For the Athenian tragic poet, see Acestor Sakas.

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A cataphract-style parade armour of a Saka royal from the Issyk kurgan.
The Sakas were the Scythians who lived in the eastern part of Central Asia. They are considered to be of north-eastern Iranian people by modern scholars.[1][2][3] They lived in what is now Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, parts of Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, parts of India and parts of Iran, some of the western portion of China in Khotan, Ukraine, and the Altay Mountains and Siberia in Russia, in the centuries before 300.

Saka is the usual Persian term, while Scythian is a Greek term. Some of their neighbours included the Sarmatians, Issedones and Massagetae. Their language is poorly known, but seems to have originally been a member of the Iranian family (though some question whether this applied to all strata of their society, or only the ruling class at various times). They were known to the Chinese as the Sai (Chinese: 塞, Old Sinitic *sək).

In Akkadian, the Saka were called the Ashkuza and were closely associated with the Gimirri, who were the Cimmerians known to the ancient Greeks. In ancient Hebrew texts, the Ashkuz (Ashkenaz) are even considered to be a direct offshoot from the Gimirri (Gomer).

Scythians and Sakas in classical sources

Modern historical accounts of the Indo-Scythian wars often assume that the Scythian protagonists were a single tribe called the Saka (Sakai or Sakas). But earlier Greek and Latin texts suggest that the term Scythians referred to a much more widespread grouping of Central Asian peoples.

To Herodotus (484-425 BC), the Sakai were the 'Amurgioi Skuthai' (i.e. Scythians from Ammyurgia).[4] Strabo (Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo, 63 BC-AD 24 circa) suggests that the term Skuthais (Scythians) referred to the Sakai and several other tribes.[5] Arrian (Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' , c92-175 AD), refers to the Sakai as Skuthon (a Scythian people) or the Skuthai (the Scythians) who inhabit Asia.[6]

It is clear that the Greek and Latin scholars cited here believed, all Sakai were Scythians, but not all Scythians were Sakai.[7] It seems likely that modern confusion about the identity of the Scythians is partly due to the Persians. According to Herodotus, the Persians called all Scythians by the name Sakas.[8] Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, 23–79 AD) provides a more detailed explanation, stating that the Persians gave the name Sakai to the Scythian tribes: "nearest to them".[9] This likely explains why the Scythians began to be called Sakai.

Another clue to the true identity of the Scythians is the widespread area in which classical scholars thought they lived. The ancient Greeks wrote that the homelands of the Scythian peoples included Central Asia east of the Caspian Sea, north of Hindukush/Karakoram and west of China extending as far as Siberia. This suggests Scythia was a generic term that was loosely applied to a vast area of Central Asia spanning numerous groups and diverse ethnicities.
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Approximate extent of Scythia and Sarmatia in the 1st century BC.

Strabo defined all the Central Asian clans inhabiting the area east of the Caspian Sea as Scythian in culture.[10] Diodorus (Diodorus Siculus, c90–30 BC) said that Mt Hemodos was the dividing line between Scythia and India,[11] ancient Greek sources used a variety of names for this mountain, including Himaos, Imaos and Paropamisos but generally place it in the Himalayas.[12]

Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus, c90-168) writes that Skuthia was not only "within the Imaos" (the Himalayas) and "beyond the Imaos" (north of the Himalayas), but also speaks of a separate "land of the Sakais" within Scythia [13]. Both Solinus and Pliny report that the Ganges was one of the greatest rivers of India and has its source in the Scythian mountains [14].

When ancient texts refer to the Sakai living in the Mt. Hemodos area or the Himalayan region, they are also talking about a much wider area than the modern Himalayas. Greek texts refer to Mt. Hemodos as Kaukasos, the Caucasus, which is the Greek word for the entire Hindukush region.[15] In the ancient Sanskrit/Pali texts, the Himalayas spanned the eastern and western oceans and so included the Hindukush and Karakoram ranges.[16]

Ptolemy meanwhile says that the Scythian tribes living in the Hindukush ranges were only at the southern fringe of the Scythian world. By this definition, the Parama Kambojas tribe who lived in the far off Transoxiana territory as distant as the Fargana and Zeravshan valleys were also Scythians.

With Scythia covering such a wide area, it is no wonder classical scholars like Strabo and the Historiae Philippcae writings of 1st century BC Roman historian Pompeius Trogus (Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus), classified any Asio/Asii or Asiani and Kambojan clans connected with horse culture as Scythic races.

