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Author: Laxman Burdak, IFS (R).

Reconstruction of the Oikumene (inhabited world) Ancient Map from Herodotus circa 450 BC

Getae (गेटी/जेटी) or Getai (गेटी) or Gets (गेट/जेट) was the name given by the Greeks to several Thracian tribes that occupied the regions south of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria, and north of the Lower Danube, in the Muntenian plain (today's southern Romania), and especially near modern Dobruja. This was in the hinterland of Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast, bringing the Getae into contact with the ancient Greeks from an early date. Scholars have suggested that "Getae" is the Greco-Latin variant of "Goth".[1][2][3][4] Alexander Cunningham advocated, "Jat is the same word as Getæ, in all probability."[5]


  • Getæ (/ˈdʒiːtiː, ˈɡiːtiː/ JEE-tee, GHEE-tee)
  • Gets (गेट/जेट) (/dʒɛts, ɡɛts/ JETS, GHETS; Ancient Greek: Γέται, singular Γέτης)

Identification of the Jats as Getae and Massagetae

Alexander Cunningham advocated, "Jat is the same word as Getæ, in all probability."[6]

Steven M. Collins advocates the identification of Massagetaeans as "Great Jits or Jats" of Asia.[7][8]

Weer Rajendra Rishi advocates that the Jats are none other than the Massagetaeans (Maha/Great Getae).[9]

Rahul Sankrityayan had identified the Jats as Massagetaeans.[10]

Arnold Joseph Toynbee wrote: "It may not be fantastic to conjecture that the Tuetonic-speaking Goths and Gauts of Scandinavia may have been descended from a fragment of the same Indo-European-speaking tribe as the homonymous Getae and Thyssagetae and Massagetae of the Eurasian Steppe who are represented today by the Jats of the Panjab."[11]

Arnold Joseph Toynbee, also wrote: "It had been carried from the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin into the Indus Basin by the Massagetae themselves, together with their tribal name (the Jats), in their Volkerwander- ung in the second century BC"[12]

George Rawlinson has identified the Massagetaeans as "Great Jits or Jats" of Asia.[13][14][15][16][17][18]

Sir Richard Francis Burton wrote: "The Massagetae (greater Jats or Goths) are opposed to the Thyssa (or lesser) Getae, and both used the sagaris."[19]

James Tod[20] writes that the tribes here alluded to are the Haihaya or Aswa, the Takshak, and the Jat or Getae; the similitude of whose theogony, names in their early genealogies, and many other points, with the Chinese, Tatar, Mogul, Hindu, and Scythic races, would appear to warrant the assertion of one common origin.

James Todd[21] writes that At this period (A.D. 1330), under the last prince of Getic race, Tuglilak Timur Khan, the kingdom of Chagatai [22] was bounded on the west by the Dasht-i Kipchak, and

[p.75]: on the south by the Jihun, on which river the Getic Khan, like Tomyris, had his capital. Kokhand, Tashkent, Utrar,probably the Uttarakuru of ancient geography, Cyropolis, and the most northern of the Alexandrias, were within the bounds of Chagatai.

The Getae, Jut, or Jat, and Takshak races, which occupy places amongst the thirty-six royal races of India, are all from the region of Sakatai. Regarding their earliest migrations, we shall endeavour to make the Puranas contribute ; but of their invasions in more modern times the histories of Mahmud of Ghazni, and Timur abundantly acquaint us.

From the mountains of Jud to the shores of Makran, [23] and along the Ganges, the Jat is widely spread ; while the Takshak name is now confined to inscriptions or old writings. Jadu ka dang, the Joudes of Rennell's map ; the Yadu hills high up in the Panjab, where a colony of the Yadu race dwelt when expelled Saurashtra. The Salt Range in the Jhelum, Shahpur, and Mianwall districts of the Panjab, was known to ancient historians as Koh-i-Jud, or ' the hills of Jud,' the name being applied by the Muhammadans to this range on account of its resemblance to Mount Al-Judi, or Ararat. The author constantly refers to it, and suggests that the name was connected with the Indian Yadu, or Yadava tribe [24]

Inquiries in their original haunts, and among tribes now under different names, might doubtless bring to light their original designation, now best known within the Indus ; while the Takshak or Takiuk may probably be discovered in the Tajik, still in his ancient haunts, the Transoxiana and Chorasinia of classic authors ; the Mawaru-n-nahr of the Persians ; the Turan, Turkistan, or Tocharistan of native geography ; the abode of the Tochari, Takshak, or Turushka invaders of India, described in the Puranas and existing inscriptions.

The Getae had long maintained their independence when Tomyris defended their liberty against Cyrus. Driven in successive wars across the Sutlej, we shall elsewhere show them preserving their ancient habits, as desultory cavaliers, under the Jat leader of Lahore, in pastoral communities in Bikaner, the Indian

[p.76]: desert and elsewhere, though they have lost sight of their early history. The transition from pastoral to agricultural pursuits is but short, and the descendant of the nomadic Getae of Transoxiana is now the best husbandman on the plains of Hindustan.

The invasion of these Indu-Scythic tribes, Getae, Takshaks, Asii, Chatti, Rajpali, Huns, Kamari, introduced the worship of Budha, the founder of the Indu or Lunar race.

Herodotus says the Getae were theists, 3 and held the tenets of the soul's immortality ; so with the Buddhists.

