Eurasian Steppe


Domestication of the Horse

Horse-Riding and Mounted Warfare

Two of the oldest images of humans riding horses, dated about 2100-1700 BC, were discovered in the ruins of a Sumerian city (top) and in the cemetery of a fortified Central Asian oasis of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) (bottom). The seal scenes, one of which was the personal seal of the Animal Disburser for the Sumerian King Shu-Sin, seem to draw on a similar iconography, which might have spread with the first wave of horses to enter the ancient Near East, happening at the time the seals were carved.

Sherratt described how the domestication of the horse was articulated with the SPR in three publications (1983, 1997a, 2003). Although his views changed, he consistently saw the principal significance of horses in military activities, associated first (about 2000 BC) with chariots and later (after 800 BC) with cavalry. He accepted a date in the fourth millennium BC for the earliest domestication of the horse, but like many he felt that horses were not used in war that early (Sherratt 2003:242). The earliest widespread evidence for the use of horses in warfare coincided with the invention of the metal bit and the chariot about 2000 BC (Littauer and Crouwel 2001), leading Sherratt to speculate that fourth-millennium horses might have been too small to ride comfortably, or that bits made of rope or leather might have been inadequate to control them in battle (Sherratt1997a: 217). Doubts about the size of steppe wild horses and the adequacy of organic bits were repeated by an influential group of archaeologists (Renfrew 2002:5-6; Kuzmina 2003:213; Drews 2004:20). They interpreted the spread of domesticated horses across Europe in the late fourth millennium BC as a trade in prestige symbols used as pack animals, and perhaps ridden with some difficulty, but whose potential as mounts in war remained unrealized (Sherratt 2003:242).

Sherratt connected the domestication of the horse with the domestication of the camel and the ass, all of which, he suggested, were responses to the need for heavy-burden transport during the long-distance trade boom caused by the Uruk expansion, 3800-3100 BC (Rothman 2001). He placed the domestication of the horse in the arid valley of the lower Kura River in what is now eastern Georgia and Azerbaijan, where local wild horses could have been domesticated to serve as pack animals for Uruk metal-traders who, in this scenario, brought pack-trains of domesticated asses to the copper mines of the Caucasus (Sherratt 2003:240). The Asian pack ass could have been the model for the domesticated pack-horse, a concept Sherratt borrowed from Uerpmann (1990). Donkey-riding could have inspired the earliest horse-riding, and that could explain why, in Near Eastern art, many early horse-riders are shown sitting on the rear of the horse, a seat suitable for a donkey but uncomfortable and ineffective on a horse (Drews 2004:40-55; Littauer and Crouwel 1979). This early (ineffective) style of horse riding could have been a product of the initial context of domestication on the northern frontier of the Uruk expansion.

We question most of this scenario, including its emphasis on warfare, its interpretation of horse sizes and capacities, and its location for horse domestication. (also see The domestication of the Horse below). On the subject of horse sizes, the Eneolithic (5200-3300 BC) horses of the Eurasian steppes were big enough to ride into battle. More than 70% of the Late Eneolithic horses at Dereivka, Ukraine (4200-3700 BC) and Botai, Kazakhstan (3600-3100 BC) stood 136-144cm at the withers (shoulders), or about 13-14 hands high (Benecke and von den Driesch 2003; Bibikova 1970). The horses ridden into battle by Roman cavalrymen commonly measured 120-150cm at the withers (Hyland 1990:68), and those of the American Plains Indians stood about 130-140 cm, or “a little under 14 hands” (Ewers 1955:33). Eneolithic steppe horses were about the same size as Roman and American Indian cavalry horses. On the question of rope bits, the authors conducted a riding experiment in which two expert riders rode never-bitted horses with rope and leather bits (Brown and Anthony 1998; Anthony, Brown and George 2006). Our riders had “no problem” controlling their horses. The American Plains Indians, regarded in the 19th century as among the finest light cavalry in the world, used a ‘war bridle’ that was just a rope looped around the lower jaw (Ewers 1955:76). History and experiment both show that horses the same size as Eneolithic steppe horses can be ridden effectively at a gallop, even in warfare, with a rope bit.

The notion that the seat used in early horseback riding was ineffective (Drews 2004:40-55; Sherratt 1997a:217) is derived from Near Eastern art. Horses were not native to the Near East and remained rare there until after about 1800 BC. The native Near Eastern equids were onagers (Equus hemionus), behaviorally resistant to domestication, distributed in the steppes of Iran, Syria and Iraq; and asses (Equus asinus), amenable to domestication, and distributed in the south, in Egypt and the southern Levant. Asses were domesticated as pack animals in Egypt perhaps around 4000 BC and were used for transport throughout the Near East by 3500 BC, long before horses appeared (Rossel et al. 2008). Asses have low withers (shoulders) and a high, broad rump. If a rider sits forward on an ass and the animal lowers its head the rider can easily fall forward. Donkey-riders wishing to retain their dignity therefore usually sit back on the rump and hang on to a belly band. Horses are built differently: they have high withers, so horse-riders sit forward, just behind the shoulders/withers, a seat that also permits the rider to grasp the mane. Bronze Age Near Eastern artistic images that show a rider on an animal that clearly is a horse, but sitting on the rump and grasping a belly band, probably indicate only that some Near Eastern artists before 1000 BCE were more familiar with donkey-riding than horse-riding. Other images correctly placed horse-riders in a forward seat, even among the earliest depictions of horse-riding, Akkadian and Ur III images dated 2300-1900 BC (Owen 1991; Oates 2003). Steppe horse-riders would not have used a seat suited only to the body of a donkey, an animal most of them had never seen.

Near Eastern art is an odd lens through which to examine the domestication of an animal that did not live in the Near East. Questions about the domestication of the horse are answered best in the region where wild horses were most important in human economies prior to their domestication—where humans relied on wild horse hunting for the majority of their meat diet. That region was the western Eurasian steppes, from the Dnieper to the Ural Rivers. Many settlements here dated long before 3500 BC contain more than 40% horse bones (Anthony 2007:198). The earlier settlements are interpreted as the camps of pedestrian wild horse hunters, but the later sites, after about 4500 BC, probably contain the bones of domesticated horses.

The Domestication of the Horse

The standard zoological indicators of domestication have proven uncertain guides to the identification of the earliest domesticated horses. The wild horses of the mid-Holocene varied naturally in size. The horses of the central Eurasian steppes in Kazakhstan (#s 7-9 in the figure on the right) were somewhat larger than those of the western steppes in central Ukraine (#6), which were larger than those of the steppe/forest-steppe border in western Ukraine and Romania (#s 4-5), and and all the horses of the steppes were significantly larger than the pony-sized wild horses of central and western Europe (#s 1-3). Steppe horses were about the same size as later Roman cavalry horses, but in the Eneolithic (Copper Age) this made them the largest horses in the world. Any east-west movement of wild horse populations might complicate the detection of size changes caused by domestication.

The increase in variation that began about 2500 BCE, indicated in the graph to the right by the horses of Csepel-Haros in eastern Hungary (#10), continued thereafter. This is often taken as an indicator of domestication beginning at about 2500 BCE (Benecke and von den Dreisch 2003), but increased variation is sensitive to sample size, and in any case the underlying assumptions about controlled breeding for particular types and sizes do not necessarily apply to the earliest stage of horse management.

Levine (1990, 1999) documented different mortality profiles for the horses at Dereivka (Ukraine) and Botai (Kazakhstan), two Eneolithic steppe sites critical for the understanding of early horse domestication. She interpreted both as wild populations, although the Dereivka profile was almost identical to that of the Roman site of Kesteren, where the horses certainly were domesticated. Given these problems with the consistency and even the significance of the standard zoological methods, studies of early horse domestication have fallen back on other indicators.


Botai culture 3600 BC

Botai culture

Fino-Uralic languages

Y-chromosome N

The Botai culture (~3700 bc, north-central Kazakhstan) was perhaps the first to domesticate the horse. They may have spoken an early Uralic dialect.

BOTAI: artist's reconstruction of settlement, excavated settlement plan, profile of house floor (looks suspiciously close to yurts, with a hearth in the center, a vent louver in the roof, and a storage of dry dung, which was used as hearth fuel, and any unused dung was left behind as having no value. Same footprint with dung is left by modern yurts. Yurts may have been covered with bark, vs. felt, as was recorded in Chinese ethnological description for Yanto tribe )


Evidence for Riding in the Fourth Millennium BC

The Botai culture in northern Kazakhstan is named after the site of Botai, where 99% of 300,000 recovered animal bones were from horses. Botai was a culture of foragers that rode horses to hunt horses, a peculiar adaptation found only here and only between about 3600-3000 BCE. 

Sandra Olsen’s (2003, 2006) excavations at Botai and Krasnyi Yar found layers of horse dung in house pits, suggesting either stable-cleaning or possibly a roof sealed with horse dung, clear indicators of domestication (likely just simple fuel storage). Also, whole horse carcasses were butchered in the settlement as a regular practice extending over hundreds of years. Since the Botai culture had no domesticated cattle, they had no animals big enough to drag carcasses, so at least some horses were kept for meat in or near the settlement.

Recently scientists led by Alan Outram at Exeter University have found traces of horse milk residues in clay pots from Botai. The milking of horses of course indicates that they were domesticated.

But is there direct evidence that they were ridden? Outram dismissed our evidence for bit wear at Botai. Bit wear is a pathology commonly found on the premolars of bitted horses. A bit is used only to ride or drive a horse, and Botai lacked wheeled vehicles, so bit wear would mean riding.

Bit Wear As A Method To Identify Ridden and Driven Horsessee: Brown, D. R., and D. W. Anthony, 1998, “Bit wear, horseback riding, and the Botai site in Kazakstan,” Journal of Archaeological Science 25:331-347. updated in chapter 10 of Anthony, David W., 2007, The Horse, The Wheel, and Language. Princeton University Press


Five lower second premolars from Botai, representing 3-5 horses, exhibited wear facets of a type that we have shown are associated exclusively with the use of a bit. (Anthony, Brown and George 2006; Brown and Anthony 1998). The diagnostic feature was a bevel or wear facet on the mesial or front corner of the premolars that measured 3mm or more. Wear facets of this depth are found, according to our research, exclusively on the teeth of bitted horses. (Very old and very young horses have naturally irregular teeth so can't be included in our studies. Horses fed on grain also develop many precularities in their occlusion. The 3mm bevel is diagnostic only on mature, pasture-fed horses.) Another site, Kozhai 1, dated to the same period, yielded 46,000 horse bones. We examined 12 lower P2s from horses, two of which showed wear facets of 3mm. Could an organic bit of rope or leather, the only kind available at Botai, create such wear facets?

Measurements of the bevel or facet on the front corner of the P2s of four horses ridden with a bone bit (top left), a hemp rope bit (top right), a leather bit (bot. left), and a horsehair rope bit (bot. right) over the course of 150 hours of riding (0-150 hours, horizontal scale; 0-3mm bevel, vertical scale).

Critics (Levine 2004) have charged that soft bits of rope or leather are too soft to create wear facets on horse teeth. We conducted tests on four previously never-bitted horses (Brown and Anthony 1998). They were ridden for 150 hours each with bits of hemp rope, horsehair rope, bone, and leather, and we made casts of their P2s at intervals. All bits, including leather, created wear facets on the lower P2s, as shown by the steady increase in the bevel measurements or facets on the lower P2 after 150 hours. Grit trapped under the bit probably was the agent of wear. Organic bits can cause bit wear.

Could natural malocclusion cause facets of 3mm or more, without human interference? Olsen (2006) found facets greater than 3mm on the premolars of two Pleistocene equids, and suggested that such facets were common in the wild, caused naturally by malocclusion, so do not indicate bitting. Olsen was a co-author of Outram's study noted above, and it was Olsen's criticism that Outram cited in dismissing our findings at Botai.

