Herodotus and bald people

While reading Herodotus’ Histories I’ve encountered an interesting passage I thought I will share here.

[…] Beyond these people, a little to the east, dwells a distinct tribe of Scyths, who revolted once from the Royal Scythians, and migrated into these parts.

As far as their country, the tract of land whereof I have been speaking is all a smooth plain, and the soil deep; beyond you enter on a region which is rugged and stony. Passing over a great extent of this rough country, you come to a people dwelling at the foot of lofty mountains, who are said to be all- both men and women- bald from their birth, to have flat noses, and very long chins. These people speak a language of their own,. the dress which they wear is the same as the Scythian. They live on the fruit of a certain tree, the name of which is Ponticum; in size it is about equal to our fig-tree, and it bears a fruit like a bean, with a stone inside. When the fruit is ripe, they strain it through cloths; the juice which runs off is black and thick, and is called by the natives “aschy.” They lap this up with their tongues, and also mix it with milk for a drink; while they make the lees, which are solid, into cakes, and eat them instead of meat; for they have but few sheep in their country, in which there is no good pasturage. Each of them dwells under a tree, and they cover the tree in winter with a cloth of thick white felt, but take off the covering in the summer-time. No one harms these people, for they are looked upon as sacred- they do not even possess any warlike weapons. When their neighbours fall out, they make up the quarrel; and when one flies to them for refuge, he is safe from all hurt. They are called the Argippaeans.

What do you think - any chance these might be some very early Buddhists? According to Wikipedia Herodotus lived around 484-425 BC, so the there is a small chance.

3 Likes

it says they cook or prepare meals, which is not something monastics are allowed to do or have been described in the suttas as engaged in
and facial features aren’t really characteristic of the Indians
also the account may not be contemporary to Herodotus but was passed down from earler times as information back then travelled very leisurely

James Talboys Wheeler recognizes the people as probably part of the Calmucks, a Mongolian tribe living near the Urals.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argippaeans

1 Like