Infobox Ethnic group

popplace=Eastern Europe
Central Asia
Northern India
langs=Scythian language
The Sakas (English form of Old Iranian Sakā, nominative plural masculine case; ancient Greek Σάκαι, Sakai; Sanskrit IAST|Śaka) were a population of Iranian [Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages: the definitive reference to more than 400 languages, Columbia University Press, 2004, pg 278] [Sarah Iles Johnston, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, Harvard University Press, 2004. pg 197] [Edward A Allworth,"Central Asia: A Historical Overview",Duke University Press, 1994. pp 86.] nomadic tribesmen residing in and migrating over the plains of Eurasia from Eastern Europe to Xinjiang Province, China, from the Old Persian Period to the Middle Persian Period when they were displaced by or integrated with Turkic language speakers during the Turkic migration. In the Achaemenid Empire much of their range was made a satrapy, Saka (Old Iranian nominative singular masculine case), named after them. They also resided in other provinces of ancient Iran.For the names and forms as well as occurrences in Old Persian inscriptions see cite book|first=Roland G.|last=Kent|title=American Oriental Series: Volume 33: Old Persian|publisher=American Oriental Society|city=New Haven|date=1953|pages=page 209 However, almost any Old Persian textbook or lexicon will do. The Latin and Greek can be found in any Latin dictionary and Greek lexicon.]

The ancient Greeks called the Sakas the Scythians but recognized that in the language of the Persian Empire they were called more nearly Sakai. To them the name Sakai in addition to meaning all the Scyths meant explicitly also the ones of Central Asia and the Far East. These latter lived in what is now Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of India, parts of Iran, the Altay Mountains, Siberia in Russia, and Xinjiang Province of China in the centuries before 300 AD, the start of the Middle Persian period. Hence the Romans recognized both Saceans ("Sacae") and Scyths ("Scythae").

The Scythians were recognized in ancient languages at either end of their range. They were known to the Chinese as the Sai (Chinese: , Old Sinitic "*sək"). On the west they were among the first Iranians to enter the Middle East. The Assyrians of the time of Esarhaddon record campaigning against a people they called in the Akkadian the Ashkuza or Ishhuza. cite book|first=Claus|last=Westermann|coauthors=John J. Scullion, Translator|title=Genesis 1-11: A Continental Commentary|date=1984|city=Minneapolis|id-ISBN 080069500|pages=page 506] Hugo Winckler was the first to associate them with the Scyths and the identification remains without serious question. They were closely associated with the "Gimirrai", who were the Cimmerians known to the ancient Greeks. These Scythians were mainly interested in settling in the kingdom of Urartu, which later became Armenia. The district of Shacusen, Uti Province, reflects their name. [cite book|first=Vahan M.|last=Kurkjian|title=A History of Armenia|publisher=Armenian General Benevolent Union of America|date=1964|city=New York|pages=page 23] In ancient Hebrew texts, the Ashkuz (Ashkenaz) are even considered to be a direct offshoot from the Gimirri (Gomer). [Genesis 10:3. "The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, [a] and Togarmah." See also the entry for Ashkenaz in cite book|first=Robert|last=Young|title=Analytical Concordance to the Bible|publisher=Mac Donald Publishing Company|city=McLean, Virginia|id=ISBN 0917006291] The Scythians also extended into the Ukraine south of Kiev and into Thrace and Macedon. [cite book|first=Renate|last=Rolle|title=The World of the Scythians|coauthors=F.G. Walls (Translator)|publisher=University of California Press|city=Berkeley and Los Angeles|date=1980|id=ISBN 0520068645|pages=pages 12-13] In recognition of the fact that these latter were different enough to merit a distinct name the Achaemenids created a separate satrapy for them, Skudrā, though who used the term first, the Greeks or the Persians, remains unknown. The name appears in Elamitic as iš-ku-ud-ra and in Akkadian as is-ku-du-ru. [Kent (1953) page 210.] Not all the Iranians living in the north were called Scythians, although they may have been considered that. The Issedones and Massagetae were generally north of the Black Sea somewhere.

