GERMANIOI (also Karmanians, Carmanians), name of an ancient Persian tribe engaged in farming (Herodotus 1.125). Since this is the only mention of this name by Herodotus (it is absent from his list of Darius’s tributaries and Xerxes’s contingents), one may identify it with the name of Karmanioi, mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium (Pauly-Wissowa, X/2, cols. 1955-56). Nearchus later refered to them as inhabitants of Carmania (q.v.), and observed that “they lived like the Persians, with whom they were neighbors and were similarly equipped for war” (Indica 38.1).

Following Nearchus and Onesicritus, Strabo notes the richness of their land and emphasizes the cultural proximity in language and customs between Persians and Carmanians and their identical farming (geôrgia) methods, especially as they related to vine crops. He also draws a contrast between the two peoples, underlining the archaic nature of certain local Carmanian customs. While Nearchus suggests that Carmanians fought the enemy quite like the Persians, Strabo observes that, since horses were so scarce, most of them used donkeys instead of horses even in war. No man married before he had cut the head of an enemy and presented it to the king, whose prestige depended on the number of heads he collected (Strabo, 15.2.14). Carmanians followed strict rites of passage which differed from those of the Persians (15.3.18).

While it is likely that Carmanians, along with other tribes mentioned by Herodotus, had become Persianized, they nonetheless maintained distinct customs and social structures.



W. Eilers, “Der Name Demawend,” Archiv Orientální 24, 1956, p. 184.

E. Herzfeld, The Persian Empire: Studies in the Geography and Ethnography of the Ancient Near East, ed. G. Walser, Wiesbaden, 1968, p. 298.

(Pierre Briant)

Originally Published: December 15, 2001

Last Updated: February 7, 2012

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