Before, however, touching on points of religious resemblance between the Asii, Getae, or Jut of Scandinavia (who gave his name to the Cimbric Chersonese) and the Getae of Scythia and India, let us make a few remarks on the Asii or Aswa.

Jats, Goths, Gots or Jutes?

Bhim Singh Dahiya[25] writes....Some people doubt this identification on the ground that the Jats/Getae/Goths are different from each other and that they cannot be the one and the same. They say that similarity of sounds is no evidence of identity. The change of letter 'J' into 'G' is one of the causes for these views, but as mentioned earlier, this change of letter 'J' into 'G' is quite simple and is based on Grimm's Law of Variation. It is under this law that the Sanskrit 'S' is changed into 'H' in the Persian, and the Indian Hans becomes Gans in German language-both words meaning 'Goose'. It is under this law that the words 'L' & 'R', 'L' & 'N'; 'J' & 'G' are interchangeable. On the same principle of Grimm's Law of Variation, the Sanskrit Jiva (living being) becomes Jhiv in the Russian and Guva (s) in the Lithuanian language.158 Similarly, the European word George and Georgia are pronounced with a'J' and not 'G'. On this very basis the word Jat becomes Getae in Central Asia and Got/Goth in Europe but in Denmark it is written with an initial latter 'J' in Jutes and Jutland.

According to J.J. Modi: "The Goths are an off-shoot of the early Huna stock." 159 Hewitt's views of their identity, in The Ruling Races of the pre-Historic Times have already been quoted.

Sir Henry Elliot has clearly stated that the Jats migrated to India from north-west Europe. About this migration from northwest Europe, we do not agree. On the identity of the Indian Jats with the people in north-west Europe, there is no doubt, Col. Tod's view is also the same. Many other views can be

155. Chicago, 1914, p. 218.

156. Oxford, 1922, p. 204.

157. The Scythians, pp. 193-196.

158.See MAKI, Vol. II, p. 566.

159. JBBRAS, 1914, p. 562.

[p.56]: quoted but it will be unnecessary because only a few people doubt this identification. The fact that so many surnames are common to them, further supports this view. Some of them are given below:

Surnames common in Indian Jats & European Jats

Indian Jats European Jats
Dhall Dill
Kher Keir
Riar Read
Legha Legge
Minhas Minns
Dhillon Dillon
Bhuller Buhler (A well known historian)
Mangat Mangait (A well known Russian historian)
Bains/Vans Vans/Vance/Baynce
Kahlon/Kallan Klein
Chavan Chvannes (The well-known historian)
Hans Hans/Hanz
Mann/Man Mann (The well-known English writer of history)
Her Her
Meir/Mer Meir/Meyer
Gill Gill (also Gilman & Gilmore-Nobel prize winner)
Hala Hall
More More
Rathi (Rastric?) Raster?
Bhinder Bender
Chatha Schatten?
Chiller Schiller
Rose Rose
Bais Weiss

Their Cities: Their identification is further proved by the names of the cities also. I am giving only three examples:

Asirgarh - One is Asirgarh in Malwa founded by one Beeka Jat. Its corresponding town is called Asigord in Scandinavia.160 It is also

160. Annals of Rajasthan, Vol.I,p.54

[p.57]: stated there that the successor of Odin (Bodin-Buddha) in Scandinavia was Gotama-another name of Lord Buddha. This is because the Jats in central Asia came under the Buddhist influence at a vary early period. This is not possible without accepting that these people went from central Asia to northern Europe.

Alwar - The second name is Alvar. This city is well-known as the capital of a former princely state in north Rajasthan-Haryana boundary. The word Alvar is of Gothic origin, 161 (i.e., Jat origin) and it is this word which appears as a personal name also, for example, the Spanish Alvaro.

Jaisalmer - The third example is of Jaisalmer. This is also the name of a place in Holland-Denmark border, styled 'Ijesselmeer'. These words are such that they cannot be independent of each other. The chronicles of the Bhattis of Indian Jaisalmer definitely speak that they came from areas in Jabulistan and beyond, although they later on claimed to be descendants from the Yadu Vansha. Incidentally, practically all the clan names of the Jats are found in the Rajputs also. For example, Dahiya, Bhatti, Chauhan, Minhas, Solanki, Pawar, Dhankhad, etc. etc. More of this topic in a later chapter. Here we are on the question of identity of the Indian and European Jats. It has already been mentioned that the old religious book of the Scandinavian people, Edda, speaks of them as descendants of the original inhabitants named "Jittas" who called themselves Aryans. The same book also states that they were also called Asi who come from Central Asian region of the river Oxus. It is the same region from which the Indian Jats have come and as per MAKI, Asi is the name of one of the Saka clans. At the end of the seventh century, two tribes of the white Hunas stock, are said to have invaded the Holy Roman Empire after the death of Attila and they continued fighting for 72 years from 485 to 557 A.D.162 The names of these two clans are given as Kulur-guri and Utar-guri. It is these people who later on combined and were called Bulgari, after whom the modern Bulgaria is named. Now both these names Kulur & Utar are the names of the Indian clans of the Jats and these are now written as Kullar and Udar. The Indian name of yet another Jat clan, is now written as Chhiller

