1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sigynnae

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SIGYNNAE (Σιγίνναι, Σίγιννοι), an obscure people of antiquity. They are variously located by ancient authors. According to Herodotus (v. 9), they dwelt beyond the Danube, and their frontiers extended almost as far as the Eneti on the Adriatic. Their horses (or rather, ponies) were small, with shaggy long hair, not strong enough to carry men, but very speedy when driven in harness. The people themselves wore a Medic costume, and, according to their own account, were a colony of the Medes. Strabo (xi. p. 520), who places them near the Caspian, also speaks of their ponies, and attributes to them Persian customs. In Apollonius Rhodius (iv. 320) they inhabit the shores of the Euxine, not far from the mouth of the Danube.

The statement as to their Medic origin, regarded as incomprehensible by Herodotus, is doubtfully explained by Rawlinson as indicating that “the Sigynnae retained a better recollection than other European tribes of their migrations westward and Aryan origin”; R. W. Macan (on Herod, v. 9) suggests that it may be due to a confusion with the Thracian Maedi (Μαιδοί). If the last paragraph in Herodotus be genuine, the Ligyes who lived above Massilia called traders Sigynnae, while among the Cyprians the word meant “spears.” The similarity between Sigynnae and Zigeuner is obvious, and it has been supposed that they were the forefathers of the modern gipsies. According to J. L. Myres, the Sigynnae of Herodotus were “a people widely spread in the Danubic basin in the 5th century B.C.,” probably identical with the Sequani, and connected with the iron-working culture of Hallstatt, which produced a narrow-bladed throwing spear, the sigynna spear (see notice of “Anthropological Essays” in Classical Review, November 1908).