Remarks on the Scythian, Sarmatian and Meotian Beliefs

Sergei V. Rjabchikov

Krasnodar, Russia

<srjabchikov@hotmail.com>

 

Copyright (c) Sergei V. Rjabchikov, 2004. All rights reserved.

Published 23 February 2004  Last posted 23 December 2004

 

Abstract. This article is dedicated to the study of the religious system of the Scythians, Sarmatians and Meotians. There are strong grounds for believing that their culture is associated with the Indo-Aryan culture. The author continues the decipherment of Scythian/Sarmatian inscriptions and pictures. They help to illuminate some Scythian, Sarmatian, Meotian and Slavonic beliefs.

In this work I study not only pictures, but also inscriptions. The writing system of the Scythians, Sarmatians and Meotians is based on the syllabic Linear A (B); some signs are determinatives, ideograms, Greek letters (Rjabchikov 1999; 2000; 2001a; 2001b; 2002a; 2002b; 2002c; 2002d; 2002e; 2003a; 2003b; 2003c). The close related languages of the Scythians, Sarmatians and Meotians are Indo-European. I prefer to call them the Scythian/Sarmatian language. In turn it is close connected with the Old Indian language, one can trace the connections with Iranian and Slavonic languages, too.

Let us examine four ancient pictures which reflect different aspects of a Scythian myth. It was known among the Sarmatians and Meotians as well. The first plot is shown on a Bosporan stele which is housed in the Kerch historian-archaeological museum (Kerch, the Ukraine), see figure 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1

 

A key to this plot is Scythian/Sarmatian sign 80 ma and the sign "round" (THE SUN; the determinative) which are located before the throne of a goddess. A fragment of a stele of the 2nd - 1st centuries B.C. with a bas-relief of the goddess Aphrodite with certain local features and two Eroses was found at the settlement Batareyka II of the Kingdom of the Bosporus (the Taman' peninsula; the village Batareyka, the Krasnodar region) (Sokolsky 1978: 129, figure). N.I. Sokolsky (1978: 133) believes that this syncretic goddess is the Bosporan supreme deity indeed. I distinguished two similar compound symbols in the upper part of the stele. They consist of sign 80 ma and the sign "round" (THE SUN; the determinative). So the Barbarians - the Scythians, Sarmatians and Meotians - called this goddess Ma 'The sun; solar; solstice; fire; funeral pyre' (Rjabchikov 2003a; 2003b; 2003c: 5-7). Let us examine a Sarmatian golden brooch with the representation of Aphrodite and two Eroses from the Kurdzhipsky burial mound (the village Kurdzhipskaya, Republic of Adygea, Russia) of the 1st century A.D. (Galanina 1980: 26-27, 71, 110, table I [2], appendix 2, No 4). Sign 80 ma is presented to the left of Aphrodite. Undoubtedly Ma is her local name. I conclude that in the first plot the sun goddess Ma is represented, too. This goddess is well known as the Scythian main sun goddess Tabiti (associated with the Greek goddess Hestia). The Scythian goddess Tabiti 'Heating' is related to the Indo-Aryan god Agni 'Fire' (Afanasiev 1868: 24; Raevsky 1994: 204-205). Moreover, this goddess has some features of the Indo-Aryan goddess Usas 'Dawn' (Rjabchikov 2002e: 4). On the other hand, the Scythian goddess Argimpasa '(The transition to) the sun/summer (from) the winter - the cattle' (associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite) is one of incarnations of this goddess (Rjabchikov 1999; 2002e: 18-19, 68, 125, 139). In the Old Russian mythology there is the goddess Ma Kosh' (Mo Kosh') associated with this Barbarian goddess Ma. Besides, Scythian/Sarmatian main sun goddess is also named Aga 'Fiery; cauldron', this name is comparable in particular with Old Indian agni 'fire', Agni 'the name of the god of the fire', Russian ogon' 'fire', Ossetic ag 'cauldron' (Rjabchikov 2002e: 7, 10, 96, 125). In the Russian fairy-tales there is the corresponding personage Yaga (Aga).