But Olsen did not screen her two specimens for age or condition, so we don't know if they are eligible for bit wear study. If they were from very old (20+) or very young horses (<3) their premolars could be expected to show many natural irregularities, so they would not be eligible. Olsen also failed to cite our 2006 study of Pleistocene premolars, which included not 2 teeth, but 74, in addition to 31 premolars of modern never-bitted horses, for a total sample of 105 premolars from never-bitted horses. This is the largest assemblage yet studied by anyone.

Christian George worked with us to study Pleistocene equid lower P2s from the Leisey site in Florida. He used our methods to eliminate teeth from immature equids (younger than 3 years) and from very old equids (see Horse tooth crown heights and ageing). This left 74 Pleistocene lower P2s from 44 mature equids.

Among the Leisey P2s George found no bevels greater than 3mm and just one greater than 2.5mm. In contrast, a bevel of 2.5mm or more occurred in the majority (58%) of mature bitted horses, and their maximum was 10mm (shown in the top row on the right with the measurements above the median tinted). George’s study supported a 3mm bevel as a cultural indicator, a threshold we had defined on the basis of a smaller sample of 31 modern never-bitted horse teeth. Facets 3mm or more in depth should be found on less than 1% of mature horse premolars among never-bitted horses. Zoo or stable feeding seems to affect occlusion in equids, so grain-fed domestic horses might show an increase in malocclusion that might complicate the identification of bit wear in domesticated, grain-fed populations. But at Botai, facets of 3mm or more should not have occurred unless the horses were bitted.

Wear facets 3-6mm deep occurred on five P2s from Botai (second row) and two from another Botai site named Kozhai1 (third row). Combined with the other indicators of domestication, bit wear on multiple teeth from two sites suggests that the Botai people rode horses.

The general increase in the importance of horses between 3500-3000 BCE in Kazakhstan, the Caucasus Mountains, eastern Anatolia, the Danube valley, and Germany; and the appearance in all of those regions of larger horses probably derived from the steppes, suggests that something had changed in the relationship between humans and horses. Botai and Kozhai 1 show what that something was. People had started to ride. Riding might well have started earlier, perhaps before 4000 BCE with the Khvalynsk culture. (We were not able to examine P2s from the Khvalynsk cemetery because all of the animal bones were discarded.)


Sintashta culture, c. 2100 - 1800 BC

Fino-Uralic languages - Y-DNA N & R1a

Sintashta culture

The earliest known chariots have been found in Sintashta burials, and the culture is considered a strong candidate for the origin of the technology, which spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare. Sintashta settlements are also remarkable for the intensity of copper mining and bronze metallurgy carried out there, which is unusual for a steppe culture.


Fino-Uralic languages

Alekanovo inscription

The Alekanovo inscription is a group of undeciphered characters found in the Russian village of Alekanovo. The characters were inscribed on a small clay pot 15 cm high, located in a Slavic burial site. The inscription was dated by Gorodtsov to 10th–11th century AD.

Aryan - Arkaim, c. 1700 BC

Y-DNA I2a, R1b1a2 & R1a

Rujm el-Hiri




Statue (Babe) Arkaim


Hurrian = Aryan

Gurjar - Ladakh

Haplogroup I2a - Haplogroup R1b1a2

Aryan Orgins:

Hurrians = Aryan (I2a, R1b1a2)

  • Hurrians
    • Arkaim (I2a, R1b1a2 & R1a)
      • Ariya Iran
        • Aryan India
        • Mitanni
          • Mycenaean Greece


Riding, Chariots and Warfare

Most observers have emphasized the effects of horseback riding on warfare. But we should differentiate between tribal raiding on horseback, which may have begun before 4000 BCE; and cavalry, which appeared only after 1000 BCE, initially as a specialized force of mounted archers.

Bow parts preserved in Bronze Age steppe kurgans suggest that bows were well over a meter long between 2500-1500 BCE. The length of the bow is directly related to its penetrating power, so until recurved bows were invented, there was a good reason to retain a long bow even if it made mounted archery difficult. Eneolithic and Bronze Age arrowheads were made in many sizes and weights. Long bows and non-standardized arrows, not rope bits or an ineffective riding seat, made Eneolithic and Bronze Age mounted warfare clumsy. Riding might have had a greater tactical role in the escape—often the most dangerous part of a pedestrian raid—than in the attack, which might still have been on foot.

Horse-aided tribal raiding tactics in the Eurasian steppes had little influence on the tactics of Near Eastern urban siege armies during the Bronze Age. This is not surprising if we accept Turney-High’s (1981:34; Keeley1996:47) injunction that warfare is social organization. It was only after Eurasian steppe chiefs developed the chariot during a period of intensified internal conflict and increased social stratification in the steppes that steppe tactics began to influence warfare in the Near East. 

In the southeastern Ural steppes not far from Botai, but a millennium later, at least 16 graves of the Sintashta culture contained vehicles with two spoked wheels.They are dated 2100-1700 BCE, older than the oldest chariots known in the Near East. The Sintashta chariot wheels were set in slots in the grave floors. As they rotted they left stains preserving the details of their spokes and diameters. There has been some question about whether the Sintashta chariots could have been used in war, with the doubts based largely on their size. War chariots in the later Near East carried a driver and a warrior, and had to have a gauge (width between the wheels) of at least 1.5m in order to provide sufficient room for two. Some of the Sintashta chariots were narrower than 1.5m, but as the diagram below shows, many were wide enough. And in any case, if the chariot warrior used a javelin, he could throw and drive, making a second man unecessary. For that matter he could loop the reins around his waist and fire a bow, a fighting method shown in later Egyptian tomb paintings.

Most of the Sintashta chariot graves contained weapons. A new kind of long stemmed point, perhaps designed for javelins, appeared in sets of up to 20 in Sintashta chariot graves. Charioteers could stand in a car and hurl a javelin with their entire body while riders could use only their arm, so javelins were more effective from a chariot than from horseback. Bronze Age bows probably were too long for mounted archery.


The steppe war chariot could have been introduced to the Near East through Central Asia, where there was clear and undoubted evidence for contact between the fortified, brick-walled oasis cities of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) and Sintashta and Petrovka charioteers from the northern steppes about 2100-1800 BCE. The BMAC oasis communities had far-flung trade relationships with cities and citadels across the Iranian Plateau, where the Elamite state and other smaller alliances were locked in combat with Mesopotamian kings during the Ur III period. This was when horses first became common in the Near East. The earliest Near Eastern chariots had appeared by about 1900-1800 BCE, and they soon became a necessary part of any successful urban army. For about a thousand years, chariots were an elite super-weapon.

But around 1200 BCE the short recurved “cupid” bow was developed, perhaps in Shang China. Cast socketed bronze arrowheads had been made sporadically in the Kazakh steppes from Sintashta through the second millennium BC. Around 1000-800 BC, the recurved bow was united with a method for mass-producing socketed bronze arrowheads of standard weights and sizes. The short but powerful bow and the standard-weight arrowhead together might have been the innovations that made mounted archery truly deadly.

Still, technical advances in bows and arrows were meaningless without a matching change in mentality, in the identity of the fighter, from a heroic single warrior to a nameless soldier. The defining feature of cavalry was that it attacked and retreated as a body in which individual riders became anonymous. An ideological model of fighting that was appropriate for a state, under the leadership of a general, was grafted onto tribal horseback riders, making cavalry an effective new weapon.

That shift occurred somewhere in the steppes between about 1000-800 BCE. After it, cavalry swept chariotry from the battlefield and a new era in warfare began.


Arkaim > Hurrians Mitanni > Mycenaean Greece

Warrior aristocracies - Indo-European language

Depictions of a chariot on the petroglyphs, the Koksu River valley, Kazakhstan


Mycenaeans chariot - Chariot

Mycenaean - Arkaim



Arkaim is an archaeological site situated in the Southern Urals steppe, 8.2 kilometres (5.1 mi) north-to-northwest of Amurskiy, and 2.3 km (1.4 mi) south-to-southeast of Alexandronvskiy, two villages in the Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, just to the north from the Kazakhstani border.

The ancient Ural fortress is called Russian Stonehenge. In addition to streets and buildings ruins scientists found remnants of the water system, metallurgic furnaces, and mines. It is also believed to be one of the strongest anomaly zones in Russia.

The site is generally dated to the 17th century BC. Earlier dates, up to the 20th century BC, have been proposed. It was a settlement of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture. Newly found artifacts make the site itself much older; scientists agree on it being at least as old as Troy and the Egyptian pyramids; it dates back to the 4th millennium BC. It is said to be older then Stonehenge (3300 BC).

Discovery and Excavation

The site was discovered in 1987 by a team of Chelyabinsk scientists who were preparing the area to be flooded in order to create a reservoir, and examined in rescue excavations led by Gennadii Zdanovich. At first their findings were ignored by Soviet authorities, who planned to flood the site as they had flooded Sarkel earlier, but the attention attracted by news of the discovery forced the Soviet government to revoke its plans for flooding the area. It was designated a cultural reservation in 1991, and in May 2005 the site was visited by then-President Vladimir Putin.

During the excavations of Arkaim no jewellery was found, no masterpieces of ancient art, no unknown writings, nor other such treasures - only fragments of broken ceramic ware, bones of domestic and wild animals, an occasional stone tool and even more rare, bronze tools. But even those common things are not well presented at Arkaim. The collection of artifacts is so poor and unimpressive, that it is not possible to make a museum exhibit appropriate to the site. Therefore, from the point of view of archeologists, the main value of the ruins was, and probably will be, the design of the structures itself and their lay-out.

The structures were tall; they had solid walls, gallery ceilings, wood-paved roadways, second floors and high wooden towers. Nowadays, archeologists have a more complete picture of how the settlement in the Arkaim Valley looked at the time of its peak, and it is quite impressive. First of all it is important to emphasize the point that this large settlement was not a collection of separate structures, but an all-inclusive design and construction. The total area extends to about twenty thousand square meters (twenty-four thousand square yards), and the settlement ground-plan is comprised of two circles, one inside the other, made of massive defensive walls.

The external wall is about 160 meters (500 feet) in diameter. It was surrounded by a ditch 2 meters (6.5 feet) wide, filled with water. The external wall is very massive, 5.5 meters (16 feet) high and five meters wide. It was constructed of timbered cages filled with soil and added lime, and an outer facing of cob blocks. Four entries were designated in the wall: the largest-one southwesterly and three smaller ones located on opposite sides.

Inside the city entrance is the only ring-shaped street, about 5 meters (18 feet) wide, that separates dwellings adjoining the external wall from the internal ring-shaped wall. As mentioned above, the street had timbered flooring under which, along its full length, the 2 meter-wide (6 feet) ditch was dug which connected to the external ditch. Thus, the city had their storm water drain, the overflow of water filtered through the timbered roadway into the ditch which then went into the external ditch.

The circles of the dwellings were divided into sectors by radial walls, spaced in between every two premises. In the plan they look similar to wheel spokes. There were thirty-five dwellings at the external wall and twenty-five dwellings at the internal one.

One end of every dwelling adjoined either the external or the internal wall, and faced either the main ring-shaped street or the central square. In an improvised hall there was a special water drain which went into the ditch under the main street. Yes, as we saw earlier, ancient Aryans had a water drain! Furthermore, each dwelling enjoyed a well, a furnace and a small dome-shaped storage place.

From the well, above the water level, two earthen pipes branched off. One of them went to the furnace, another one to the dome-shaped storage place. What for? The most ingenious things are often simple. We all know that if one looks into a well one feels a flow of cool air. And so in the Aryan furnace, this cool air, passing through the earthen pipe, created a draught of such power, that they could mould bronze without use of bellows. It appears that each dwelling had such a furnace and ancient metal smiths only needed to perfect their skills to compete in this art. Another earthen pipe provided air to the storage place, of a lower temperature than the ambient air: some type of a refrigerator?

The central square that crowns Arkaim is approximately 25 by 27 meters (82 by 88 feet). Judging by the remnants of the fire places which were situated in specific locations, this was the square to fulfill certain sacraments.