There is no proof that in the Old Iranian period the Scythians spoke anything other than Old Iranian, despite the fact that they were assigned regional names. The linguistic picture is quite different in the Middle Iranian period, however. The only remnants of the Saka language come from Xinjiang, China, but the language there is widely divergent from the rest of Iranian and accordingly is called eastern or northeastern Iranian. It also is divided into two divergent dialects. [cite book|first=Andrew|last=Dalby|title=Dictionary of Languages: the definitive reference to more than 400 languages|publisher=Columbia University Press|date=2004|pages=page 278]

By the time of the Middle Iranian period, the Scyths had either dissimilated into peoples of other names, such as the Sarmatians, Alans and Roxolani, or had been displaced by or assimilated to the Huns.

cythians 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"). [History, VII, 64] Strabo ("Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo", 63 BC-AD 24 circa) suggests that the term "Skuthais" (Scythians) referred to the Sakai and several other tribes. [Strabo, XI, 8, 2] Arrian ("Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' ", c AD 92-175), refers to the Sakai as Skuthon ("a Scythian people") or the Skuthai ("the Scythians") who inhabit Asia. [Ambaseos Alexandrou, III, 8, 3]

It is clear that the Greek and Latin scholars cited here believed, "all Sakai were Scythians", but "not all Scythians were Sakai". [Dr B. N. Mukerjee, Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 690-91.] 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. [ Herodotus Book VII, 64] Pliny the Elder ("Gaius Plinius Secundus", AD 23–79) provides a more detailed explanation, stating that the Persians gave the name Sakai to the Scythian tribes: "nearest to them". [Naturalis Historia, VI, 19, 50] 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.

Strabo defined all the Central Asian clans inhabiting the area east of the Caspian Sea as Scythian in culture. [See: Lib.xi, p 254; See also: Annals and Antiquities, I, p 49, fn 6, James Tod] Diodorus ("Diodorus Siculus", c90–30 BC) said that "Mt Hemodos" was the dividing line between Scythia and India, [See: Indika, Fragment 1, Diodorus II.35; See also: Annals and Antiquities, I, p 49, fn 6, James Tod.] ancient Greek sources used a variety of names for this mountain, including "Himaos", "Imaos" and "Paropamisos" but generally place it in the Himalayas. [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. ]

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. [Geography VI, 12, 1f; VI, 13; 1f, VI, 15, 1f] Both Solinus and Pliny report that the Ganges was one of the greatest rivers of India and "has its source in the Scythian mountains". [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: [] ]

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. [Qv: Fragment IV, Strabo XV.i. II, p 689] In the ancient Sanskrit/Pali texts, the Himalayas spanned the eastern and western oceans and so included the Hindukush and Karakoram ranges. [Ref: Sumangavilasini, I.1; Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, p 65]

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 Philippicae" writings of 1st century BC Roman historian Pompeius Trogus ("Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus"), classified any "Asian" (Osian) and Kambojan clans connected with "horse culture" as Scythic races.

trabo’s evidence

According to the Greek chronicler Strabo, [XI.8.2.] Bactria was taken by nomads like "Asians, Pasians, Tocharians and Sacarauls" who had originally come from country on the other side of the River Jaxartes (Syr Darya). [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] The prologus XLI of "Historiae Philippicae" also refers to the Scythian invasion of the Greek kingdom of Bactria and Sogdia—the invaders are described as "Sarauceans" ("Saraucae") and "Asians" ("Asiani"). [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 ] The Sarauceans are Sacarauls and "Asians" are the Asians (Osians) of Strabo. [History and Culture of Indian People, Age of Imperial Unity, p 111; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 692.] 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" [For Asii = Aswa = Horse-people, see: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, reprint (2002), pp 53-54, 64 fn 1 etc] and undoubtedly refers to the Kambojas of the Parama Kamboja domain whose "Aswas" or "horses" too have been glorified by Mahabharata [ MBH 8.38.13-14, 10.13.1-2; 7.23.42-43 etc.] 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. [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.] These terms are most likely derived from the Old-Persian words for horse, "asa" and "aspa." [Encyclopedia Iranica Article on Asb [] ] 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. ["Lohan. ParamaKambojan.Rishikan.uttaranapi":MBH 2.27.25; " Kambojarishika ye cha" MBH 5.5.15 etc.] 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 [ 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.] According to other scholars, it were the Saka hordes alone who had put an end to the Greek kingdom of Bactria. [Cambridge History of India, Vol I, p 510; Taxila, Vol I, p 24, Marshal, Early History of North India, p 50, Dr S. Chattopadhyava.]