Strabo’s evidence

According to Greek chronicler Strabo [17], Bactriana was taken by nomads like Asii/Asio, Pasianoi, Tokhario and Sakarauloi who had originally come from country from other side of Jaxartes (Central Asia) [18]. The prologus XLI of Historiae Philippcae also refers to the Scythian invasion of the Greek kingdom of Bactria and Sogdiana---the invaders are described as Saraucae and Asiani [19]. The Saraucae are Sacarauli and Asiani are Asii or Asio of Strabo [20]. These references conceal the information that after being turned out from Issyk-Kul lake and in their movements to Bactria via Sogdiana and Fargana, under pressure from Ta Yue-chih, the Issyk-kul Sakas (Sakaraulois) had been joined on the way by sections of other Scythian tribes of the intervening regions during their southerly or south-westerly movements to Bactria. The term Asio (or Asii) obviously refers to horse People [21]and undoubtedly refers to the Kambojas of the Parama Kamboja domain whose Aswas or horses too have been glorified by Mahabharata [22] as being of excellent quality. In fact, Asio, Asi/Asii, Asva/Aswa, Ari-aspi, Aspasios, Aspasii (or Hippasii) are variant names the Classical writers have given to the horse-clans of the Kambojas of Scythian domain [23]. The Tokharios are assumed by some scholars to be Rishikas. But the Rishikas were a closely affiliated to the Parama-Kambojas as per Mahabharata evidence [24]. Similarly, the Pasianois were another Scythian tribe from Central Asia. Saraucae or Sakarauloi obviously refers to the Saka proper from Issyk-kul Lake. Some scholars tend to link the Rishikas with Tukharas and later with the Ta Yue-chis themselves. If one accepts this connection, then the Tukharas (

> Rishikas

> Yue-chihs) had controlled the eastern parts of Bactria country (Ta-hia) while the combined forces of the Sakarauloi, 'Asio' (horse people = Parama Kambojas) and the 'Pasinoi' of Strabo etc had occupied its western parts after being displaced from the original home in Fargana/Alai valley by the Ta-Yuechis. As stated earlier, Ta-hia is taken to mean Tukhara/Tokhara which also included Badakshan, Chitral, Kafirstan and Wakhan which are said to have formed eastern parts of Bactria [25] According to other scholars, it were the Saka hordes alone who had put an end to the Greek kingdom of Bactria [26].

Location of the Sakas

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Physical map of Central Asia from the Caucasus in the northwest, to Mongolia in the northeast.
It is proven in 3. century Sacaes had an own empire in west China in Khotan (in Kashgar) therefore sometimes Sacaes are as well called as Khotan-Sacaes. Because of the huns who pushed the Kushans out from their living areas Sacaes had to flee to south where they migrated in Sistan. The Sakas had at least three major settlements, Saka Haumavarka, Saka Tigrakhauda and Saka Taradarya, according to inscriptions left by King Achaemenid Darius I (522-486 BC) in the city of Hamadan and his royal seat of Perspolis. [27] However, scholars think these three settlements may be merely remnants of a much greater civilization left by the waves of Scythian migrations back to the middle of the 8th century BC.[28]

The Darian inscriptions say that the Sakas Haumavarka lived 'beyond Sogdiana' (para-Sugudam) which when seen from Perspolis, seems to point to Tashkant, Fargana, Kashgar and nearby regions.[29] The Sakas Tigrakhauda lived near the Arals in the lower valleys of the Jaxartes as well as the plains north of the Jaxartes. The third Sakas settlement,Sakas Taradarya, was located north of the Black Sea in the Russian Steppes.[30]

There are also references to the Saka Haumavarka in ancient Indian texts. It seems likely that it was these Sakas Haumavarka and other allied tribes such as the Lohas, Parama Kambojas, Rishikas, etc that lived in, and north of the Pamir mountains as far as Kashgar, Fargana and Issyk-Kul Lake, that entered into conflict with the Ta Yue-chi or Great Yue-chi and migrated into northern India. [31] According to the evidence furnished by Mahabharata, the Transoxian Pamir mountains and regions to the north as far as Fargana were known as the lands of the allied Lohas, Parama Kambojas, Rishikas, etc tribes [32]. All these peoples living in the Scythia of the classical writers or the Shakadvipa of Indian texts, were lumped together and given the general name Sacae by Greeks and Sakas by the Iranians. They were known as Shakas in Indian texts [33].

Connection theories

The following sections deal mostly with popular traditions of Saka descent found among numerous Asian and European peoples.

Scythian origins

The Scythian language is considered by mainstream historians and linguists as one of the Iranian languages.

The Saka speakers were gradually conquered and acculturated by the Turkic expansion to Central Asia beginning in the 4th century.

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Saka (Scythian) horseman from Pazyryk in Central Asia, c. 300 BC.

Ashkanian is the dynasty name of the Parthian empire and sources indicate that the Parthian revolt against Greek dominance over Persia started in the Semnan region.

Ashkanian means "Sakan people" or "Saka descendants". An Arab source names Sagsar as the place from which Ashkanians originated.

Sagsar, or according to varies sources, "Saka sar" or "Sagasar", is now modern Sangsar, a city in the mountainous region of Semnan Province, in the north of Iran.

Semnan is also derived from Sakestan, which during the Parthian empire was one of the largest provinces connecting the northern Alborz mountains to eastern Iran bordering the Kushan empire, now Pakistan and Afghanistan. Moreover, many of the legends recorded in the national Persian epic, Shahnameh are believed to be a mixture of Persian, Sogdian and Saka legends. Sagsar and Semnan are mentioned in Firdosi's Shahnameh, particularly honoring the brave people of Sagsar and their couragous uprising against injustice. Sangsaris are still famous for being a sensitive people, proud of their culture and language, one of oldest and best preserved of ancient Iranian languages.

