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an alliance of the Sarmatian tribes. There is information about the Aorsi in Strabo, Ptolemy, Pliny, and Tacitus. They appear in Chinese chronicles as the Yen Ts’ai.
The Aorsi originally lived north of the Aral or Caspian Sea. In about the second century B.C. they occupied the steppes between the northern coast of the Caspian Sea and the Don and moved south to the Caucasus. They were warlike nomadic cattle raisers and actively participated in the caravan trade between the peoples of the Transcaucasus, the Bosporus state, and Middle Asia. Led by their tribal chiefs (tsars), they participated in the civil wars of the Bosporus state of the first century B.C. to the first century A.D. During the second century A.D., the Aorsi joined the alliance of Sarmatian tribes led by the Alani. The burial mounds of the fourth to second centuries B.C. in the Orenburg steppes and the burial grounds in the lower Volga region are attributable to the Aorsi.