Location of the Sakas

It is proven that in the 3rd century AD the Sacae had their own empire in Khotan, western China (in Kashgar). Therefore the Sacaes are sometimes called "Khotan-Sacae". Because of the Huns who had pushed the Kushans out from their territory, the Sacae 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. [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] 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. [Cambridge History of India, Vol I, p 510, E. J. Rapson (Ed); Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, p 46, Dr M. R. Singh.]

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. [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).] 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. [ See discussion in 'Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country', 1981, p 296 sqq., Dr J. L. Kamboj.]

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. [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] 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. [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] 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. [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) ]


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.

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. 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 MongolsFact|date=February 2007. 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. However, many cultures have changed religious practices over the period of millennia.


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, Kyrgyz, 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.

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. [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.] 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 "Kam"desh or "Kam"brom, "Kam"ich, "Kama" and "Kamu" & "Kama"tol 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. [See: Alam-shahir, p 18; Kamboj Itihaas, 1971, H. S. Thind.]

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. [ 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.]

These names seem to point towards 'Komdesh' ("Kambojdesh ?") which was the original home of the Kambojas. [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.] Ptolemy has also stated that there is a tribe variously called Komroi, Komedei or Komoi which occupies the highlands of Bactriaa and Sogdiana countries. [ op cit., 1927, p 268, 278, Dr J. W. McCrindle, Dr R. C. Majumdar]

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. [op cit., 1927, p 284, McCrindle, Majumdar] Scholars have identified this Kiumito as the habitat of Iranian Kambojas. [ H. C. Seth, P. C. Baghchi, Buddha Prakash, Dr J. L. Kamboj, S Kirpal Singh] 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. [ Raghuvamsa 4.68-71.] Rajatarangini of Kalhana also refers to Tukharas and Kambojas living respectively in the west and east Oxus valleys, during the 8th century AD. [ Rajatarangini 4.163-165]

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. [ 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.] The Kumuda or Kumuda-dvipa of Indian texts and the Komdei of Ptolemy lay in the "Shaka-dvipa" per Mahabharata and Puranic texts. [India as Known to Panini, p 70, Dr V. S. Aggarwala, The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, S. Kirpal Singh.] Komdei apparently refers to the region which has been called Parama Kamboja in Mahabharata. [ See: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 59, 92, 159, S Kipral Singh] 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, [Lohan. ParamaKambojan.Rishikanuttaranpi] 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. [Ancient Kamboja, in Iran and Islam, 1971, p 65, H. W. Bailey] 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. [ :Kaambhoja.yavaneshen Vabhore.n vipatitah | :tadaiva hastinapuryamebhrahemo nripeshavra || 223 || : (Raghu Nath Sinha, Shukarjatrangini tatha Rajatarangini Sangraha: p 110).] 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". [ 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 Paropamise (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.]

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" ". [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.]

akas 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-Sarit Sagara and several other old texts. The Shakas are described as part of an amalgam of other war-like tribes from the northwest.

The founder of Buddhism, Shakyamuni Buddha, is recorded to have been a member of a tribe called Shakya or Sākiya. It is unknown whether this name indicates a relationship to the Sakas of later Indian history.

ee also

*Mount Imeon


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 <> 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.

External links

* [ Scythians/Sacae: Article by Jona Lendering]
* [ Article by Kivisild et al on genetic heritage of early Indian settlers]
* [ Sacaes/Scythians/Chionits]
* [ genetic heritage of central Asia]
* [ genetic journeys and ancestors]
* [, Indian, Japanese and Chinese Emperors]

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