T. Heyerdahl and P. Lillieström (2001) believe that the Scandinavian god Odin was indeed a Proto-Slavonic king who lived near the Sea of Azov (now it is the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia) in 100 - 200 A.D. Then this king was forced out by the Romans from the area of the Don river and settled down in Scandinavia. This hypothesis is based on the data obtained during the excavations of the Russian-Norwegian archaeological expedition under the leadership of T. Heyerdahl at the town Azov, the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, in 2001.
Did Odin exist? As has been shown by the author earlier (The Interpretation of Some Sarmatian Motifs and Inscriptions), a Bosporan name, Ardinzianos (Ardinzian), consists of Scythian/Sarmatian ar 'Aryan', din 'day' and zian 'shine; light; radiance; the sun'; this name signifies 'An Aryan (by name) 'The daylight''. So the Proto-Slavonic name Din 'Day' (cf. the name Odin) might be spread among the Scythians and Sarmatians.
The mysterious river Smorodina mentioned in some Russian fairy-tales is indeed the Kuban river. In my opinion, the archaic Russian fairy-tales were composed in the Kuban area (now it is the Krasnodar region, Russia) (Rjabchikov 1998a, 1998b, 1998c). The Scythian and Sarmatian religious beliefs are preserved in the Slavonic folklore and decorative art (see, e.g., Rjabchikov 2002a, 2002b). In a Russian fairy-tale, Ivan Bykovich (Ivan, a Son of the Bull), a fiery (kalinovy in Russian) bridge at the Smorodina river is mentioned; in another variant of this fairy-tale, Burya-bogatyr' i Ivan korovy syn (The Hero Storm and Ivan, a Son of the Cow), a fiery bridge near the Black Sea is mentioned. I read the name Smorodina as S mor Odina 'Near the sea of Odin'. A market of Odintsov (Odintsovsky bazar in Russian) was located near one of branches of the Kuban river at the Taman' Peninsula from the time of the ancient Russian Tmutarakan' Principality (Soloviev 1992: 65). It is apparent that the name Odin is preserved in this place name. I conclude that the Black Sea once was named for Odin. One can suppose that this Odin lived initially near the Black Sea and the Kuban river, then he was settled down near the Sea of Azov. Why did it happen? The Bosporan king Sauromatus II ruled from 174 to 210 A.D. He won a victory over the Scythians and Siraki (a Sarmatian tribe) in 193 A.D., and as a result the Siraki left the Kuban area and were included in the Alani (Sarmatians) of the Don river (Koshelenko, Kruglikova and Dolgorukov 1984: 19; Trekhbratov 1997: 393, 415). It is felt that Odin was a ruler of those Siraki. Afterwards this ruler and his warriors were forced out by the Roman and Bosporan troops from the area of the Don river, and then this group of the Proto-Slavs migrated to Scandinavia.
Let us consider a Bosporan coin of Sauromatus II. It was presented at a web site of one of on-line numismatic shops. My own tracings of both sides of the coin are shown in figure 1.
Here the Bosporan king Sauromatus II is depicted; it is confirmed by the record with his title (king) and name.
Now one can examine the reverse. A horseman is represented, he is pierced with a spear. By this is meant that this hero was killed or at least lost the field. One can see the Greek letter B here as well. This warrior holds a torch (fire). Therefore it is safe to assume that the horseman on the picture is Odin (Din 'Day'), the king (chief) of the Siraki. The decoded figure is a key to his mystery.
Heyerdahl, T. and P. Lillieström, 2001. Jakten på Odin. Oslo: J.M. Stenersens Forlag A.S.
Koshelenko, G.A., Kruglikova, I.T. and V.S. Dolgorukov (eds.), 1984. Antichnye gosudarstva Severnogo Prichernomor'ya. Moscow: Nauka.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998a. Kubanskie istoki russkikh skazok. Nasha Kuban', 14-21 August 1998, No. 24(36): 7.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998b. Tainstvennaya Tmutarakan'. Krasnodar: Torgovo-promyshlennaya palata Krasnodarskogo kraya.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998c. Delovye zapisi drevnikh russov. Dusha moya, September 1998, No. 18(35): 8.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002a. Arkheologiya skifov, sarmatov, drevnikh rusov i slavyansky fol'klor. In: S.D. Kryzhyts'ky (ed.) Suchasni problemy arkheologii. Kiev: The Institute of Archaeology of the National Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, pp. 214-5.
Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002b. Some Remarks on the Scythian and Sarmatian Religion. AnthroGlobe Journal: http://www.anthroglobe.ca/docs/Sergei/scythian-sarmatian-religion.htm.
Soloviev, V.A., 1992. Suvorov na Kubani. Krasnodar.
Trekhbratov, B.A. (ed.), 1997. Entsiklopedichesky slovar' po istorii Kubani s drevneyshikh vremen do oktyabrya 1917 goda. Krasnodar: Edvi.
Copyright © 2002 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.
Published 21 May 2002; revised 23 May 2002.
Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.
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