Greco-Roman artists and sculptors depicted the ethnicity of their Iranian/Persian by the subjects' attire and the armaments they carried. The various depictions did not necessarily have all the ethnic elements. Rather, they had a sufficient number of elements to allow a viewer to make the identification. It is quite likely that neither the artists or their clients had any concept of the diversity of the different Aryan ('Persian') groups and their respective attire. A standardized set of readily recognizable design elements would have been necessary once a tradition was established. Greek soldiers were often depicted nude while the Aryans (Iranians/Persians/Amazons) were invariably clothed.
The distinguishing features of Aryan/Iranian (commonly called 'Persian') subjects are:
- a so-called (felt) 'Phrygian' cap;
- a flowing or static cape (often patterned);
- a tunic (often patterned and sleeved);
- leggings (often patterned);
- shoes (often designed and colourful), and
- a crescent-topped shield.
In studying the images below, we can see that the Amazons are depicted as 'Persians' (Aryans).
[Also see our pages on » Herodotus on Persian Attire. & » Halicarnassus Mausoleum & Amazonomachy Frieze Panels.]
Scenes Depicting Amazon Attire & Armaments
|Amazonomachy scene on a lekythos (oil vase) like the Darius Vase c.420 BCE attributed to the so-called Eretria Painter|
Patterned leggings and short tunics together with crescent shaped shields were considered as 'Persian'.
Image credit: Wikimedia
|c. 565 CE mosaic in Byzantine style depicting the Magi in Persian attire with so-called Phrygian caps (also seen on Mithraic images), belted tunics and leggings, at the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy. Image credit: Wikipedia.|
|3rd cent CE plaster cast sarcophagus slab with a coloured incised image of three Magi bearing gifts. From Priscilla catacomb under via Severa, Rome.|
|Mithraic altar scene. Side 1 of a two-sided white marble relief. Mithra in a tauroctony scene. 2nd-3rd cent. CE. Discovered near Fiano Romano, near Rome, Italy in 1926. Currently in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. Image credit: Wikipedia.|
Persian Sasanid Era Scene Showing Later Persian Attire, Barsom & Farr (Halo with Sun's Rays)
Ethnic Clues in the Name Artemisia
Mausolus' wife Artemisia was the second Carian woman of note with that name. About a hundred and fifty years prior, around 480 BCE, another 'queen' of Caria named Artemisia served Persian King Xerxes the Great and fought against the Greeks as an admiral of her own fleet. The two Artemisias appear to be from different parts of Caria.
Artemisia from Arta?: Regarding the name Artemisia, Charles Anthon in his Classical Dictionary [(New York, 1855) under "Artemis" p. 210] notes that the root of the name 'Artemisia' is probably of Persian origin from 'Arta' [i.e., 'Asha' meaning 'cosmic order' and 'righteous' in Zoroastrianism]. Arta, the Old Persian derivative of the Avestan Asha, was a fairly popular root word for both male and female Zoroastrian-Aryan names. Xenophon in his Annabasis (at 7.8.25) mentions a satrap of Lydia named Artemas and a Achaemenid king was named Artaxerxes.
Arta-ean, Original Name of Persia: Herodotus in his Histories at 7.61.2 states that the Persians "they called themselves and were called by their neighbours" Ἀρταῖοι/Artaíoi, which transcribes to English as Artaeans, i.e., the people of Arta. We wonder if by 'Arta' Herodotus meant 'Arya'/'Aria' as he has noted (in 7.62.1) that the Medians were previously called Arioi and the Achaemenid kings stress their Aryan heritage in their inscriptions.
Artemisia Considered by Greeks as Persian?: Second century CE Greek geographer Pausanias notes in the section titled 'Laconia' in his work Description of Greece (at 3.11.3) that, "The most striking feature in the marketplace (of Sparta) is the portico which they call Persian ...it is large and splendid. On the pillars are white-marble figures of Persians, including Mardonius, son of Gobryas. There is also a figure of Artemisia (I), daughter of Lygdamis and queen of Halicarnassus." It is noteworthy that the Spartans would memorialize Persians in this manner and that Artemisia statue is placed among those of notable Persians.