The complicated and well planned internal lay-out of dwellings and ring-shaped streets made a sophisticated trap for uninvited visitors, in the divide between the external defensive wall and other fortifications as well as an efficient storm water drainage system. Even the colors of the "facing materials" used by ancient Arkaim inhabitants were functionally and aesthetically significant.

Further on, we see the ring of the internal wall with a puzzling purpose. It is even more massive than the external wall, being 3 meters wide (9 feet) by 7 meters high (22 feet). This wall, according to excavation data, has no entry, except for a small doorway in the southeast which isolates the twenty-five internal premises from all the rest. To approach the small entry in the internal ring, one had to go along the whole length of the ring-shaped street.

This not only served defensive purposes, but also had a sacred meaning. To enter the city, one had to follow the Sun. Most likely, people who lived within the internal ring possessed something that was not meant to be seen even by those living in the external ring, let alone external observers.

Mandala Effect

The obvious complexity of the social order of a people who built such a structural and artistic miracle several millennia ago is not all that an expertŐs eye would notice in observing the contours of this ancient proto-city. The geometry of the construction conceals in itself some riddles: Why is it a circle? Was it linked to symbolism relevant to the spiritual philosophy of the ancients? If yes, then what do these symbols express and to whom? What kind of message are they meant to relay? Following are some suggestions made by the first researchers of Arkaim, G.B. Zdanovich and I.M. Batanina.

They realized that its lay-out, the ground-plan of Arkaim, is related to the Mandala principle, a square inside a circle - one of the basic sacred symbols of Buddhist philosophy.

The word Mandala is translated as a circle or disk. In the ancient Rig-Veda writings, where it has been first described, the word has a set of values: a wheel, a ring, the country, space, society, gathering.

The symbolic meaning of a Mandala is understood all over the world as a model of the Universe, even of the entire cosmos, where the two most important principles present in our Universe are represented in the form of a circle and a square. Arkaim, with its dwellings, having adjoining rooms, might possibly represent the "wheel of time", where every aspect is defined by the previous one and in turn, defines the next one.

Did these ancient sages, perfectly familiar with the structure of the Universe, see how harmoniously and naturally it is arranged and therefore, constructed their city as a mini-Universe? And the engineering genius of these ancient builders, which we already explored, is equally admirable.

And now, further into these explorations, come more far-reaching conclusions which can be taken as a key to the most important riddle of Arkaim: In the 'Land of Cities', its most amazing distinction is not any richness of artifacts, but its surprisingly high level of spiritual culture. It represents a special world that in many aspects is permeated with spirituality, from settlement and funeral architectural forms to sculptured images chiseled into stone.

An Ancient Celestial Observatory of Ultimate Accuracy

ArkaimŐs constructions are both complicated and sophisticated, but their true purpose and functions are not very obvious. And only when its accurate geometry is discovered in the lay-out is it possible to comprehend the builders' messages. By way of various essential elements of geometry and the dimensions of Arkaim, researchers are directed to precise correspondences with certain parameters of Great Britain's ancient Stonehenge.

In all archaeological publications about Arkaim the diameter of the ring-shaped wall of the citadel is listed as eighty-five meters. In fact, this figure is slighty rounded-off. If it is measured with the accuracy needed for astronomical purposes it turns out for the imperfectly shaped ring to be having radiuses of 40 and 43.2 meters. The radius of the ŇObri holesÓ ring in Stonehenge is also 43.2 meters. Both ancient sites are located basically at the same latitude; both are in the middle of bowl-shaped valleys with hilly horizon views. And this is not all: The more accurately both sites are compared, the more details are found which are precisely concurring.

At Arkaim and associated ancient sites, the radiocarbon analysis was done not less than three times, using tens of probes. It turns out that in most cases Arkaim is of the same age as Stonehenge or even older.

The resemblance of these two ancient sites and their ages have much significance, particularly the implication that household articles of a civilized world migrated not from cultural Greece to wild Siberia, but very much the other way around. It also means that regarding the designs of both sites, one should search for one common denominator rather than dismiss the similarities, believing them to be mere coincidences.

There is of course, one complication: The stone monoliths of Stonehenge have passed through millennia practically damage-free, whereas the wooden elements of design of the Southern Ural proto-city are almost completely lost. They did not decay but were destroyed in a fire raging here almost five thousand years ago.

The fire that eliminated the 'living' history of Arkaim is among the most intriguing riddles of this ancient structure. It would be less strange if it was one of those natural disasters that even today, quite often, suddenly destroy whole settlements, taking inhabitants off-guard and burying belongings, along with anyone who couldnŐt escape.

The singularity of ArkaimŐs fire is that it was, apparently, not unexpected for inhabitants and it is quite possible that the inhabitants caused it themselves. Only this could explain the fact that in the ancient ashes there are no intact household items, only fragments and splinters and there are no human remains at all. They all left alive, and carried away everything valuable. Why? We can only guess now. Nevertheless there is an immutable fact; being built at once, as a one-time project, the proto-city Arkaim also ceased to exist overnight, was left by all inhabitants and, possibly, burnt down by them.

Comparisons of Arkaim with Stonehenge are not accidental. Careful research of Arkaim by archeologists and astronomers has determined that it is a celestial observatory of ultimate accuracy. Modern astronomers have been surprised by the fact that a project of such versatility, complexity and accuracy has been fulfilled, the more that no traces of earlier and simpler constructions were found.

Notable in the collection of confirmed patterns is the use of the Golden Section rule in the internal circle, consisting of 27 walls and 12-sectioned zodiac partitionings.

The internal circle has been devoted to the Sun, the external one to the Moon. The inclination of lunar orbit to the ecliptic plane (5Ľ 09 ') is defined very precisely.

In the erection of the ring-shaped internal wall they used a circle with a radius measuring 52.65 of ArkaimŐs linear measures (one Arkaim linear measure equals 80.0 cm) that corresponds to 52° 39' the latitude of Arkaim. The latitude of Arkaim, by the way, is close to the latitude of Altai barrow Arjan (52° 00 ') and Stonehenge (51° 17'), and it is possible that this strip on the EarthŐs surface, as well as the 30th parallel, had significant meaning for ancient astronomers and priests.

Measurements confirmed that the ancients of the Southern Ural were aware of the phenomenon of the precision of the EarthŐs axis expressed in ratios of the internal circle. The period of this phenomenon is enormous - 25,786 years, but ArkaimŐs builders portrayed corresponding parameters perfectly and very precisely. Researchers specifically note that in order to create this sort of observatory they had to know that the Earth has the form of a sphere and together with other planets spins around the Sun... (On ArkaimŐs ceramic ware, the sacred sign for the Ňsun wheelÓ, a swastika was found.) Another surprise is that the city itself, and mortuary facilities in its plan, represent the combination of a circle and a square.

On our planet, quite a few archeological finds confound modern science: the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, the great figures of the Nasca desert, Stonehenge in England, Zorats-Kar in Armenia and, it seems, our Arkaim.

It is hard to explain how our ancestors managed to build these amazing constructions, or for what purpose, but it is impossible to ignore them. American researcher Jerald Hockings asserts that to erect Stonehenge required no less than one and a half million man-days, a vast, simply Immeasurable expenditure of power. For what? And then there is Arkaim - for what? The largest, and according to K.K. Bystrushkin, the most perfect celestial observatory, constructed by people we assumed were ŇprimitiveÓ and half-civilized, living almost five thousand years ago in the Southern Ural steppes?

Here we are talking about complicated sites such as Stonehenge and Arkaim and yet, we do not even understand the much more simple and humble Dolmen structures. But even they certainly have astronomically significant orientations and they are, in fact, the most ancient calendars of mankind, not to mention their other important functions.

Maybe we have yet to make an objective assessment of mankind's distant past? With the chauvinistic attitude modern science brings to these discoveries, what if we have grossly misrepresented our ancestors' level of "primitiveness"?

Suppose that our ancestors were no more primitive than we are and just lived differently, according to principles and values unknown to us? What if K.K. Bystrushkin is correct in asserting that Arkaim is more sophisticated than we are, and if we wish to understand it we would have to grow up in order to match its heights?


Although the settlement was burned and abandoned, much detail is preserved. Arkaim is similar in form but much better preserved than neighboring Sintashta, where the earliest chariot was unearthed. The site was protected by two circular walls. There was a central square, surrounded by two circles of dwellings separated by a street. The settlement covered ca. 20,000 m2 (220,000 sq ft). The diameter of the enclosing wall was 160 m (520 ft). It was built from earth packed into timber frames, and reinforced with unburned clay brick, with a thickness of 4Đ5 m (13Đ16 ft). and a height of 5.5 m (18 ft). The settlement was surrounded with a 2 m (6 ft 7 in)-deep moat.

There are four entrances into the settlement through the outer and inner wall with the main entrance to the west. The dwellings were between 110Đ180 m2 (1,200Đ1,900 sq ft) in area. The outer ring of dwellings number 39 or 40, with entrances to a circular street in the middle of the settlement. The inner ring of dwellings number 27, arranged along the inner wall, with doors to the central square of 25 by 27 m (82 by 89 ft). The central street was drained by a covered channel. Zdanovich estimates that approximately 1500 to 2500 people could have lived in the settlement.

Surrounding Arkaim's walls, were arable fields, 130Đ140 m by 45 m (430Đ460 ft by 150 ft), irrigated by a system of canals and ditches. Remains of millet and barley seeds were found.

The 17th century date suggests that the settlement was about co-eval to, or just post-dating, the Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia and Mesopotamia (the Gandhara grave culture appearing in the Northern Pakistan from ca. 1600 BC, the Indo-European Mitanni rulers reached Anatolia before 1500 BC, both roughly 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) removed from the Sintashta-Petrovka area), and that it was either an early Iranian culture, or an unknown branch of Indo-Iranian that did not survive into historical times.

Pseudoarchaeology and National Mysticism

Since its discovery, Arkaim has attracted public and media attention in Russia, from a broad range of the population, including esoteric, New Age and pseudoscientific organizations. It is said to be the most enigmatic archaeological site within the territory of Russia, and as with many archaeological discoveries, many conflicting interpretations have been put forward.

Swastika City

In order to gain publicity, the early investigators described Arkaim as "Swastika City", "Mandala City", and "the ancient capital of early Aryan civilization, as described in the Avesta and Vedas". The swastika description refers to the floor plan of the site, which (with some imagination) may appear similar to the swastika symbol, albeit with rounded arms (similar to the lauburu) attached to a central ring instead of a cross.


The similarity of latitude, date, and size led some archaeoastronomists (Bystrushkin 2003) to compare Arkaim with Stonehenge in England. According to their claims, the Neolithic observatory at Stonehenge allowed for observation of 15 astronomical phenomena using 22 elements, whereas the contemporaneous observatory at Arkaim allowed for observation of 18 astronomical phenomena using 30 elements.

The precision of measurements in Stonehenge is estimated at 10 arc-minutes to a degree, that in Arkaim being put at 1 arc-minute. Such a precision of astronomical observations was not repeated until the compilation of Almagest about 2 millennia later. The interpretation as an observatory for either Stonehenge or Arkaim is not universally accepted.

Arkaim - Pearl of "The Land of Cities"

Arkaim - Pearl of "The Land of Cities"

The archeological site Arkaim, in the Russian Chelyabinsk territory, was discovered in the summer of 1987 and declared a national archeological reserve in 1991. In 2005, Vladimir Putin himself visited the site which had become a national treasure. At the time of this writing, over twenty years later, one might assume that the excitement about this discovery and its significance would be waning, but instead, the interest this amazing, ancient site has attracted continues to increase. Why all this excitement?

Many of the three to four thousand visitors to Arkaim every summer witness what some have called a veritable miracle: The remnants of this "Land of Cities" are thought to bear testimony to one of the most ancient civilizations known to man.

Walking among these ruins, people discover original designs, massive walls, complicated defensive structures, furnaces, craft workshops, especially early bronze forgeries and carefully designed infrastructures, as well as many other signs of a culture so ancient that their discovery has definitely disturbed many traditional archeologists. Here, it is believed, the first horses were domesticated and the first two-wheel chariots were built.