Let us continue the investigation of the first plot. The goddess holds a vessel. A god stands near the throne. He holds another vessel. A horseman is located to the right of the goddess. Another horse stands near the rider. In the lower tier of the stele the same goddess sits on the throne. A point of a spear is situated above the goddess in an upward direction from left to right. Two rounds (the symbolism of the sun and fire) surround the goddess.

The second plot is represented on the Scythian or Meotian golden ornament of a female head-gear of the 4th century B.C. from the Karagodeuashkh barrow (the Krasnodar region, Russia), see figure 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2

 

This artifact is housed in the Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia). The plot has been investigated by S.S. Bessonova (1983: 107-111) and N.V. Anfimov (1987: 131). I offer the original interpretation of the majority of the topics. The upper (first) level contains the figure of a goddess. Her position at the top allows to conclude that this is the supreme sun goddess of the Scythian, Sarmatian and Meotian pantheon called Tabiti. It is safe to assume that Scythian/Sarmatian sign 80 ma (the designation of the sun goddess) is depicted on her clothes. Her image is separated from the other images with the help of five semicircles (the solar symbolism) and four dividing lines. On the second level there is a god going at a chariot in which two horses are harnessed. Scythian/Sarmatian sign 72 be is depicted on the hero's breast. Scythian/Sarmatian be signifies 'beat; axe; to beat; to increase; to breed; symbolism of the deity of the thunderstorm'. His hairs resemble the solar beams. Moreover, his clothes are decorated with a pattern looking like a fragment of a net. Judging from "hair style" of this man, this is a solar god. Scythian golden plates of a horse saddle are housed in the Museum of the historian jewelry of the Ukraine (Kiev, the Ukraine); one ornament is shown in figure 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3

 

A fragment of a net is depicted on his clothes. A net is a symbol of fertility and abundance in the Slavonic folklore and rites (Rjabchikov 2002e: 233-234). The wordplay is quite possible, cf. Old Indian sic 'net; to pour out; to emit semen; to water (plants)'. The combination of the ideas "the sun", "fertility; abundance", "water; semen" may help in the identification of this god. This is the Scythian/Sarmatian god Tara (Targitai) corresponding to the Indo-Aryan god Indra. The name Tara comes from Scythian/Sarmatian tara 'fire; horse; carrying across; saviour; protector; clean; clear', cf. Old Indian tara 'fire; horse; carrying across; saviour; protector; clean; clear'. As has been shown earlier (Rjabchikov 2002b: figure 3), there is a Scythian/Sarmatian record in which the name of the god Tara and the ideogram "two horses" are united. And now one can call attention to the Rig-Veda (e.g., I.6.2; I.10.3; I.16.2; I.84.3; II.18.3), the sacred hymns of the Indo-Aryans. A chariot with two horses is a feature of the god Indra. A stripe with transverse lines is a next border in this plot. But it is a Scythian/Sarmatian symbol of the sky (Rjabchikov 2001: figure 3; 2002b: figure 5; 2002e: 131). I suggest that these actions bear a direct relation to the third sky (the symbolism of the summer solstice and midday). The following segment is already limited by the symbol "the sky" on either side. So we look at images of the second sky. Here there is a lamp surrounded by two gryphons. It is quite possible that this construction is equal to the figure of Targitai standing between two horses. Then this god correlates with the ideas "the sun; fire; light; lightning". The gryphon and the horse correlate with the ideas "the fire", "the water", hence one can say about the sun, thunder, lightning, rain. I believe that Greek gruy, grupos  'gryphon' come from Scythian/Sarmatian gar- *ap- or p- (b-) 'the fire - the water/beat/reproduction' (Rjabchikov 2002e: 33). The gryphon, otherwise the winged lion/eagle, symbolises the roar of a lion and the rapidity of an eagle; this character describes the thunder and lightning. Now one can examine the images of the first sky. A god and a goddess stand to the left of the main sun goddess, the god Targitai and a goddess stand to the right. Scythian/Sarmatian signs 33-01 Rada are incised on the head-gear of the central figure. It is one of the names of the supreme goddess (Rjabchikov 2002e: 16, 152), cf. Old Iranian arta, ard 'personification of the light', the names Rod and Rozhanitsa of the Old Russian supreme deities (1). The god standing at the left of the supreme goddess is holding a pot. The supreme goddess is holding a rhyton, and the god Targitai is taking it. The second level of this sky includes the following symbols: "the head of a bull/cow", "the head of a goddess with hairs that look like the sun", "the head of a bull/cow", "the head of a goddess with hairs that look like the sun", "the head of a bull/cow", "the head of a goddess with hairs that look like the sun", "the head of a bull/cow". Such symbols have direct parallels in the Scythian rites. In an ancient town known as Scythian Naples (the Crimea, Ukraine) skeletons of four bulls or cows were discovered in a pit of cylindrical form the walls of which were faced with masonry laid in twelve rows, and this pit was filled with soil, ashes and fragments of amphorae dated to the 3rd century A.D. (Vysotskaya 1979: 165-166). Obviously, four skeletons of bulls/cows are the solar symbols and denote four cardinal points (Rjabchikov 2002e: 9). It is felt that four heads of bulls/cows on the Karagodeuashkh ornament also denote cardinal points. Three vertical stones were used in some rites connected with the worship to the sun and fire at an ashery in that town (Vysotskaya 1989: 77-78). Three asheries (hills) were placed alongside each other in the Scythian Ust-Alminskoe settlement (the Crimea, Ukraine) (Vysotskaya 1989: 78). I think that the three stones at one ashery in the first case and the three asheries in the second case describe the sun/fire deity who is situated in the three parts of the Universe simultaneously according to the Indo-Aryan beliefs (Rjabchikov 2002e: 51). Hence three similar female heads on the Karagodeuashkh ornament resembling the sun designate the sun/fire deity existing in three conditions simultaneously. In some Russian fairy-tales three characters by the name Yaga are presented, therefore it may be an reflex of an archaic myth.

