- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
61

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLES
61
settled near them is perhaps pointed to by the fact
that their word khokh (= mountain) would seem to
be the first letters in the Greek nåme (KavKaaos) .
Compared with the other peoples, especially the
eastern Caucasians, the Ossetes are fairly long
headed (the mean index is perhaps about 81).
Their eyes are mostly blue or gray, their hair and
beard generally blond, light-brown, or reddish.
The face is often broad, the nose big and straight,
the lips thin, the face is fair, often ruddy. On the
whole they are of middle height and sturdy build,
both men and women. Originally the Ossetes may
have been partly of Nordic race, or there has been
a strong immigrant element from the north, while
their speech points to a predominating part of them
håving had eastern connections with the Iranian
peoples. The variations in the shape of the head,
and the blending with dark hair and brown eyes,
may point to a strong mixture with tribes in their
neighbourhood in later times.
For us Northerners this people has a certain
interest in that their nåme has been set in connection
with the Old Norse nåme åss for our gods. Snorre
Sturlason tells us in the Ynglinga saga that the
land east of the river Tanakvisl (Tanais = Don)
in Asia was called Åsaland or Åsaheim, but the
capital of the land was called Åsgard, and there
Odin was the ruler. Although Snorre would connect
Åss with the nåme Asia, yet wc may well think of
the Ossetes, who indeed dwell east of the Tanakvisl
or Don; Åsaland then becomes the land of the
Ossetes. It is noteworthy that Snorre also tells us

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