# Scythia

In order to plan their campaign, the Persians proceeded to a geographical survey of the Scythian territory. Following the ancient practice, the survey started by establishing a geodetic square. Herodotus reports (IV.101):

Scythia, then, which is square in shape, and has two of its sides reaching down to the sea, extends inland to the same distance that it stretches along the coast, and is equal every way. For it is a ten days’ journey from the Ister to the Borysthenes and ten more from the Borysthenes to the Palus Maeotis, while the distance from the coast inland to the country of the Melanchlaeni, who dwell above Scythia, is a journey of twenty days. I reckon the day’s journey at two hundred stadia. Thus the two sides which run straight inland are four thousand stadia each, and the transverse sides at right angles to these are also of the same length, which gives the full size of Scythia.

This geodetic square had an extension of 10° by 10° and included the area from the mouth of the Danube to the mouth of the Don and extended in latitude from the northern coast of the Black Sea to almost the latitude of Moscow. This geodetic square, or elements of it, most likely were part of an established tradition.

Since Herodotus considered that geography and distances were the main factor in the Scythian campaign, he built his narrative around the data obtained by the construction of this geodetic square. Home, the first step in understanding the military operations of King Darius and the presentation by Herodotus, is to locate this square on the map. If this is not done the account by Herodotus becomes incomprehensible and so do the actions of the King. When interpreters throw overboard the data of mathematical geography, they are left with a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

This geodetic square, or elements of it, most likely were part of an established tradition. The base line of the geodetic square of Scythia runs along latitude 45°12’N, that is, along the parallel that is at the middle point between the Equator and the Pole, with the usual displacement of 12’ to the north. On this parallel there was marked a segment of 10° that presents a number of important peculiarities.

Its western terminal (which is the southwest corner of the geodetic square) is the position 45°12’N, 29°50’E, which indicates the mouth of the Danube and at the same time is exactly on the longitude of the Western Axis of Egypt (29°50’E), 14° to the north of the western corner of the Delta. This figure of 14° is significant because Egypt proper had a height of 7° The southwest corner of the geodetic square was important also because the Danube that ended there was assumed to run to the west along latitude 45°12’N, the latitude of the base of the geodetic square, for a length of 3 units of 7°12’, having its sources at the meridian 8°24’E. The course of the Danube so conceived runs parallel to the course of the mythical Nile which is assumed to run along the Equator from the true sources of the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean.

The base line of the geodetic square cuts exactly across the Strait of Kerch, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, and ends to the east at a point 45°12’N, 39°50’E, which is exactly 2° to the south of the mouth of the Don. The present city of Rostov, at the mouth of the Don, is at 47°12’N, 39°42’E.

The Black Sea was conceived as being measured by a rectangle extending for 4° to the south along the 10° of the base of the geodetic square. The Sea of Azov was conceived as a rectangle having the same dimensions reduced to halves, 5° by 2°, and placed to the north of the base of the geodetic square.

On this base there was constructed a square with a height of 10° of latitude, divided into two rectangles by a line running along meridian 32°38’E, the meridian of the Eastern Axis of Egypt. Hence, the western part of the geodetic square of Scythia, with sides running along meridians 29°50’E and 32°38’E, was a continuation of the rectangle of Egypt. This rectangle defined the course of the Boristhenes or Dnieper, which was considered a continuation of the course of the Nile. The mouth of the Dnieper is on meridian 32°38’E, the Eastern Axis of Egypt, exactly 1½° to the north of the base of the geodetic square. The mouth of the Dnieper was considered located at 46°42’N, 32°38’E; the present city of Kherson, which is on the estuary of the Dnieper, is situated at 46°37’N, 32°36’E. The middle course of the Dnieper runs along meridian 29°50’E, the Western Axis of Egypt. The source of the Dnieper was identified with a point called Gerrhos, at 55°12’N, 32°38’E, which is on the meridian of the Eastern Axis of Egypt and of the mouth of the Dnieper, and at the same time on the northern limiting line of the geodetic square. As I shall explain, the point called Gerrhos was the most important position in the square and the key to the geography of Scythia.