There are still scientists who insist upon placing 'manŐs origin' within certain rigid time-frames, even though they have long been dis-proven by many archeological discoveries. Nevertheless, for various reasons too complex to mention in this introductory article, these are still not added into our childrenŐs history-books.

After the archaeologists, historians and ethnographers, the psychics arrived, along with prophets, pilgrims and members of various religious sects, all people thirsting for spiritual healing or enlightenment and each wanting to personally see "The Place".

Arkaim has been featured in articles, both scientific and general, movies, presentations at scientific conferences and many carefully researched books and monographs which have since been published.

Many historians and archeologists agree that visitors to this area are viewing the ancestral homes of ancient Aryans, for which many scientists have searched diligently. Covering the vast territory of the Bolshaya Karaganskaya river valley, they believe that this is the place where at the turn of the third to second millennium BC a historical split occurred, namely that of Aryans dividing into two branches, the Indo-Iranian and Iranian, a scientific fact that had already been documented by linguists much earlier.

Even some of the most conservative scientists are prepared to acknowledge that these places were the native lands of Zarathustra, the author of the sacred hymns of "Avesta", a sage as legendary as the Buddha or Mahomet.

Understandably, many individuals who had been searching for the tap-roots of their ancestral origins had difficulties calming their excitement and imagination. After all, this discovery by South Ural archaeologists did represent somewhat of a miracle even to those observers unaffected by such longings. It was one of those discoveries that would force any diligent scientist to reconsider the paradigms they had developed over decades if not centuries.

The implications of the findings as well as the ensuing research were as important to the field of archeology as they were for the - too frequently minimized - 'spirito-philosophical' needs of many of the pilgrims.

Arkaim's age represents a predicament which has forced historians to change their concepts of the Bronze Age on the territories of the Ural-Kazakhstan steppes. It now appears that the latter was not the era which was to define a world about to enter into its first experience of civilization. The discovery and signs of high levels of metallurgical development puts this region into another most significant position culturally, extending, as it does now, from the Mediterranean to present-day Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Very unique metal objects of amazing workmanship had been found at the coasts of the Aegean sea as well as in the Southern Ural Mountains, attesting to extensive cultural contacts. It now appears that these in fact had ŇmigratedÓ by caravan - or wandered, as it were - not "from there to here", but "from here to there", namely from Russia to Greece rather than the reverse, as had been assumed.

The importance of such detailed clarifications of historical travel and whether it happened from hither to thither or vice-versa might be brushed aside. But their importance is not lost on people who consider them essential to their regional patriotic ambitions, not a comfortable arena to enter into in modern-day Russia, nor anywhere else in the world. After all, it is still a world bleeding from ideological conflicts based upon misused patriotic identifications.

But discoveries of such importance are extremely rare, occurring maybe once in a century. So we must not be shy nor hide behind the memories of our deepest wounds from the most perverse of perpetrations, nor beneath newly created hysterias. Some of these fears are very understandable. Yet neither our ever-living wounds of World II nor of other ancient or recent regional wars should distract us from this noble goal of finding something so possibly uniting for feuding nations as a common gene-pool to much of humankind.

Many sciences already do point to such a possibility, notably gene-samples from all races. Must such innocent curiosities and claims really continue to be so heavily burdened with memories of political abuses by truly deranged leaders whose names we need not mention here?

But reasonable reactions notwithstanding, why have people who are looking for their roots in the direction of Vedic ancestry been more suspect than any other indigenous people curious about their heritage? After all, it would appear to be an uncommonly large area upon which such ancestors would have enjoyed their apparently advanced culture. Such a culture would seem to have "fed" much of what we now call Western civilization and parts of Asia, including migrated tribes, such as American Indians and even Europeans settling America.

Moreover, as we also explore elsewhere regarding linguistic research efforts around the so-called Nostratic or Proto-Language question, some linguists are struggling with the possibility of linguistic ancestral roots for possibly ALL humankind, of all colors, so that the suspect idea of any "superiority" should be supported as an excitement for all of humanity maybe re-discovering its true origin and common spiritual heritage.

But even if we just return to the simple idea of a very ancient highly evolved Vedic culture, as many scientists such as archeologist Michael Cremo are discovering and support. Again: Why was this essential piece of possible human history and origins so completely "lost" to a searching world for millennia? After all, we had not lost all their ancient remains. (Cremo coined the term Human Devolution and used it as the title of one of his books to describe that hypothesis of our human race having de-volved from a high civilization, rather than evolved from cavemen.)

And why did someone as powerful as Anastasia, the recluse of the Siberian Taiga who many of our readers admire for what seem to be super-human powers and a deep, spiritual integrity, pause and then say out loud and with very conscious caution and deliberation, "I am Ved-Russ", seemingly prepared to inherit a great cosmic rain of wrath upon such a claim? She explained to author Vladimir Megre that she was a member of an unbroken ancestral lineage hailing from the Vedic culture which used to extend from her native boreal forest lands to large parts of Europe.

Cremo has inherited, maybe not cosmic, but establishment wrath and professional ridicule, along with many others who have even lost their University positions because of unusual discoveries and related publications they dared to disseminate. WHY must anything disappear that is not in keeping with the prevailing paradigm of the short-lived human fairy-tale constructed for and bottle-fed to us modern folk? What could be so dangerous about discovering a bit of missing - though admittedly quite fabulous and empowering - human history?

Some people claim that such discoveries as Arkaim do not happen by chance, that Time itself works upon them - as if a critical mass of expectation might bring them to consciousness. (Ed. note: Your editor could not miss the fact that the discovery of this site happened exactly 21 years ago, in the year when many other earth-moving events happened, all in keeping with what people with transpersonal leanings called the Harmonic Convergence. Even our completion day for this special Magazine - perchance - had fallen upon the anniversary date of that event, which was considered a turning-point in the evolution of the planetŐs quality of consciousness).

Maybe there are other explanations yet for the strange events leading to the discovery and last-minute preservation of Arkaim - which was slated to be flooded to create a reservoir - only to be found in the eleventh hour by some schoolboys who received a can of condensed milk for their literally ground-breaking discovery. Actually, the ruins had been perfectly visible on aerial photographs taken prior to the year of the ancient cityŐs discovery.

Experts had been confused, was the speculation offered, by the excellent preservation of the ancient monuments: everybody assumed that these kinds of accurate geometrical forms must have been of purely modern origin. Why was no-one asking about these strange-looking arrangements? In the Russia of the past, a "top-secret" country full of restrictions, it was not encouraged to ask possibly unwelcome questions, and yet, one might assume that the government itself may have wanted to explore these unusual, presumably "modern" arrangements.

The "miracle-rescue" of Arkaim, namely the fact that this precious site had practically been doomed, did not escape the attention of the mass media, who spoke about this aspect as the second miraculous fact about Arkaim, the first being its very existence. With Its location as a construction zone for a huge water reservoir, orders had already been signed on the highest governmental levels.

At the time that archaeologists were called in, blueprints had been confirmed, large investments had been made and construction was already under way. The estimated time frame for job completion was only a few months, if not weeks away, and it seemed there was no power in the world capable of stopping such a heavy flywheel of a planned and very profitable economic investment and local necessity. The retaining dam had been erected and all that was left to do was to fill up a short crosspiece - and the spring floods would have left no trace of Arkaim.

This second miracle, however, was not heaven-made but created by Man. Many people still remember how scientists, journalists and intellectuals took a stand for the UralŐs Troy (a comparison which, it turned out later, actually flattered the ancient Troy, which is considered to be a millennium younger than this hoary site).

The struggle for ArkaimŐs rescue was part of a public crusade against the typical arbitrary treatment of the Soviet system of that time, namely a bureaucratic attitude with focus on utilitarian rather than cultural values. It did indeed help the cause that this system was nearly dead and that Ural's branch of the Academy of Sciences (AS) Arkaim archeological site and a section of reconstructed wall. Ancien logs are sticking up from the ground. threatened to resign from the Academy if Arkaim was not protected.

Below are excerpts from letters received by the editorial office of the newspaper 'The Science of Ural' which, at that time, was used as headquarters for the rescue campaign: "For how much longer will bureaucrats decide what is needed for the people and what is not? The Ministry of Water Industry does not need Arkaim. But we do!" And: "If Arkaim is not rescued, the idea of socialism for me will fall once and for all."

The idea of socialism did fall indeed, but Arkaim remained.

What do scientists say about Arkaim? The man who has the honor of being the pioneer in the discovery of this ancient site, archaeologist Gennady Borisovich Zdanovich, explains: I see Arkaim as the brightest example of an integration of primitiveness, unity and wholeness which combines very different functions.

It is at once a fortress, a temple, a craft centre, and an inhabited settlementÓ. Astro-archeologist K. K. Bystrushkin adds another important note: In addition, Arkaim is also a celestial observatory of extreme accuracy, the most complex of those presently known to mankind. In this respect it is compared to Stonehenge, the well-known megalithic structure standing on the Salisbury plain in Southern England. As early as the middle of the eighteenth century, it was believed to represent the most ancient observatory in the world.

This hypothesis was confirmed and received wide recognition two hundred years later. However, Arkaim appears to be an observatory of much more sophistication than Stonehenge. Another important fact is its age: archeologists estimate that the age of Arkaim is close to 3800 - 3600 years. K. K. Bystrushkin, according to his methodology, increases this age by one thousand years. What do we do with evidence and a heritage of such a highly evolved culture - with an age of ~ 4800 years?

In the News ...

Unearthed Aryan cities rewrite history   The Australian - October 4, 2010
If archeologists confirm the cities as Aryan, they could be the remnants of a civilization that spread through Europe and much of Asia. Their language has been identified as the precursor of modern Indo-European tongues, including English. Words such as brother, guest and oxen have been traced back to this prototype.

The first city, known as Arkaim, was discovered in 1989, soon after the soviet authorities allowed non-military aerial photography for the first time.

The full extent of the remains is only now becoming apparent. Items that have so far been dug up include many pieces of pottery covered in swastikas, which were widely used ancient symbols of the sun and eternal life. The Nazis appropriated the Aryans and the swastika as symbols of their so-called master race. Ms Hughes believes that some of the strongest evidence that the cities could be the home of the Aryans comes from a series of horse burials.

Several ancient Indian texts believed to have been written by Aryans recount similar rituals. "These ancient Indian texts and hymns describe sacrifices of horses and burials and the way the meat is cut off and the way the horse is buried with its master," she said. "If you match this with the way the skeletons and the graves are being dug up in Russia, they are a millimetre-perfect match."

Ellies' Theories

Arkaim fits right in with the lost civilizations I blogged about at the end of 2010 that link to Ancient Alien Theory.

With Arkaim we find another program insert - a city created by aliens as another playground on planet Earth in which they could study humanity by creating another hybrid race encoded with their DNA. All races on planet Earth have always been hybrids as is your experience today. It might help explain the feelings - "I don't belong here" - "I will be-leaving/believing soon." - etc. It would seem that each insert allowed the native population to gain knowledge about science and math and more to create things far ahead of their timeline that we would discover today to piece together the knowledge of who we are and how we came to be here. Do you remember?

Of course this all goes back to Zoroaster aka Zarathustra aka Z.

Arkaim is replete with everything from sacred geometry to 'you name it'.

This link has some cool music. Close your eyes and be there.

Arkaim - Stonehenge

Russian archaeologists have managed to recreate a computer model of the enigmatic elongated skull that was discovered in Russia’s Stonehenge: Arkaim. This proves that elongated skulls are a global phenomenon present all around the world. The question that remains is: Why were elongated skulls so important in the distant past?

In 2015, Russian archaeologists excavating Russia’s Stonehenge known as Arkaim discovered a mysterious skeleton with an unusually anomalous elongated skull. After numerous studies and analysis, they have managed to recreate how the ‘Arkaim elongated skull’ really looked like in the distant past.