The third plot is depicted on the golden plate of a Meotian (Sindian) rhyton which was discovered at the village Merdzhany (near Anapa, the Krasnodar region, Russia), see figure 4 (after S.S. Bessonova).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 4

 

Let us consider this drawing. The World Tree is on the left. A goddess sits on the throne and holds a pot. A horse's skull hangs at a pole. A rider holds a rhyton. According to M.I. Rostovtzeff (1913b: 139), a woman at this picture is the supreme Bosporan goddess, this image is repeated in other analogous images. The research by M.I. Rostovtzeff (1990) of images of an equestrian god in the ancient art of the south of Russia is of interest as well. The third plot has been investigated by S.S. Bessonova (1983: 111-115) and N.V. Anfimov (1987: 135-136).

In spite of different details of the first, second and third plots, I can reconstruct the common line of conduct of the basic personages. The chief character is the sun goddess Tabiti (Ma, Aga/Yaga, Rada). She is holding a vessel. Usually it is a rhyton. The god Tara (Targitai) is taking it. Then the goddess Tabiti is taking another vessel (pot) from a god standing at the left position in the first and second plots. In the third plot this god is absent.

I shall try to realise this information. According to the Rig-Veda (II.36.1), the god Indra is appealed to drink the soma liquor from the hotar's bowl, moreover, he has the first right to it. Old Indian soma and hotar mean 'elixir' and 'sacrificial fire' respectively. On the other hand, according to the Rig-Veda (I.1.1, I.76.2), the god Agni corresponds to the hotar. The soma liquor is produced with the enkindled flame (Rig-Veda IV.25.1); furthermore, the longing Indra received the pressed soma liquor from Agni (Rig-Veda III.22.1). Indra is the lord of the soma; Agni brings him this juice (Rig-Veda I.76.3). The soma always helps Indra (Rig-Veda I.4.1, I.32.3, I.52.3, II.11.11, II.16.2, II.17.1).

Therefore it is safe to say that the god Targitai (= Indra) took the rhyton/vessel (= the hotar's bowl) with the soma liquor from the goddess Tabiti (= Agni) in the second and third plots. Another god gave a pot to Tabiti. He corresponds to the Indo-Aryan god Savitar. It is known that the latter prospers the home, he gives descendants; besides, he invigorates the people through the days and nights (Rig-Veda IV.53.7). A chariot with two horses is a feature of Savitar (Rig-Veda I.35.2-3). He is the patron of the homestead (Rig-Veda I.123.3). He gives the people most excellent riches, a goodliest stimulation (Rig-Veda IV.54.1, I.164.26). This god gave immortality (Rig-Veda I.110.3).

In my opinion, in the Scythian/Sarmatian mythology the god Goitosir may play a role of Savitar. In Goitosir's name one can pick out the word goi associated with the fertility (Rybakov 1987: 70). I compare Scythian/Sarmatian goi with Old Indian gaya 'house; household; family; offspring; sky', Old Iranian (Avesta) gaya 'life'. The component sir- of this name correlates with Russian syroy 'raw'. The god Agni is the giver of wealth, and this god is identified with the god Savitar, the granter of treasures (Rig-Veda II.1.7). This report may be interpreted in the Scythian/Sarmatian mythology in the following manner: the god Goitosir (= Savitar) gave the goddess Tabiti (= Agni) a pot with seeds (semen etc.); then this goddess becomes "an incarnation" of this god. Both Goitosir and Targitai surround Tabiti as they have "symmetrical" features in the second plot. Here a goddess who stands near Goitosir is Ditagoia; a goddess who stands near Targitai is Argimpasa (Rjabchikov 2001a; 1999). All the three goddesses who stand alongside each other - Ditagoia, Tabiti and Argimpasa - are the images of the three fires in the Scythian/Sarmatian (Indo-Aryan) beliefs. A round, the goddess Ma (Tabiti) and another round also describe the three fires (the deity of the fire in three conditions) in the first plot. Let us examine a Sarmatian bronze clasp which was discovered in the Roshava Dragana barrow of Bulgaria (Bujukliev 1995: 39, figure 1 [6]). Here three Scythian/Sarmatian signs 33 ra (cf. Scythian/Sarmatian ra 'the sun; fire') are attached to a round (THE SUN; the determinative). Let us examine a Sarmatian clay vessel from the Rostov region, Russia (Maximenko 1998: 218, figure 35 [1], 276). Here two groups consisting of three Scythian/Sarmatian signs 12 so are presented. The wordplay is quite possible: Russian trizna 'funeral feast' < Scythian/Sarmatian tri s- 'the three fires/suns', cf. Scythian/Sarmatian *tri 'three', so 'the sun; shine; heat; light; eye; bright', Old Indian tri 'three'. Let us examine an Alanian medieval drawing within a crypt (Kuznetsov 1962: figure 18). Three crosses are attached to a round (THE SUN; the determinative). Scythian/Sarmatian sign "cross" reads ay, cf. Scythian/Sarmatian ay 'egg; the World Tree; the sun; life, vitality; vigour; long life'. In all the three cases the fire existing in the three conditions is described (2). Additional evidences concerning the identification of the Indo-Aryan god Savitar and the Scythian/Sarmatian god Goitosir have been offered by the author earlier (Rjabchikov 2001c).

It is necessary to interpret the drawing of the horse's skull in the third plot. I think that this is a hint of the sacrifice of a horse to the god Targitai; thus, the horse's skull and the horse of this god in the third plot correlate with two horses of the god Indra in the Indo-Aryan mythology. Interestingly, two horses of Indra without a chariot are mentioned in the Rig-Veda (I.5.4, I.6.2, I.7.2) as well. The sacrifice of horses as a part of Scythian burial rituals is mentioned in the History (IV, 71-72) of Herodotus; the skeletons of horses were discovered in Scythian, Sarmatian and Meotian burials (Rostovtzeff 1925: 315, 321, 350-351; Mozolevsky 1972: 274-277, Rjabchikov 2002a; Zhdanovsky 1984: 83, 88-89, Rjabchikov 2002e: 45, 170; Anfimov 1987: 50-51, Rjabchikov 2002e: 11, 38, 148).

The fourth plot was represented in the crypt of Anthesterios of the 1st century B.C. - 1st century A.D. in Panticapeum, the capital of the Bosporan kingdom (Kerch, the Ukraine) (Rostovtzeff 1913a: table LI [6]; 1914: 170-182), see figure 5 (after the author's drawing).

 


 

 

 

 

Figure 5

 

One can try to interpret this picture. It is anticipated that a woman sitting on the throne is a Sarmatian goddess (Fedorov-Davydov 1975: 15). This plot has been investigated by S.A. Yatsenko (1995), too. I offer my own interpretation of this plot. The goddess on the throne is Ma (Tabiti, Aga/Yaga, Rada). The goddess who is standing near the throne on the left is the goddess Argimpasa (her drawing is severely damaged); the goddess Ditagoia and the god Goitosir (he is holding a hydria) are standing on the right. The pot (hydria) and the rhyton (vessel) represented in the different plots compare with two united bowls mentioned in the Rig-Veda (III.55.20). The god Tara (Targitai) riding a horse is near this group. He is holding a club. According to the Rig-Veda (II.11.4), Indra is holding the vajra club (the splendid thunder). I suppose that Targitai's club is a similar symbol. Two "petals" presented on the horse's body are solar symbols (Rjabchikov 2002e: 32, 60, 118).

 

 

 

 

Figures 6a, b

 

Scythian/Sarmatian sign 33 ra (cf. Scythian/Sarmatian ra 'the sun; fire') is depicted above a spear that is at the left (see also figure 6a). Two Scythian/Sarmatian signs - 12 so (cf. Scythian/Sarmatian so 'the sun; shine; heat; light; eye; bright') and "horse" - are inscribed near figure of Targitai riding the horse (see also figure 6b). So-so 'The very bright sun' is another name of Targitai, cf. the name of the Ossetic god Soslan (Rjabchikov 2002b). So the record (So "horse") translates as: 'The sun (god) and (his) horse'. A foal and a group of Targitai riding his horse (he is holding the spear) together with his second horse are depicted to the right in figure 5. The spear is the symbol of the sun and thunderbolt (3). I believe that the foal was sacrificed to Targitai, then it was transformed into the second horse of this god according to the ancient beliefs. Now one can examine a yourt. Two similar persons sitting in it denote the god of the other world. His name is Tagimasad '(The transition to) the sun/fire (from) the winter - the connection' (4). The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Old Indian yama 'twin', Yama 'the name of the king of the dead' (5). The spear of Targitai leans on the yourt and is attached to a tree (the symbolism of the World Tree). Two crossed arrows (lines) denote Scythian/Sarmatian sign "cross" that reads ay, cf. Scythian/Sarmatian ay 'egg; the World Tree; the sun; life, vitality; vigour; long life'. A quiver (with a bow and arrows) is another solar symbol. A man holding a vessel and standing near a table with three vessels is located under the yourt and denotes the deceased. The similar text about the World Tree and Yama is presented in the Rig-Veda (X.135.1; the translation by R.T.H. Griffith):

In the tree clothed with goodly leaves where Yama drinketh with the gods,

The father, master of the house, tendeth with love our ancient sires.

Interrelation of Ma (= Agni) and Tagimasad (= Yama) may be understood on the basis of the Rig-Veda (X.12.6). On the other hand, Tara (= Indra) and Tagimasad (= Yama) are also connected. It is known that for the first time Indra mounted a steed which Yama gave (Rig-Veda I.163.1-2).

The root tar- (cf. the names Tara, Targitai) is preserved in several Russian words: cf., e.g., Russian truna 'coffin' < Scythian/Sarmatian *Tar-un '(the god) Tara' (The field materials, 2002), Russian tarakhtet' 'to rattle' < Scythian/Sarmatian Tara '(the god) Tara', Russian tarabanit' 'to clatter' < Scythian/Sarmatian *Tara ban- '(the god) Tara - the sun/arrow', cf. Scythian/Sarmatian *ban- 'arrow; the sun; brightness; light or ray; shine', Old Indian bana 'arrow' and bhanu 'the sun'.