The northern limit of the square was at latitude 55°12’N, a latitude that has particular significance. As I have explained, originally the Oikoumene was understood as extending from the Equator to latitude 31°N, being the equivalent of the Oikoumene in the sky. Because of the calculation by near-squares, the northern limit of the Oikoumene could be reckoned as being at 31°30’N. The Oikoumene on earth was divided by the Tropic, which marked the southern limit of Egypt proper, at latitude 24°N. In order to map the earth to the north of latitude 31°N, or 31°30’N, the northern limit of Egypt, the extension of the Oikoumene was duplicated, making it reach latitude 62°N or 63°N. On this supplementary band of Oikoumene, parallel 55°12’N, the northern limit of the geodetic square, is the counterpart of the Tropic, being 24° to the north of latitude 31°N. The second Tropic, 55°12’N, well corresponds to the northernmost point of Ireland (Malin Head, 55°, 23’N), considered the end of the Oikoumene.

The geodetic square 10° by 10° that delimits Scythia is a square only in terms of a Mercator projection. But exact reckonings could be obtained because the square was divided into two rectangles of which the eastern one had a width of 7°12’ with a height of 10° For the geodetic squares between latitudes 30°N and 36°N, it was reckoned that 6° of latitude are equal in actual length to 7°12’ of longitude. In the case of the geodetic square of Scythia, it was reckoned that a width of 7’ 12° of longitude is equal in actual length to 5° of latitude or half of the height of the square. In other words the eastern rectangle of Scythia has a height which in actual length is twice its breadth. Assuming the earth to be a sphere, this reckoning is exact for latitude 46°01’N, since cos 46°01’ = 0.6944 = 5° = 7°12’.

Because in the calculations of the actual length of the degrees the width of 7°12’ of longitude corresponds to half of the height of the geodetic square, Herodotus in his reckonings occasionally trips himself by doubling or halving some figures. He states that the day of navigation by oars is 200 stadia and that the basis of the geodetic square is 4000 stadia; he should have said that the basis of the geodetic square is 8333 stadia or, in round figures, 8000 stadia (reckoning by 833 stadia to the degree) and that the day of navigation by oars (which is always half a degree of latitude) is 400 stadia. As a result of this error he arrives at the absurd conclusion that the Morass Maiotis or Sea of Azov is as wide as the Pontos Euxinos or Black Sea, whereas he should have said that the Morass Maiotis is half as wide. The Periplus of Skylax provides the correct information that the Morass Maiotis is half as wide as the Pontos Euxinos.

As a result of Herodotus’ error, Ptolemy presented the Morass Maiotis as extending 10° inland. Ptolemy must have reasoned that the enormous size mentioned by Herodotus could not apply to the direction east-west and, hence, applied it to the direction north-south. Some scholars have tried to account for Herodotus’ and Ptolemy’s figures by advancing the untenable theory that the Sea of Azov had a much greater surface in ancient times.

Herodotus states correctly that the geodetic square extends inland for 20 days or 10°, but he places Gerrhos, which is the northern limit of the square, at 40 days from the base, doubling the correct figure. Once these corrections are introduced all data of Herodotus are consonant to each other. In his description of the interior of Scythia he reckons correctly a day of march as half a degree.1

The most important point of the geodetic square of Skythia is that called Gerrhos, which is on the meridian of the Eastern Axis of Egypt (32° 38’ E), the line that divides the square into two parts. This meridian touches the mouth of the Boristhenes (the Dnieper) and the point Gerrhos is considered the source of the Boristhenes. This point is at latitude 55° 12’ N, on the northern line of the square.

