List of ancient Iranian peoples
This list of ancient Iranian peoples or ancient Iranic peoples includes names of Indo-European peoples speaking Iranian languages or otherwise considered Iranian in sources from the late 1st millennium BC to the early 2nd millennium AD.
The Iranian languages form a sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian sub-family, which is a branch of the family of Indo-European languages. Having descended from the Proto-Indo-Iranians, the Proto-Iranians separated from the Proto-Indo-Aryans early in the 2nd millennium BCE. The Proto-Iranians are traced to the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex, a Bronze Age culture of Central Asia. The area between Afghanistan and the Aral Sea is hypothesized to have been the region in which the Proto-Iranians first emerged, following the separation of Indo-Aryan tribes.
Iranian peoples first appear in Assyrian records in the 9th century BCE. In Classical Antiquity, they were found primarily in Scythia (located in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Northern Caucasus) and Persia (in Western Asia). They divided into "Western" and "Eastern" branches from an early period, roughly corresponding to the territories of Persia and Scythia, respectively. By the 1st millennium BCE, Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Parthians populated the Iranian plateau, while others such as the Scythians, Sarmatians, Cimmerians and Alans populated the steppes north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, as far as the Great Hungarian Plain in the west. The Saka tribes remained mainly in the far-east, eventually spreading as far east as the Ordos Desert (North-Central China).
During Late Antiquity, the Iranian populations of Scythia and Sarmatia in the Eurasian Steppe were marginalized and assimilated by Germanic, Slavic and Turkic migrations. By the 10th century, the Eastern Iranian languages were no longer spoken in many of the territories they were once spoken, with the exception of Pashto in Central Asia, Ossetic in the Northern Caucasus and other minor languages in Badakhshan. Various Persian empires flourished throughout Antiquity, and fell to the Islamic conquest in the 7th century.
- West Iranian
- Cyrtii (mentioned by Strabo and possible ancestor of Kurds according to Muhammad Dandamayev) (See Carduchi in Encyclopædia Iranica)
- Leucosyri (White Syrians)
- Sagartians (whose name survives in the name of the Zagros Mountains)
- East Iranian
- Alans (some times considered part of the Sarmatians)
- Kambojas (an Avestan speaking group of East Iranians living in what is now Afghanistan)
- Ashvakas: Scholars link the historical Afghans (modern Pashtuns) to the Ashvakas (the Ashvakayanas and Ashvayanas of Pāṇini or the Assakenoi and Aspasio of Arrian). The name Afghan is said to have derived from the Ashvakan of Sanskrit texts. Ashvakas are identified as a branch of the Kambojas
- Parama Kambojas, of the Alay Valley or Alay Mountains, north of Hindukush. In ancient Sanskrit texts, their territory was known as Kumudadvipa and it formed the southern tip of the Sakadvipa or Scythia. In classical literature, this people are known as Komedes. Indian epic Mahabharata designates them as Parama Kambojas
- Sogdians, possible ancestors of Yaghnobis
Possible Ancient Iranian peoples whose designation is uncertain
- Ashina Türks (uncertain, but highly possible)
- Bulgars (usually considered Turkic, but possibly containing Iranian elements)
- Cimmerians (uncertain, but highly probable)
- Hephthalites (uncertain, but highly probable)
- Kangju (probably identical to the Iranian Sogdians)
- Pannonian Avars (uncertain, but possible)
- Sigynnae (uncertain, but highly probable)
- Wusun (uncertain, but highly possible)
- Xiongnu (uncertain, but highly possible)
- Xionites (uncertain, but highly probable)
- Yuezhi (uncertain, but possible)
- List of Celtic tribes
- List of Germanic peoples
- List of Slavic tribes
- List of ancient Italic peoples
- List of Ancient Greek tribes
- History of Iranian peoples in Europe
- List of Rigvedic tribes
- Izady, Mehrdad R. "PERSIAN CARROT AND TURKISH STICK: Contrasting Policies Targeted at Gaining State Loyalty from Azeris and Kurds*." The International Journal of Kurdish Studies 3.2 (1989): 31.
- "The Paleolithic Indo-Europeans"—Panshin.com (retrieved 4 June 2006)
- Rüdiger Schmitt, "Cadusii" in Encyclopædia Iranica
- Rüdiger Schmitt in Encyclopædia Iranica, s.v. "Caspians"
- Scholars like V. S. Aggarwala etc locate the Kamboja country in Pamirs and Badakshan (Ref: A Grammatical Dictionary of Sanskrit (Vedic): 700 Complete Reviews.., 1953, p 48, Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala, Surya Kanta, Jacob Wackernagel, Arthur Anthony Macdonell, Peggy Melcher – India; India as Known to Pāṇini: A Study of the Cultural Material in the Ashṭādhyāyī, 1963, p 38, Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala – India; The North-west India of the Second Century B.C., 1974, p 40, Mehta Vasishtha Dev Mohan – Greeks in India; The Greco-Shunga period of Indian history, or, the North-West India of the second century B.C, 1973, p 40, India) and the Parama Kamboja further north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories (See: The Deeds of Harsha: Being a Cultural Study of Bāṇa's Harshacharita, 1969, p 199, Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala).
- Dr Michael Witzel also extends Kamboja including Kapisa/Kabul valleys to Arachosia/Kandahar (See: Persica-9, p 92, fn 81. Michael Witzel).
