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​What About the Sakas?

October 12, 2019 by  

N. M. TEJARATCHI

Dear Dr. Ahkami, Editor in Chief,
Before mentioning my views about the Sakas, I would like to bring to your attention that in the Spring 2019 issue of Persian Heritage, I came across an article titled, “The Sakas” (pages 20-21). I looked through the paragraphs in vain to find any reference to the historical Sakas. Instead, I found a hodgepodge of subjects of various religions and sects, Sufism, “Dervishes in Spain” followed by a lot of slander and insults about Khomeini. While I am not a follower of Khomeini and do not attempt to defend him, I think every historical personality deserves fair and impartial judgement. Regarding various religions and sects, I am not a religious person, but I have never heard that the Shi-a sect is related to Sufism! Some experts believe that the Shi-a sect, the Iranian version of Islam, has been influenced by the Mazda kites – Mazdak having brought the first socialist uprising in history during the Sassanian era in Iran.
Now then, what about the Sakas? The Sakas, related to the Scythians and ancient Iranians, were nomadic people who lived in the Northern and Eastern Eurasian (Steppes) and Tarmin Basin. Scythia was a region of Central Eurasia. These people did not leave any writings. All we know about them is from Greek historians. In Iran, only the name of a South-Eastern province of Sistan has been thought to be related to the Scythians, who may have migrated to that area over three thousand years ago and given their name to that province. However, this is a strong probability. How about Sikhs in Northern India?
There is an interesting subject in Iranian traditional history about wars with people attacking from the North and North-East. In the period of the Achaemenid Empire (called Kian or Keyan), the epic-making wars have been recorded as lran-Turan wars. For centuries after the overthrow of that empire by Alexander, and of the establishment of the Sassanian Empire in the areas North and North -East of Iran, the lndo-European people had been replaced by the Turkish people. Therefore, the historians of that period wrote about the Turanians as though they were Turkish, even though the names of their heroes (such as Afrasiab) are clearly Inda-European. Russian archeological excavations in the 20th century confirmed that these people were Inda-European and similar to the Iranians, according to what was found in some tombs, such as clothing and ornamentations. At any rate, Sufism, Dervishes, and Khomeini have no relationship to the Sakas just as you, I, and the author of that article do not. 

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