Classical Records and German Origins, Part Four

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Part Four,   By: William Finck   © 2007

Proceeding from where we left off in Part Three of this essay, and Strabo’s discussion of the usage by earlier writers of the terms “... ‘Scythians’ or ‘Celtoscythians’ ... ‘Hyperboreans,’ ‘Sauromatians,’ and ... ‘Arimaspians,’ and ... ‘Sacians’ and ... ‘Massagetans’”, we have seen that Hyperborean was merely a descriptive term. Now it is appropriate to commence by discussing the others, the Sarmatians and Arimaspians, and then the Scythians of Asia, before returning to a discussion of Europe. The Sarmatians, as Diodorus Siculus tells us, were a people taken from the Medes, and so they are Japhethite Slavs, related to the Thracians (Madai and Tiras, Gen. 10:2). Said to have been settled along the Tanaïs river by the Scythians, Diodorus also later tells us that some writers reckoned them as Scythians (Library of History, 2.43.6-7; 4. 45.4). Strabo was among those writers who did so, where he said “On the right, as one sails into the Caspian Sea, are those Scythians, or Sarmatians, who live in the country contiguous to Europe between the Tanaïs River and this sea; the greater part of them are nomads, of whom I have already spoken” (Geography, 11.6.2), and indeed Strabo had said earlier that the Sarmatians, “these too being Scythians”, dwelt near the Caspian Sea (11.2.1). Tacitus distinguished the Sarmatians from the Germans, and specifically by physical appearance (The Germania, 46), and by his time the Sarmatians had also migrated to the west of the Tanaïs, surely contributing to the westward movement of the Scythians into Europe. The Arimaspians are mentioned by Diodorus Siculus as a branch of the Scythians (Library of History, 2.43.5), yet little else is found concerning Scythians with this name. Strabo only tells us of them that, according to Aristeas, they are a one-eyed people. Strabo later called Aristeas, who wrote an epic about the Arimaspians, “a charlatan if ever there was one” (Geography, 1.2.10; 13.1.16).

However obscure the Arimaspians are, much more is known of those Scythians of Asia: “... the eastern Scythians, also nomads, who extend as far as the Eastern Sea and India ... and they called those who lived across the Caspian Sea in part ‘Sacians’ [Sakae, or Sakans] and in part ‘Massagetans,’ but they were unable to give any accurate account of them, although they reported a war between Cyrus and the Massagetans” (Geography, 11.6.2). Here Strabo refers to accounts such as the one related by Herodotus (The Histories, 1:201-216), who tells us of Cyrus’ campaign against these Scythians, which took place north of Media and the Araxes river (the modern Aras), in modern Armenia and Azerbaijan. Early in his Geography, Strabo states: “Indeed, the spread of the empires of the Romans and of the Parthians has presented to geographers of to-day a considerable addition to our empirical knowledge of geography, just as did the campaign of Alexander to geographers of earlier times, as Eratosthenes points out ... the Parthians have increased our knowledge in regard to Hyrcania and Bactriana, and in regard to the Scythians who live north of Hyrcania and Bactriana, all of which countries were but imperfectly known to the earlier geographers” (1.2.1). Yet Strabo, writing a geography, is often much more interested in a knowledge of the land and its features and resources than he is in the people, although he was also a historian, and Herodotus’ comments concerning the people of these regions generally concur with Strabo.

While Herodotus did repeat some fantastic tales concerning the various tribes of the Scythians (i.e. The Histories, 4:100-117), much of the information he had is of historical value, once it is separated from the myths. For instance, he describes one tribe, the Budini (cf. 4:21-22), and says that they “are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair”, and live near the Borysthenes, the modern Dnieper river (4:108). Also of great value is his enumeration of men from various Scythian tribes among the Persian army of Xerxes which invaded Greece circa 480 B.C., and which is corroborated by Persian inscriptions, where it is evident that many of the Scythian tribes and nations of the east were at that time subject to the Persians (7:64-67). Discussing the army of Xerxes, Herodotus often used the term Sakae, or Sakans, in place of Scythians (i.e. 7:96, 184; 8:113; 9:113). That Scythians were subject to the Persians is also evident in the list of the satrapies of the Persian empire which Herodotus provided (3:90-94). The “Bactrian tribes” are listed as the twelfth Persian satrapy, and “Sacans and Caspians” together in the fifteenth, with “Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians and Arians” making up the sixteenth satrapy. By this it may be evident, the Scythians of Europe also being identified as Sakae (i.e. Strabo, Geography, 7.3.9), that these tribes didn’t simply migrate, but had multiplied and spread out.