Arkaim is one of the most mysterious ancient archaeological sites in Russia. This 20.000 square meter compound was protected by circular walls just before it was burned down and abandoned mysteriously. Archaeologists believe that, just like Stonehenge in the UK, Arkaim was an ancient site dedicated to the observation of stars and constellations.

Arkaim was a very sophisticated settlement, and in some cases, it displayed unique technologies that went far beyond the capabilities of other similar settlements since Arkaim had a very complex water drainage system and sedimentation pits.

Researchers speculate that ancient tribes in the vicinity of Arkaim practiced head binding just as many other ancient cultures around the globe.

Researcher Maria Makurova has confirmed to the Russian news agency TASS: ‘We have found a well-preserved skeleton. ‘Her skull was elongated because the tribe did so by tying up the heads of their children with rope. It was clearly a tradition in the tribe.’

Now, scientists have managed to recreate the image of a woman in a very precise model in three dimensions which even reproduces the color of the skin and eyes and its most interesting feature: the elongated skull. Precisely because of the odd shape of the head researchers have nicknamed her as ‘the Sarmatian alien.’

According to Yuri Makurov, the elongated shape of the skull is not unusual among the Sarmatians: in fact, in 80% of cases, during the excavation of Sarmatian graves in the area of the Ural Mountains researchers have discovered evidence of similar bone structure. Scientists explain that this is was achieved through head binding, a deformation that is created during early childhood by pressing the skull between two boards tied with ropes.

This practice could be due to the beauty standards of the Sarmatians or the desire to create a distinctive sign in order to distinguish individuals from their group of foreigners. Artificial head deformation practices have also been discovered in numerous other ancient cultures around the globe, among the most noteworthy are Peru, Egypt and parts of Asia.

This proves that elongated skulls are in fact a global phenomenon and not an isolated event as was previously believed.

Why did ancient cultures around the globe practice a procedure by which they artificially created elongated human skulls? Did they come up with this idea on their own? Or was an external influence present, thousands of years ago which led people from Asia, the Americas and other parts of the world to practice such a bizarre procedure?

Is it possible that thousands of years ago, a now-lost, advanced human race inhabited our planet possessing elongated skulls? Is it possible that ancient people practiced skull deformation because they saw a race of advanced beings that originally had elongated skulls and mysterious bodies?

These are just some of the questions that have created an ongoing debate in the archaeological community.

Skeleton with Elongated Skull Discovered in Russia

(Read the article on one page)

A skeleton with an elongated skull has been uncovered at Arkaim, known as the Stonehenge of Russia. Dating to the second or third century AD, the elongated skull has created a stir for alien enthusiasts and archaeologists alike.

The Akraim site is located in the Southern Urals in Russia and is dated to the 17th century BC. The settlement in which the skeleton with the elongated skull was found is dated to 4,000 years ago, while the skeleton itself is 2,000 years old.

As the skeleton is so much younger than the site, researchers do not believe it is really connected to the Akraim archaeological site, and are convinced that the discovery is purely coincidental

Archaeologists studying the skeleton have come to some conclusions regarding its origin. Researcher Maria Makurova asserts that the skeleton probably "belongs to a woman from the Sarmati tribe that lived in the territories of what is now modern day Ukraine, Kazakhstan and southern Russia," according to The Mail Online.

As Ancient Origins has outlined, the Sarmatians were a group of tribes who spoke Persian and ruled the aforementioned areas between 500 BC to 400 AD. They are known to have practiced female body modification by, for example, cauterizing the right breast to enable more strength for hunting and fighting.

Sarmatian cavalry fleeing from Roman riders, Trajan's Column (Wikimedia Commons)

Makurova states that the skull's elongated shape is also due to cultural traditions, and does not suggest the woman having connections to or being a member of any alien species. "Her skull was elongated because the tribe did so by tying up the heads of their children with rope. It was clearly a tradition in the tribe."

Nonetheless, the cause of elongated skulls in the Samarti tribe has yet to be explained by archaeologists. While some suspect interactions with beings from other worlds, Makurova has declined to comment on this belief, stating instead that research continues on other theories to clarify the reasons for this practice.

A photo depicting the practice of head binding with rope (Flickr)

The controversy regarding the origin of  elongated skulls as cultural practices, alien interactions, and as a worldwide phenomena has been covered extensively by Ancient Origins . Archaeological finds of both cranium and figurines have shown that skull modification expanded around the world starting in 5,000 BC as hunter-gatherer societies  became more settled. The reasoning behind the increase in elongated skulls is however still open for debate.

The site of Arkaim is called Russia's Stonehenge due to its latitude, date, size and role as an astronomical observatory. The site also contains a settlement which covers approximately 220,000 square feet (6, 7056 square meters) and has a central gathering space with two circles of dwellings separated by a street.

Statue, Arkaim, Russia (Wikimedia Commons)

Similarities continue as there have also been many claims of strange incidents taking place at Arkaim in the past, much like Stonehenge. Magnetic anomalies, strange fog and lights, hallucinations, feelings of disorientation and other unexplained phenomena have linked Arkaim to otherworldly activities over the years. Much as the theories and controversy regarding elongated skulls, Arkaim continues to generate heated debate on its origins and purpose.




Biblical Giants Unearthed in Golan Heights?

A recent archeological dig has unearthed no less than two dozen skeletons of giant proportions near the ancient ruins of Rujm el-Hiri, located in the Golan Heights, a contested area claimed by both Syria and Israel.

The team of archeologists led by the University of Tel-Aviv claims that the skeletons might be older then the ruins themselves, already dating back to 5000 years, according to mainstream archeology.

“It is clearly an unexpected find” explains chief archeologist, Tom Yiggur. “The site of Rujm el-Hiri has been extensively searched for decades already, but our team noticed a mound nearby which we thought was of major interest. It has been two long years, but it was definitely worth the effort” he explains, visibly enthused.

The Rujm el-Hiri site which consists of an estimated 40,000 tons of uncut black volcanic basalt field stones piled and wedged into between five and nine concentric rings has always been a site of interest to biblical archeology because of its mention in the Bible.

Some scholars believe the structure of concentric stone circles known as Rujm al-Hiri was an astrological temple or observatory, others a burial complex

“It is said in the Bible, that Og, King of Bashan, ruled over these lands. Og and his mighty army was slain by Moses and he is said to have been the last of the Rephaim, a hebrew word meaning giant.

Could this be the resting ground of these mythical giants the Bible tells us about? I would not be surprised!” explains Guntar Web, head of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Tel-Aviv. “One of the giants was covered in a copper armor. One of the copper swords was also as hard as steel and made in a fashion unknown to us. This is definitely the most interesting dig I have ever laid my eyes upon” explains the man who has been in the field for over four decades.

Srubna - Andronovo culture

Proto Slaves - Proto Indo-Iranians

Diachronic map of migrations in Asia ca. 1750-1250 BC

Diachronic map of migrations in Asia ca. 1250-750 BC

Diachronic map of migrations in Asia ca. 750-250 BC


Proto Indo-Iranians

Andronovo culture, c. 2000 BC - 900 BC

Y-DNA R1a-Z93

Andronovo culture

A balbal near Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan


In June 2015, another genetic study surveyed one additional male and three female individuals of Andronovo culture. Extraction of Y-DNA from this individual was determined to belong to R1a1a1b2a2 (Z93- clade: Z2121). Extractions of mtDNA were determined to represent two samples of U4 and two samples of U2e.


Andronovo Culture Tombs in the Xinjiang Province

Tomb M3

M3 stands out from the typical earthen-shaft burial regarding its dome-like grave mound (Diameter: 200cm; Height: 140cm) surrounded by a ditch embedded with green rubbles on the wall. The main chamber is rightly beneath the mound around which 16 stone-coffin tombs scattered. This main chamber is consisted of two parts: the western part is a sloped second-tired platform while the eastern section is square-shaped in the plan with narrowed bottom vertically. The chamber ground is paved by finely cut slabs on which traces of red painting could be detected. Most of the human bones are mixed in the soil deposits and they include pelvis, rib and vertebrate elements. Along with human bones, pottery shards and animal bones were also excavated.

All of the 16 stone-coffin tombs attaching to the main chamber contain rectangular coffin made of four stone slabs and covered with one stone plate on the top. The coffin is similar to the burial pit in size, averaging 30cm in length, 50cm in width and 20-50cm in depth, where infants either cremated (13 tombs) or inhumated (3 tombs) were buried. In terms of inhumation, bodies flexed on one side heading west. Usually one or two pottery vessels are found around their head. For cremation burials, fragmental bone elements lie on the bottom of the tomb along with ceramic grave goods. Potteries tend to be small vessels produced in lower temperature, suggesting their function exclusively for burials. Pot with ring foot and plain-bottomed jar are the two types most frequently discovered. 

Ritual site J3

Details of ritual site J3 with upright column in the centre of the round pit

The ritual sites are identical in structure, presenting a square-shaped plane (4.3m, 4.5m and 5.7m in length respectively). The three sites are grouped into a pyramid distribution. One bovine skull was likely to be used as a sacrifice in J3 and small copper objects, lithic pestles as well as dish-shaped stone tools were excavated. 

These seven tombs could be tentatively associated with Tangbalesayi cemetery in Nilka county and the western Kukesu river No 2 cemetery in Tekes county, in terms of tomb style, body treatment and grave goods, which again demonstrates their close relation to the Andronovo culture in Central Asia. It should be noted that the Andronovo stone coffin excavated in Nilka was the first discovery of Andronovo remains in Ili region, thus rendering important information about the regional development of the Andronovo culture. Moreover, M3 serves as a special case considering its unique structure and the 16 stone coffin tombs of infants encircling it. As this phenomenon is also distinctive in the Andronovo culture, it contributes to our understanding towards the diversity in Andronovo culture. Last but not least, the local variation of the Andronovo culture can be envisaged from the pottery assemblages which are dominated by pots with ring foot and plain-bottomed jars.

  • Andronovo Culture - Child sacrifice


Proto Slaves

Srubna culture, c. 1800 - 1200 BC

Y-DNA R1a1, R1a1a, R1a1a1b2a2a & R1a1a1b2

Srubna culture

Y-chromosome R1a-M458



In a study published on 10 October 2015, 14 individuals of the Srubna culture could be surveyed. Extractions from 100% of the males (six men from 5 different cemeteries) were determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1. Extractions of mtDNA from fourteen individuals were determined to represent five samples of haplogroup H, four samples of haplogroup U5, two samples of T1, one sample of T2, one sample of K1b, one of J2b and one of I1a. The list of 14 surveyed individuals:

Kurgan burials at Spiridonovka IV cemetery:
kurgan 1, grave 11, sample I0360, male - Y-DNA R1a1 (SRY1532.2) and mtDNA U5a1
kurgan 2, grave 5, sample I0361, male - Y-DNA R1a1a (M17) and mtDNA H5b
kurgan 1, grave 6, sample I0359, female - mtDNA U5a2a1
kurgan 1, grave 15, sample I0354, female - mtDNA U5a1
kurgan 2, grave 1, sample I0358, female - mtDNA H6a1a

Kurgan burials at Spiridonovka II cemetery:
kurgan 1, grave 1, sample I0430, male - Y-DNA R1a1a1b2a2a (Z2123) and mtDNA H3g
kurgan 1, grave 2, sample I0431, female - mtDNA H2b
kurgan 11, grave 12, sample I0421, female - mtDNA H3g

Kurgan burials at Barinovka I cemetery:
kurgan 2, grave 17, sample I0423, male - R1a1a1b2 (Z93) and mtDNA J2b1a2a
kurgan 2, grave 24, sample I0422, female - mtDNA type T1a1

Kurgan burials at Novosel’ki cemetery:
kurgan 6, grave 4, sample I0232, male - R1a1a1b2 (Z93), mtDNA U5a1f2

Kurgan burials at Uvarovka I cemetery:
kurgan 2, grave 1, sample I0424, male - R1a1a1b2 (Z93); mtDNA T2b4

Kurgan burials at Rozhdestvenno I cemetery:
kurgan 5 grave 7, sample I0234, female - mtDNA K1b2a
kurgan 4 grave 4, skeleton 2, sample I0235, female - mtDNA I1a1



Andronovo, Karasuk, Tagar & Tashtyk culture

Tashtyk kultura, Y-DNA R1a1

In 2009, a genetic study of ancient Siberian cultures, the Andronovo culture, the Karasuk culture, the Tagar culture and the Tashtyk culture, was published in Human Genetics. Ten individuals of the Andronovo horizon in southern Siberia from 1400 BC to 1000 BC were surveyed. Extractions of mtDNA from nine individuals were determined to represent two samples of haplogroup U4, one sample of Z1, one sample T1, one sample of U2e, one sample of T4, one sample of H, one sample of K2b and one sample of U5a1. Extractions of Y-DNA from one individual was determined to belong to Y-DNA haplogroup C (but not C3), while the other two extractions were determined to belong to haplogroup R1a1a, which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans. Of the individuals surveyed only two (or 22%) were determined to be Mongoloid while seven (or 78%) were determined to be Caucasoid, with the majority being light-eyed and light-haired.