The Eastern Axis of Egypt terminates to the north of the point called in Greek Gerrhon, “swamp of reeds,” which is the most important boundary point of Egypt, as the story of the Hebrew Exodus indicates. Exactly 24° to the north of this point there was in Skythia a Gerrhos which was considered the source of the Boristhenes or Dnieper. In the words of Herodotos (IV.53):

As far inland as the place named Gerrhos, which is distant forty days’ voyage from the sea, its course is known, and its direction is from north to south; but above this, no one has traced it, so as to say through what countries it flows. It enters the territory of the Skythian Husbandmen after running for some time through a desert region. . . It is the only river besides the Nile the sources of which are unknown. . .”
Since Herodotos is always careful to distinguish information expressed in the form of mythos from that expressed in the form of logos, he states that Gerrhos is the known source of the Boristhenes, but that the sources of the Boristhenes, like those of the Nile (meaning the mythical Nile) are unknown. This means that in mythical terms the course of the Boristhenes, like that of the Nile, continued beyond its real source.

The point Gerrhos was chosen as the starting point of the Boristhenes or Dnieper because there the river passed through a significant geographical position, but actually the river continues somewhat to the north. Probably in mythology the Boristhenes was conceived as extending all the way to the north following the course of the Volkhov, which ends at Lake Ladoga. This lake at latitude 63° N would be at the northern limit of the Oikoumene, being as far north of the northernmost point of Egypt as the latter is to the north of the Nile at the Equator. Lake Ladoga with Lake Onega may have been considered as the counterpart at the other extreme of the Oikoumene of Lake Albert and Lake Victoria, the sources of the Nile.

The Gerrhos is the area of swamps to the northeast of Smolensk. These swamps are quite extensive, but may have been much more extensive in Herodotos’ time, since it is known that the extention of the bogs and swamps of the upper valley of the Dnieper, which are a continuation of the soil formation of the Pripet Marshes, has steadily decreased in historical times, partly because of the encroachement of vegetation and partly because of the human efforts to extend the cultivated land. Today we assume that the Dnieper continues beyond these swamps and almost up to the Ygra.(2)

The Ygra flows into the Oka, which below the junction point also runs along the northern side of the geodetic square.

According to Herodotos, the Pantikapes or Desna originates from the Gerrhos but runs parallel to the Boristhenes along a line that is 3 days of 1˝.° east of the meridian Gerrhos, merging with the Boristhenes at a point that is 11 days north of the base, that is, at about 50° 42’ N. The real confluence is slightly to the north of the modern city of Kiev which is located at 50° 29’ N 30° 29’ E.

Herodotos reports that the Gerrhos or Ygra joins the waters of the river Hypakuris(3) which proves to be the Oka.

The upper course of the Oka flows in a direction SN through the territory of the Nomadic Skythians. Near the junction of the Oka with the Ygra Herodotos places a city called Karkintis. Possibly early manuscripts made an error in spelling the name of the city, which may have been the same as that of the river; Ptolemy (III 5, 13) places on this river a city called Pakyris. The city was in the area of the present Kaluga which is at the juction of the two rivers. Because the city was called Karkinitis, later geographers confused it with the Greek city of Karkine on the coast of the Black Sea. The geographer Mela (II 4) speaks of Carcine quam duo flumina Gerrhus et Ypacares uno ostio confluentia attingunt, placing Carcine at the junction of the Gerrhos and the Hypakaris; but in Pliny (IV 12, 84) the mention of the Gerrhos is eliminated and the river Pacyris is associated with the sinus Carcinatus which is the bay of the Black Sea called Karkinitski Zaliv, where there was the ancient Greek city of Karkine. But Pliny associates the river Pacyris with the .’us oppida Navarum; these towns of the Navari of Pliny are the Neuroi of Herodotos, and the latter states that some Neuroi were settled near the Boudinoi, who certainly were settled along the Oka. There is no course of water of any importance in the area of the Greek Karkine. In his Geography Ptolemy (loc. cit.) lists a short river as flowing from the city of Navaron to the city of Pakyris and ending at the Karkine on the Black Sea; but in the other part of this work (V 8, 11) he indicates the correct position of this river when he places a city Navaris at latitude 55° N. In conclusion, there were Neuroi (the Nervi of late Roman authors) who had settlements in the area of the junction of the Ygra with the Oka; one of these settlements was called either Karkinitis or Hypakaris and was in the area of the present Kaluga.