There is a Sangsari dictionary containing 18000 words which is published in Persian, English and French and an investigation of the language may help find valuable clues, keys concerning the Sakas.

Asian peoples

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Gold artifacts of the Scythians in Bactria, at the site of Tillia tepe.
The most notable Saka burial to date, whose occupant is referred to as the "Golden Man", was found in Kazakhstan. The silver dish found with the "Golden Man" is of a type common to other Germanic finds and is inscribed with a form of runic writing related to that found in Germanic and Scandinavian runic writing. See Issyk Kurgan.

Archeological evidence and histographies shows a worldview of Sakas, similar to that of ancient German and Scandinavian traditions and closely related to that of present-day Kazakhs and Mongols. It is theorized that they believed Man was a part of the Universe, Cosmos, Heaven, Sun, mountains, river, in total nature, and shows close affinities with Shamanism and Tengriism which are still practiced today, from Kazakhstan to Siberia which conceive of God as related to Cosmic laws and forces. However, modern Kazakhs are Muslim, most modern Mongols are Buddhists, and Siberian shamanism is not known to be directly connected to Indo-European religion.

Language of Sacaes

Today we know the Sacaes spoke a north-east iranic language. Actually we know just they had spoken first Old-Sacai(Avestan) and New-Sakai, a north-eastern dialect of Bactrians.

Saka era

Main article: Shalivahana era

The Sakas were also one of several tribes that conquered India from the northwest, where they established the rule of the Indo-Scythians. The Saka Era is used by the Indian national calendar, a few other Hindu calendars, and the Cambodian Buddhist calendar—its year zero begins near the vernal equinox of 78. See Kushan Empire article for more complex description of Kushan-Scythian dating.

There has been no strong genetic link discovered between the Kazakhs and peoples of India; however, the marker R1a1 accounts for more than 50% of Altay, Slavic and NW Indian/Pakistani males.

It is likely that by about 600 BC, Central Asia was occupied by a number of ethnic groups, all nomadic equestrians sharing simple cultural traits.

Speculations about Celtic and Germanic connections

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Golden plaques representing the resurrection of a dead hero (Saka culture, 5th century BC, Hermitage Museum).
Some researchers have argued that both the Celtic and Germanic people came from an area southeast of the Black Sea and migrated westward to the coast of Europe, starting with the reign of the Persian king Cyrus the Great when they declined to help him in his conquest of the Babylonian empire. Herodotus (440 BC) mentions a division of Persians known as Germanioi (Hist. 1.125). However, this is probably an imprecise rendering of the name Kerman (later Greek sources have Karmanioi), and thus, according to some sources, may have nothing to do with the Latin name of the Germanic people.

The adherents of the Saka theory point out that the burial customs of the Scythians and the Vikings show certain similarities. Furthermore, the Old English chroniclers write that when the Saxons invaded England ca. 400 AD together with the Angli, they "sent back to Scythia for reinforcements". The implication is that the Saxons considered themselves to be Scythians -- the name having traveled with them even though they were far away from the region the Greeks had labelled "Scythia". However, the chroniclers have most probably taken over the name Scythia and its somewhat imprecise usage from the Latin literature; Scythia was identified with Sweden because of a superficial similarity of the two names (due to the fact that Scythia was pronounced [sitia] in Medieval Latin).

According to some traditions, the Saka race, with an affiliated tribe under a different name, migrated to the area of the Baltic Sea, and supposedly gave rise to the Saxon tribe in the area of present day Germany. This claim was cited in favour of Nazi claims that Germans were "original descendants of the Aryan race". However, contemporary philologists have rejected this notion, questioning the archaeological evidence for major cultural contacts between anyone in Uzbekistan or Iran, and the Baltic area. Nevertheless, many Germans believe that there was a connection between people in Central Asia and their own ancestors who were migrants from the East.

Paul Pezon supports this theory, claiming that the Saka Scythians and the seemingly related Cimmerians were ultimately ancestors to the Celts and Germans, and that the Germans fled the Baltic area when it was flooded by the rising sea level after the Ice age. He believes that the German tribe Cimbri have descended from a branch of the Cimmerians.

Some philologists studying the Germanic languages disagree with this hypothesis. There is a distant relationship between the Iranic Saka and the Germanic people due to the fact that both speak Indo-European languages. Their common forefathers which gave rise to Germanic and Iranian probably lived somewhere near the Black Sea. However, the two languages don't have too much in common in addition to their common origin, and therefore the contact between them must have terminated at a relatively early stage.

Speculations about Turkic origin of Sakas

Modern official historiography of Azerbaijan (and partly Turkey) insists that Sakas were of Turkic origin, because the problem of Iranian origin of tribes that inhabited ancient Anatolia and Atropatena is closely related to the problem of territorial claims of Iran to Turkey and Azerbaijan and vice versa.