Some of the tales which Herodotus repeated concerning various Scythian tribes are found in other Greek writers. For instance, Herodotus mentions a tribe called the Androphagi, or Man-eaters (The Histories, 4:106), and Strabo relates tales of cannibalism among certain Scythians (Geography, 7.3.6, 7, 9), repeating earlier writers. Elsewhere Herodotus says of the Tauri, the name which the Greeks gave to the Scythians of the Crimea and neighboring Black Sea coasts (Strabo Geography, 7.4.5), that they sacrifice the shipwrecked and other foreigners found in their territory (The Histories, 4:103). For this the Tauri were the subjects of a play by Euripides, in which they appear quite anachronistically at the time of the Trojan War, being parodied in his Iphigeneia Among The Taurians as sacrificers of those unfortunate enough to have fallen upon their shores. Herodotus also described other tribes of Scythians who had settled in one place and were engaged in husbandry, i.e. the “Scythian Husbandmen” who dwelt about the Borysthenes (4:17, 18, 52, 54), and those of the Budini who had mixed with certain Greeks and inhabited a city called Gelônus (4:108, 109). Yet many others of the Scythian tribes of Asia, such as the Caspians, Bactrians, Sogdians, etc., certainly also must have been settled, due to the nature of their circumstances, being under the Persian yoke. Such would require the payment of tribute to Persia, money and goods from trade and husbandry and agriculture.

Diodorus Siculus relates that the “Scythians known as the Sacae” dwell to the north of India (Library of History, 2.35.1). Very close to this region bodies of Caucasians with reddish hair and clad in tartan-like garments have recently been found. Called the “Tarim Mummies”, they date to within a few centuries before the start of the Christian era, the same time that the Classical Greek historians cited here were writing. See, for instance, “Tracking the Tarim Mummies”, Archaeology, Archaeological Institute of America, March-April 2001, p. 76. Diodorus tells us that these Scythians originated along the Araxes River, northwest of Media (2.43.1-5). Strabo informs us that the “Scythians north of Hyrcania and in Bactriana” (which corresponds roughly with present-day Tajikistan) are known to the west from the Parthians (Geography, 1.2.1), and in his eleventh book he discussed them at length. There he states: “Now the greater part of the Scythians, beginning at the Caspian Sea, are called Däae, but those who are situated more to the east than these are named Massagetae and Sacae, whereas all the rest are given the general name of Scythians” (11.8.2). Later he says that the Däae are not considered Scythians by all, and indeed Herodotus thought they were a Persian tribe (Daans in Rawlinson’s translation; The Histories, 1:125). In Part Three of this essay they are associated with the Daï (Strabo), or Dii (Thucydides) of Europe, an identification which Strabo refused to make. Strabo tells us that some of the Däae are called Aparni (Geography, 11.7.1), and has these among the number of the Scythians led by Arsaces who established themselves as the Parthians (11.9.2), who were indeed Scythians (11.8.2). Strabo also describes a tribe called the Siginni who dwelt in the mountains near the Caspian Sea, and who “imitate the Persians in all their customs, except that they use ponies that are small and shaggy, which, though unable to carry a horseman, are yoked together in a four-horse team” (11.11.8), and this description matches perfectly those Sigynnae of Herodotus, who dwelt north of the Danube and were “colonists of the Medes” (see Part Two of this essay), and therefore these two groups must have been originally from the same tribe, some having migrated westward at an early time. Note that often among the Greeks, “Mede” stood for either Persian or Mede, especially among the Tragic Poets contemporary with Herodotus.