Indo-European migrations in Europe - Eupedia

Indo-Iranians, c. 1500 BC

Y-DNA R1a-Z93, R1a-Z94

From the Bactria-Margiana area, a portion of the Indo-Iranians would eventually (circa 1500 bc) enter the area that is now Syria as the Mittani, a ruling class among the Hurrians. Soon after, other Indo-Iranians would travel from Bactria through the mountain passes into the Swat Valley and beyond, where they would become the ruling class in most of northern India.

The Iranians of the steppes would, in the final millennium bc, expand in many directions: They would move back into eastern Europe as the Scyths and Sarmatians. They would move east to Xinjiang as the Sakas. And they would move into the Iranian plateau where they would become the Persians, Parthians, and Medes.

By the last centuries bc, the Scyths and their relations would be driven out of the steppes or absorbed by the Turks, resulting in a spit between the Asian Indo-Europeans and the European Indo-Europeans that persists to the present.


Yaz culture, c. 1500 - 1000 BC


Yaz culture


Ashurism - Ashur

Ashurism is a term referencing devotion to the god Ashur. King Ushpia (c. 2030 BC), is accredited as the founder of the Temple of Ashur, located in the city-state of Aššur. In Zoroastrianism Ashur is equated with Ahura Mazda.


The term Asura is linguistically related to the Ahuras of Indo-Iranian people and pre-Zoroastrianism era. In both religions, Ahura of pre-Zoroastrianism (Asura of Hinduism), Vouruna (Varuna) and Daeva (Deva) are found, but their roles are on opposite sides. That is, Ahura evolves to represent the good in pre-Zoroastrianism, while Asura evolves to represent the bad in Vedic religion, while Daeva evolves to represent the bad in pre-Zoroastrianism, while Deva evolves to represent the good in Vedic religion. This contrasting roles have led some scholars to deduce that there may have been wars in proto-Indo-European communities, and their gods and demons evolved to reflect their differences.

  • Ahura Mazda - əˌhʊrəˌmæzdə - The literal meaning of the word Ahura is "mighty" or "lord", and Mazda is "wisdom". (Ashur)
  • Ahriman - Aŋra Mainiiu - Destructive spirit in Zoroastrianism (Anglicised pronunciation: /ˈɑːrɪmən/).

Finnish Indologist, Asko Parpola, traces the etymological root of Asura to *asera- of Uralic languages, where it means "lord, prince".


Asur people - India

Asur people are a very small Austroasiatic ethnic group living primarily in the Indian state of Jharkhand, mostly in the Gumla, Lohardaga, Palamu and Latehar districts.

Asurs are traditionally iron-smelters. They were once hunter gatherers, having also involved in shifting agriculture. However, majority of them shifted into agriculture with 91.19 percent enlisted as cultivators.

Their indigenous technology of iron smelting gives them a distinct identity; as they claim to have descended from the ancient asuras who were associated with the art of metal craft. When smelting, the Asur women sing a song relating the furnace to an expectant mother encouraging the furnace to give a healthy baby, i.e., good quality and quantity of iron from the ore; and were thence, according to Bera, associated with the fertility cult (Bera 1997:32). But now a days a major population is also attached with mining work.

The Asur society is divided into 12 clans. These Asur clans are named after different animals, birds and food grains. Family is second prominent institution after the clan.

Except in emergency cases, they use traditional herbal medicines. They have their own community council (jati panch) where disputes are settled. They accept food from Rajputs, Oraon, Kharwar, Thakur, Ghasi, and few others; and maintain putative kinship ties with Kharwar, Munda and other neighbouring tribes. Except the burial site, they share all other public spaces with their neighbours. They live in pats (a clearing area) surrounded by the forest, and their houses are made of mud walls supported by wooden poles with a roof covered with paddy straw and self-baked khapras (tiles). Their houses consist of spaces for cattle and birds and a separate area for worship of ancestors. Utensils for cooking and storing water drawn from wells, are made of iron, aluminium and earthen ware. Traditional male clothing is dhoti while the females wear tattoo marks (depicting totemic objects) upon their bodies as ornaments. The females also wear other metal and non-metal ornaments as well as glass bangles. They use common agricultural implements for cultivation; and occasionally hunt game in the forest using bows and arrows.

The modern Asur tribe is divided into three sub-tribal divisions, namely Bir (Kol) Asur, Birjia Asur and Agaria Asur. The Birjia are recognized as a separate schedule tribe.

The Asur religion is a mixture of animism, animatism, naturalism and ancestral worships. They also believe in black magic like bhut-pret (spirits) and witchcraft. Their chief deity is Singbonga. Amongst the other deities are Dharati Mata, Duari, Patdaraha and Turi Husid. They celebrate festivals like Sarhul, Karma, Dhanbuni, Kadelta, Rajj karma, Dasahara Karam.

Haplogroup R1a1a

Continental Country Population Sample R1a1a Source
South Asia India Asur Maharashtra 88 5.68 Underhill et al. (2009)


Vedic period, c. 1500 - 500 BC


Scholars consider Vedic civilisation to have been a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan (Indus Valley Civilisation) cultures. - Vedic period


Dahae, c. 1500 BC


The Dahae may be connected to the Dasas (Sanskrit दास Dāsa), mentioned in ancient Hindu texts such as the Rigveda as enemies of the Ārya.

Berossus's biography of Cyrus the Great (c. 589–530 BCE) claims that he was killed by Dahae archers near the Syr Darya (Jaxartes) river (modern Uzbekistan/Kazakhstan). Later sources, such as Alexander the Great and Strabo also claimed that some of the Dahae were located near the Jaxartes.

The Encyclopedia Iranica considers that the Dahae "were said to have lived in ... wastes northeast of Bactria and east of Sogdiana. At least some of the Dahae must thus be placed along the eastern fringes of the Karakum desert, near ancient Margiana..." This suggests that elements of the Dahae were near neighbours of a now-obscure Bronze Age civilisation known to archaeologists as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC).

Karl Heinrich Tzschucke in 1806, in his translations of the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela, noted etymological and phonological parallels between dasa and the ethonyms of the Dahae – Persian داها; Sanskrit Dasa; Latin Dahae; Greek Δάοι Daoi, Δάαι, Δᾶαι Daai and Δάσαι Dasai – a people who lived on the south-eastern shores of the Caspian Sea in ancient times (and from whom modern Dehestan/Dehistan takes its name). Likewise Max Muller proposed that dasa referred to indigenous peoples living in South Asia before the arrival of the Aryans.

Based on the Arya-Dasa conflict described in Rigvedic text, scholars have tried to identify the Dasa as a population in South and Central Asia.

Michael Witzel in his review of Indo-Iranian texts in 1995, states that dasa in the Vedic literature represented a North Iranian tribe, who were enemies of the Vedic Aryans, and das-yu meant "enemy, foreigner." He notes that these enemies could have apparently become slaves if captured.

Asko Parpola states that dasa referred only to Central Asian peoples. Vedic texts that include prayers for the defeat of the dasa as an "enemy people", according to Parpola, possibly refers to people from the so-called Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC), who spoke a different language and opposed Aryan religious practices. Parpola uses archaeological and linguistic arguments to support his theory. Among the evidences cited were recent BMAC excavation results where forts in circular shapes were found, the shape described in the early parts of the Rigveda as the enemy forts of Indra. He also found that Rigvedic words starting with triple consonant clusters such as Bṛhaspati, must be loanwords from the unknown BMAC language.

Sacrifice played an important part in Aryan way of life, however the Dasyus or Dasas did not offer sacrifices. An entire passage in the seventh book of Rig Veda uses adjectives such as akratün, aśraddhān and ayajñān applied to Dasyus emphasizes their non-sacrificing character.


Punjab Vedic Era

Vedic society was tribal in character. A number of families constituted a grama, a number of gramas a vis (clan) and a number of clans a Jana (tribe). The Janas, led by Rajans, were in constant intertribal warfare. From this warfare arose larger groupings of peoples ruled by great chieftains and kings. As a result, a new political philosophy of conquest and empire grew, which traced the origin of the state to the exigencies of war.

Kuru Kingdom - Painted Grey Ware culture


Gandhara grave culture, c. 1500 - 500 BC

Gandhara grave culture


Aryan India, c. 1500 BC

Y-DNA R1a-Z93

Y-DNA R1a-Z93


Decline of the Indus Valley Civilisation

It cannot be said for sure how the Indus Valley Civilization perished. But among the many possible theories, 2 theories have gained credence. The first cause could be an invasion by a barbaric tribe, probably the Aryans, and the other cause could be climatic changes which caused the Indus Valley to be flooded very often.

The city of Harappa was divided into two parts- The Citadel, which was home to the great public bath as well as large residential buildings that housed around 5000 people. It also had two large assembly halls but there is no evidence of the presence of any kings, priests, armies, palaces or temples. So the purpose of the Citadel is still unclear. The Lower City- was laid out in a grid like pattern. Most people lived here and seemed to have been traders or artisans.

They resided with others who were in the same profession as theirs. Potters’ kilns, dyers’ vats, metal working, bead making, shell making suggest that the people of Harappa had a wide range of occupations. Materials were procured from far-away places to make a wide range of things such as seals, beads and other artifacts.

Seals which were discovered during excavations had pictures of Gods, animals and other inscriptions. Some of these seals were used to stamp clay on trade goods. Goods made in the Indus valley traveled as far as Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Afghanistan and other parts of India. Jewelery that was discovered in the area suggests that the people of the Indus Valley had access to gold, copper and semi-precious stones.

Aryan invasion

The excavation of the Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and Lothal sites of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) in the 1920, showed that northern India already had an advanced culture when the Indo-Aryans migrated into the area. The theory changed from a migration of advanced Aryans towards a primitive population, to a migration of nomadic people into an advanced urban civilization, comparable to the Germanic migrations during the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, or the Kassite invasion of Babylonia.

This possibility was for a short time seen as a hostile invasion into northern India. The decline of the Indus Valley Civilisation at precisely the period in history in which the Indo-Aryan migrations probably took place, seemed to provide independent support of such an invasion. This argument was proposed by the mid-20th century archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler, who interpreted the presence of many unburied corpses found in the top levels of Mohenjo-daro as the victims of conquest wars, and who famously stated that the god "Indra stands accused" of the destruction of the Civilisation.

This position was soon left by the scholarly community, noticing that no evidence was found, and that the skeletons were found to be hasty interments, not massacred victims. Wheeler himself also nuanced this interpretation in later publications, stating "This is a possibility, but it can't be proven, and it may not be correct." Wheeler further notes that the unburied corpses may indicate an event in the final phase of human occupation of Mohenjo-Daro, and that there-after the place was uninhabited, but that the decay of Mohenjo-Daro has to be ascribed to structural causes such as salinisation.

