VITA ANTIQUA, ISSN 2522-9419 (Online), 2519-4542 (Print)
Center for Paleoethnological Research
VITA ANTIQUA 10, 2018, Prehistoric Networks in Southern and Eastern Europe, 176-191
‘River People’ of the Northern Black Sea and Macedonia
Ss. Cyril & Methodius University in Skopje, Institute for History of Art and Archaeology
Communication between the Northern Black Sea and Macedonia can be traced during all historical periods, that is, since prehistory up until the middle ages. Processes originating from the periods of the first use of the metal and the Early Middle Age are the most referred ones in the literature. This paper focuses on facts and acknowledgements, which refer to relations between these two geographical locations by the end of the 2nd millennium up until the first few centuries of the 1st millennium BC. Moreover, the already known archaeological facts will be supplemented with relevant written sources referring to exact historical events and populations and their ethnonyms, toponyms and other cultural features.
The article is based upon the thesis of the existence of intense relations between the Northern Black Sea and Macedonia towards the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, confirmed with various traditions related to rivers. Toponyms and ethnonyms containing the following roots sind-, sinth-, sith-, are given as a first indicator, confirmed in both regions through ancient sources, thus considering its Indo-Aryan interpretation as a river. Such interpretation is considered in context of the theories of Indo-Aryans moving south of the Northern Black Sea at the second half of the 2nd millennium BC; the Balkans being one of their directions. This last trajectory is related to the presence of Cimmerians and Hyperboreans at this peninsula, also verified in ancient written sources. A special significance is given to the ancient reports of Aria as the oldest name for Thrace. Numerous archaeological finds also refer to these motions, confirmed with a relevant literature. Moreover, different traditions witnessed in ancient sources are noted regarding the role of rivers in the spiritual culture of populations of both regions, especially in genealogical myths. Bull as a zoomorphic epiphany of river gods is especially emphasized, manifested with similar traditions, among which the roots taur-, taor found in the toponymy, ethnonymy and the theonymy of both regions.
Key words: Indo-Aryans, Macedonia, river cults, Thraco-Cimmerians, Sindoi, Tauria