With Alexander the Great, the Greeks had conquered all of the old Persian empire as far as Bactriana, which bordered upon India and was inhabited by Scythians, and Strabo explains that each of the Scythian tribes had a name of its own, though they were generally known as Scythians, and that “They are all for the most part nomads”, where it is evident that Scythian identifies a race, and is not merely a synonym for nomad. Of Bactria, Strabo then says “But the best known of the nomads are those who took away Bactriana from the Greeks, I mean the Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli, who originally came from the country on the other side of the Iaxartes River [the modern Syr Darya] that adjoins that of the Sacae and the Sogdiani and was occupied by the Sacae” (11.8.2). The “Tarim Mummies” have been thought by many archaeologists to be of Tocharian or related stock. Even tribes east of Sogdiana, where the Tarim Basin is located, are identified as Scythian, Strabo says, “from their identity in kind” (11.11.6). Of the Sacae and Massagetae, the largest Scythian tribes of the east, “who lived across [east of] the Caspian Sea” (11.6.2), Strabo says they are one “tribe”, or nation (Greek ethnos), and he names several divisions among them (11.8.8).

Strabo errantly supposed that the Sakae of Sacasene, a district of Armenia which had its name from the Sakae, had migrated there from Asia, as if the Scythians had originated in the far east (Geography, 11.8.4). Rather, from Diodorus Siculus we see that the Scythians originated near Sacasene, which is not far from the Araxes river (Library of History, 2.43.1-5; cf. Strabo, Geography, 11.14. 3-4 for these locations). Diodorus’ version of Scythian origins is better corroborated by the general historical record, that Strabo himself helps to attest. While Herodotus tells us that the Scythians ruled all of Asia for a time following the fall of Assyria (The Histories, 1.104), Strabo rather anachronistically identifies this same period by saying that “Greater Armenia ruled the whole of Asia” (Geography, 11. 13.5), meaning the Scythians, or Sakae. This is the same area where Cyrus, not 100 years after the fall of Assyria, crossed the Araxes river into what later became known as Armenia to attack those Scythians called the Massagetae (11.8.6; Herodotus, The Histories, 1:201-216). Strabo tells us that the Parthians were a division of the Scythians (11. 9.2). The attestation of Josephus, that the Parthians and other tribes of the “Upper Barbarians” were of his own nation (in the ethnic sense), and for that reason he wrote his Wars of the Judaeans for these people, as he says in the Preface to that book, agrees with Diodorus Siculus who gives the origin of these people near northern Media, and also with the Biblical accounts of the Assyrian deportations of the Israelites and to where they had been removed centuries earlier (i.e. 2 Kings 17:6). This connection between the Scythians, Kimmerians, and the Israelites is also evident in the Assyrian inscriptions uncovered by archaeologists, such as those deciphered by D.D. Luckenbill in his Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, cited by E. Raymond Capt in his much more recent and available Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets.

It is fully evident, given all that Strabo and Diodorus Siculus have to say about the Scythians, that they were a common race, and Diodorus tells us that they came from a single origin (Library of History, 2.43.1-5). Strabo supports this statement of Diodorus’, not where he agrees with their point of origin, but where he tells us that the Scythians of the east are indeed Scythians because of “their identity in kind” (Geography, 11.11.6), where he tells us the Sakae and Massagetae are “one tribe” (11.8. 8), and where he states that the Iberians above the Caucasus mountains are “both neighbors and kinsmen” of the Scythians, although here he includes also the Sarmatians, whom he supposes to be Scythians (11.3.3). With the testimony of Josephus mentioned above, we see that the Scythians were the ancient Israelites – Hebrews – of the Assyrian deportations. In Hebrew, the word Hebrew is Ibriy (Strong’s Hebrew dictionary #5680). Once it is realized that the Phoenicians, who settled the Iberian peninsula in western Europe, were Israelites (for which see my essay Classical And Biblical Records Identifying The Phoenicians) – hence the name Iberia – then it is also evident that this Iberia in the Caucasus mountains near the Black Sea received its name in like manner, because Hebrews resided there, being the Scythians, or Sakae.

