The cult structure in the bend of the Don near the village of Trekhostrovskaya Volgograd region has no analogues in Russia. It is a circle with a diameter of about 200 m, surrounded by a ditch and a rampart. In the center, a fire was equipped with a radius of up to 25 m, with a recess lined with limestone and walls made of earthen blocks molded in boxes of rods. During the excavations, it was established that a fire had been burned in this huge hearth for decades, and maybe centuries. Logs and branches were constantly brought up from the floodplain forests and piled up in a huge heap. After drying, the wood was set on fire through special ignition holes. The mouth of the furnace was covered with stone debris and clay, a column of smoke was visible for many kilometers, and without oxygen, charcoal was formed in the pit.
Usually, such grandiose temples were places of worship for important deities and served as the cathedral center of the tribes. There is an opinion that it was built by fire worshipers, Zoroastrians. But here you need to understand the concepts. The same followers of Spitama – Zarathushtra see in the flame the image of their god Ahuramazda. But a huge ash-pan at the Tatar settlement near the city of Stavropol are traces of the worship of domestic spirits. Fire and smoke are so mysterious and unusual that they serve as emanations of the most varied higher essences. Thus, in the Rig Veda, the flaming Agni bears the epithets of “house priest of the gods” and “immortal guest of mortals.” Traces of this great tradition show through even in monotheistic religions. Fire for people could personify any otherworldly forces.
There is no consensus yet as to which culture this archaeological site should be attributed to. The data of radiocarbon analysis, obtained in various laboratories, give a wide range of dates: from 15-13 to 7-4 centuries BC. e. From the carriers of the Srubna culture to the Scythians. Moreover, in the immediate vicinity, the settlements of the “Srubniks” were also found. However, given how many times the layers of soil were mixed by “black” diggers, as well as by local residents when mining coal for the furnace, both dates may be correct. The range of sources that can shed light on this problem should be expanded.
First, let’s turn to the classics. Here is what Herodotus wrote about the worship of the Scythians to the god of war:
In all of them, in the districts of their regions, the sanctuaries of Ares are arranged in the following way: they pile up bundles of brushwood, about three stages in length and width, but less in height. A small quadrangular platform was made at the top, its three sides are steep, from one side it has access. Since the pile of brushwood sagged due to the snow and rain, a hundred and fifty carts were brought in every year. Akinak sword was installed at the top, sacrifices were made, including human sacrifices, and under certain circumstances they set it all on fire.
The description almost exactly coincides with the results of archaeological excavations of the Three-island temple. Moreover, there is simply no other archaeological monument that falls under the description of the great Greek historian in the southern Russian steppes. But one must understand that the rise of the god of war in ancient societies took place rather late, as power was concentrated in the hands of the military aristocracy. It was at this stage that Herodotus found the Scythian society. But the geographer Strabo reported that the Persians built gigantic wood altars, which they burned during sacrifices to the Sun. The Slavs also burned bonfires on the days of the summer solstices. Along the way, we note that modern research localizes the emergence of Indo-Iranian languages just in the northern Black Sea region.
In the Bronze Age, representatives of the Srubna culture lived in these territories. Geneticists attribute them to the R1a haplogroup, to the same one that prevails in the Indian and Iranian Aryans. The Scythians who appeared here later added R1b, which implies a partial change of ethnicity. But spiritual traditions are rarely interrupted with the disappearance of their carriers, in one form or another they are passed on to subsequent generations. Probably, the Three-island sanctuary was originally created by the ancestors of the Aryans, who worshiped the solar deity. This is evidenced by the circular dumping of the sanctuary – in the shape of the sun. Later, many of them migrated south, to the territory of modern India and Iran. Those who remained together with the owners of R1b took part in the formation of a new ethnos, the future Scythians. But the place of worship has survived. Only the “owner” of the temple has changed, now they brought gifts to the warlike deity here.