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Gelonus, (also transliterated Helonus), , Helon, , was according to Herodotus the capital of the Scythian tribe Budini and the biggest gord in Europe. It has been identified by Kharkivmarker archaeologist Boris Shramko with the archeological site Bilske Horodyshche (Більське городище) near the village of Bilsk in Poltava Regionmarker. However several other locations have been named by Russian archaeologists like Saratovmarker (according to Ivan Zabelin) or a location near the Don River closer to the Volga River.

How ever in his account of Scythia (Inquiries book 4), Herodotus writes that the Gelonii were formerly Greeks, having settled away from the coastal emporia among the Budini, where they "use a tongue partly Scythian and partly Greek":

The fortified settlement of Gelonus was reached by the Persian army of Darius in his assault on Scythia during the 5th century BC, already burned to the ground, the Budini having abandoned it before the Persian advance. The Scythians sent a message to Darius: "We are free as wind and what you can catch in our land is only the wind". By employing a scorched earth strategy, they avoided battles, leaving "earth without grass" by burning the steppe in front of the advancing Persians (Herodotus). The Persian army returned without a single battle or any significant success.

According to some reseachers, the Budinis were a Finnic tribe ruled by the Scythians. The tradition of the Udmurt people tell that they moved to their current living area in north near the Kama river from South East after the Scythians had burned down all the cities in war against Persian army sent by Darius. The Herodotus' description of Budini fit well to Udmurts, who are the most red-haired people in Europe. Red hair is also quite common among other Finnic peoples too.

Recent digs in Bilsk, Ukraine, have uncovered a vast city identified by the Kharkov archaeologist Boris Shramko as the Scythian capital Gelonus . It is strategically situated on the exact boundary between the steppe and forest-steppe.

According to Herodotus each side of Gelonus is thirty stades long, the area in today's units would be about 30 square kilometres. The archeological site around Belsk, including necropolis, comprises about 80 km², and the fortifications enclose some 40 km². The north-south axis, along the river Worksla is 17 km long. The remains of walls up to 12 metres are visible today and stretch over the horizon. The total length of the ramparts is 33 km. Inside the fortification, lay three "keeps", 150,000 m², 650,000 m², and 720,000 m² in area, surrounded by eroded earth walls still up to 16 metres high. Several kurgans reminded the inhabitants of the ancient Scythian burial tradition.

Troymarker, another lost and found city, was 1000 times smaller by area.


In Greek mythology, Gelonus was the son of Echidna from Hylea and Heracles, he had an older brother Agathyrus and a younger Scythes. Hylea is pointed to be where was the Echidna's cave between people Arimi or Harimi, the Greeks on the Euxinemarker believed that this was somewhere in Scythia.


  • Мурзін В., Ролле Р., Супруненко О. Більське городище. – Київ-Гамбург-Полтава, 1999. – 104 с.
  • Боплан Г.Л.де. Опис україни. – К., 1990. – 254 с.
  • Шрамко Б.А. Крепость скифского времени у с.Бельск – город Гелон // Скифский мир. – К., 1975.
  • Шрамко Б.А. Бельское городище скифской эпохи (город Гелон). – К., 1987. – 182 с.
  • Більське городище в контексті вивчення пам’яток раннього залізного віку Європи. – Полтава, 1996. – 408 с.


  1. [1]
  2. Herodot iv 8-10 L.S. e p-3.

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