessel should hold wine of grapes, added cooked food, so much, to the mortal, then added cooked fresh butter on".

What is nowadays called the Saka language is the language of the kingdom of Khotan which was ruled by the Saka. This was gradually conquered and acculturated by the Turkic expansion to Central Asia beginning in the 4th century. The only known remnants of the Khotanese Saka language come from Xinjiang, China. The language there is widely divergent from the rest of Iranian belongs to the Eastern Iranian group. It also is divided into two divergent dialects. Both dialects share features with modern Wakhi and Pashto, but both of the Saka dialects contain many borrowings from the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit.[23]

See also

Notes

References

  • Bailey, H. W. 1958. "Languages of the Saka." Handbuch der Orientalistik, I. Abt., 4. Bd., I. Absch., Leiden-Köln. 1958.
  • Bailey, H. W. (1979). Dictionary of Khotan Saka. Cambridge University Press. 1979. 1st Paperback edition 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-14250-2.
  • Davis-Kimball, Jeannine. 2002. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines. Warner Books, New York. 1st Trade printing, 2003. ISBN 0-446-67983-6 (pbk).
  • Bulletin of the Asia Institute: The Archaeology and Art of Central Asia. Studies From the Former Soviet Union. New Series. Edited by B. A. Litvinskii and Carol Altman Bromberg. Translation directed by Mary Fleming Zirin. Vol. 8, (1994), pp. 37–46.
  • Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. John E. Hill. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation.
  • Lebedynsky, Iaroslav. (2006). Les Saces: Les <> d'Asie, VIIIe av. J.-C.-IVe siècle apr. J.-C. Editions Errance, Paris. ISBN 2-87772-337-2 (in French).
  • Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1970. "The Wu-sun and Sakas and the Yüeh-chih Migration." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 33 (1970), pp. 154–160.
  • Puri, B. N. 1994. "The Sakas and Indo-Parthians." In: History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp. 191–207.
  • Thomas, F. W. 1906. "Sakastana." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1906), pp. 181–216.
  • Yu, Taishan. 1998. A Study of Saka History. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 80. July, 1998. Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Yu, Taishan. 2000. A Hypothesis about the Source of the Sai Tribes. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 106. September, 2000. Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania.

External links

  • Jona Lendering
  • Article by Kivisild et al. on genetic heritage of early Indian settlers
  • Indian, Japanese and Chinese Emperors
cs:Šakové

kk:Сақалар ml:ശകര്‍ pl:Śakowie ur:سکاها

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