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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Issedones

Issedones were were an ancient people of Central Asia described by Herodotus (c. 484–c. 425 BC) in his History (IV.16-25) and by Ptolemy (c. AD 100 – c. 170in his Geography. According to Herodotus the Issedones were situated opposite to the Massagetae who were at the east of the Caspian Sea, or rather Aral ; but Issedones were, as will appear, very much farther to the east. The Issedones  and Massagetae are described by Herodotus as similar to, but distinct from, the Scythians.
Map of Scythia showing Issedones, Massagetae and Pazyryk burials
Map of Scythia showing Issedones, Massagetae and Pazyryk burials 

Ptolemy placed them on the Silk Road in Chinese East Turkistan (Tarim Basin, Xinjiang).[2][3]

The Issedones had their wives in common and they are said to practice the following customs. Whenever a man's father dies, all his relatives lead their herds to him, sacrifice them, and after cutting up the flesh of the cattle, they also cut up the dead father of the man who received them; then mixing it all together, they lay out all the meal as a feast. As for the man's head, they pull out the hair, clean it out, and cover it with gold.  Then they use it as a religious statue and make great sacrifices to it yearly. The father's son does this, just as the Greeks practice the genesia. Otherwise, the Issedones are said to be just, and the women share power equally with the men.[3]

According to some scholars Issedones are the same people as Wusun from the Chinese sources,[4] and therefore some of their tribes must have been ancestors of the ruling dynasty Ashina of the ancient Turkic peoples.


1. Issedones


3. Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World, Rebecca F. Kennedy, C. Sydnor Roy, Max L. Goldman, p. 311

4. An Introduction to the history of the Turkic Peoples,  Peter Golden, page 51