Since modern interpreters have accepted the absurd notion that according to Herodotos the Hypakaris flows into the Black Sea, they have placed the Hylaia, “forest area,” mentioned by Herodotos, on the coast of the Black Sea. As a result J. Oliver Thompson, as evidence of the claim that Herodotos’ account of the geography of Russia is not based on any serious information, quotes the fact that “there is no word of a change from the prairie and black earth to thick forest.” On the contrary Herodotos refers repeatedly to the Hylaia and places it north of a line stretching from the vicinity of Kiev to the area around Ryazan, and he could not have been more correct. It is obvious that this datum was of major relevance to the Persian military intelligence.

The upper course of the Tanais or Don runs roughly along the eastern side of the geodetic square. About the source of the Tanais, Herodotos states merely that this river comes “from the top,” meaning the upper part of the square, springing from a great swamp. The Don originates from Lake Ivan at 54° 06’ N 38° 06’ E. Herodotos may have made this lake into a swamp because the Don delimits the square to the east as the Dnieper delimits the square to the west and the latter originates from the swamp Gerrhos.

Herodotos (IV 45) reports that the river Tanais, that is, the east side of the square or longitude 39° 50’ E was considered by some to be the boundary between Europe and Asia. Others placed this boundary at the river Phasis; this does not mean the course of the Phasis but the longitude of the mouth of the Phasis, 41° 38’ E. In the same context Herodotos states that the boundary between Asia and Libya is the Nile; this does not mean the course of the Nile as it is currently understood, but the longitude of the eastern mouth of the Nile, the longitude of Gerrhon, the eastern boundary point of Egypt (32° 38’ E). It is because he is thinking of longitude lines that Herodotos can assert that Europe “is long enough to run alongside both Asia and Libya.”

Within the geodetic square of Skythia there were located also the mouth of the Tyras or Dniester and the confluence of the Hypanis or Bug with the Boristhenes or Dnieper. Herodotos lets the Dniester and the Bug originate from large lakes which seem to be the Pripet Marshes. Ptolemy too links the Hypanis or Bug with the Pripet Marshes called Swamp Amodoke. Herodotos places the source of the Bug 9 days or 4˝° to the north of the base, that is, at 49° 42’ N, which is correct, but is almost a full degree south of the Pripet Marshes.

Since the Persians had mapped accurately an area that extends from the northern shore of the Black Sea to almost the latitude of Moscow, it is not surprising that the general geographical information that was available extended all around the geodetic square to Poland, to the Baltic Sea, to the latitude of Lake Ladogya and Lake Onega, to the lower Volga, and to the southern reaches of the Ural Mountains.

The Agathyrsoi were on the northern bank of the Danube. The Neuroi were to the west of the Dniester. The Alizones lived between the lower course of the Dniester and of the Bug. The Graeco-Scythians were settled between the Black Sea and the confluence of the Desna with the Dnieper to the west of the great bend of the Dnieper, i.e., as far north as the present city of Kiev. The Agricultural Scythians, or The Olbiopolitai lived to the north of them in the forest area, between the Desna and the upper course of the Dnieper. The Nomadic Scythians lived between the Desna and a line formed by the upper course of the Oka called Hypakyris by Herodotus and continued south to the city of Karkine on the coast at the beginning of the Peninsula of Crimea. The Nomadic Scythians occupied the central area of the geodetic square, between the Desna and the Don, having as boundary to the north the Ygra and the lower course of the Oka and to the south the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The Royal Scythians lived north of the Ygra, but must have extended to the south of the lower course of the Oka, since Herodotus states (IV 53) that the Don divides the Royal Scythians from the Sauromatai. The Sauromatai were just to the east of the upper reaches of the Don. Around Gelonos, on the course of the Oka, there were the Boudinoi. The Melanchlainoi, “Black-cloaks,” were north of the Royal Scythians and below the region of the Androphagoi. The Melanchlainoi seem to have been located in the area of the Valdai Hills and of the upper reaches of the Volga, whereas the Androphagoi would have occupied the area extending to the Baltic Sea. The main body of the Neuroi can be located more or less in the area of modern Poland.