The spear presented in the first and fourth plots is certain solar symbol; besides, it may be a sign of the interrelations of the deities Targitai, Ma and Tagimasad.

Let us consider a Scythian/Sarmatian inscription on a slab with a Greek inscription dated to 307 A.D. (Solomonik 1959: 74-75, figure 30), see figure 7.

 

 

 

 

Figure 7

 

The signs are a round ('the sun; fire') and "two horses". This is an additional report about Targitai and his two horses. Figures of two horses and the sun (thunder, cross) are an Indo-European religious symbol (Ivanov and Toporov 1991: 529, figure; Rybakov 1987: 506-507, figure 85 [b], [g], 529, figure 89). Scythian/Sarmatian signs - 12 so and "two horses" - are inscribed on a Sarmatian cauldron (Rjabchikov 2002e: 150). Two terracotta statuettes of the 1st century B.C. and 1st century A.D. that show riders were found in the Bosporan town Phanagoria at the modern Taman' peninsula (near the village Sennoy, the Krasnodar region, Russia) (Kobylina 1974: table 23 [1], [2]). Two rounds (the symbolism of the sun and fire) are presented on the bodies of the horses. In the crypt of Anthesterios there is another picture (Rostovtzeff 1913a: table LI [1]). A tree is surrounded by two horses. Here the tree designates the World Tree, the sun, the god Targitai.

Let us examine an inscription on a Scythian (Sarmatian) slab from Panticapeum (Drachuk 1975: table XXXV), see figure 8.

 

 

Figure 8

 

Here I read the following Scythian/Sarmatian record: the sign "two horses" is united with two signs 72 be, cf. Scythian/Sarmatian be 'beat; axe; to beat; to increase; to breed; symbolism of the deity of the thunderstorm'. Under these signs there is sign 12 so, cf. Scythian/Sarmatian so 'the sun; shine; heat; light; eye; bright'. It is another text concerning the sun/thunder god Targitai.

Let us examine two coins of the Bosporan king Sauromatus II (Anokhin 1986: 165-166, tables 28 [616], 29 [623]).

 

 

Figures 9a, b

 

The first picture contains in particular the image of the supreme Bosporan goddess and the following Scythian/Sarmatian symbols (see figure 9a): "a six-pointed star" (a solar symbol), "a round with a line" ('the sun; fire'), sign 76 ra (Scythian/Sarmatian ra 'the sun; fire') and "a square with a cross" (Scythian/Sarmatian ay 'egg; the World Tree; the sun; life, vitality; vigour; long life'). The second picture contains in particular the image of the supreme Bosporan goddess and the following Scythian/Sarmatian symbols (see figure 9b): "a six-pointed star" and "a square with a cross". In both cases the Greek letter M denotes the name of the Scythian/Sarmatian goddess Ma 'The sun; solar; solstice; fire; funeral pyre'. On the other hand, there is a Bosporan record of Sauromatus II written down in Greek where the Bosporan (Scythian/Sarmatian) supreme goddess is called Ma (Rjabchikov 2003b; 2003c: 5).

The cult of the cow is associated with the cult of the great goddess in the Meotian beliefs; in particular, some parts or whole carcasses of cows were placed in the burials (Anfimov 1977: 116-117). In my opinion, it is an Indo-Aryan custom. According to the Rig-Veda (X.16.7), the enveloping of a corpse with a cow flesh precedes the application of the fire on it. The burning of corpses was forgotten afterwards, but some features of this custom were retained. However, there are indications that some corpses of priests and priestesses were burned in the Scythian and Sarmatian times (Rjabchikov 2002e: 235-236). In compliance with Ukrainian beliefs, a woman who wants to become a witch must pass through the body of a dead cow (horse) (Ivanov 1991: 444). I suppose that this rite is a reflex of the custom of the enveloping of a corpse with a cow flesh.