Parama Kambojas and Saka connection

According to scholars, term Kamboja may be explained as Kam+boja. Boja is the Iranian equivalent of the Sanskrit Bhoja which means Lord or King or Master [34]. Thus, Kambojas may be explained as Lords or Masters or Rulers of Kam country.

The root Kam implying place or region is reflected in the Kama valley, a region lying between the Khyber Pass and Jalalabad. It is also reflected in the place names Kama-daka, Kamma-Shilman, Kama-bela of Kabol; in the Kamdesh or Kambrom, Kamich, Kama and Kamu & Kamatol of the Kunar and Bashgul valleys. It is further reflected in the vast expanses of the region called Kazal-kam and Kara-kam lying on either side of the Oxus north of Hindukush in parts of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There is also a river named Kama in the Russian Steppes. Kambah is also said to be name of an ancient town some destinations north-west of Samarkhand in Uzbekistan[35].

The Ptolemian term Kamoi also refers to a people of the region falling in the Oxus/Jaxartes doab. According to Dr Seth, it seems highly likely that the ancient Kambojas had their habitats in the doab of the river Vamksu (Oxus) and Syr (Jaxartes) (ancient Suguda) and beyond in the hilly regions of Syr. The territory is watered by numerous tributaries of the Oxus and Jaxartes and was referred to as Komdei by Ptolemy. Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (325 AD‑330 AD) labelled the mountainous region of Suguda as Komedas [36].

These names seem to point towards 'Komdesh' (Kambojdesh ?) which was the original home of the Kambojas [37]. Ptolemy has also stated that there is a tribe variously called Komroi, Komedei or Komoi which occupies the highlands of Bactriaa and Sogdiana countries [38].

Al-Maqidisi in his book Al-Muqhni calls the people of this territory Kumiji a name that apparently points to the Sanskrit Kamboja. The Komdei of Ptolemy has been identified with the Kiumito of Hiun Tsang [39]. Scholars have identified this Kiumito as the habitat of Iranian Kambojas [40]. The Kumuda-dvipa of the Puranas is said to lie to north of Pamirs in the Tartary region and is equivalent to the Komdei of Ptolemy and the Kumadas of Ammianus Marcellinus.

The fifth century Sanskrit poet Kalidasa attests that the Hunas and Kambojas lived as neighbors in their respective west and east Oxus valleys [41]. Rajatarangini of Kalhana also refers to Tukharas and Kambojas living respectively in the west and east Oxus valleys, during the 8th century AD[42].

Scholars believe that the Kiumito of Hiun Tsang is same as the Kamboja of Raghuvamsa and of Rajatarangini and represents the Iranian section of the Kambojas [43]. The Kumuda or Kumuda-dvipa of Indian texts and the Komdei of Ptolemy lay in the Shaka-dvipa per Mahabharata and Puranic texts [44]. Komdei apparently refers to the region which has been called Parama Kamboja in Mahabharata [45]. This was the region where the Rishikas, Parama Kambojas, Lohas and other allied people dwelt.

Needless to say that all these people including the Parama Kambojas were Scythians by culture for obvious reasons. Writing on the Rishikas, Dr V. S. Aggarwala observes: “The name Rishika occurs in Mahabharata as a part of 'Shakadvipa'. Arjuna had conquered Rishikas across the Vakshu (Oxus) which flowed through the Shaka country.” As the Parama Kambojas, Lohas and the Rishikas were all neighborly tribes and were allied in their fight against Arjuna [46], this strongly suggests that the Transoxian Lohas and Parama Kambojas were also located in Shakadvipa or Scythia.

Dr Bailey lists several breeds of Kamboja horses and states that their haya- and javana- breeds ( 'swift horse') refer to the famous horses of the Farghana breed [47]. Praja Bhata, a Kashmiri Sanskrit poet and author of the fourth Rajatarangini while writing about the history of Moghul dynasty in India, addresses emperor Babur as a Yavana king hailing from Kambhoja [48]. Since Vabur (Babur) was native of Fargana (in Kyrgyzstan of Central Asia), this Indian reference seems to extend the Kamboja i.e the Parama Kamboja domain almost as far as to Fargana.

Thus the foregoing discussion sufficiently proves that the territory of the Parama Kambojas lay in a region beyond Imaos or Himalaya/Hindukush, the region that ancient Sanskrit texts such as Mahabharata labelled Shakadvipa and classical writers Strabo and Diodorus define as part of Scythia (see above). This allows the conclusion that the Parama Kambojas, the Rishikas and Lohas were Scythians [49].

According to Serge Thion: “It seems from some inscriptions that the Kambojas were a royal clan of the Sakas better known under the Greek name of Scyths” [50] .

Sakas in Ancient Indian Literature

The Indo-Scythians were named "Shaka" in India, an extension on the name Saca used by the Persians to designate Scythians. Shakas receive numerous mentions in texts like the Puranas, the Manusmriti, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Mahabhasya of Patanjali, the Brhat Samhita of Varaha Mihira, the Kavyamimamsa, the Brihat-Katha-Manjari, the Katha-Saritsagara and several other old texts. The Shakas are described as part of an amalgam of other war-like tribes from the northwest.