161. JRAS, 1954, p. 138, note III.

162. See J.J. Modi in JBBRAS. 1914, p. 548.

[p.58]: which is practically the same as the German name Schiller. Similarly the German tribal name Klein may be identified with the Indian clans name Kahlon or Kallan. I have given hereafter a consolidated list of names of the Indian clans of the Jats. Anybody who is interested in this subject one way or the other, has merely to consult the list. If researched properly, it will be found that practically all the clan names are common, except those which come into being after their arrival in India and Europe, as the case may be. It is not without significance that many art objects, coins (especial1y of the Kushanas period, a statue of Buddha, etc., have been found in France, Germany and the Scandinavian area of Europe. In the excavations carried out in the mid-1950s, on a small Island ,called Lillion ( the same as Lalli ?), or Helgo about 20 miles west of Stockholm, among many other objects, an exquisite bronze statue of Buddha seated on a lotus throne with crossed legs, was found .. According to Wilhelm-Holmqvist, who conducted the archaeological investigation, the Buddha is of Indian or Central Asian origin.163 ,It is well known to historians that the statues of the Buddha were prepared for the first time under the Kusanas represented by the famous Art Schools of Gandhara and Mathura. Thus this Buddha's statue must be of the Kusanas who were one of the tribes of the Jats and it must have reached north-western Europe either with the people who migrated to that place or with the people who traded between the two areas. It should also be borne in mind that, as per recent excavations in USSR, the Kusana Empire spread up to the Crimea and the Danube. From there to Scandinavia it is but a small distance.

There is an interesting article on' Alvara of Cordova' (tenth century A.D.), who is cal1ed 'Last of the Goths'. He was the grandson of the last Jat king of Spain. In that article, Alvaro is stated as explicitly claiming to originate from a nation of classical antiquity, viz., the Getae.164 Let us here Alvaro about the race to which he belonged:

But that you may know who I am, hear Virgil:

"The Getae scorn at death and praise the wounds",

163. Cited in SIH&C, p. 268.

164. JRAS, 1954, p. 138.

[p.59]: and again:

"The horse the Getan rides;"

and the words of the poet;

"On this side the Dacian, and on that presses the Getan".

I am, I tell you, of the race whom Alexander declared should be avoided, whom Pyrrhus feared, and Caesar trembled at; of us too, our own Jerome said;

"He has a horn in front, so keep away."

(Episola XX, Nigne, Vol. 121, Col. 514).

Here the Dacian stands for the Hungarians, who were named after the Hunas, 'Hungari'. But the interesting point is that the metaphor of 'horn in front' is heard in India too. Further Getan or Jatan, is the plural form of the word Jat in India also. In 1192 A.D. Prithviraj had been defeated, and the Jats of Haryana raised their "standard of tribal revolt" under a leader named simply as Jatwan. In that "obstinate conflict" at Hansi, (Hissar dist.), "the armies attacked each other," says the author of Taj-ul-Maasir', "like two hills of steel, and the field of battle became tulip dyed with the blood of warriors. Jatwan had his standards of God-plurality and ensigns of perdition, lowered by the hand of power, Allah.165

Jat Gotra

Geta (गेटा) is a Jat gotra. This gotra is said to be originated from word Getae of Greeks used for Jats.[26]

Suevi and Getes

James Todd[27] writes about the Suiones, Suevi, or Su that Now the Su, Yueh-chi, or Yuti, are Getes, according to De Guignes. Marco Polo calls Cashgar, where he was in the sixth century, the birthplace of the Swedes ; and De la Croix adds, that in 1691 Sparvenfeldt, the Swedish ambassador at Paris, told him he had read in Swedish chronicles that Cashgar was their country. When the Huns were chased from the north of China, the greater part retired into the southern countries adjoining Europe. The rest passed directly to the Oxus and Jaxartes ; thence they spread to the Caspian and Persian frontiers. In Mawaru-l-nahr (Transoxiana) they mixed with the Su, the Yueh-chi, or Getes, who were particularly powerful, and extended into Europe. One would be tempted to regard them as the ancestors of those Getes who were known in Europe. Some bands of Su might equally pass into the north of Europe, known as the Suevi. The meaning of Suevi is uncertain, but the word has no connexion with that of any Central Asian tribe.

Distribution of Gait clan Jats

They live in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh. The people of this gotra are distributed in Charkhi Dadri area of Haryana, Jat Behror area of Alwar district and Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan. Originaly they were settled in Ajmer district from where moved to Karwas village in Kotputli and to Para village in Mahendragarh district in Haryana. Some families of this gotra moved from Haryana to Madhya Pradesh and started cultivation in areas around Bhopal.

Early history

From the 7th century BC onwards, the Getae came into economic and cultural contact with the Greeks, who were establishing Colonies in antiquity|colonies on the western side of Pontus Euxinus, nowadays the Black Sea. The Getae are mentioned for the first time together in Herodotus (4.93-97) in his narrative of the Scythian campaign of Darius I in 513 BC. According to Herodotus, the Getae differed from other Thracian tribes in their religion, centered around the god (daimon) Zamolxis whom some of the Getae called Gebeleizis.

During the period that the Odrysian kingdom flourished between the 5th century BC and the 3rd century BC, the Getae were mostly under Odryssian rule, serving them militarily, especially as cavalry, for which they were famous. After the disintegration of the Odrysian kingdom, smaller Getic principalities began to consolidate themselves.

Before setting out on his Persian expedition, Alexander the Great defeated the Getae and razed one of their settlements[28]. In 313, the Getae formed an alliance with Callatis, Odessos, and other western Pontic Greek colonies against Lysimachus, who held a fortress at Tirizis (modern Kaliakra)[29].