Let us examine a pattern on a Sarmatian mirror from the Kuban land (Solomonik 1959: 37, figure VI [VIe]), see figure 10.

 

 

Figure 10

 

This picture consists of solar symbols (a wheel, eight rays, three rounds), a wavy symbol and Scythian/Sarmatian sign 80 Ma. It is the name of the goddess Ma 'The sun; solar; solstice; fire; funeral pyre'. So this goddess is associated with the sun (fire, thunderstorm) and the water simultaneously (6). It is well to bear in mind that the name Mokosh' (Mo Kosh', Ma Kosh') compares with the root mok- (Russian mokry 'wet', moknut' 'to become wet') (Ivanov and Toporov 1992). The signs of the water and the sun are engraved on a Sarmatian jug from the burial ground Zhurovka (the Rostov region, Russia) (Rjabchikov 2003a: figure 4). A Barbarian name, Maqanos is presented in a Greek inscription dated to the middle of the 2nd century A.D. from Olbia (the Ukraine) (Treshcheva 1977: 166). I read this name as Scythian/Sarmatian Ma *tan- 'The sun - the water'. One can try to find additional information about this goddess. A sanctuary of the goddess Aphrodite, called Apatouron was located in Phanagoria; according to a Scythian myth, Heracles helped the goddess who lived in a cave to win giants (Strabo, The Geography XI: 2, 10). The name of the temple and the encoded sense of the myth are close connected. I suggest that the giants (cf. Scythian/Sarmatian *bar-/par- 'highest; supreme; guardian; keeper') are symbols of the clean sky. Their death describes rains. Obviously, the goddess Aphrodite, otherwise the Scythian/Sarmatian goddess Argimpasa having snakes instead legs, describes the chthonic waters. The name Apatura (Apa-tura) is translated as '(The goddess) overcoming waters' (Trubachev 1977: 19). I translate this name as Scythian/Sarmatian *Ap- tur- 'The waters - the abundance, fertility', cf. Old Indian ap 'waters', tura 'strong, powerful, excelling; rich; abundant'. It is known that burials of priestesses of the goddess Argimpasa (Tabiti) were discovered in the Bolshaya Bliznitsa barrow (near the village Vyshesteblievskaya, the Krasnodar region, Russia) not far from Phanagoria (Rjabchikov 2002e: 167-168). Designs of a head-gear and ornaments from this burial are devoted to the deities of the sun, thunderstorm and water. I can say with reasonable confidence that these priestesses were served at the temple of Apaturon somewhere in the environs of the modern villages Sennoy and Vyshesteblievskaya.

In conclusion let us consider a Scythian/Sarmatian record on a Sarmatian harp (Yatsenko 2001: 77, 175, figure 25d), see figure 11.

 

 

Figure 11

 

The text reads from left to right, and each group of signs reads from right to left. The inscription reads as follows: 12-72 "round" (THE SUN; the determinative) "a sign of the sun/thunder" (the symbolism of the three fires) "two horses" 12-12 59-33 "round" (THE SUN; the determinative) 80 - Sope/sobe "round" (THE SUN; the determinative) "a sign of the sun/thunder" (symbolism of the three fires) "two horses" Soso Tara "round" (THE SUN; the determinative) Ma, which translates as: 'A dog of the sun (7). (The symbolism of the three fires.) Two horses of (the god) 'The very bright sun', (otherwise) Tara. (The goddess) Ma'. I believe that this text tells of the god Targitai who arrived to the goddess Ma (Tabiti).

 

Notes

 

1. See Rybakov 1994: 451-452.

2. See also Rjabchikov 2002b: figure 6.

3. See also the History (IV, 71) of Herodotus.

4. See Rjabchikov 2002e: 143.

5. See also Rjabchikov 2001d.

6. The Old Russian goddess Ma Kosh' is "the mother of the harvest" (Rybakov 1987: 508).

7. See also Rjabchikov 2003c: 4, 7.

 

References

 

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