The Buddha Gotama was recorded of being of the tribe of the Sakas, his father being a king of the Kshatriya caste. His title Sakyamuni means "sage of the Sakas". But this is a common misconception. The Buddha belonged to an Indo-Aryan tribe called "Sakya"(not "Saka")

"Degraded Kshatriyas" from the northwest

The Manusmriti, written about 200, groups the Shakas with the Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas, Pahlavas, Kiratas and the Daradas, etc., and addresses them all as "degraded warriors" or Kshatriyas" (X/43-44). Anushasanaparva of the Mahabharata also views the Shakas, Kambojas, Yavanas etc... in the same light. Patanjali in his Mahabhashya regards the Shakas and Yavanas as pure Shudras (II.4.10).

The Vartika of the Katyayana informs us that the kings of the Shakas and the Yavanas, like those of the Kambojas, may also be addressed by their respective tribal names.

The Mahabharata also associates the Shakas with the Yavanas, Gandharas, Kambojas, Pahlavas, Tusharas, Sabaras, Barbaras, etc. and addresses them all as the Barbaric tribes of Uttarapatha. In another verse, the same epic groups the Shakas and Kambojas and Khashas and addresses them as the tribes from Udichya i.e north division (5/169/20). Also, the Kishkindha Kanda of the Ramayana locates the Shakas, Kambojas, Yavanas and Paradas in the extreme north-west beyond the Himavat (i.e. Hindukush) (43/12).

Military actions

Ancient wars (1500-500 BC)

According to numerous Puranas, the military corporations of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Pahlavas and Paradas, known as "five hordes" (pānca-ganah), had militarily supported the Haihaya and Talajunga Kshatriyas in depriving Ikshvaku king Bahu (the 7th king in descent from Harishchandra), of his Ayodhya kingdom.

A generation later, Bahu's son Sagara managed to recapture Ayodhya after defeating these foreign hordes. Sagara punished them by meting out to them weird punishments. He made the Shakas shave half of their heads, the Kambojas and the Yavanas the totality, the Pahlavas to keep their beards and the Paradas to let their hair go free.

The Kalika Purana, one of the Upa-Puranas of the Hindus, refers to a war between Brahmanical king Kalika (supposed to be Pusyamitra Sunga) and Buddhist king Kali (supposed to be Maurya king Brihadratha (187-180 BC)) and states the Shakas, Kambojas, Khasas, etc. as a powerful military allies of king Kali. The Purana further states that these Barbarians take the orders from their women (Ref: Kalika Purana, III(6), 22-40).

The Balakanda of the Ramayana also groups the Shakas with the Kambojas, Yavanas, Pahlavas and Mlechhas and refers to them as military allies of sage Vashistha against Vedic king Vishwamitra (55/2-3).

The Udyogaparva of the Mahabharata (5/19/21-23) tells us that the composite army of the Kambojas, Yavanas and Shakas had participated in the Mahabharata war under the supreme command of Kamboja king Sudakshina. The epic repeatedly applauds this composite army as being very fierce and wrathful.

Military alliance with Chandragupta (circa 320 BC)

The Buddhist drama Mudrarakshas by Visakhadutta and the Jaina works Parisishtaparvan refer to Chandragupta's alliance with Himalayan king Parvataka.

This Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a powerful composite army made up of the frontier martial tribes of the Shakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Parasikas, Bahlikas etc which he utilised to defeat the Nanda rulers of Magadha, and thus establishing his Mauryan Empire in northern India (See: Mudrarakshas, II).

Invasion of India (circa 180 BC)

Main article: Indo-Scythians
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The Orlat plaque, found in Uzbekistan, depicts a battle of warriors in cataphract, thought to be Sakas or Sogdians.
The Vanaparva of the Mahabharata contains verses in the form of prophecy that the kings of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Bahlikas and Abhiras etc shall rule unrighteously in Kaliyuga (MBH 3/188/34-36).

This reference apparently alludes to the precarious political scenario following the collapse of Mauryan and Sunga dynasties in northern India and its occupation by foreign hordes of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas and Pahlavas.


The Brihat-Katha-Manjari of the Kshemendra (10/1/285-86) relates that around 400 AD, the Gupta king Vikramaditya (Chandragupta II) had "unburdened the sacred earth of the barbarians" like the Shakas, Mlecchas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Tusharas, Parasikas, Hunas, etc., by annihilating these "sinners" completely.

The 10th century Kavyamimamsa of Raj Shekhar (Ch. 17) still lists the Sakas, Tusharas, Vokanas, Hunas, Kambojas, Bahlikas, Pahlavas, Tangana, Turukshas, etc. together, and states them as the tribes located in the Uttarapatha division.

