Problems of Ethnical Interpretation of the Low Don Monuments of the Scythian Epoch

Maksimenko V. Е.

It is always difficult to define the ethnical structure of the population in the areas of active contacts between ancient tribes. The problem of identifying the ethnos of the Low Don area in the Early Iron Age lies in the fact that in this territory tribal unions of different ethnical characteristics and economical structure were constantly coming in contact with each other. For this reason material and spiritual culture of the population of this region was always heterogeneous. Because of the geographical specifics of the region and the historical conditions the Low Don monuments display a synthesis of Scythian and Sauromatian cultures. The influence of each of the cultures was directly proportional to the strength of the links connecting two neighbouring regions. The author maintains that the Low Don monuments of the Scythian period were of Sauromatian origin and draws parallels between the monuments of the Middle Don area and those found between the Don and the Severny Donets. The Sirmatians of the ancient written tradition should be identified as the first wave of Sarmatians, the bearers of the Sauromatian culture (according to K.F. Smirnov's terminology), who had moved to the right bank of the Don by the 4th с. ВС. By the 2nd с. ВС the ethnonym «Sarmatians» in ancient tradition had become a collective (general) term and begun to be applied to the bearers of the Prokhorovka archaeological culture, who forced their predecessors, the Scythians, out of the North Black Sea coast steppes.