The Getae flourished especially in the first half of the third century BC. By about 200 BC, the authority of the Getic prince Zalmodegicus stretched as far as Histria (Sinoe), as a contemporary inscription shows.[30] Other strong princes included Zoltes and Rhemaxos (about 180 BC). Several Getic rulers minted their own coins. The ancient authors Strabo (16.2.38-39) and Cassius Dio (68.9) say that Getae practiced ruler cult, and this is confirmed by archaeological remains.

In 72/1 BC, Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus became the first Roman commander to march against the Getae. This was done to strike at the western Pontic allies of Mithridates VI, but he had limited success. A decade later, a coalition of Scythians, Getae, Bastarnae and Greek colonists defeated C. Antonius Hybrida at Histria (Sinoe) (Liv. per. 103; Cass. Dio 38.10.1-3). This victory over the Romans allowed Burebista (Byrebista) to dominate the region for a short period (60-50 BC).

Augustus aimed at subjugating the entire Balkan peninsula, and used an incursion of the Bastarnae across the Danube as a pretext to devastate the Getae and Thracians. He put Marcus Licinius Crassus in charge of the plan. In 29 BC, Crassus defeated the Bastarnae with the help of the Getic prince Rholes (Cass. Dio 52.24.7, 26.1). Crassus promised him help for his support against the Getic ruler Dapyx (Cass. Dio 51.26). After Crassus had reached as far the Danube delta, Rholes was appointed king and returned to Rome. In 16 BC, the Sarmatae invaded the Getic territory and were driven back by Roman troops (Cass. Dio 54.20.1-3). The Getae were placed under the control of the Roman vassal king in Thrace, Rhoemetalces I. In AD 12 and 15 these garrisons were fortified with Roman troops. In AD 45 the province of Moesia was founded.

James Todd[31] writes - The various tribes inhabiting the desert and valley of the Indus would alone form an ample subject of investigation, which would, in all probability, elicit some important truths. Amongst the converts to Islam the inquirer into the pedigree of nations would discover names, once illustrious, but which, now hidden under the mantle of a new faith, might little aid his researches into the history of their origin. He would find the Sodha, the Kathi, the Mallani, affording in history, position, and nominal resemblance grounds for inferring that they are the descendants of the Sogdoi, Kathi, and Malloi, who opposed the Macedonian in his passage down the Indus ; besides swarms of Getae or Yuti, many of whom have assumed the general title of Baloch, or retain the ancient specific name of Numri ; while others, in that of Zjat Jat, preserve almost the primitive appellation. We have also the remains of those interesting races the Johyas and Dahyas, of which much has been said in the Annals of Jaisalmer, and elsewhere ; who, as well as the Getae or Jats, and Huns, hold places amongst the " Thirty-six Royal Races " of ancient India.[32]

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[33] writes... The Indo-Aryan had colonised Anatolia and established the Vedic culture there (Nevali Cori) in 7300 B.C After them the Getae (5000 B.C.), the Panis or Punis or Phoenicians (3500 B.C.) and others went to Europe via Middle East, Asia Minor or Anatolia . The Indo-Aryans tribes migrated to the western countries as far as Scandanavia. On their way out they had intermittent stay and settlements, temporary or permanent, in suitable climes and countries. Orlova does not seem to have taken into consideration this significant factor.

Getae and Dacians

There is dispute among scholars whether the Getae were Dacians or had some other relationship with them.

Several sources from the Antiquity claim the ethnic or linguistic identity of the two people. In his Geographica (Strabo), Strabo wrote about the two tribes speaking the same language[34]. Junianus Justinus considers the Dacians are the successors of the Getae.[35]. In his Roman history, Cassius Dio shows the Dacians to live on both sides of the Lower Danube, the ones south of the river (today's northern Bulgaria), in Moesia, and are called Moesians, while the ones north of the river are called Dacians. He argues that the Dacians are "either Getae or Thracians of Dacian race" (51.22)[36], but also stresses the fact that he calls the Dacians with the name used "by the natives themselves and also by the Romans" and that he is "not ignorant that some Greek writers refer to them as Getae, whether that is the right form or not" (67.6)[37].

In accordance with these testimonies, some Romanian and Bulgarian scholars[38] developed hypotheses and theories arguing for common cultural, ethnical or linguistical features in the space north of Haemus mountains where both the populations of Dacians and of Getae were located. The linguist Ivan Duridanov identified a "Dacian linguistic area" [39] in Dacia, Scythia Minor, Lower Moesia and Upper Moesia. The archaeologist Mircea Babeş speaks of a "veritable ethno-cultural unity" between the Getae and the Dacians, while the historian and archaeologist Alexandru Vulpe finds a remarkable uniformity of the Geto-Dacian culture.[40] There were also studies on Strabo's reliability and sources.[41]

Some of these interpretation have echoed in other historiographies.[42]

The Romanian History of ideas and historiographer Lucian Boia states: "At a certain point, the phrase Geto-Dacian was coined in the Romanian historiography to suggest a unity of Getae and Dacians" [43]. Lucian Boia takes a skeptical position and argues the ancient writers distinguished among the two people, treating them as two distinct groups of the Thracian ethnos.[44][45] Boia contends that it would be naive to assume Strabo knew the Thracian dialects so well,[46] alleging that Strabo had "no competence in the field of Thracian dialects".[47] He also stresses that some Romanian authors cited Strabo indiscriminately.[48]

