--- In cybalist@..., george knysh <gknysh@...> wrote:
> --- David Russell Watson <liberty@...> wrote:
> > "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.
> *****GK: The Scythians are not the late Alanic group
> > I referred to.****
> > 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."
> *****GK: Nothing to do with my point either.******
In these two quotes Abaev is only beginning the argument.
Here he starts by precluding the possibility of Zoroastrianism
among the 'Proto-Scythians'. In the second quote he explains
that apparently Zoroastrian elements in Khotanese are later
borrowings. The book contained only a few quotes specifically
referring to Zoroastrianism, so I included all of them. I
apologize if I included more than was relevant to your point.
> *****GK: The Alanic group I mentioned was not
> "Ossetian" in Abaev's sense. Does he consider
> everything historically identifiable as "Alanic" to be
> "Ossetian"? Including those Alans who wound up in the
> West? If so, this would be a major terminological
> fallacy. Even of those who stayed in the East, to
> repeat, only some evolved into the modern
No, I don't believe that Abaev considers Ossetians to be
the only Alans, only Ossetian culture to be the only surviving
remnant of old Alanic culture available for comparison.
Again, he's starting his case by precluding the possibility
of Zoroastrianism at a common Alanic, or 'Proto-Alanic'
> > "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".
> *****GK: Again, the Scythians have nothing to do with
> the Alanic group I mentioned. BTW the only Scythians
> we can identify unequivocally with Iranian-speakers
> are precisely those "Royals" who worshipped not seven
> but eight gods.*****
I'm not familiar with the evidence that the other Scythians
spoke a language different from that of the Royals, so I
can't really say, but the fact that they worshipped seven
out of eight of the same gods makes me think that they
might have belonged to more or less the same culture. In
any case Abaev's point was not to equate these Scythians
with the Alanic group which you mentioned, only to lay the
groundwork for the argument that "The seven-god pantheon
was an ancient all-Aryan convention independently inherited
by both the Scythians and Zoroastrians. (Cf. the seven Vedic
Aditya). Retaining the seven-gods pattern, each Indo-Iranian
people filled it with its own substance corresponding to the
level of its economic, social and cultural development." or in
other words, that the 'avd' in 'Ardavda' need not have referred
to the seven Amesha Spenta of Zorostrianism, and so isn't
evidence that it was practiced by the Crimean Alans. He adds
to this point further when he writes "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. Thus the cult of the seven gods
may be traced back with amazing constancy over a vast period
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.)."
> *****GK: But the decisive argument for the existence of
> Zoroastrian practices among some Alanic groups of Eastern
> Europe is the confirmed presence of the Zoroastrian burial
> rite in gravesites of the Saltov culture (8th and 9th
> c.)as well as in areas of ancient Kyiv associated with
> the "Khazars". I guess Abaev didn't know this?
This is what I really wanted to know myself. What evidence,
besides the name of Ardavda, is there that any Alans were
ever Zoroastrian? This you've answered by pointing out the
Zoroastrian burials. Although I'm curious as to what such a
burial is like. Didn't Zoroastrians practice exposure? Are
these burials ossuaries? Also, isn't a burial attributed to
Alans in the first place based on evidence of the type of rite?
If these burials were decidedly Zoroastrian, and therefore not
typically Alanic, then what additional evidence was present to
prove that they were also Alanic?
> BTW some of the Alans of Eastern Europe also adopted
> Judaism. We have Donetz inscriptions which attempt to
> write Iranic words in Hebrew script.*****
This is very interesting, though of course I never doubted the
ability of Alans to convert to other religions, since early on
many converted to Western or Eastern Christianity, or Islam.
You don't suppose you could post the Donetz inscriptions
or tell where they could be found online or elsewhere, do
you? Do you know to which stage of Alanic they're attributed?
Are there only isolated words or are whole phrases or sentences