Herodotus’ description of the Scythian tribe of the Budini, cited above, with their bright red hair and blue eyes, surely portrays the ideal model of Keltic appearance that is commonly perceived today. Indeed, centuries later Tacitus wrote of the Caledonians in Britain: “The reddish hair and large limbs of the Caledonians proclaim a German origin” (The Agricola, 11). Aside from the tartanclad Tarim mummies found in what is now northwestern China, there are many other archaeological finds in Asia which help to support the Classical historians cited here in their accounts of the Scythians. For instance, the so-called Pazyryk culture describes the archaeological findings of the elaborate barrow-graves of a people who once inhabited the Altay Mountains of western Mongolia. Said to be similar to the Scythian tombs of what is now the Ukraine, descriptions of these tombs are also much like Herodotus reported of the burials of Scythian chieftains (The Histories, 4:71-72), although some of Herodotus’ account is evidently exaggerated, since while horses and concubines, described as “sacrificed”, have been found in such graves, nowhere yet have as many as fifty horses, or fifty concubines, been found buried in this manner all at one time, as Herodotus reported. The Pazyryk tombs, which are dated to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. (the very time of Herodotus), contain a race of Caucasian people, heavily tattooed and with blond hair, who would certainly not be out of place in Germany or Scandinavia today. Found among these burials are pile carpets, elaborate chariots, gold and gold-gilt objects of art, embroidered woven fabrics, carved leather goods, and many other crafts. Similar barrow burials have been found in Tuva, a Russian district north of Mongolia, in modern Kazakhstan (notably the interestingly-named Issyk barrow), and elsewhere in addition to the many Scythian barrows found in the west, such as those of the Ukraine.

Of course, there are many archaeological findings associated with “Indo-Europeans” (Caucasian, or White people) in and around the Eurasian Steppes which predate the Scythians, and many historians and archaeologists errantly assume that the Steppes, or some area to the east, west or north (anywhere but the lands of the Bible), must have been the original home of all Indo-Europeans. There sometimes seems to be as many theories of Indo-European origins as there are scholars holding advanced degrees in disciplines related to the subject. Yet all roads of our cultural and historical consciousness lead back to the world portrayed by the Bible: to Egypt, the Levant, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Once both “political correctness” and the lies of the jews concerning the Shemetic race are swept aside, and Biblical history is examined from a racially correct perspective, the conclusion that White culture and history began in and around Mesopotamia is not difficult to reach. It can certainly be demonstrated from the Bible, apocryphal Hebrew literature, the Hebrew language itself, and many other ancient historical works, that the original Shemites (not today’s race-mixed jews and arabs) were White. They are the primary ancestors of most of today’s White Europeans. Following the more accurate (although imperfect) Septuagint chronology of the Bible, the Adamic race appeared on earth at least – but not too much more than – 7,500 years ago, yet other Caucasoid races most likely had been here before that, and modern civilization (that of the Genesis chapter 10 nations) began following a great (but localized) deluge which took place perhaps 5200 or so years ago. From that time, White Adamic civilization spread for over 2500 years up to the deportations of the Israelites by Assyria and the subsequent appearance of the Scythians in history (741-676 B.C.). Outside of the few records which we have from Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia, scarcely anything exists to tell us of those 2500 years. The ancient Greeks began writing about 700 B.C., the time of Homer. It cannot be assumed that, over 2500 years, all of the other branches of the Adamic race remained confined to the world of the Bible: the Mediterranean and the near East. As the historic records and inscriptions tell us, the lands of Asshur, Madai, Elam (Assyria, Media and Persia) and the surrounding related nations were quite often in a state of war, or ruled over by tyrants. Surely over the centuries many of the tribes of the people migrated to regions north, east and west, and not only to escape war or tyranny, but also in search of fertile land, precious minerals, or other natural resources. And so there are many archaeological discoveries in and around the Steppes which predate the Scythians, among which are the Andronovo, Catacomb, Tumulus, Timber-grave, Corded Ware, Urnfield and many other Indo-European cultures of eastern Europe and western Asia, many of which have features linking them to earlier cultures of Mesopotamia or the adjoining regions (Anatolia, Syro-Palestine, or Iran). This has been demonstrated by at least one professional archaeologist, S.A. Grigoryev of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in his book Ancient Indo-Europeans. An attempt of historical reconstruction.