Sakas Today

Many communities in Asia are speculated to be the descendants of the Sakas. These include: For a while but some less scholars also Afghans were thought of being Saka's descends but it is absolutely unparable historically and linguistically Afghans (Pashtuns) are descends of Sacaes. Afghans either speak a north-eastern Iranian language nor a bactrian dialect and nor they have any connections to Sacaes by terms or ethnic. Afghans are descends of the nomadic Ashvakas who belong to the greater Kambojas and were the first Aryan people who lived in the area of the sulaiman ranges. The same with the Nuristanis who belong to the Ashvas, too. Plus today many scholars are not sure if they shall count Pashto to the iranic languages or to a third branch of the Indo-Aryan languages in the group of the so-called Kafir-Languages. Another reason is Sacaes were driven further into India (into Rajastan) by Kushans where they became assimilated and became to a Kishatria-Clan for what Rajastan was for centuries famous of it's rulers and nomadic warriors.

See also


1. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages: the definitive reference to more than 400 languages, Columbia University Press, 2004, pg 278
2. ^ Sarah Iles Johnston, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, Harvard University Press, 2004. pg 197
3. ^ Edward A Allworth,Central Asia: A Historical Overview,Duke University Press, 1994. pp 86.
4. ^ History, VII, 64
5. ^ Strabo, XI, 8, 2
6. ^ Ambaseos Alexandrou, III, 8, 3
7. ^ Dr B. N. Mukerjee, Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 690-91.
8. ^ Herodotus Book VII, 64
9. ^ Naturalis Historia, VI, 19, 50
10. ^ See: Lib.xi, p 254; See also: Annals and Antiquities, I, p 49, fn 6, James Tod
11. ^ See: Indika, Fragment 1, Diodorus II.35; See also: Annals and Antiquities, I, p 49, fn 6, James Tod.
12. ^ Qv: Nonnos Dionysiaca 40.260; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 692, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; See also: India as Known to Panini, p 70, Dr V. S. Aggarwala etc.
13. ^ Geography VI, 12, 1f; VI, 13; 1f, VI, 15, 1f
14. ^ Megasthenes, Indika, FRAGM.XX.B.; FRAGM. LVI.; FRAGM. LVI. B., J. W. McCrindle's; Pliny. Hist. Nat. V1. 21.9-22. 1.; Plin. Hist. Nat. VI. 21. 8-23. 11.; Solinnus. 52. 6-17. See:
15. ^ Qv: Fragment IV, Strabo XV.i. II, p 689
16. ^ Ref: Sumangavilasini, I.1; Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, p 65
17. ^ XI.8.2.
18. ^ History and Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Unity, p 11, Ed Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, pp 692,717, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee
19. ^ Aseni, Osii(=Asii) and Asoi clans are also referenced by Pliny (Pliny: Hist Nat., VI.21.8-23.11, List of Indian races) and he locates them all in southern side of Hindukush. Bucephala was the capital of Aseni which stood on Hydaspes (Jhelum) (See: Alexander the Great, Sources and Studies, p 236, Dr W. W. Tarn; Political History of Indian People, 1996, p 232, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee). Alexander had named this city after his horse Becephalus when it had died sometime in June of 326 BC after being fatally wounded at the Battle of Hydaspes with king Porus (Paurava) of Punjab
20. ^ History and Culture of Indian People, Age of Imperial Unity, p 111; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 692.
21. ^ For Asii = Aswa = Horse-people, see: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, reprint (2002), pp 53-54, 64 fn 1 etc
22. ^ MBH 8.38.13-14, 10.13.1-2; 7.23.42-43 etc.
23. ^ For Asii/Aswa/Assaceni/Aspasio connection with horse, refer to Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Reprint (2002), James Tod. E.g: "In Aswa, we have ancient race peopled on both sides of Indus and probable etymon of Asia. The Assaceni, the Ari-aspii, the Aspasians and (the Asii) whom Strabo describes as Scythic race have same origin. Hence Asi-gurh (Hasi/Hansi) and Asii-gard, the first settlements of Scythic Asii in Scandinavia" (See: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Reprint (2002), Vol I, p 64 fn 1. Also see: pp 51-54, 87, 95; Vol-2, P 2, James Tod. For nomenclature Aspasii, Hipasii, see: Olaf Caroe, The Pathans, 1958, pp 37, 55-56. Pliny also refers to horse clans like Aseni, Osii, Asoi living in north-west of India (which were none-else than the Ashvayana and Ashvakayana Kambojas of Indian texts). See: Hist. Nat. VI 21.8-23.11; See Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian, Trans. and edited by Dr J. W. McCrindle, Calcutta and Bombay,: Thacker, Spink, 1877, 30-174.
24. ^ Lohan. ParamaKambojan.Rishikan.uttaranapi:MBH 2.27.25; Kambojarishika ye cha MBH 5.5.15 etc.
25. ^ Political History of Ancient India, 19996, Commentary, p 719, Dr B. N. Mukerjee. Cf: “It appears likely that like the Yue-chis, the Scythians had also occupied a part of Transoxiana before conquering Bactria. If the Tokhario, who were the same as or affiliated with Yue-chihs, and who were mistaken as Scythian people, particiapated in the same series of invasions of Bactria of the Greeks, then it may be inferred that eastern Bactria was conquered by Yue-chis and the western by other nomadic people in about the same period. In other words, the Greek rule in Bactria was put to end in c 130/29 BC due to invasion by the Great Yue-chis and the Scythians Sakas nomads (Commentary: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 692-93, Dr B.N. Mukerjee). It is notable that before its occupation by Tukhara Yue-chis, Badakashan formed a part of ancient Kamboja i.e. Parama Kamboja country. But after its occupation by the Tukharas in second century BC, it became a part of Tukharistan. Around 4th-5th century, when the fortunes of the Tukharas finally died down, the original population of Kambojas re-asserted itself and the region again started to be called by its ancient name Kamboja (See: Bhartya Itihaas ki Ruprekha, p 534, Dr J.C. Vidyalankar; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 129, 300 Dr J.L. Kamboj; Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 159, S Kirpal Singh). There are several later-time references to this Kamboja of Pamirs/Badakshan. Raghuvamsha, a 5th c Sanskrit play by Kalidasa, attests their presence on river Vamkshu (Oxus) as neighbors to the Hunas (4.68-70). They have also been attested as Kiumito by 7th c Chinese pilgrim Hiun Tsang. Eighth century king of Kashmir, king Lalitadiya had invaded the Oxian Kambojas as is attested by Rajatarangini of Kalhana (See: Rajatarangini 4.163-65). Here they are mentined as living in the eastern