Herodotus indicates that the part of the map of the world that is really blank for him is the quadrant beyond the NE corner of the geodetic square, to the east of longitude 39°50’E and to the north of latitude 55°12’N, that is, to the north of the upper Volga and of the river Kama.

Herodotus speaks of the land above latitude 55°12’N as uninhabited desert, which in his language means that the area had not been mapped. For him the area beyond the northern limit of the geodetic square is “a region of lakes and desert” ; he may be referring to Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega or to the lake region around Vitebsk, just to the north of the geodetic square.

At the eastern end of the square Herodotus mentions a point which is 15 days or 7°30‘ to the north of the northern tip of the Morass Maiotis; it is at 54°42’N and is the southern boundary of the territory of the Boudinoi and the limit of the forest area. He mentions the same point as the boundary of the area of the Nomadic Scythians who are beyond the Pantikapes, being located on the course of the river Gerrhos 14 days or 7° east of the point Gerrhos, that is, 39°38’E (IV. 19). The coordinates indicate a point most close to the present city of Ryazan (54°37’N, 39°43’E) on the bank of the Oka. This is the location of Gelonos, the only important settlement in the entire area beyond the coast.

Gelonos is described as having the appearance of an American fort in Indian territory (IV 108): it is enclosed by high wooden walls with sides of 30 stadia or about 4 km. According to Herodotus the people of Gelonos were originally Greeks who had been expelled from the shores of the Black Sea and still spoke a language that was half-Greek. The temples of Gelonos were dedicated to Greek gods and were decorated according to Greek style, even though the material used for construction was only wood. It seems that Gelonos was a trading station within the territory of the Boudinoi. The Boudinoi were a pastoral people, whereas the people of Gelonos cultivated grains and kept vegetable gardens. Apparently there was a group of Greeks that had established itself about 830 kilometers due north of the mouth of the Don at the limit of the forest area.

Since I have identified the position of Gelonos as being on the Oka at about 54°42’N, 39°50’E, perhaps it will be possible for archaeologists to trace its ruins. Up to now nobody has suspected that Greek civilization could have extended as far north as this.

Since for Ukrainian and Russian scholars the text of Herodotus is the oldest piece of written information about their country, they have made great efforts to locate the tribes mentioned by Herodotus and to relate them with the material of archaeological excavations. But since they could not imagine that Herodotus’ information extended as far as 10° to the north of the Black Sea and beyond, they have placed the tribes mentioned by Herodotus too far to the south, so that the effort to link them with archaeological data must be started all over.

To say that reconstruction of the map of Scythia used by Herodotus will be of great help to the study of Russian prehistory is an understatement, since Herodotus provides the earliest written information about that area. Up to now Herodotus’ account has created only confusion in the study of Russian prehistory, because it is considered important, but it could not be made to agree with the archaeological data. Up to now the tribes mentioned by Herodotus have been placed too far south, since nobody has dared to imagine that his description of Scythia extended to latitude 55°N and beyond. For instance, the volume dealing with prehistory in the Ocherki Istorii S.S.S.R. places the Androphagoi to the south of the bend of the Dnieper and Dnieperpetrovsk and the Melanchlainoi to the north of it up to the latitude of Kiev, whereas the Boudinoi are placed on the left bank of the Don below Voronezh. In truth the Boudinoi can be identified with the tribes of the culture of Gorodez, the main focus of which was exactly on that part of the Oka where Herodotus places the city of Gelonos. These people are considered to have been Fenno-Ugrian. Archaeologists have placed the area of the Dyakovo culture over a width of about 10 degrees extending to the north from the upper course of the Oka and of the sources of the Dnieper and the Desna. According to Soviet archaeologists this culture began about 500 B.C. This culture is also ascribed to Fenno-Ugrian speaking people (possibly speaking a pre-Baltic dialect); some archaeologists consider that this culture and that of Gorodez were two branches of the same culture. What is characteristic of these cultures are the so-called hill forts which consist of two rows of houses on one street enclosed by a paling of tree trunks. Speaking of the city of Gelonos, Herodotus states that each kolon of its wooden walls was 30 stadia or 4 kilometers long; the term kolon usually applies to the side of a square or a triangular building, but Herodotus does not say that the city was square. The hill-forts that have been excavated are about 100 meters long and about 25 meters wide, but it could be that the city of Gelonos preserved the pattern of a settlement built along a single street, even though it was 4 kilometers long. It is impossible to accept that Gelonos was a square with a side of 4 kilometers, but it could well have been a town built all along a ridge 4 kilometers long.

