Page 0315


cipal seats of this people were and ever remained in Media and. the plateau of Persia.

They constituted the vigor and soul of those vast populations, which were bound together

for a season by the genius of Cambyses and Cyrus. Bearing this fact in mind, it is

appropriate to consider the ethnic character of some of the provincial peoples of the


Beginning at the south-east with the vast region now divided between Afghanistan and

Beloochistan, we find the country appropriated by many tribes, some of which are

comparatively unknown in history. Here dwelt the Sagartians, the Cossaeans, the Parthians,

the Gandarians, the Sattagydians, and the Gedrosians. The native seats of the Sagartians

and the Cossaeans were in the western portion of Afghanistan. The former people were much

more powerful and widely distributed than the latter. They were scattered in different

parts of the country from the Elburz to the borders of Persia, and were a hardy, warlike

people. The Cossaeans were concentrated about the mountains of Siah-Koh.

Perhaps the most important of the races above mentioned were the Parthians-a people whose

courage gave them fame as far west as Rome. Their territory lay south-east of the Caspian,

embracing what is now the northern portion of Khorassan. In early times they were nomadic,

having no large cities. Their valor in war gave them, in the time of the Empire, a certain

preeminence over the surrounding nations. The Parthians were thought to be of Scythic

origin. They armed themselves in the same fashion with that barbaric race, and were

regarded as the equals of the Scythians in those extraordinary feats of horsemanship and

archery for which the latter were so celebrated. The Parthian language also indicated the

race-affinity between this people and the Scyths.

The original abode of the Gandarians was Kabul, and the region on both sides of the river

of that name. They spread out eastward to the upper tributaries of the Indus, and held all

that mountainous district which constitutes the north-eastern corner of the great.

plateau. The Sattagydians lived south of the country of the Gandarians, in the district

between the valley of the Indus and the desert. Both of these wild races were brave and

hardy, but were less populous and daring than the Parthians. The Sattagydians occupied

that part of Afghanistan not held by the Sagartians, that is, the region between the

Ghuzni river and the Indus valley. They were a tribe of about the same numbers and -

character as the Sattagydians, though the territory occupied by the latter was much

superior to that of the former.

Below the country of the last named nation, in. the south-eastern corner of the great

plateau, dwelt the Gedrosians. They held the larger part of the modern Beloochistan, a

region of few rivers and many mountains. The Gedrosians were regarded by the Persian and

Macedonian kings as a people of considerable importance, and the Roman historians and

proconsuls frequently refer to them in respectful terms.

Such were the principal half-civilized nations belonging to the eastern portion of the

Empire of Darius. It only remains to notice the tribe of the Mysians, who occupied the

western part of the Hot region bordering on the sea, and the Persian Scythians, whose bad

fame has been more than once referred to in the preceding pages. Their seat was the great

plain of Chinese Tartary. On the west lay Sogdiana and Bactria; on the north were the

mountains of Tien-chan, and on the east the desert of Cobi. These barbarians were called

by Homer the "cheese-eating, mare-milking Scythians." Herodotus describes them as savages

skilled in archery and horsemanship. By Hippocrates they are referred to as gross, flabby,

loose-jointed beasts, covered with scattering hair. It was their custom to drink the blood

of the first enemy whom they slew in fight. The body of the dead foe was scalped and

skinned a la mode, and the delicate trophies thus obtained were preserved as souvenirs of

the pleasant days of war. When their kings die a great many men and beasts were sacrificed

in their honor, while soothsayers and magicians attended to the black arts of the

occasion. It was these refined