- Cf: "Zoroastrian religion had probably originated in Kamboja-land (Bacteria-Badakshan)....and the Kambojas spoke Avestan language" (Ref: Bharatiya Itihaas Ki Rup Rekha, p 229-231, Jaychandra Vidyalankar; Bhartrya Itihaas ki Mimansa, p 229-301, J. C. Vidyalankar; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 217, 221, J. L. Kamboj)
- "The name Afghan has evidently been derived from Asvakan, the Assakenoi of Arrian..." (Megasthenes and Arrian, p 180. See also: Alexander's Invasion of India, p 38; J. W. McCrindle)
- "Even the name Afghan is Aryan being derived from Asvakayana, an important clan of the Asvakas or horsemen who must have derived this title from their handling of celebrated breeds of horses" (See: Imprints of Indian Thought and Culture abroad, p 124, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan)
- "Afghans are Assakani of the Greeks; this word being the Sanskrit Ashvaka meaning 'horsemen" (Ref: Sva, 1915, p 113, Christopher Molesworth Birdwood)
- Mahabharata 2.27.25.
- Prichard Cowles, James. "Ethnography of Europe. 3d ed. p431. 1841". 17 January 2015. Houlston & Stoneman. Retrieved 17 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Nomads of the Steepes". March 2014. Regnal Chronologies. Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Prichard Cowles, James. "Ethnography of Europe. 3d ed. p433.1841". 17 January 2015. Houlston & Stoneman, 1841. Retrieved 17 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Golden, Peter B. (1 January 1992). An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis and State-formation in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East. O. Harrassowitz. pp. 119–122. ISBN 3-447-03274-X. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Sinor, Denis (January 1, 1996). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750: The First Türk Empire (553–682). UNESCO. p. 329. ISBN 9231032119. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Brook, Kevin Alan (27 September 2006). The Jews of Khazaria. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 13. ISBN 1-4422-0302-1. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
Thus, the Bulgars were actually a tribal confederation of multiple Hunnic, Turkic, and Iranian groups mixed together.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Bulgar". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
Although many scholars, including linguists, had posited that the Bulgars were derived from a Turkic tribe of Central Asia (perhaps with Iranian elements)...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Cimmerian". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
The origin of the Cimmerians is obscure. Linguistically they are usually regarded as Thracian or as Iranian, or at least to have had an Iranian ruling class.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Sinor, Denis (1 March 1990). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 300. ISBN 0-521-24304-1. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
There is no consensus concerning the Hephthalite language, though most scholars seem to think that it was Iranian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Sinor, Denis (1 March 1990). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-521-24304-1. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
... the K'ang-chii who were perhaps the Sogdians of Iranian stock...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Curta, Florin (2004). "The Slavic lingua franca (Linguistic notes of an archaeologist turned historian)". East Central Europe/L'Europe du Centre-Est. 31: 125–148. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
By contrast, there is very little evidence that speakers of Slavic had any significant contact with Turkic. As a consequence, and since the latest stratum of loan words in Common Slavic is Iranian in origin, Johanna Nichols advanced the idea that the Avars spoke an Iranian, not a Turkic language.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Sinor, Denis (1997). Aspects of Altaic Civilization III. Psychology Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-7007-0380-2. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
...it seems likely, the Wu-sun were an Indo-European, perhaps Iranian people...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Harmatta, János (January 1, 1994). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Development of Sedentary and Nomadic Civilizations, 700 B. C. to A.D 250: Conclusion. UNESCO. p. 488. ISBN 9231028464. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
Their royal tribes and kings (shan-yii) bore Iranian names and all the Hsiung-nu words noted by the Chinese can be explained from an Iranian language of Saka type. It is therefore clear that the majority of Hsiung-nu tribes spoke an Eastern Iranian language.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Felix, Wolfgang. "CHIONITES". Encyclopædia Iranica. Bibliotheca Persica Press. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
CHIONITES... a tribe of probable Iranian origin that was prominent in Bactria and Transoxania in late antiquity.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "History of Central Asia: Early Eastern Peoples". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
... in the second half of the 2nd century bce the Xiongnu, at the height of their power, had expelled from their homeland in western Gansu (China) a people probably of Iranian stock, known to the Chinese as the Yuezhi and called Tokharians in Greek sources.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Ancient Iran: The movement of Iranian peoples". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
At the end of the 3rd century, there began in Chinese Turkistan a long migration of the Yuezhi, an Iranian people who invaded Bactria about 130 bc, putting an end to the Greco-Bactrian kingdom there. (In the 1st century bc they created the Kushān dynasty, whose rule extended from Afghanistan to the Ganges River and from Russian Turkistan to the estuary of the Indus.)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- H. Bailey, "ARYA: Philology of ethnic epithet of Iranian people", in Encyclopædia Iranica, v, pp. 681–683, Online-Edition, Link
- A. Shapur Shahbazi, "Iraj: the eponymous hero of the Iranians in their traditional history" in Encyclopædia Iranica, Online-Edition, Link
- R. Curzon, "The Iranian Peoples of the Caucasus", ISBN 0-7007-0649-6
- Jahanshah Derakhshani, "Die Arier in den nahöstlichen Quellen des 3. und 2. Jahrtausends v. Chr.", 2nd edition, 1999, ISBN 964-90368-6-5
- Richard Frye, "Persia", Zurich, 1963