--- In cybalist@..., george knysh <gknysh@...> wrote:
> ****GK: Piotr is quite correct of course. A small
> corollary: some Alanic tribes WERE Avestan (the groups
> which arrived in the Crimea in the late 2nd and early
> 3rd c. AD, and which founded SUGDEIA, later SUROZH,
> contemporary SUDAK, and temporarily renamed FEODOSYA
> as "ARTABDA".)******
V. I. Abaev insists that none of the Alans were Zoroastrian.
In "The Pre-Christian Religion of the Alans" he writes:
"In the information that has come down to us about the
religion of the Scythians, Massagetae and Alans there is
no hint of any Zoroastrism. The names of the Scythian
gods preserved by Herodotus have nothing in common with
the names of Zoroastrian divinities. The Zoroastrian
elements in the Saka language (see above) were adopted,
apparently, not in the original Saka homeland but only
after part of the Saka had moved to Khotan."
"I have no thought of reconstructing the pre-Christian
beliefs of the Alans as a complete system, but only some
of its fragments. However, even these fragments suffice
to show that the religious conceptions of the Ossetians
have some ancient Iranian, even ancient Indo-European
elements, but no Zoroastrian elements whatsoever."
"Does the Ossetic language preserve the names of any of
the Iranian gods?
As might have been expected, no trace of the supreme
Zoroastrian god Ahuramazda has been found in it. One
does find, however, the name of the pre-Zoroastrian god
Vayu, whose cult dated back to deep antiquity, to the
epoch of the Aryan (Indo-Iranian) and even the Indo-
"The information on the Scythian gods given by Herodotus
in book IV of his "History" has long attracted attention
and been made the subject of frequent commentary. But no
one to my knowledge has paid attention to the number of
Scythian gods mentioned. Yet their number is significant
- seven (unless we count Poseidon Thagimasadas, whom only
the royal Scythians worshipped): Tabiti, Papai, Api,
Oitosyros, Artimpasa, "Heracles", "Ares". Herodotus
emphasises that the Scythians worship these gods only.
Is the figure seven an accidental one? Apparently not.
The anonymous author of the Periplus of Pontus Euxinus
(V c. A.D.) states that the city of Theodosia in the
Crimea "is called in the Alan or Tauric language Ardábda,
which means having 'seven gods' (heptátheos). Contrary
to doubts that have been voiced, there is no reason to
seek any inaccuracy in the testimony of the anonymous
author either as to the Alan name of Theodosia or its
interpretation. The Alans undoubtedly had a cult of
"the seven gods" which held an important place in their
religion. Finally, the same cult is known to have
existed among the descendants of the Alans, the Ossetians.
The shrine of "Avd dzwary" or "the seven gods"situated
near the village of Galiat was noted by Vs. Miller.¹²
Thus the cult of the seven gods may be traced back with
amazing constancy over a vast periond from the Herodotean
Scythians through the Alans down to the modern Ossetians.
It may be pointed out at the same time that the seven
Scythian gods, by their names and functions, differ from
the seven "Amshaspands" of Zoroastrianism (Ahura-Mazda,
Vohu Manah, Asa vahista, etc.). The seven-god pantheon
was an ancient all-Aryan convention independently inherited
by both the Scythians and Zoroasttians. (Cf. the seven
Vedic Aditya¹³). Retaining the seven-gods pattern, each
Indo-Iranian people filled it with its own substance
corresponding to the level of its economic, social and
"The conclusion we draw from all the above data is as
The pre-Christian religion of the Alans was a
synthesis of two elements: pre-Zoroastrian Iranian
(including a number of specific traits characteristic
of the Scythian-Massagetae group) and substratic Caucasian,
which began to penetrate the religion of the Alans from
the time of their appearance in the Caucasus, i.e. from
the first centuries of our era.
Zoroastrism left no appriciable trace on the religion
of the Alans."