parts of the Oxus valley as neighbors to the Tukharas who were living in western parts of Oxus valley (See: The Land of the Kambojas, Purana, Vol V, No, July 1962, p 250, Dr D. C. Sircar). These Kambojas apparently were descendants of that section of the Kambojas who, instead of leaving their ancestral land during second c BC under assault from Ta Yue-chi, had compromised with the invaders and had decided to stay put in their ancestral land instead of moving to Helmond valley or to the Kabol valley. There are other references which equate Kamboja= Tokhara. A Buddhist Sanskrit Vinaya text (Dr N. Dutt, Gilgit Manuscripts, III, 3, 136, quoted in B.S.O.A.S XIII, 404) has the expression satam Kambojikanam kanayanam i.e a hunderd maidens from Kamboja. This has been rendered in Tibetan as Tho-gar yul-gyi bu-mo brgya and in Mongolian as Togar ulus-un yagun ükin. Thus Kamboja has been rendered as Tho-gar or Togar. And Tho-gar/Togar is Tibetan/Mongolian names for Tokhar/Tukhar. See refs: Irano-Indica III, H. W. Bailey Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1950 , pp. 389-409; see also: Ancient Kamboja, Iran and Islam, 1971, p 66, Dr H. W. Bailey.
26. ^ Cambridge History of India, Vol I, p 510; Taxila, Vol I, p 24, Marshal, Early History of North India, p 50, Dr S. Chattopadhyava.
27. ^ Select Inscriptions bearing on the Indian History and Civilization, Vol I, p 10; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 297, Dr J. L. Kamboj
28. ^ Cambridge History of India, Vol I, p 510, E. J. Rapson (Ed); Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, p 46, Dr M. R. Singh.
29. ^ Some writers interpret the Darian inscription as locating Sakas Haumavarka north of Suguda (Sogdiana), in the plains of Jaxartes in the Issyk-Kul Lake area. Para-Sugudma seems a more reasonable location for Saka Haumavarka because there was a different Sakas settlement near Suguda to the north of Jaxartes in the lower valleys near Aral. Further, in reference to the Transoxiana Sakas, Arrian mentions the Sakas living not far from Bactria and Sugada, likely an allusion to Haumavarka Sakas living in Tashkant, Fargana and Kashgar (See: History and Culture of Indian People, Vol II, p 120).
30. ^ See discussion in 'Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country', 1981, p 296 sqq., Dr J. L. Kamboj.
31. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 297, Dr J. L. Kamboj; cf also: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, pp 381, 691-92, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury and Dr B. N. Murkerjee
32. ^ Lohan paramakambojanrishikan uttaranpi...Mahabharata 2.27.25. See Ganguli's Trans: But it may be noted that Mr Ganguli has erroneously translated the expression Parama Kambojas as Eastern Kambojas which designation for Parama Kambojas is not correct and is misleading. Therefore see: Geographical Data in Early Puranas, pp 167-68, Dr M. R. Singh; Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 1-8, K. D. Sethna; cf: A Geographical Text of Puranas: A Further Critical Study, Purana Vol VI, No 1, Feb 1962, pp 112- sqq.; Purana, Vol VI, No 1, pp 207-14 etc
33. ^ Dr Robert Shafer has recently reported that the Shakas, Kambojas, Pahlavas, Sugudas, etc were the left-over population of the Indo-Iranian Aryans after Aryans latter had moved from their original home in Central Asia to Iran and India (See Report: Ethnography of Ancient India, p 43, Robert Shafer)
34. ^ Pirart 1998:542; Linguistic aspects of the Aryan non-invasion theory, section 3.5. (Pre-IE substratum in Indo-Aryan: language X), Dr. Koenraad ELST, see link:; Central Asiatic Provinces of Maurya Empire, p 403, Dr H. C. Seth; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 48-49, Dr J. L. Kamboj, Ancient Kamboja in Iran and Islam, p 66-70, Dr H. W. Bailey etc.
35. ^ See: Alam-shahir, p 18; Kamboj Itihaas, 1971, H. S. Thind.
36. ^ J. W. McCrindle, Ancient India, Trans & edited Dr R. C. Majumdar, 1927, p 275, 325; Central Asiatic Provinces of the Maurya Empire, p 403, Dr H. C. Seth; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 48-49, Dr J. L. Kamboj; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 92, S Kirpal Singh.
37. ^ Central Asiatic Provinces of the Maurya Empire, p 403, Dr H. C. Seth; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 48-49, Dr J. L. Kamboj; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 92, S Kirpal Singh.
38. ^ op cit., 1927, p 268, 278, Dr J. W. McCrindle, Dr R. C. Majumdar
39. ^ op cit., 1927, p 284, McCrindle, Majumdar
40. ^ H. C. Seth, P. C. Baghchi, Buddha Prakash, Dr J. L. Kamboj, S Kirpal Singh
41. ^ Raghuvamsa 4.68-71.
42. ^ Rajatarangini 4.163-165
43. ^ See: Studies in Indian History and Civilization, Agra, p 351; India and the World, 1964, p 71, Dr Buddha Prakash; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 91-92, S Kirpal Singh ; On Kamboja-Kumuda and Komdei connection, see detailed discussion in Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 48-49, 155, 299-300, Dr J. L. Kamboj.
44. ^ India as Known to Panini, p 70, Dr V. S. Aggarwala, The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, S. Kirpal Singh.
45. ^ See: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 59, 92, 159, S Kipral Singh
46. ^ Lohan. ParamaKambojan.Rishikanuttaranpi
47. ^ Ancient Kamboja, in Iran and Islam, 1971, p 65, H. W. Bailey
48. ^
Kaambhoja.yavaneshen Vabhore.n vipatitah |
tadaiva hastinapuryamebhrahemo nripeshavra || 223 ||
(Raghu Nath Sinha, Shukarjatrangini tatha Rajatarangini Sangraha: p 110).
49. ^ Dr Michael Witzel asserts that name Kamboja has also been transmitted as Ambautai by Ptolemy without the typical prefix K. Ptolemy (Geography 6.18.3) reports a section of people called Ambautai who were located on southern side of Paropamisus (Hindukush) towards Kabol valley. Dr Michael and some other scholars asserts that Ambaurai = (K)ambautai = Kamboja. It is also asserted that –tai in Ambautai is a Scythian suffix (Italo Ronca, Ostiran und Zentralasien bei Ptolemeios, Diss. Mainz 1968., p 121; cf also Bulitai]”; Hydronomy of Nepal, Dr Michael Witzel, p 40, fn 98.). The Ambautai here apparently refers to the cis- Hindukush branch of Kambojas if the interpretation of Dr Michael is to be believed. And Geography implies they were Scythians people. Thus the Kambojas lying on the southern side of Hindukush were also included in the Scythian category of Classical writers.
50. ^ See link, Serge quotes the following references: Foucher, La vieille route de l'Inde, p. 271; Also - Rock Edict 13, 30 (See Bloch). Some one knowing French language needs to check these references quoted by Serge.