Persian General Mardoniye (Mardonius): On his part, Mardonius (Persian, Mardon/Mardoniye who died 479 BCE) was the Persian military commander under King Darius the Great. In response to a series of Greek insurrections, In 492 BCE, Mardonius led an expedition that brought Thrace and Macedon back under the Persian Empire. Mardonius was the son of Gobryas, a Persian nobleman who had assisted Darius in gaining the Persian throne. Mardonius married Darius' daughter Artazostra, another Zoroastrian name with 'Arta'.
Arzawa from Artava/Artavan?: The name of the western region of Asia Minor during the Hittite era was Arzawa, a name that coincidentally or otherwise, is close to the Zoroastrian-Persian name Artavan and not too far from 'Aryana'.
Ethnicity of Carians
There are two traditions regarding the ethnicity of Carians - both in Herodotus' Histories. One is that the Carians are the aboriginal peoples of Asia Minor. The other that they are descendants of Greek invaders and settlers. Both traditions can hold true with the aboriginal descendants occupying the inland regions of Caria while the coastal regions may have had mixed populations. The coastal regions of western Asia Minor also appear to have been Hellenized significantly in language, religion and culture in general. Despite this outward Hellenization, the Carians appear to have maintained significant elements of their aboriginal culture.
1. Aboriginal Carians
Herodotus' Histories at 1.171 (tr. Rawlinson): "the Carians themselves say very differently. They maintain that they are the aboriginal inhabitants of the part of the mainland where they now dwell, and never had any other name than that which they still bear...." As we had noted above, 'Caria' is the westernized version of the name known to the Persians as Karka and to the Phoenicians as Karak. In Hittite inscriptions from 1800 to 1200 BCE we find mention of a chiefdom called Karkisa or Karkiya.
Homer's listing of combatants in the Trojan War in his Iliad otherwise known as the Trojan Catalogue or Trojan Battle Order (Iliad lines 815-875), notes that the Carians are speakers of a barbarian tongue (Il. 867).
The native people of Asia Minor included the Hittites and the Mittani, both with Irano-N. Indian (Aryan) connections. The Mittani in particular could be a mainstream Aryan group. The territorial control of both groups at their greatest extent extended to the west coast of Asia Minor.
2. Hellenized Carians & Ethnic Cleansing
As we note on our page Ancient Westernmost Asia Minor, "A citizen of Caria himself, Herodotus records in his Histories (at 1.145-6) that when the Ionians (previously Aegialians from European Hellenica) from the Peloponnese - the peninsula now part of southern Greece - were displaced by the invading Achaeans, they fled to Asia. Rawlinson's translation states, "Even those who came from the Prytaneum of Athens, and reckon themselves the purest Ionians of all, brought no wives with them to the new country, but married Carian girls whose fathers they had slain. Hence these women made a law, which they bound themselves by an oath to observe, and which they handed down to their daughters after them, "That none should ever sit and eat with her husband, or call him by his name"; because the invaders slew their fathers, their husbands, and their sons, and then forced them to become their wives. It was at Miletus [just north of Herodotus' hometown Halicarnassus] that these events took place." What we read here that Miletus in Caria was one of the earliest Greek settlements and that in those parts of coastal Caria that the displaced Ionians seized, the Ionians massacred the aboriginal Carian men and then bred with the aboriginal Carian women - a form of 'ethnic cleansing' that when repeated in other centers, quickly Hellenized the west coast of Asia Minor. According to Herodotus, the subsequent generations of Ionians therefore had no claim to be pure 'Greeks' (if we may use that term). Not only did the invading Ionians ethically cleanse Caria, they culturally cleansed it as well, with Greek becoming the lingua-franca of the region." See the entry for further details.