Thursday, December 20, 2007

'Yauna Takabara' , the Persian name of the Macedonians

Most commentators have concentrated on the status of communities named in Persian sources and little attention has been given to the nature of the terms used. The sequence of names is not regular at first, with what seem to be ad hoc epithets, consistent with the naming of recent acquisitions; subsequently more formal designations followed. The earlier documents contain references to various peoples living by or beyond a sea. The Apadana Foundation inscription (DPe) mentions Ionians(Yauna) of the mainland, Ionians-by-the-sea, and unspecified countries by and beyond the sea, while some inscriptions of Dareios at Susa (DSm, DSe) refer on the one hand to men of Skudra and petasos-wearing Yuana , on the other Skudra and Yauna across the sea.On the tomb of Dareios at Naksh-i-Rustem 'Skythians beyond the sea' and 'petasos-wearing Yuana' replaced the unspecified 'countries beyond the sea' of DPe. Skythians (Saka) appear in two separate groups.

The Saka Haumavarga (Hauma-drinking Skythians) and Saka Tigraxauda (Saka who wear the pointed hat) usually appear on the monuments between the east Iranian and Indian groups of peoples. A third group of Skythians, Saka Paradraya (beyond the sea), are named alongside Skudra and petasos-wearing Ionians beginning with Dareios' tomb inscription. In later official texts the eastern Saka continued to be listed in the usual place, but the western Saka disappeared. Thus there is no reference to them on Xerxes' 'Daiva' inscription (XPh), although 'Skudra' appear as a separate entry on the two Susa texts, on Dareios' tomb, in the 'Daiva' document, and among the throne-bearers on later royal tomb reliefs. The documents from Dareios' reign must antedate 486 BC and recent attempts to give more precision to their chronology would suggest that the sequence began no earlier than the 490s. Archaeological evidence indicates that there was very little settled occupation of the open steppe before the fifth century BC. This pattern seems to have changed quite rapidly over the course of the following century, although such settlement as there was continued to be scattered. Dareios' greatest problems are more likely to have stemmed from supplying his troops than from harrying at the hands of small, mobile bands. In this respect the campaign against the European Saka did present additional and far more intractable difficulties than those he would have faced in central Asia.

The later texts (DNa, XPh), seem to represent a coherent sequence: Ionians of the Asiatic mainland, followed by coastal Ionians,Yauna Takabara, , in other words, east Greeks, Hellespontine Greeks, north Aegean Greeks, and Skudra as Thracians .

Yauna Takabara seem in some cases, as at Susa, to correspond with earlier designations of coastal Ionians (Paradraya) and have conventionally been taken to mean Macedonians, because of the distinctive flat hats depicted on coins from the Macedonian region. But this is a misnomer. Coins pre-dating regal Macedonian issues which show large hats are difficult to locate geographically and are even harder to identify according to ethnic origin. They are neither strictly 'Thracian' nor 'Macedonian', because at the beginning of the fifth century these terms lacked definition. The Argead dynasty was just beginning to extend control over areas beyond the Thermaic Gulf. Even in the later fifth century, tribal designations are encountered more often than topographic names (Thuk. 2. 99).

If Yuana Takabara were considered by the Persians to correspond specifically to Macedonians, this should be taken to mean their diplomatic partners from 511 BC onwards, the Argeads, and Argead dependencies. Only in 492 did this relationship change from one of loose alliance, albeit on unequal terms, to one of close dependency (Hdt. 6. 44. 1). The Persian documents do not elaborate such niceties. Allies and subjects are listed in the same way, only the nomenclature changes. Thus at the time of DPe, no distinction is made amongst the inhabitants 'beyond the sea'. Thereafter Yauna Takabara is separated out and 'Skudra' likewise.

'Skudra' is the most elusive term. Although Xerxes' 'Daiva' inscription at Persepolis corresponds in other respects with Herodotos' muster roll at Doriskos (7. 61 ff.), the Greek historian has no equivalent for 'Skudra'. Xerxes did proceed to call up troops from amongst the native and Greek settlers along the coast as his army advanced westwards, and the term has most often be taken to apply to Thracians, or Thracians and Macedonians. The etymology of the word is obscure but suggests that the Persians may have used it in a more specialized way than simply to describe their dependencies in Europe as such. The Persepolis Fortification Tablets have numerous references to workers from Skudra and the most obvious candidates for Europeans working in some numbers deep within the Persian empire are the Paionians whom Herodotos makes so much of in his narrative (5. 1. 12-16, 98).

Why did Herodotos make so much of the Paionians?

Herodotos tells us that Megabazos was instructed, after Dareios' return from Skythia, to conquer the whole of Thrace, to bring every city and every people under Persian control (5. 2. 2). Later he seems to indicate that this was indeed carried out (6. 44. 1: 'all tribes on this side of the Makedones had already been made subject to him'). But tantalizingly, the historian tells us absolutely nothing about the campaign, except that Megabazos began by subduing Perinthos and every other city. A few paragraphs later he modifies this statement, intimating that it was the coastal parts of the wider region he was describing (tes chores tautes . . . ta parathalassia) which Megabazos was systematically bringing under his command (5. 10). It seems unwise to take any one of Herodotos' statements too literally.

Cambridge Ancient History Vol 4 mention

The existence of a satrapy in Europe, called 'Skudra', is known from Persian inscriptions (B44, 58f), 'Lands beyond the sea', that is beyond the waters of Asia Minor from the Persian point of view, were recorded in an inscription on the terrace-wall of Persepolis c. 513 B.C and a satrapy 'Skudra' was mentioned in a egyptian record of c.498-7 B.C and then on a list on Darius' tomb at Naqsh-i Rustam, c.486. The name 'Skudra' was probably Phrygian for the homeland, later called Thrace, which the Phrygians had left in migrating to Asia. The peoples of the satrapy were named c.492 B.C as three: 'Saka Paradraya', meaning 'Sacae (a general name for Scythian-type people) beyong the sea', probably the Getae, who resembled the Scythians in customsand equipment; the 'skudra' themselves, mainly Thracians; and 'Yauna Takabara' or Ionians [Viz. Greeks] with a shield-like hat' The last were mentioned also on glazed bricks at the palace at Susa. Some scholars have supposed that the Sacae 'beyond the sea' were Scythian peoples of the Crimea whom Darius had subjugated, but it seems improbable that Persia did hild that area, and that if she id it was assigned to 'Skudra' rather than to the territories in Georgia, centred on Tbilisi. Envoys from 'Skudra' bringing tribute carried two javelins, a long knife and a small round shield, which were characteristic of Thracian troops later (See Pls. Vol., p1,.40 XIX.

The Greek-speaking people with the shield-like hat were the Macedones, renowned for wearing the sun-hat, as Alexander I did on his fine coins from 478 B.C (look the picture). The Greek-speaking citizens of the colonial city states on the seaboard were not mentioned; nor did they wear a sun-hat.


  1. Ancient Cambringe History, Vol 2, Greek Edition, 2005
  2. Ancient Cambringe History, Vol 4, 2003
  3. The Odrysian kingdom of Thrace, Archbald, Oxford University,1998

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