Books and Articles

  • Bailey, H. W. 1958. "Languages of the Saka." Handbuch der Orientalistik, I. Abt., 4. Bd., I. Absch., Leiden-Köln. 1958.
  • Davis-Kimball, Jeannine. 2002. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines. Warner Books, New York. 1st Trade printing, 2003. ISBN 0-446-67983-6 (pbk).
  • Bulletin of the Asia Institute: The Archaeology and Art of Central Asia. Studies From the Former Soviet Union. New Series. Edited by B. A. Litvinskii and Carol Altman Bromberg. Translation directed by Mary Fleming Zirin. Vol. 8, (1994), pp. 37-46.
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu. Draft annotated English translation.
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation.
  • Lebedynsky, Iaroslav. (2006). Les Saces: Les <<scythes>> d'Asie, VIIIe av. J.-C.-IVe siècle apr. J.-C. Editions Errance, Paris. ISBN 2-87772-337-2 (in French).
  • Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1970. "The Wu-sun and Sakas and the Yüeh-chih Migration." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 33 (1970), pp. 154-160.
  • Puri, B. N. 1994. "The Sakas and Indo-Parthians." In: History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp. 191-207.
  • Thomas, F. W. 1906. "Sakastana." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1906), pp. 181-216.
  • Yu, Taishan. 1998. A Study of Saka History. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 80. July, 1998. Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Yu, Taishan. 2000. A Hypothesis about the Source of the Sai Tribes. Sino-Platonic Papers No. 106. September, 2000. Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania.

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