Ancient Circassian Cultures and Nations in the First Millennium BC:

Maeots, Sinds, Kerkets, Toretians, Heniokhs, etc.



[This is an expanded reworking of a section

from Amjad Jaimoukha’s The Circassians: A Handbook,

London and New York: Routledge, 2001, pp 42-5]



The Iron Age

The Iron Age in the Northwest Caucasus began in the eighth century BC. Some archaeological finds have been attributed to proto-Maeotian culture, which is dated from the eighth to seventh centuries BC.[1] Pre-Kuban culture is attributed to the proto-Circassian Maeots (Maeotians; ‘Maeotae’ in Strabo), who inhabited the NW Caucasus and the steppes north of the Black Sea.[2] Their civilization lasted for some 1,200 years. They maintained close relations with tribes in southeast Europe. The Maeot State was contemporaneous with the Greek colonies, which had been firmly established on the northeast coast of the Black Sea by the fifth century BC and lasted for almost a millennium. Some Greek records of this culture go back to that era.


It is thought that the origins of the North Caucasian Nart Epos go back to the time period between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age (from 12th to 8th centuries BC).[3] The Bronze Age in Circassia shall be the subject of a subsequent article... Read more in the attached Microsoft Word and pdf files. The Microsoft Word document allows the use of a number of useful links. 

[1] For an exhibition of artefacts of the proto-Maeotian civilization, refer to ‘Gold of the North Caucasus’, State Museum of the Art of the Peoples of the Orient, Archaeology of the Caucasus <>.


[2] In some sources the Maeots are ascribed an Iranian origin (as in Y[u]. Ustinova, 1999). This stems from their close association with their Iranian neighbours, the Scythians and Sarmatians. The Maeots were the indigenous population of the Northwest Caucasus, preceding the Iranian Cimmerians, Scythians and Sarmatians by millennia, and speaking a Northwest Caucasian language ancestral to Circassian.


[3] Yuri Libedinsky in Preface to Narti: Kabardinski èpos [The Narts: A Kabardian Epos], Moscow: Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1951; pp 8-18.

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