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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

A (very) Brief Introduction to the True Aryans


Arno Breker, Die Party 1939
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The Real Aryans
According to the Nazis the Nordic/ Germanic stock descended from Aryans which were superior to all other “races”. The Nazis believed that the intermarriage with the Semitic (and other) races caused the downfall of the 'pure' Aryans. Their gruesome solution was genocide, to purge the “inferior” races and establish a “Reich” that would last a thousand years.

They were wrong on many levels. I will only mention two points: the first is an earlier historical confusion between the Aryans and the Indo-European ancestors that the Germanic people and the Aryans shared. This resulted in the Nazis claiming the marvellous Aryans as their ancestors. They were more like (slightly distant) cousins than descendants.


The second is the reference to ‘race’ and ‘pure race’ rather than ‘culture’. In many historical situations, 'race' becomes a problematic concept. The greatest empires of the world, especially,  become more and more racially diverse as they rose. We only need to think about Rome, Britain and America  as just a few examples.
The great civilisations of the Aryans (Persia, Northern India and the Oasis cities of Central Asia) were a long way from racially pure. The regions that the Aryans moved into were populated when they arrived and the Aryans, especially the Persians, were very tolerant of cultural and religious difference, intermarrying and welcoming others of merit into their ranks. 

 
Indo-Aryan Languages
In India, for instance, one
DNA study suggested that northern Indians were fair before the Aryans arrived and the Aryans contributed far more to the culture than they did to the gene pool, and this sort of story is fairly common.

Aryan comes from the self designation Ariya meaning something like ‘kinsman’. They called Aryan Northern India 'Aryavarta' and Aryan Iran 'Airyānąm', leading to 'Iran' (the land of Aryans).
 There was an almost identical term Airya (middle Persian) meaning ‘noble and illustrious’ and these often became synonymous. At first this was thought to be the meaning of the term ‘Aryan’.

So why was claiming ‘Aryan’ descent so desirable?


The Aryans were a clever and marvellous people. For more than a millennium they dominated the greater part of the civilised world, especially in the East. They established great civilisations in India (1500 BC – 500 BC) having a lasting impact on the language and culture of India and well beyond). Their presence in the civilisations along the Silk Road in Central Asia was their oldest.
Achaemenid (Persian) Empire, Wiki
They created the first of the world’s super powers (Persia) which, in some measures was the greatest empire ever seen. And Persia was an empire which kept coming back, even after defeat.
Scythian belt
Urek Meniashvili Wiki

From 9th century BC - 4th century AD the Aryans formed one of the greatest nomadic tribes to ever dominate the vast Eurasian Steppe, the Scythians. The Scythians developed a rich culture characterised by opulent tombs (kurgans). They briefly had control over Media and played a leading role in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire. For a while, they had a very strong presence as far as China, Mongolia, Northern India and Central Asia. While they are mostly known as tattooed horse nomads, they were also famous for metalwork and a brilliant art style.

Origin and migration of the Aryans


Andronova Culture, Wiki
 The Aryans developed from pastoralists in the Steppe north of the Caspian Sea at the start of the Middle Bronze Age, 2100 BC (recognizable as the Sintashta culture, and then the  Andronovo culture). They reached prominence by developing faster spoke-wheeled chariots, more powerful horses, and powerful composite war bows. They are also likely to have developed the first cavalry. They began spreading out across the whole of the Great Steppe, eventually dominating this vast area from the edge of the Balkans to Mongolia (till the rise of Huns, Turks and Mongols in the east and the Slavs and Germanic tribes in the west). 

The first group of civilised Aryans developed around the Aral Sea where they learnt farming from the Oxus Civilization (BMAC), absorbing much of their culture and religious ideas. It is thought this was where Zoroaster lived and taught.

From about 1900 BC, there was a climate change with the steppe becoming drier and cooler and the monsoons failing in the Indus valley. This both induced the Aryans to spread out and weakened and depopulated their civilised neighbours (farmers, some of whom did not irrigate). It gave an advantage to the Aryan nomadic herding and warfare. Aryans (technically Indo-Aryans) spread out through Afghanistan, Nepal, a large part of Northern India and Pakistan, a process that continued till about 1500 BC.

There was also an Indo-Aryan dynasty ruling the Hurrian Kingdom of Mitanni (1500 to 1300 BC) in northern Mesopotamia, but this is not part of a large scale migration.

The early Aryans did not have a written language, so their movement into Eastern Persia is poorly documented until they reached the western part of Persia, around 800 BC, where they came to the notice of the Assyrians and the Elamites.

The spread of Aryan nomads eastward over the Great Steppe is even more difficult to trace, with different nomadic tribes and alliances, a large time frame and the civilised neighbours using different names. There were white men at the edges of what is now China from at least 1900 BC. The Yuezhi (red hair and blue eyes) may have been initially Indo-Aryan but were more likely Indo-European cousins and occupied a region now held by the Turkic Uyghur people of China. To this day, some Uyghurs have fair hair and blue eyes.

Yuezhi man (Artacoana Wiki)
They provided the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin, preserved by the unique cold climate. The Greeks incorrectly called them ‘Tókharoi  (Tocharians)’ after a Bactrian tribe, and the name has now stuck. The powerful Wusun horsemen to the north of China may have had a similar origin. The more distinctive Scythians arrived later.

The spread of the Aryans north of the Black Sea is again difficult to trace. The nearest civilised people, the Greeks had lost writing in a Greek Dark Ages and were only just beginning to regain it (by adapting a Phoenician script) in the Archaic Age (800 BC onwards).

It is not unlikely, that the
Overview of Thraco-Cimmerian Sites
mysterious people that by tradition have been called
'Thraco-Cimmerian' slowed their advance westward, because the story of the Aryan nomads doesn’t seem to start till the raids of the Cimmerians, which were first mentioned  by the Assyrians in 800 BC. They were said to be displaced by the new kids on the block, the (Aryan) Scythians. 
We don’t really know the origin of the Cimmerians or the 'Thraco-Cimmerians' or whether they were truly the same group. Some say Thracian, some say Aryan with equal confidence. Proto-Celtic and part of the Koban (Caucasian) culture have all been suggested.

The Scythians seemed to have developed or adopted a number of innovations in mounted warfare but one of their greatest advantages was their cultural and political sophistication including their own kings, with large scale federations during warfare, their trading and organised tribute from surrounding sedentary communities .  

(In my novels, I have put the blame on drought and marauding Aryan barbarians in the north for triggering the Bronze Age collapse (1200 and 1150 BC).)


Notes: The terms Indo-European and Indo-Aryan are linguistic terms, initially referring to language groups then became loosely applied to race and culture, which of course are different. The Aryan cultures and religions of 'Vedic'  northern India, Persia, Central Asia (and eventually Scythia) had many differences, some very great. I have used 'Aryan' to refer to a broad cultural group, but it can be used interchangeably with Indo-Aryan.
This is a revision of a previous post. It is a vast topic and I have aimed for brevity. 

Links: Tarim Mummies here
            Scythians here
            A (huge) Wiki article, Indo-Aryan Migration here
             Indo-Aryan Languages  here 

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