Julianna Hinckley

"Taminah" - Book 1 of the "Daughters of the Steppes" Series

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How the Series Evolved (and a bit of the history of the Sarmatians)

Strange how one thing can lead to another...

My brother insisted I watch a movie titled "King Arthur," starring Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, and Ioan Gruffudd. In it, they make mention of a people I had never heard of before - the Sarmatians - the first horse warriors in the British Isles.

Being a history buff as well as a horse aficionado, I immediately began researching these peoples who have largely been lost to history, and found them absolutely fascinating.

Within a few months, the beginnings of what became "Taminah" formed.

Now, years later, having read most of what I can find in English on these steppe nomads (most materials are in Russian), I have incorporated what little we know about their culture into Taminah - including the names of common deities, such as Ama. Much is not known or only hinted at, so Taminah cannot be called a true historical novel. Instead, I have taken what is well-documented about the general life-style of the Mongols and modern Kazakhs for the basis of much of the general Sarmatian culture.

Literature variously dates the time in which yurts and gers were invented, but great wheeled wagon-homes were directly associated with the Sarmatians. There is also significant evidence to suggest the Turks and Mongols, rather than any of the Irano-Caucasian peoples such as the Scythians, Parthians, and Sarmatians, invented what we most commonly call the yurt. Hence I have no references to them in the novel.

I've also taken the known existence of what the Greeks called Amazons - female warriors who fought beside the men in the Sarmatian tribes - and created a society of women out of whole cloth, but based on their known roles and the burial sites that have been found. The highly placed females in these kurgans are found buried with weapons, the accoutrements of priestesses, or both. Hence my Amazons consist of warriors, priestesses, and warrior-priestesses.

Three waves of Sarmatians followed the Scythians into the Black Sea regions. The last, and most enduring as a people, were the Alans, or Alanii.

Alania - Taminah's homeland - did exist, and in the same location as it is in the book - just north of the Caucasus mountains in the edges of the Black Sea steppelands. However, the land of Alania came about in roughly the first century AD. I preferred to keep my books in a time before the Romans rose to great power, so I have moved Alania's dawning back to around 320BC or so - soon after Alexander the Great rode through the region. Taminah is "born" in roughly 250BC.

I could go on forever about these peoples and their connections to somewhat more modern history - their women, or at least some class of them, wore tall pointed hats similar to the hennin hats popular among the European noble ladies in the fourteen-hundreds. The Alans invented heavy calvary and were apparently the first to use the long lance in battle. They joined with the Goths and at one point controlled parts of Spain and France - GothAlania eventually became the Catalonia region of modern Spain. This same rowdy group temporarily conquered parts of Northern Africa - I personally think shipwrecked Alans are fairly likely to be the ancestors of the Canary Islanders. The list goes on.

If you happen to be interested, here is a partial list of the Sarmatian-related references I've used in the writing of this series: