«Sarmatian Priestesses» or the Question of Sarmatian Matrilineal Pattern Revisited

Shevchenko N. F.

The research is based upon the study of metal rods in the shape of world tree found in North Caucasian Sarmatian graves of the 1st с. ВС - 3rd с. AD. The cult attributes have been classified according to types and their connection with Bronze Age knobs has been established. The closest analogy to this category of objects may be found in the so-called shaman rods. As a rule, Sarmatian cult attributes are found in women's graves, which is characteristic of matrilineal societies. However, the Caucasian rods were found both in men's and women's graves. These graves are very rich burial complexes, typical rather of chiefs than of «professional» priests. This fact made it possible to assume that religious rites in the Saraiatian society were not strictly regulated and were performed by representatives of tribe nobility. The presence of the rods both in women's and men's graves proves that from the 1st с. ВС on the Sarmatian society was breaking up with matrilineal tradition and developing a new pattern of combining religious and lay power according to the principle: man - warrior - chief - shaman.