His position was supported by other scholars. The historian and archaeologist G. A. Niculescu also criticized the Romanian historiography and the archaeological interpretation, particularily on the "Geto-Dacian" culture.[49]

Getae and modern Jats

See: Massagetaeans as "Great Jits or Jats" of Asia

There have long been attempts to link the Getae and Massagetae to the Jats of South Asia. While William Wilson Hunter wrote in 1886, the "weight of authority" that the Jats were an Iranian people – most likely Scythian/Saka in origin,[50] Alexander Cunningham (1888) suggested that the Zanthi, Iatioi, Xanthii and Zaths mentioned by ancient sources such as Strabo, Ptolemy and Pliny were synonymous with both the Getae and the Jats.[51]

James Tod [52] considers Getes and Jats to be same.

More recent authors like Tadeusz Sulimirski,[53] Weer Rajendra Rishi,[54] and Chandra Chakraberty,[55][56] have also linked the Getae and Jats.

John Marshall suggested that the name "Getae" probably got transformed into "Get", "Jet", "Zatt" and then "Jat".[57]

Jat History

Hewitt[58] notes the connection between Jats and Goths: "The Jats ... trace their descent to the land of Ghazni and Kandahar, watered by the mother-river of the Kushika race, the sacred Haetuman or Helmand. Their name connects them with the Getae of Thrace, and thence with the Gattons, said by Pytheas to live on the southern shores of the Baltic, the Gaettones placed by Ptolemy and Tacitus on the Vistula in the country of the Lithuanians, and the Goths of Gothland = Sweden. This Scandinavian descent is confirmed by their system of land-tenure, for the chief tenure of the Muttra district is that called Bhagadura, in which the members of the village brotherhood each hold as their family property a separate and defined area among the village lands, according to the customs of the Bratovos of the Balkan peninsula and the Hof-bauers of North-West [59] Germany .. The Getae of the Balkans are said by Herod to be the bravest and most just of the Thracians."

Ch.3 Alexander at the Danube and in the Country of the Getae

Arrian[60] writes.... On the third day after the battle, Alexander reached the river Ister, which is the largest of all the rivers in Europe, traverses a very great tract of country, and separates very warlike nations. Most of these belong to the Celtic race,[1] in whose territory the sources of the river take their rise. Of these nations the remotest are the Quadi[2] and Marcomanni[3]; then the lazygianns,[4] a branch of the Sauromatians[5]; then the Getae,[6] who hold the doctrine of immortality; then the main body of the Sauromatians; and, lastly, the Scythians,[7] whose land stretches as far as the outlets of the river, where through five mouths it discharges its water into the Euxine Sea.[8] Here Alexander found some ships of war which had come to him from Byzantium, through the Euxine Sea and up the river. Filling these with archers and heavy-armed troops, he sailed to the island to which the Triballians and Thracians had fled for refuge. He tried to force a landing; but the barbarians came to meet him at the brink of the river, where the ships were making the assault. But these were only few in number, and the army in them small. The shores of the island, also, were in most places too steep and precipitous for landing, and the current of the river alongside it, being, as it were, shut up into a narrow channel by the nearness of the banks, was rapid and exceedingly difficult to stem.

Alexander therefore led back his ships, and determined to cross the Ister and march against the Getae, who dwelt on the other side of that river; for he observed that many of them had collected on the bank of the river for the purpose of barring his way, if he should cross. There were of them about 4,000 cavalry and more than 10,000 infantry. At the same time a strong desire seized him to advance beyond the Ister. He therefore went on board the fleet himself. He also filled with hay the hides which served them as tent-coverings, and collected from the country around all the boats made from single trunks of trees. Of these there was a great abundance, because the people who dwell near the Ister use them for fishing in the river, sometimes also for journeying to each other for traffic up the river; and most of them carry on piracy with them. Having collected as many of these as he could, upon them he conveyed across as many of his soldiers as was possible in such a fashion. Those who crossed with Alexander amounted in number to 1,500 cavalry and 4,000 infantry.


1. The classical writers have three names to denote this race:— Celts, Galatians, and Gauls. These names were originally, given to all the people of the North and West of Europe; and it was not till Caesar's time that the Romans made any distinction between Celts and Germans. The name of Celts was then confined to the people north of the Pyrenees and west of the Rhine. Cf. Ammianus (xv. 9); Herodotus (iv. 49); Livy (v. 33, 34); Polybius (iii. 39).

2. Arrian is here speaking, not of Alexander's time, but of his own, the second century of the Christian era. The Quadi were a race dwelling in the south-east of Germany. They are generally mentioned with the Marcomanni, and were formidable enemies of the Romans, especially in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, when Arrian wrote. This nation disappears from history about the end of the fourth century.

3. The Marcomanni, like the Quadi, were a powerful branch of the Suevic race, originally dwelling in the south-wesb of Germany; but in the reign of Tiberius they dispossessed the Boii of the country now called Bohemia. In conjunction with the Quadi, they were very formidable to the Romans until Commodus purchased peace from them. The name denotes "border men." Cf. Caesar (Bel. Gal., i. 51).

4. The lazygians were a tribe of Sarmatians, who migrated from the coast of the Black Sea, between the Dnieper and the Sea of Azov, in the reign of Claudius, and settled in Dacia, near the Quadi, with whom they formed a close alliance. They were conquered by the Goths in the fifth century. Cf. Ovid (Tristia, ii. 191).

5. Called also Sarmatians. Herodotus (iv. 21) says that these people lived east of the Don, and were allied to the Scythians. Subsequent writers understood by Sarmatia the east part of Poland, the south of Russia, and the country southward as far as the Danube.

6. These people were called Dacians by the Romans. They were Thracians, and are said by Herodotus and Thucydides to have lived south of the Danube, near its mouths. They subsequently migrated north of this river, and were driven further west by the Sarmatians. They were very formidable to the Romans in the reigns of Augustus and Domitian. Dacia was conquered by Trajan ; but ultimately abandoned by Aurelian, who made the Danube the boundary of the Roman Empire. About the Getae holding the doctrine of immortality, see Herodotus (iv. 94). Cf. Horace (Carm., iii. 6, 13; Sat., ii. 6, 53).

7. The Scythians are said by Herodotus to have inhabited the south of Russia. His supposition that they came from Asia is doubtless correct. He gives ample information about this race in the fourth book of his History.

8. Herodotus (iv. 47) says the Danube had five mouths; but Strabo (vii. 3) says there were seven. At the present time it has only three mouths. The Greeks called the Black Sea πόντος εύξεινος, the sea kind to strangers. Cf. Ovid (Tristia, iv. 4, 55):—"Frigida me cohibent Euxini litora Ponti, Dictus ab antiquis Axenus ille fuit."

Ch. 4 Alexander destroys the City of the Getae. — The Ambassadors of the Celts

Arrian[61] writes.... They crossed over by night to a spot where the corn stood high; and in this way they reached the bank more secretly. At the approach of dawn Alexander led his men through the field of standing corn, ordering the infantry to lean upon the corn with their pikes[1] held transversely, and thus to advance into the untilled ground. As long as the phalanx was advancing through the standing corn, the cavalry followed; but when they marched out of the tilled land, Alexander himself led the horse round to the right wing, and commanded Nicanor[2] to lead the phalanx in a square. The Getae did not even sustain the first charge of the cavalry; for Alexander's audacity seemed incredible to them, in having thus easily crossed the Ister, the largest of rivers, in a single night, without throwing a bridge over the stream. Terrible to them also was the closely-looked order of the phalanx, and violent the charge of the cavalry. At first they fled for refuge into their city, which was distant about a parasang[3] from the Ister; but when they saw that Alexander was leading his phalanx carefully along the river, to prevent his infantry being anywhere surrounded by the Getae lying in ambush; whereas he was leading his cavalry straight on, they again abandoned the city, because it was badly fortified. They carried off as many of their women and children as their horses could carry, and betook themselves into the steppes, in a direction which led as far as possible from the river. Alexander took the city and all the booty which the Getae left behind. This he gave to Meleager[4] and Philip[5] to carry off. After razing the city to the ground, he offered sacrifice upon the bank of the river, to Zeus the preserver, to Heracles,[6] and to Ister himself, because he had allowed him to cross; and while it was still day he brought all his men back safe to the camp.

There ambassadors came to him from Syrmus, king of the Triballians, and from the other independent nations dwelling near the Ister. Some even arrived from the Celts who dwelt near the Ionian gulf.[7] These people are of great stature, and of a haughty disposition. All the envoys said that they had come to seek Alexander's friendship. To all of them he gave pledges of amity, and received pledges from them in return. He then asked the Celts what thing in the world caused them special alarm, expecting that his own great fame had reached the Celts and had penetrated still further, and that they would say that they feared him most of all things. But the answer of the Celts turned out quite contrary to his expectation; for, as they dwelt so far away from Alexander, inhabiting districts difficult of access, and as they saw he was about to set out in another direction, they said they were afraid that the sky would some time or other fall down upon them. These men also he sent back, calling them friends, and ranking them as allies, making the remark that the Celts were braggarts.[8]


1. The sarissa, or more correctly sarisa, was a spear peculiar to the Macedonians. It was from fourteen to sixteen feet long. See Grote's Greece, vol. xi. ch. 92, Appendix.

2. Son of Parmenio and brother of Philotas.

3. The parasang was a Persian measure, containing thirty stades, nearly three and three-quarter English miles. It is still used by the Persians, who call it ferseng. See Herodotus (vi. 42) and Grote's History of Greece, vol. viii. p. 316.

4. Son of Neoptolemus. After Alexander's death Meleager resisted the claim of Perdiccas to the regency, and was associated with him in the office. He was, however, soon afterwards put to death by the order of his rival.

5. Son of Machatas, was an eminent general, slain in India. See vi. 27 infra.

6. The Macedonian kings believed they were sprung from Hercules. See Curtius, iv. 7.

7. The Adriatic Sea.

8. Cf. Aelian (Varia Historia, xii. 23); Strabo, vii. p. 293; Aristotle (Nicom. Ethics, iii. 7; Eudem. Eth., iii. 1):—οῖον οὶ Κελτοὶ πρὸς τὰ κὑματα ὂπλα ἀπαντώσι λαβόντες; Ammianus, xv. 12.


According to Herodotus (4.93), the Getae were "the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes." When the Persians, led by Darius the Great, campaigned against the Scythians, the Thracian tribes in the Balkans surrendered to Darius on his way to Scythia, and only the Getae offered resistance (Herod. 4.93).

