According to Herodotus the Neuri were a tribe living beyond the Scythian cultivators, one of the nations along the course of the river Ὕπανις Hypanis (Southern Bug River), West of the Βορυσθένης Borysthenes (Dniepr river), roughly the area of modern Belarus and Eastern Poland.


Herodotus's Account

In Herodotus's account, he states that the Neuri were driven from their land "one generation before the attack of Darius (512 BC)" by an invasion of serpents. He also reports a Scythian tale that the Neuri changed once a year into wolves, although giving no credence to it. This is perhaps a reference to a shamanic practices.

According to Herodotus the Neuri (Νευροί) were a tribe living North of the Tyres, and the furthest nation beyond the Scythian farmers along the course of the river Hypanis. The land of the Neuri is described[citation needed] as being bounded by the rivers Ister, Tyras, Hypanis, Borysthenes, Gerras and Tanais[clarification needed]; whilst the region itself is referred to as Hypakyris.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Herodotus also mentions wild white horses nearby that grazed by a great lake.

Modern Interpretations

Olaf von Dalin

The 18th century Swedish historian Olof von Dalin wrote that the Neuri were a mixture of races: Scythians, Greeks and Hebrews who accompanied the Budiner or "Shepherd Scythians", to the Swedish islands around 400 BC. This exodus was the result of pressure from the Macedonians. He also indicated a belief that the Neuri were the common ancestors of Finns, Sami, and Estonians.

the Neuri seem to be remnants of the Ten Tribes of Israel which Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, brought as captives out of Canaan... [When one realises that] the language of the ancient Finns, Lapps and Estonians is similar to the Hebrew and even that this people in ancient times reckoned their year's beginning from the first of March, and Saturday as their Sabbath, then one sees that the Neuri in all probability had this origin.[1]

Dalin's theory is regarded as quaint by modern scholars of linguistics, who can find no connections between the Uralic family of languages and the Semitic languages.

Bruce Gordon

Bruce Gordon[who?]'s Regnal Chronologies associates the Neuri with the "Milograd culture" and notes they may have been Balts (i.e. possible ancestors of Lithuanians and kindred peoples).


Schafarik believes the Neuri to have been ancestors of the Slavic peoples. The position assigned to their district appears to be about the head waters of the Dniester and Bug (Bugh) and the central course of the Dnieper just the region which, on general grounds, place-names, recorded migrations and modern distribution, appears to be the original location of the Slavs (q.v.). The wolf story again recalls the tales of werewolves so common among Slavonic peoples, and there is much probability in Schafarik's conjecture that the Neuri are nothing but the ancestors of the Slavs.[2]

Modern geography

Herodotus description matches modern geography in the following manner:

Ister = Danube
Tyras = Dnestr
Borysthenes = Dniepr
Gerrοs = Konskaya (a tributary of the Dniepr)
Tanais = Don
Hypanis = Southern Bug, flowing into the Black Sea
Great lake = Podlesie Marshes, by the Bialowieza Forest. Wild Tarpans from the Bialowieza Forest seasonally faded to near white in winter.
Hypakyris = Kalanchak

Geographically, the upper Hypanis merges with the Narew river, which is called Naura in Baltic Lithuanian. The people living on the Naura river were West Balts at that time. There remains a town named Nur, Poland along the upper Bug River, near the Bialowieza Forest. The Nurzec River is in same region.


  1. ^ Svearikes Historia, Volume 1, 1747: (pages 54-55)
  2. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica

External links

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Neuri". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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