nomadic tribes related to the Scythians and Saka (Shaka, Sacae). The Sauromatians lived from the seventh to fourth centuries B.C. in the Volga and Ural steppes. Greek writers, among them Herodotus, referred to the Sauromatians as people “ruled by women.” The existence of a matriarchal system has also been confirmed by archaeology; excavations have uncovered the burials of wealthy women, containing weapons, equestrian gear, and objects suggesting a priestly status (stone altars). In the late fifth and in the fourth century B.C. individual Sauromatian tribes began to encroach upon the territory of the Scythians and cross the Don. In the fourth to third centuries B.C., the Sauromatians formed new tribal unions, which included related tribes arriving from the east. Beginning in the third century B.C., these new tribal groupings became known as Sarmatians.
REFERENCESSmirnov, K. F. Savromaty: Ranniaia istoriia i kul’tura sarmatov. Moscow, 1964.
Smirnov, K. F., and V. G. Petrenko. Savromaty Povolzh’ia i luzhnogo Priural’ia. In the series Arkheologiia SSSR: Svod arkheologicheskikh istochnikov, vols. 1–9. Moscow, 1963.