Aryan migration

In the later 20th century, ideas were refined along with data accrual, and migration and acculturation were seen as the methods whereby Indo-Aryans and their language and culture spread into northwest India around 1500 BC. The term "invasion" is only being used nowadays by opponents of the Indo-Aryan Migration theory. Michael Witzel: has been supplanted by much more sophisticated models over the past few decades [...] philologists first, and archaeologists somewhat later, noticed certain inconsistencies in the older theory and tried to find new explanations, a new version of the immigration theories.

These changes were thought to be in line with changes in thinking about language transfer in general, such as the migration of the Greeks into Greece (between 2100 and 1600 BC) and their adoption of a syllabic script, Linear B, from the pre-existing Linear A, with the purpose of writing Mycenaean Greek, or the Indo-Europeanization of Western Europe (in stages between 2200 and 1300 BC).


Decline of the Mohenjo-daro

Mortimer Wheeler interpreted the presence of many unburied corpses found in the top levels of Mohenjo-daro as the victims of a warlike conquest, and famously stated that "Indra stands accused" of the destruction of the IVC. The assumed timeframe of the first Indo-Aryan migration into India corresponds neatly with the period of decline of the IVC seen in the archaeological record. The discovery of the advanced, urban IVC however changed the 19th-century view of early Indo-Aryan migration as an "invasion" of an advanced culture at the expense of a "primitive" aboriginal population to a gradual acculturation of nomadic "barbarians" on an advanced urban civilisation.




Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus who share parts of his heroic mythologies, act as king of gods, and all are linked to "rain and thunder". The similarities between Indra of Hindu mythologies and of Thor of Nordic and Germanic mythologies are significant, states Max Muller. Both Indra and Thor are storm gods, with powers over lightning and thunder, both carry hammer or equivalent, for both the weapon returns to their hand after they hurl it, both are associated with bulls in the earliest layer of respective texts, both use thunder as a battle-cry, both are heroic leaders, both protectors of mankind, both are described with legends about "milking the cloud-cows", both are benevolent giants, gods of strength, of life, of marriage and the healing gods, both are worshipped in respective texts on mountains and in forests.

Brave and heroic Innara or Inra, which sounds like Indra, is mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people of Hittite region.

Indra as a deity had a presence in northeastern Asia minor, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the Boghaz-köi clay tablets dated to about 1400 BCE. This tablet mentions a treaty, but its significance is in four names it includes reverentially as Mi-it-ra, U-ru-w-na, In-da-ra and Na-sa-at-ti-ia. These are respectively, Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Nasatya-Asvin of the Vedic pantheon as revered deities, and these are also found in Avestan pantheon but with Indra and Naonhaitya as demons. This at least suggests that Indra and his fellow deities were in vogue in South Asia and Asia minor by about mid 2nd-millennium BCE.

Indra is praised as the highest god in 250 hymns of the Rigveda. He is co-praised as the supreme in another 50 hymns, thus making him one of the most celebrated Vedic deities. He is also mentioned in ancient Indo-Iranian literature, but with a major inconsistency when contrasted with the Vedas. In the Vedic literature, Indra is a heroic god. In the Avestan (ancient, pre-Islamic Iranian) texts such as Vd. 10.9, Dk. 9.3 and Gbd 27.6-34.27, Indra – or accurately Andra – is a gigantic demon who opposes truth.  In the Vedic texts, Indra kills the archenemy and demon Vritra who threatens mankind. In the Avestan texts, Vritra is not found.

Indra is called vr̥tragʰná- (literally, "slayer of obstacles") in the Vedas, which corresponds to Verethragna of the Zoroastrian noun verethragna-. According to David Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.  It was "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements",  which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices" from the Bactria–Margiana Culture.  At least 383 non-Indo-European words were found in this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma. According to Anthony,

Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture. Indra was the subject of 250 hymns, a quarter of the Rig Veda. He was associated more than any other deity with Soma, a stimulant drug (perhaps derived from Ephedra) probably borrowed from the BMAC religion. His rise to prominence was a peculiar trait of the Old Indic speakers.


Racial Groups of India

The present population of the Indian subcontinent has been divided into four racial groups- the Negritos, the Proto-Australoids, the Proto-Australoids, the Mongoloids, and the Mediterraneans. The Negritos were the first of the racial groups that came to India. Proto-Australoid race came here just after the Negritos and their sources are Australian aborigines. The Mongoloids came to India through the passes of northern and eastern mountain ranges. The Mediterraneans came to India from the south-west Asia.

Kanikar - Northeast India Naga


Northwest India Brahmin - North Indian

The present population of the Indian subcontinent has been divided broadly into the following racial groups:

1. The Negritos - Perhaps they were the first of the racial groups that came to India. They got settled in the hilly areas of Kerala and the Andaman Islands. Kadar, Irula and Puliyan tribes of Kerala resemble to a great extent with the Negritos. They are related to Africa, Australia and their neighbouring islands. The Negritos have black (dark) skin, woolly hair, broad and flat nose and slightly protruded jaws.

2. The Proto-Australoids - Perhaps the people belonging to the Proto-Australoid race came here just after the Negritos. Their sources are Australian aborigines. They are settled in the central India from the Rajmahal hills to the Aravalis. Santhal, Bhil, Gond, Munda, Oraon etc. tribes are related to this group. They are physically different from the Negritos in many ways, e.g. their hair is coarse and straight instead of being woolly. It is considered that they were the people who, in collaboration with the Mediterranean race, had developed the Indus Valley Civilization.  Their skeletons have been found in the excavations of Mohenjodaro and Harappa.

3. The Mongoloids - The original homeland of this race was Mongolia (China). The Mongoloids came to India through the passes of northern and eastern mountain ranges. These people are concentrated in the nearby areas of the Himalayas, e.g. Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and other areas of the north-eastern India. The Mongoloids have pale or light pale skin, short height, comparatively large head, half open eyes, flat face and broad nose. In India, they can be divided into two branches:

A. Paleo-Mongoloids- They were the first of the Mongoloids who came to India. These people are settled mainly in the border areas of the Himalayas. They are found mostly in Assam and the adjacent states.

B. Tibeto-Mongoloids- These people came from Tibet and are settled mainly in Bhutan, Sikkim, areas of north-western Himalayas and beyond the Himalayas in which Ladakh and Baltistan are included.

4. The Mediterraneans - They came to India from the south-west Asia. They may be divided into three groups:

A. Paleo-Mediterraneans - They were the first of the Mediterranean’s race that came to India. They were of medium height, black skin, well- built body and long head. Perhaps they were the people who had begun cultivation for the first time in the north-west India. The group which came later pushed them towards the central and the south India. At present, the Paleo-Mediterraneans with their other sub-groups comprise the most part of the population of the south India and a large part of the population of the north India.

B. Mediterranean’s - They came to India later on. They developed the Indus valley civilization in collaboration with the Proto-Australoids and initiated the bronze culture for the first time during 2500-1500 BC. Later on, the new invading group coming from north-west pushed them from the Indus valley to the Ganga valley and towards the south of the Vindhyas.  Today, most of the population of lower castes in the north India belongs to this race.

C. Oriental-Mediterranean’s - They came to India very late. They are populated mostly in the north-western border areas of Pakistan and Punjab. They are also found in sufficient number in Sindh (Pakistan), Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.

5. The Brachycephalics (Western race with broad head): Apart from Mongoloid, some other races found in India having broad head are:

A. Alpinoids
B. Dinarics
C. Armenoids

6. The Nordics - They are the last of the racial groups that came to India. They came from Taiga and Baltic regions. They were Aryan speaking families with long head, fair complexion, and sharp nose, well-developed and well-built body. They are found in the region of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu.


Haplogroup in India


Aryans and early India

After Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro declined the political center of India shifted from the Indus to Ganges valley. The population increased from about 87 million to 225 million between 4000 B.C. and the time of Christ, when four fifth of the world's population lived under the Roman, Chinese Han and Indian Gupta empires. The population of India grew only slightly between 300 B.C. and the 18th century.

Around 1000 B.C. the Ganges plain was still covered with virgin forests. By 300 B.C. there were barely any trees left. Around 300 B.C., the Ganges valley was perhaps the most populated region on earth, with an estimated population of between 25 and 50 million people.

Little is known about India's early history. Some scholars believe that ancient Sanskrit historical may have been destroyed completely on purpose for some unknown reason. Others believe that they were never written down because of the Hindu belief in reincarnation and the cyclical rhythms of nature. Why record history if the events are only going to happen again, perhaps the reasoning went.

The Aryans left behind little physical evidence of their existence. They didn't build great buildings or leave significant archeological sites, What we know about ancient Hindu-Aryan civilization is based largely on the holy Vedic texts, heroic myths written in second half of first millennium B.C.


The Aryans were a loosely federated, semi-nomadic herdsmen people who spread both east and west from Central Asia, taking their sky gods with them. The Aryans first settled in the Punjab and later moved on to the Ganges Valley.

Aryans are defined as early speakers of Vedic Sanskrit, an Indo-European language that provided the basis for all the languages in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as the majority those in Europe.

They were led by a warrior aristocracy whose legendary deeds are recorded in the Rig Veda. The term arya in Sanskrit means “noble." The Aryans introduced the horse'drawn chariot, the Hindu religion and sacred books known as the Vedas to present-day India.

Aryan Invaders

The Aryans invaded India between 1500 and 1200 B.C., around the same time they moved into the Mediterranean and western Europe. At this time the Indus civilization had already been destroyed or was moribund.

The Aryans success can partly be attributed to the superiority of their technology, particularly weapon technology, over the people they conquered, namely the Dravidian people in South Asia. The Aryans had advanced bronze weapons, later iron weapons and horse drawn chariots with light spoked wheels. The native people the conquered at best had oxcarts and often only stone-age weapons.

Around 1500 BC, Aryan charioteers from the steppes of northern Iran conquered India and the founders of the Shang Dynasty (the first Chinese ruling authority) arrived in China on chariots and set up the world's first state.

The light-skinned Aryans drove many of the original dark-skinned Dravidian inhabitants of northern India south and are believed to have conquered the Indus River civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Aryan Settlers

Aryan settlers cultivated some wheat and barely but they were primarily horsemen and cattle herders. They cleared small patches of forest and set up villages and small towns. They didn't occupy large towns or cites and didn't leave any great ruined cities behind.. They didn't really establish any towns of any size or practice settled farming until the Indian Iron Age beginning about 700 B.C.

Archeologists mark the arrival of the Aryan by the presence and distribution of their distinctive Painted Gray Ware pottery. The lands they occupied were called Aryavarta and they are described in some detail in the oldest Sanskrit literature, the chief source of information about them.

The Aryans were led by a hereditary king and were divided into five major tribes. They remained warriors. They fought against non-Aryans and fought one another. They even persuaded non-Aryans to help fight against other Aryan tribes.

The Aryans were able to unite a wide variety of ethnic and linguistic groups under their integrated high culture but did not eliminate the rich diversity and variety that is still found in India today.

Aryans and Hinduism

The Hindu religion is thought to have originated with the Aryans. The Aryans were originally nature worshipers who revered a number of gods and believed that their gods represented forces of nature. Most of the important deities were male, including a celestial father and a king of gods who lit up the sun, exhaled the wind and knew the pathway of the birds. There is some evidence of tree worship. Some early Aryan structures appear to have been built around trees.

Brahmins, a priestly were the only people who could perform religious ceremonies based initially on knowledge that was passed down orally over the centuries. Their ability to memorize was quite extraordinary because the rituals they presided over were quite involved and complex. The hymns and knowledge associated with these rituals has survived intact since 1000 B.C.

Aryans that settled in the Punjab and wrote hymns to natural deities of which 1028 were recorded in the Verdic verses. The Brahmanas were written between 800 and 600 B.C. to explain the hymns and speculate about their meaning.

Among the differences between the early Aryan religion and Hinduism are: 1) Aryan religion had no icons and no personal relationships with a single supreme deity whereas Hinduism does; 2) Aryan offering were made for something in return while Hindus make offering as a sign of worship; 3) The Aryan gods rode chariots while Hindu ones ride mounted on their animals; and 4) nearly all the early Aryan gods were male while Hindus have male and female gods as well as ones with cobra heads and ones that are worshiped with phallic symbols.

