Studies in the History and Language of the Sarmatians
J. Harmatta


10. Conclusions

Summing up our results briefly, we may safely say, while challenging the generally current view according to which the Sarmatians were merely a loosely linked conglomerate of larger and smaller tribes living rather chaotically side by side, that the picture of a strong Sarmatian power existing for almost three quarters of a century round about the turn of the second and first centuries, stands out plainly even from the sporadic sources. The Sarmatian tribes bringing this about probably took final possession of the territory between the Dnieper and Danube round about 125 B. C. as a result of the peoples migration after the second Yüeh-chih move, and founded here a tribal confederacy disposing of expansive power under the leadership of their "royal" tribe. In the course of their expansion they soon made the Scythians their vassals and endeavoured to bring the Pontic Greek cities under their power. This challenged the interference of Mithridates Eupator, through which they were barred from the possession of the Greek cities, but in view of Mithridates' friendly policy they enjoyed the boons of favourable economic and trade relations and Mithridates' foreign political conceptions afforded them new expansive possibilities towards the west. Here they occupied the whole Lower Danube line, in fact they intruded on the territory south of the Danube and for a time they held one part of the Triballians.

We find the traces of this once important Sarmatian power during the Mithridatic wars also in the archaeological record material. When after the Pontic conquests of Mithridates the balance of power had been stabilized, more peaceful conditions were brought about and lively commercial relations were established between the Sarmatians and the Pontic region on the one hand and across Parthia between Pontus


and the Indo-Scythians on the other hand. Under the influence of Indo-Scythian art richly adorned horse trappings (phalerae) were being made in Pontus, perhaps also by the Sarmatians. It is just in the Western Sarmatian territory that we find one group of these characteristic trappings, most likely made in the selfsame metalwork centre, which is a clear proof.of the economic and political unity of the territory under their power. Round the time of the death of Mithridates Eupator the strong Sarmatian tribal confederacy disintegrated and the "Royal" Sarmatians vanished from history. What may have been the reason cannot be clearly stated for the time being. However, later, after the consolidation of Roman power in the Balkans and the Pontic region such a strong Sarmatian power could not again spring up., so that we may indeed regard the epoch of the Sarmatian tribal confederacy existing between 125 B. C. and 61 B. C. as the most interesting period in Western Sarmatian history.

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