383 PARTHIA- PEOPLE AND ARTS.
do not here dwell further upon the physical characteristics and natural potency of the
countries held under a single sway by Mithridates, for the reason that the same have
already been amply considered in the preceding histories of Babylonia, Assyria, Media, and
Persia. We, therefore, pass at once to the consideration of the Parthians as a people,
their institutions, general character and manner of life and government.
CHAPTER XXXIV- PEOPLE AND ARTS.
THE ethnic origin of the Parthian race has not been well determined. It would appear that
their arrival in Central Asia was somewhat later than the incoming of many other peoples
into that region of the world. Doubtless the Chaldaeans, the Assyrians, the Medes, and
even the Persians, antedated by Several centuries-many centuries in the case of the older
of these nations-the arrival of the Parthians in their ancestral seats.
We are here close to one of the great ethnic problems with which the student of history is
confronted in the beginning of his inquiry. The question is no less than that of the
origin of the Aryan family of men. History is able to trace backwards the movements of the
Aryan peoples to the region of the Bactrian Highlands, but beyond that all is mist and
thick darkness. Did the Aryans come from some other region afar?-some country in which
they were associated with the Semitic or Hamitic family of men? The answer is not
apparent. We are, therefore, led to begin with the development and migrations of the Aryan
tribes from the region of their primitive settlements without the solution of the
Parthia was not far from the Aryan nidus. We may safely ascribe the origin of the people
to the same source with that of the Persians and the Medes. Of a certainty the Parthians
were strongly discriminated from the peoples just mentioned. They had more of the Turanian
character- fewer of the well-known characteristics of the Indo-Europeans as illustrated in
the Hellenic and Roman races. So strongly marked were the distinctions just referred to,
that many inquirers have been disposed to regard the Parthians as having a Scythic origin.
Arrian, among the ancients, declares his belief in such a derivation. It can not be
doubted that there were relations between the Parthians through the tribes of Chorasmia
with the Scyths beyond the Oxus. It must be observed that race distinctions fade away
somewhat along the border lines where two families of mankind fret and roll together.
Modern history furnishes a hundred examples of such obliteration of ethnic features along
the boundaries of states and nations.
It was doubtless so in antiquity, but even in a stronger measure. At a time when society
was unsettled, when the tribal state had not yet given place to fixedness of residence,
there was more frequent mixing and interweaving along the selvages of races than even in
modern times. These circumstances may serve to explain the presence of Scythic elements
among the ancient Parthians. So that natural and ethnic causes may be found sufficient in
number and character to account for the traditions of the Greek and Roman storytellers who
were wont to classify the Parthians with the Scythic race.
We may agree that at the time of the great invasion of all Central and Western Asia by the
Scythian barbarians, a larger amount of their work and influence remained in Parthia than
in the other countries which they conquered. The Parthian language shows unmistakably a.
Scythic infection-just as English bears indubitable evidence of the Norman conquest. The
Parthian vocabulary had in it a large addition of Scythic words, and the civil and
military habits of the people were