Aryan Sacrifices

The Aryans conducted elaborate sacrifices and incorporated fire and an inebriating drink called soma ("Drink of Strength") into them. The sacrifices were often so complex and expensive only the upper classes could afford them. In royal sacrifices the king was sprinkled with soma and a horse was set free for year and then captured and sacrificed in the name of the queen to insure good health for the royal family.

In the early days cattle were sometimes sacrificed. The Vedas describe funerals in which a cow was slaughtered while mantras were chanted and the body of the animal was used to cover the human body on the funeral pyre, limb by limb, in a clear effort to create a double of the human body and direct negative energy into it. In most cases however it seems that milk, ghee and vegetable substance were offered up at ritual ceremonies rather than cows or any other animals.

Sacrifices were festive events meant to be enjoyed and bring fertility and prosperity. They were not intended to help people in the afterlife. Aryan religion was concerned mostly with the here and now not the hereafter. Some elements of the sacrifice though were identified with parts of the cosmos and the sacrifice was regarded as a re-enactment of creation.

Sometimes human sacrifices were held. The victims were usually criminals provided to the king or volunteers who hoped to gain quick trip to a better world. Animal sacrifices are largely a thing of the past. The ritual lives on the offerings of rice balls and marigold pedals left at temples.

Mixing of Indus, Aryan and Dravidian Beliefs

Hinduism and Hindu culture is believed to have originated from a intermixing of Aryan and Dravidian beliefs. It is believed that one reason there are so many gods and different customs in Hinduism is that is how the Aryan and Dravidian beliefs accommodated one another.

The source of Dravidian culture, is believed to be the ancient Indus Civilization, which flourished around 2000 B.C. in what is now Pakistan. Members of this civilization worshiped an earth goddess, similar to the Hindu goddess Shakti, and revered yogi-like male figures that surrounded themselves with animals and were worshiped with phallic symbols, suggesting Shiva. As is true in Hinduism today certain animals, such as bulls, and certain plants such as pipal trees, were held sacred.

Scores of stone phallic, vulva and bull figures have been found in Indus ruins and some archaeologists and historians present them as evidence this culture may have been the precursor to Hinduism because the bull was mount of the Hindu god Shiva and the phallic symbols' resembled the lingams (phallic emblems) used to worship Shiva.

One three sided Indus seal that was unearthed depicts a squatting god surrounded by animals which, some scholars say, may have been a forerunner of Shiva. Some of the most beautifully carved images on seals are of cattle, which suggests a link to cattle worship. Some tokens show humans bowing before a pipal tree shading figures that may be deities. Pipal trees symbolize fertility and protection in Hinduism.

The Mother Goddess did not become a major part of Hinduism until relatively late. It is believed that she existed on the fringe in the early years of Hinduism and became incorporated when the time was right. The Shiva-like practices were absorbed at a much earlier time.

Transition From the Aryan Religion to Hinduism

As Aryans spread throughout India, they absorbed legends and beliefs of the people they conquered, including ideas about karma, reincarnation and strict laws that grew into the caste system. The Brahmanas or Priestlies , written between 1000 and 800 B.C., gave more and more power to Brahma priests at the expense of the old Vedic Gods. The Upanishads , written between 800 and 600 B.C., addressed reincarnation and karma and the unity of the soul with the cosmos.

About the same time the idea of reincarnation gained importance the status of religious ascetics was elevated. Ascetics were perceived as people who sought religious holiness by tapping into the forces of the universe and aimed to escape the endless series of deaths and rebirth of reincarnation to attain moksha (Hindu nirvana). This idea made religious life accessible to everybody not just the Brahmins.

At the same time this was occurring there was a movement against the power of the Brahmas, the grip of the caste system and the emphasis on sacrifices. Buddhism and Jainism grew out of this movement. Beginning in the 3rd century B.C. Hinduism went into decline and was largely replaced by Buddhism in India. Hinduism itself went through dramatic changes, namely the rise of Shiva and Vishnu and the transformation of their identity and the incorporation of ideas like Tantrism.

Aryans and Caste

The origin of the caste system is unknown but it may have evolved from differences between the conquering Aryans and subject Dravidians---which happened to be difference of color. Varna , the Hindu word for caste means "color."

The caste system is believed to have been introduced around 1500 B.C. as a way for light-skinned Aryan invaders to keep the indigenous Dravidian people in their place. Higher castes are usually associated with whiter skin and purer Aryan descent because the first light-skinned Aryan conquerors gave the conquered dark-skin Dravidians dirtier, lower status tasks. Not all scholars agree with is assessment. “Color” could be a reference to something other than skin color.

The caste system in the Rig-Veda states may have grown out of the enslavement of people from the Indus Valley by the Aryans.

The Vedas describe Aryan society divided into the four major castes: the Brahmins (priestly caste); Kshatriyas (warrior caste), the Vaisyas (farmer caste); and Sudras (laborers). Early in Aryan history the Brahmins gained political and religious superiority over the Kshatriyas.

DNA studies of Indians have found that highest caste members have more genetic similarities with Europeans while lower caste members have more genetic similarities with Asians. This is consistent with the historical record of the Aryan invasions and links between the Aryans and members of higher castes.

Life in Aryan India

Prior to the Mauryan Empire (321 to 185 B.C.) there was no organized Aryan government with a class of bureaucrats that acted as administrators. Instead there were numerous ruling chieftains ( rajan ), who were like warlords. They ruled with the support of armies and militias. They were counseled by purohitas , shaman-like figures believed to possess magical powers. When large kingdoms emerged the purohitas served as the equivalent of archbishops and prime ministers for the rulers, performing ritual sacrifices and giving political counsel. Commoners showed respect by kissing the feet of their sovereigns.

The Aryans were nomadic and depending on their cows and other livestock for food. Cows were a sign of wealth The Aryans loved music, dance and poetry, They gave South Asia the Rig Vega and three other books of hymn as well as epic poems like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Their work were passed down orally rather than written down. This is especially remarkable when one considers that the Mahabharata was the largest single poem ever written.

The development of iron technology around 500 B.C. led to widespread clearing of land and changes from pastorialism to agriculture and an increase in urbanization. By this time there was also a powerful merchant class and towns were using silver and copper coins. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, emerged from a ruling family in an Aryan kingdom around 600 B.C.


Caste system in India

From the 1850s, photography was used in Indian subcontinent by the British for anthropological purposes, helping classify the different castes.

During the time of the Rigveda, there were two varnas, the arya varna and the dasa varna. The distinction oringally arose from tribal divisions. The Vedic tribes regarded themselves as arya (the noble ones) and the rival tribes were called dasa, dasyu and pani. The dasas were frequent allies of the Aryan tribes, and they were probably assimilated into the Aryan society, giving rise to a class distinction. Many dasas were however in a servile position, giving rise to the eventual meaning of dasa as servant or slave.

The Rigvedic society was not distinguished by occupations. Many husbandmen and artisans practised a number of crafts. The chariot-maker (rathakara) and metal worker (karmara) enjoyed positions of importance and no stigma was attached to them. Similar observations hold for carpenters, tanners, weavers and others.

Towards the end of the Atharvaveda period, new class distinctions emerged. The erstwhile dasas are renamed Shudras, probably to distinguish them from the new meaning of dasa as slave. The aryas are renamed vis or Vaishya (meaning the members of the tribe) and the new elite classes of Brahmins (priests) and Kshatriyas (warriors) are designated as new varnas. The Shudras were not only the erstwhile dasas but also included the aboriginal tribes that were assimilated into the Aryan society as it expanded into Gangetic settlements. - Caste system in India



Brahminism refers to the domination of Indian society of the priestly class of Brahmins and their Hindu-ideology. This domination is being criticised by Anti-Brahminism. Brahmanism is the religion that developed out of the historical Vedic religion, and formed one of the constituents of the complex of Indian religions called Hinduism.

Early criticism against Brahmanism flourished within Sramana movement. Particularly in Nāstika schools of Indian philosophy like Buddhism, Jainism, and others such as Ājīvika, Cārvāka and Ajñana.

Brahminism - Anti-Brahminism


Siddhārtha Gautama

Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha

The Shakya were a clan of late Vedic India (c. 1000 – c. 500 BCE) and the later so-called second urbanisation period (c. 600 – c. 200 BCE) in the Indian subcontinent (present-day nations of India and Nepal).

The best-known Shakya was Siddhartha Gautama, who was the founder of Buddhism (c. 6th to 4th centuries BCE) and came to be known as Gautama Buddha.

Some scholars, including Michael Witzel and Christopher I. Beckwith argue that the Shakyas were in fact the "Sakas" known to the Indians (Scythians of the East who participated in the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley from the 6th century to the 4th century BCE) and that the Buddha was a "Saka-Muni", or "Scythian sage". Indo-Scythians are also known to have established their own rule in northern India from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE.

Sanskrit word "śakya," means "the one who is capable".


Indo-Scythians - Azes II

Azes II is also connected to the Bimaran casket, one of the earliest representations of the Buddha. The casket was part of the deposit of Stupa 2 in Bimaran, near Jalalabad in Afghanistan, and placed inside the stupa with several coins of Azes II. This event may have happened during the reign of Azes (35–12 BCE), or slightly later. The Indo-Scythians are otherwise connected with Buddhism (see Mathura lion capital and the multiple Buddhist dedications of the Apracas).

Coin of Azes II.

Coins attributed to Azes II use Greek and Kharoshti inscriptions, depict a Greek goddess as his protector, and thereby essentially follow the numismatic model of the Greek kings of the Indo-Greek kingdom, suggesting a high willingness to accommodate Greek culture. A novel difference of the Indo-Scythians was to show the king on a horse, rather than his bust in profile as did the Greeks.

Other coins of Azes depict the Buddhist lion and the Brahmanic cow of Shiva, suggesting religious tolerance towards his subjects. In the coin depicted to the left Azes is depicted with the inscriptions:

  • Obv: King with coat of mail, on horse, holding a scepter, with Greek royal headband. Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΖΟΥ "The Great King of Kings Azes".
  • Rev: Athena with shield and lance, making a hand gesture identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra. Kharoshti legend MAHARAJASA RAJADIRAJASA MAHATASA AYASA "The Great King of Kings Azes", with the Buddhist triratna symbol in the left field.


Scythians - Sakâ

Skitsko porijeklo treba tražiti u plemenima koja su učestvovala u stvaranjima indiranskih (arijskih) naroda koji se na području današnjeg Afganistana podijeliše na nekoliko glavnih skupina. Ova plemena početkom 2. tisućljeća pr. Kr. sa područja Ukrajine migriraju na jugoistok gdje tada sa arheološke točke gledišta pastoralnu kulturu jamnaja mijenja andronovska kultura, tako prozvana po selu Andronovo.

Zauzeše područje kasnijeg Afganistana i podijeliše se na iransku i indijsku grupu. Prvi se zatim nasele oko 1000. pr. Kr. u zemlji Ariya. Druga grupa stigla je oko 1500. pr. Kr. na područje Pandžaba. Indijska grana, današnji su Hindusi koji na području Indije stvoriše više naroda koji su razvili vlastite jezike.

Iranska grupa podijeli se na brojna plemena, a to su: Perzijanci s plemenima Pasargad, Maraphii i Maspii. Plemenu Pasargadi pripada i klan Ahemenida čijeg je porijekla prva perzijska dinastija. Ostala plemena bila su nomadska: Dahae, Mardi, Dropici, Sagarti.

Druga grupa iranskih plemena su Kimerijci koje su Asirci nazvali Gimirru. Po njima Krim je dobio ime. Ovi u ranom 7. stoljeću uništiše kraljevstvo Urartu.

Od ovih iranskih plemena u u 6, 5, i 4. stoljeću pr. Kr. preostalo je nekoliko nomadskih plemena u srednjoazijskoj stepi koja su poznata kao Sakâ:


Ariya - Iran

The earliest epigraphically-attested reference to the word ariya occurs in the 6th century BCE

Hyksos Index New Kingdom