(αἱ Σαρματικαὶ πύλαι
, Ptol. 5.9
. § § 11, 15), a narrow pass of the Caucasus, whence it is also called Caucasiae Portae. (Plin. Nat. 6.11. s. 12
. s. 15.) From its vicinity to the Caspian sea, it was also called by some of the ancients Portae Caspiae (Suet. Nero 19
), Claustra Caspiarum (Tac. H. 1.6
), and Via Caspia (Id. Ann.
6.33); but Pliny (l.c.
) notes this as an error; and the proper Portae Caspiae were in the Taurus (Forbiger, Geogr.
vol. ii. p. 47, note 92). The Sarmaticae Portae formed the only road between Sarmatia and Iberia. Ptolemy (l.c.
) distinguishes from this pass another in the same mountain, which he calls αἱ Ἀλβάνιαι Πύλαι
(Portae Albaniae), and places the latter in the same latitude as the former, namely the 47th degree, but makes its longitude 3 degrees more to the E. The Albaniae Portae are those on the Alazon, leading over the mountain from Derbend
At both spots there are still traces of long walls 120 feet in height; and on this circumstance seems to have been founded a legend, prevalent in that neighbourhood, of the Black Sea
and the Caspian having been at one time connected by such a wall. (Forbiger, Ibid.
p. 55, note 13, b.; comp. Ritter, Erdkunde,
ii. p. 837.)