Sarmatians


The Sarmatians were an ancient Iranian nomadic people who inhabited the Eurasian steppe from around the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. They were a confederation of various tribes and had a significant impact on the regions they inhabited, including parts of modern-day Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

They interacted with various ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Scythians, Persians, and Romans. The Sarmatians’ impact on the Roman Empire was particularly notable, as they played a significant role in conflicts along the empire’s northern frontier.

In Arthurian legends, the Sarmatians are occasionally mentioned, but their portrayal differs significantly from the historical Sarmatians. In the Arthurian context, the Sarmatians are often depicted as a group of noble and chivalrous knights who join King Arthur’s Round Table.

According to some versions of the legends, including the 2004 film “King Arthur,” Arthur’s knights are depicted as Sarmatian warriors who were captured by the Roman Empire and forced to serve as soldiers in Britain. This narrative suggests that the Sarmatians were transplanted from their original homeland and integrated into Arthur’s realm.

In this adaption, the Sarmatians are portrayed as skilled warriors with their own unique customs and traditions. They are often depicted as fierce and loyal allies of King Arthur, contributing their expertise in battle and displaying chivalry alongside the other knights of the Round Table.

One of the Sarmatian tribes was the Alans, whose descendants, the Ossetes, still live in the Caucasus today. The Ossetes have a story very similar to that of the passing of Arthur.

It tells how the hero, Batradz, received his death wound and told two others to throw his sword into the water. Twice they pretended to have done so but the third time the sword was actually thrown in and the water became turbulent and blood-red.

If this story was a current among the ancient Sarmatians, they could have brought it to Britain, for Sarmatian soldiers served there in the Roman army under the command of Lucius Artorius Castus. The tale of Batradz may have been transferred to this Artorius and he may have been subsequently confused with Arthur.