One episode from the history of the Getae is attested by several ancient writers (Strabo[62], Pausanias[63], Diodorus Siculus). When Lysimachus tried to subdue the Getae he was defeated by them. The Getae king, Dromichaetes, took him prisoner but he treated him well and convinced Lysimachus there is more to gain as an ally than as an enemy of the Getae and released him. According to Diodorus, Dromichaetes entertained Lysimachus at his palace at Helis, where food was served on gold and silver plates. The discovery of the celebrated tomb at Sveshtari (1982) suggests that Helis was located perhaps in its vicinity[64], where remains of a large antique city are found along with dozens of other Thracian mound tombs.

The Getae's two principal Gods were Zalmoxis and Gebeleixis.

"This same people, when it lightens and thunders, aim their arrows at the sky, uttering threats against the god; and they do not believe that there is any god but their own." - Herodotus, 4.94.

Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia mentions[65] a tribe called the Tyragetae, apparently a Daco-Thracian tribe who dwelt by the river Tyras (the Dniester). Their tribal name appears to be a combination of Tyras and Getae.

The Roman poet, Ovid, during his long exile, is asserted to have written poetry (now lost) in the Getic language.


At the close of the 4th century|fourth century AD, Claudian, court poet to the emperor Flavius Augustus Honorius and the patrician Stilicho, habitually uses the ethnonym Getae to refer poetically to the Visigoths.

During 5th century and 6th century several writers (Marcellinus Comes, Orosius, John Lydus, Isidore of Seville, Procopius of Caesarea) used the same ethnonym Getae to name populations invading the Eastern Roman Empire (Goths, Gepids, Kutrigurs, Slavs). For instance, in the third book of the History of the Wars, Procopius details: "There were many Gothic nations in earlier times, just as also at the present, but the greatest and most important of all are the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Gepaedes. In ancient times, however, they were named Sauromatae and Melanchlaeni; and there were some too who called these nations Getic."[66]

The Getae were also assumed to be the ancestors of the Goths by Jordanes in his Getica written at the middle of the 6th century. Jordanes assumed the earlier testimony of Orosius.