Herodotus uses the geodetic square of Scythia as a reference point for the description of the areas outside it. The uninhabited area beyond the territory of the Boudinoi was beyond the limits of the geodetic square. The area is said to be 7 days of 3½° across, which may mean that it extends east up to the bend of the Don, where this river is closest to the Volga. Across this area there extends the territory of the Thyssagetai through which there flow four great rivers that end in the Morass Maiotis; properly the rivers are listed in a direction that aims NNW from the mouth of the Don and are the Donetz, the Chir, the Don, and the Medvyeditza (Choper). The rivers to the east of the square are not mentioned, but it is apparent that the description of the distribution of tribes east of the Tanais or Don is based on the course of the Volga and of the Ural. The lower course of the Volga is said to be an uninhabited area for 7 days or 3½° ; this identifies exactly the location of Volgograd, the place that will always be remembered in history as Stalingrad, at the bend of the Volga (48°42’N). An area of salty steppe extends from the Caspian up to Volgograd and from there all along the course of the Ural up to the Ural Mountains. This fact is correctly reported by Herodotus, who states (IV 24): “As far as this the country of the Scythians that I have been describing is a level plain with good deep soil, but from this on it is stony and rugged. If one crosses a great stretch of this rugged country, one comes to the foothills of a lofty mountain chain where there live men said to be bald from birth, both men and women, with snub noses and long chins.” The survey ends with this description of the upper course of the river Ural which marks the beginning of the chain of the Ural Mountains.

Whereas it is claimed that Herodotus had preposterous notions about the geography of the northern coast of the Black Sea, an area that he visited personally, scholars have recognized that he had amazingly correct information about a trade route that crossed the Urals and went deep into Siberia. This trade route was one of the fundamental channels of communication in Eurasia in the times of the Persian Empire and has remained so up to modern times. It ascended the Volga from the Caspian Sea; it could be reached also from the Black Sea by ascending the Don up to the great bend where the distance between the Don and the Volga is so small that ships could be dragged overland from one river to the other. The route ascended the Volga up to the confluence of the Kama, about 80 kilometers south of the present Kazan, and then followed the Kama up the slope of the Ural Mountains. These mountains were crossed at the pass of Sverdlovsk beyond which transportation by water could continue through the affluents of the Ob; from the Ob the route passed into the river Yenisey and followed it to the Arctic Ocean.

Those who have studied the matter carefully agree that Herodotus in describing the area east of Scythia follows the course of this route. This implies that this route was marked on the map that Herodotus had before his eyes. As living beyond the Urals he mentions the Issedones (IV 25) the name of which is certainly related to that of the present river Iset that originates from the Urals south of Sverdlovsk and empties into the Ob. Since Herodotus states that to the north of the Issedones there were griffins guarding gold (IV 27), it has been concluded that the trade route ended in the gold-producing area of the river Yenisey. He relates that the Issedones report the existence north of them of people called Arimaspoi, whose name he interprets as meaning “one-eyed” in Scythian (IV 27); but the linguist Benveniste has explained the term by the Iranian aryama-aspa, “lover of horses.” Probably the etymology reported by Herodotus was influenced by the fact that in mythology one-eyed people are the symbol of the polar axis. Herodotus reports that it is said that beyond the griffins, guardians of gold, there live the Hyperboreans “who reach as far as the sea” (IV 13). It is recognized that the sea in question is the Arctic Ocean. In connection with the Hyperboreans, whose name he understands as meaning “living beyond the north,” Herodotus criticizes those geographers who take the Oceanus as a real entity (IV 36); Herodotus means that the Oceanus is an imaginary line that in this area indicates the extreme northern limit of the Oikoumene (at latitude 63°N), so that the Hyperboraioi are those who live beyond the limit of the Oikoumene.