In a separate online article, “The Sintashta Culture And Some Questions Of Indo-European Origins”, Grigoryev makes the following comments (forgiving his imperfect English): “Origins of Indo-Europeans is one of the most significant problems of history, archaeology and linguistics. This problem has already been discussed for 200 years after the kinship of Indo-European languages was demonstrated ... Linguists T.V. Gamkrelidze and V.V. Ivanov basing analyses of Indo-European languages have localised the Indo-European homeland in Near East and described migrations of separate groups ... My study of Eurasian cultures allows me to say that Indo-European homeland was really in Near East ... V.I. Sarianidi have demonstrated that the appearance of Iranians in Central Asia and Eastern Iran and forming of Bactria-Margiana archaeological complex had been caused by migration from Syro-Anatolian region ... Another important problem of Indo-European study is a migration of ancient Europeans. T.V. Gamkrelidze and V.V. Ivanov consider that their languages differentiated already in Near East. These people (Celts, Germans, Slavs, Balts) moved to Europe through Iran and Central Asia around Caspian See. As a result of combined migrations, an area of the second intimacy of these dialects formed somewhere to the North of Caspian See. This linguistic reconstruction corresponded to archaeological evidence ... The Indo-European homeland was placed on the territory of Kurdistan. The most early complexes which we can connect with Proto-Indoeuropeans are such objects as Tel Magzalia, Tel Sotto, Hassuna, dating from the VIII to the early V milleniums [B.C.]. The first Indo-Europeans migrated to the Balkan peninsula after and together with other anatolian peoples at about the end of the VI millenium. The Anatolian tribes were formed here on this base. But most part of Indo-European migrations began later – at about the early IV millenium ... At the end of the Bronze Age Kimmerians migrated westwards to Northern Pontic area. Scithian migration through Iran, Near East and the Caucasus took place at the beginning of the Iron Age. At last, various streams of Indo-Europeans (Tokharians, Europeans and Iranians) influenced forming and development of Chinese civilisation.”

I can’t entirely agree with Grigoryev, who improperly labels early migrations of Caucasians into Europe as “Celts” and “Germans” and who – perhaps in deference to all those who have followed Homer – distinguishes Kimmerians from Scythians and errantly labels earlier northern groups as “Kimmerian”, when in fact the Kimmerians were Scythians and did not reach Europe until the end of the 8th century B.C., things which have been discussed at length in Part One of this essay. Elsewhere Grigoryev further supports the historic record as it is presented in these essays, where he states that “Cultures of Scithian and Sarmatian world were not forming on the basis of Late Bronze Age cultures placed from Dnieper River to the Altai”, and further discussing early Steppe cultures adds: “The forming of these cultures [from the 18th century B.C.] reflected an Iranization of Steppe Zone. Although the appearance of Scithian and Sarmatian tribes was not connected with these cultures.” So, in support of Diodorus Siculus’ testimony concerning these peoples, Scythians and Sarmatians appear in the Steppe from Iran (ancient Media and Persia) after the Bronze Age, in the early Iron Age, which is usually said to begin with the 8th century B.C., the same century during which the Israelites were deported by Assyria.

Kurdistan is a region which includes parts of modern Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Armenia. It includes the original homeland of the patriarch Abraham in Haran, the Padan-Aram area mentioned in the book of Genesis, ancient Media, and parts of Assyria and Persia. Babylonia, which is Sumer and Akkad, lies just to the south. While Grigoryev’s conclusions were reached through studies of archaeology, linguistics, and some history, it should be evident that this one archaeological model for the spread of “Indo-Europeans” agrees very closely with the proper Biblical perspective and the testimony of the Classical historians concerning the origin of the White Adamic peoples of Europe and Asia. In the next part of this essay we shall return our attention to the Scythians of Europe.

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