See also


  1. Common Origin of Croats, Serbs and Jats
  2. Lozinksi 1964: "The Name Slav" by B. Philip Lozinski (Essays in Russian History, Archon Books,1964)
  3. Vernadsky 1952: "Der sarmatische Hintergrund der germanischen Voelkerwanderung," (Sarmatian background of the Germanic Migrations), G. Vernadsky, Saeculum, II (1952), 340-347.
  4. Iranic Identity of Mauryas
  5. Cunningham, Arch. Survey Reports, II, 54 ff.
  6. Cunningham, Arch. Survey Reports, II, 54 ff.
  7. Collins, Steven M. (2005). Israel's Tribes Today (illustrated ed.). Book 4 of Lost tribes of Israel, Steven M. Collins.Bible Blessings. ISBN 0972584935, 9780972584937.
  8. Israel's Tribes Today - The Two Houses of Israel Information Center
  9. Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma Publications. p. 95.
  10. Rishi, Weer Rajendra (1982). India & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity. Roma Publications. p. 95. "Some of the Indian writers including Rahul Sankrityayan and Ujagar Singh Mahil in his book "Antiquity of Jat Race" say that Jats inhabiting the northern India are the descendants of Massagetae, or Malta (great) Getae or Jat."
  11. Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1939). A Study of History. Volume 2. London: Oxford University Press. p. 435.
  12. Royal Institute of International Affairs; Toynbee, Arnold Joseph (1962). A Study of History (2 ed.). Volume 10. Oxford University Press. p. 54.
  13. Rawlinson, George (1873). The sixth great Oriental monarchy: or, The geography, history, & antiquities of Parthia. Longmans, Green, and co. p. 118
  14. Rawlinson, George (1893). The story of Parthia. G. P. Putnam's sons. p. 110.
  15. Rawlinson, George (2004). The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World (2, illustrated ed.). Volume 3 of The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: The History, Geography and Antiquities of Chaldaea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, and Sassanian, Or the New Persian Empire, George Rawlinson. Gorgias Press LLC. p. 66. ISBN 1593331711, 9781593331719.
  16. Rawlinson, George (2007). Parthia. Cosimo, Inc. p. 110. ISBN 160206136X.
  17. Rawlinson, George (2010). The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: Or, The History, Geography and Antiquities of Chaldæa, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, and Sassanian Or New Persian Empire. Volume 3. Nottingham Society. p. 66.
  18. Rawlinson, George (2012). The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 6. (of 7): Parthia The History, Geography, And Antiquities Of Chaldaea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, And Sassanian or New Persian Empire, With Maps and Illustrations. Tredition. ISBN 3847205145, 9783847205142.
  19. Burton, Richard Francis (Sir) (2008). The Book of the Sword. Cosimo, Inc. p. 90. ISBN 1605204366, 9781605204369.
  20. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume I,, James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya
  21. James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya, Vol I, pp.74-76
  22. Chagatai, or Sakatai, the Sakadwipa of the Puranas (corrupted by the Greeks to Scythia), " whose inhabitants worship the sun and whence is the river Arvarma." [For the Chagatai Mongols see Elias-Ross, History of the Moghuh of Central Asia, Introd. 28 ff.]
  23. The Numri, or Lumri (foxes) of Baluchistan, are Jats [?]. These are the Noniardies of Rennell. [They are believed to be aborigines (IGI, xvi. 146; Census Report, Baluchistan, 1911, i. 17).]
  24. IGI, xxi.412; Abu-1 Fazl, Akbarndma, i. 237; Elliot-Dowson, ii. 235, v. 561 ; Ain, ii. 405 ; ASR, ii. 17 ; Hughes, Diet, of Islam, 23).
  25. Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/The Jats,pp.55-59
  26. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihas (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998 p. 237
  27. James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya, Vol I, pp.73fn-4
  28. Alexander the Great - Sources
  29. [1]
  30. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 18.288
  31. James Todd Annals/Sketch of the Indian Desert,p.1292
  32. See sketch of the tribes, Vol. I. p. 98
  33. The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations/The migrations of the Jats to the North-Western countries,p.258
  34. [2]
  35. Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus: "Daci quoque suboles Getarum sunt" (The Dacians as well are a scion of the Getae)
  36. [3]
  37. [4]
  38. Giurescu, Constantin C. (1973) (in Romanian). Formarea poporului român. Craiova. p. 23. "They (Dacians and Getae) are two names for the same people [...] divided in a large number of tribes". See also the hypothesis of a Daco-Moesian language / dialectal area supported by linguists like Vladimir Georgiev, Ivan Duridanov and Sorin Olteanu.
  39. Duridanov, Ivan. "The Thracian, Dacian and Paeonian languages".
  40. Petrescu-Dîmboviţa, Mircea; Vulpe, Alexandru (eds), ed (2001) (in Romanian). Istoria Românilor, vol. I. Bucharest. "It should be noted Al. Vulpe speaks of Geto-Dacians as a conventional and instrumental concept for the Thracian tribes inhabiting this space, but not meaning an "absolute ethnic, linguistic or historical unity".
  41. Janakieva, Svetlana (2002). "La notion de ΟΜΟΓΛΩΤΤΟΙ chez Strabon et la situation ethno-linguistique sur les territoires thraces" (in French). Études Balkaniques (4): 75–79. "The author concluded Strabo's claim sums an experience following of many centuries of neighbourhood and cultural interferences between the Greeks and the Thracian tribes."
  42. The Cambridge Ancient History (Volume 3) (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1982. ISBN 1108007147. "In chapter "20c Linguistic problems of the Balkan area", at page 838, Ronald Arthur Crossland argues "it may be the distinction made by Greeks and Romans between the Getae and Daci, for example, reflected the importance of different sections of a linguistically homogenous people at different times". He furthermore recalls Strabo's testimony and Georgiev's hypothesis for a 'Thraco-Dacian' language."
  43. Boia, Lucian (2004). Romania: Borderland of Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-86189-103-2.
  44. Boia, Lucian (2004). Romania: Borderland of Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-86189-103-2.
  45. Boia, Lucian (2001). History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Central European University Press. p. 14.
  46. Boia, Lucian (2004). Romania: Borderland of Europe. Reaktion Books. p. 43. ISBN 1-86189-103-2.
  47. Boia, Lucian (2001). History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Central European University Press. p. 14.
  48. Boia, Lucian (2001). History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness. Central European University Press. p. 14.
  49. Niculescu, Gheorghe Alexandru (2004–2005). "Archaeology, Nationalism and "The History of the Romanians" (2001)". Dacia - Revue d'archéologie et d'histoire ancienne (48–49): 99–124. He dedicates a large part of his assessment to the archaeology of "Geto-Dacians" and he concludes that with few exceptions "the archaeological interpretations [...] are following G. Kossinna’s concepts of culture, archaeology and ethnicity".
  50. W. W. Hunter, 2013, The Indian Empire: Its People, History and Products, Routledge, 2013, p. 251.
  51. Alexander Cunningham, 1888, cited by: Sundeep S. Jhutti, 2003, The Getes, Philadelphia, PA; Department of East Asian languages & Civilizations University of Pennsylvania, p. 13.
  52. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume II, Annals of Bikaner, Publisher: Madras: Higginbotham and Co. 1873. pp.158
  53. The Sarmatians: Volume 73 of Ancient peoples and places,pages=113–114, publisher:Praeger, New York, 1970 The evidence of both the ancient authors and the archaeological remains point to a massive migration of Sacian (Sakas)/Massagetan ("great" Jat) tribes from the Syr Daria Delta (Central Asia) by the middle of the second century B.C. Some of the Syr Darian tribes; they also invaded North India.
  54. [ & Russia: linguistic & cultural affinity, page=95, publisher:Roma, 1982
  55. The prehistory of India: tribal migrations, publisher: Vijaya Krishna Bros , 1948, page 35
  56. Racial basis of Indian culture: including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, publisher:Aryan Books International,1997,ISBN=8173051100
  57. Ahmed, Mukhtar (2016). The Arains: A Historical Perspective. Createspace. p. 45. ISBN 1532781172, 9781532781179.
  58. Hewitt 1894, p.481-482
  59. Hewitt 1894, p. 482
  60. Arrian Anabasis Book/1a, ch.3
  61. The Anabasis of Alexander/1a, ch.4
  62. [5]
  63. Pausanias: Description of Greece
  64. Delev, P. (2000). "Lysimachus, the Getae, and Archaeology (2000)". The Classical Quarterly, New Series 50 (Vol. 50, No. 2): 384–401. doi:10.1093/cq/50.2.384.
  65. Pliny the Elder: The Natural History. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A., Ed.
  66. History of the Wars (Book III): The Vandalic War

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