However, it must be noted that the course of the Yenisey was reached by following a stretch of the course of the Ob that runs WE along latitude 63°N; it is possible that some geographers considered this part of the course of the Ob as an embodiment of the mythical Oceanus. Similarly ancient geographers spoke of a mythical Nile, also called Oceanus, running along the Equator from the true sources of the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, and this Oceanus had its physical embodiment in the river Congo.

Herodotus criticizes those who, not understanding the language of mythos, assert that to the north of Scythia there appears the river Oceanus. The Oceanus is the mythical embodiment of the line that delimits the Oikoumene. Herodotus is careful not to make positive statements about the areas that are beyond those covered by his maps. For this reason he states that it is not known whether there is sea to the west and to the north of Europe (IV 45).

It has been recognized that the details given by Herodotus (IV 22) for the area west of the Urals permit to recognize that he follows a route ascending from the Volga to the pass of Sverdlovsk through the valley of the river Kama. But scholars have not succeeded in understanding Herodotus’ references to the area east of the confluence of the Kama with the Volga. They have erroneously assumed that from there he followed the course of the Volga downriver, whereas he followed it upriver.

Herodotus states that the Sauromatai live beyond Scythia proper for an extent of 15 days to the north counting from the innermost point of the Morass Maiotis (IV 21); he refers to the line that forms the eastern side of the geodetic square of Scythia. Counting from the NE corner of the Sea of Azov at 47°12’N the line extends to about 54°42’N, that is, the area of Gelonos in the territory of the Boudinoi. The Sauromatai lived east of this line. Herodotus continues to follow the same line to the north for 7 days or 3°30’ more. He says that this area is desert, meaning uncharted. The uncharted area ends at latitude 58°N when the line reaches the course of the Volga. From this point Herodotus follows the course of the Volga downriver going to the east (IV 22) up to the confluence of the Kama. Along the course of the Volga he places the Thyssagetai and the Iyrkai. It follows that Herodotus had geographical information collected by people who had ascended the Volga up to the northern part of its course at Rubinsk. This means that Herodotus’ map did not indicate only the trade route that ascended the Volga up to the confluence of the Kama and from there moved to Siberia, but also the trade route that continued along the Volga up to the bend of Rubinsk. From there the route probably continued in the direction of St. Petersburg toward the Baltic Sea

References

1.The source of Herodotus’ error may have been linked with a confusion between schoinoi and parasangs. In his description of Egypt he states that some people measure by parasangs and some people measure by schoinoi, and the parasang is 30 stadia, whereas the schoinos is 60. Artemidoros, speaking of Egypt, declares that the schoinos can be 30 or 60 stadia, or even 120. This reflects the ancient practice of giving the same name to metric units that relate as 1:2. The stadion can be a minute or a double minute of march, so that its multiple, called schoinos or parasang, can be either the hour or the double hour. In some cases the reckoning is by quadruple minutes, as is common in cuneiform texts, which is most convenient in astronomical or geodetic calculations, since a degree of the apparent rotation of the sky is equal to 4’ of time. Lehmann-Haupt has pointed out how easy it was to make errors such as 1:2 in the calculation of stadia, because of the internal structure of the ancient system of measures
2. Since we meet with a river called today Ygra and since Herodotos in his description of Skythia mentions rivers called Hyrgis and Syrgis, it may be inferred that the Skythians, who spoke an Indoeuropean language of Iranian type, called rivers by a name derived from the Indoeuropean root from which there were derived the Greek hygros “wet, moist, fluid,” the Latin uvidus, “watery, humid, damp,” and the Sanskrit uksati, “sprinkled.”

3. Spelled Hypakaris in some good manuscripts. The name of this river seems to be the root of the name Ygra and of the Greek hygros, preceded by the preposition which is hypo, “below,” in Greek.