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Scythians

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Gold pectoral, or neckpiece, from a royal kurgan in Tolstaya Mogila, Pokrov, Ukraine, dated to the second half of the 4th century BC, of Greek workmanship. The central lower tier shows three horses, each being torn apart by two griffins. Scythian art was especially focused on animal figures.
Gold Scythian belt title, Mingachevir (ancient Scythian kingdom), Azerbaijan, 7th century BC

The Scythians (/ˈsɪθiən, ˈsɪð-/; from Greek Σκύθης, Σκύθοι), also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Sai, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were a nomadic people who dominated the Pontic steppe from about the 7th century BC up until the 3rd century BC.[1] The Scythians were part of a wider Scythian cultures, stretching across the Eurasian Steppe, which included peoples such as the Cimmerians, Massagetae, Saka, Sarmatians and various obscure peoples of the forest steppe.[2][3] All Eurasian nomads associated with this culture are sometimes referred to collectively as "Scythians".[3]

The Scythians are generally believed to have been of Iranian origin.[4] They were among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare.[5] In the 8th century the Scythians replaced the Cimmerians as the dominant power on the Pontic Steppe.[6] During this time the Scythians and related peoples, all speakers of Scythian languages, came to dominate the entire Eurasian steppe steppe,[7][8] stretching from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to central China (Ordos culture) and the south Siberia (Tagar culture) in the east, creating what has been called the first Central Asian nomadic empire.[6][9]

Based in what is modern-day Ukraine, Southern European Russia and Crimea, the Scythians were ruled by a wealthy class known as the Royal Scyths. The Scythians were part of the Silk Road, a vast trade network connecting Greece, Persia, India and China, perhaps contributing to the contemporary flourishing of those civilisations.[10] Settled metalworkers made portable decorative objects for the Scythians. These objects survive mainly in metal, forming a distinctive Scythian art.[11][12]

In the 7th century BC, the Scythians crossed the Caucasus and frequently raided the Middle East along with the Cimmerians, playing an important role in the political developments of the region.[6][13] Around 650–630 BC, Scythians briefly dominated the Medes of the western Iranian Plateau,[14][15] stretching their power to the borders of Egypt.[5] After losing control over Media, the Scythians continued intervening in Middle Eastern affairs, playing a leading role in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire in the Sack of Nineveh in 612 BC. The Scythians subsequently engaged in frequent conflicts with the Achaemenid Empire. The Scythians suffered a major defeat against Macedonia in the 4th century BC[5] and were subsequently gradually conquered by the Sarmatians, a related Iranian people from Central Asia.[16] By the early Medieval Ages, the Scythians and the Sarmatians had been largely assimilated and absorbed (e.g. Slavicisation) by the Proto-Slavic population of the region.[17][18][19][20]

Names

Etymology

Oswald Szemerényi studied the various words for Scythian and gave the following: Skuthes Σκύθης, Skudra, Sug(u)da, and Saka.[21]

  • The first three descend from the Indo-European root *(s)kewd-, meaning "propel, shoot" (cognate with English shoot). *skud- is the zero-grade form of the same root. Szemerényi restores the Scythians' self-name as *skuda (roughly "archer"). This yields the Ancient Greek Skuthēs Σκύθης (plural Skuthai Σκύθαι) and Assyrian Aškuz; Old Armenian: սկիւթ skiwtʰ is from itacistic Greek. A late Scythian sound change from /d/ to /l/ gives the Greek word Skolotoi (Σκώλοτοι, Herodotus 4.6), from Scythian *skula which, according to Herodotus, was the self-designation of the Royal Scythians. Other sound changes gave Sogdia.
  • The form reflected in Old Persian: Sakā, Greek: Σάκαι; Latin: Sacae, Sanskrit: शक Śaka comes from an Iranian verbal root sak-, "go, roam" and thus means "nomad".[22]

Terminology

For the Achaemenids, there were three types of Scythians: the Sakā tayai paradraya ("beyond the sea", presumably between the Greeks and the Thracians on the Western side of the Black Sea), the Sakā tigraxaudā (“with pointed caps”), the Sakā haumavargā ("Hauma drinkers", furthest East). Reliefs depicting the soldiers of the Achaemenid army, Xerxes I tomb, circa 480 BCE.[23]

In scholarship, the term Scythians refer to the nomadic Iranian people of the Pontic steppe.[1]

Herodotus said the Scythians called themselves Skolotoi.[2] Iskuzai or Askuzai is an Assyrian term for raiders south of the Caucasus who were probably Scythian. The ancient Persians used the term Saka for all nomads of the Eurasian Steppe, including the Scythians. The ancient Greeks would on occasion use the term Scythian in a similar manner.[24] Modern scholars however restrict the term Saka to Iranian peoples living in the eastern Eurasian Steppe and the Tarim Basin.[25] The Saka are to be distinguished from the Scythians, although the peoples were closely related.[26]

In the broadest sense and in archaeology Scythian and Scythic can be used for all of the steppe nomads at the beginning of recorded history.[27] The grasslands of Mongolia and north China are often excluded, but the Ordos culture and Tagar culture seem to have had significant 'Scythian' features. The relationships between the peoples living in these widely separated regions remains unclear, and the term is used in both a broad and narrow sense. The term "Scythian" is used by modern scholars in an archaeological context for finds perceived to display attributes of the wider "Scytho-Siberian" culture, usually without implying an ethnic or linguistic connotation.[28] Peoples associated with Scythian cultures included Cimmerians, Massagetae, Saka, Sarmatians, the Scythians themselves, and various obscure peoples of the forest steppe,[2][3] such as Balts and Finno-Ugric peoples.[29] All Eurasian nomads associated with this culture are sometimes referred to collectively as Scythians.[3]

The prominent Scythologist Askold Ivanchik notes with dismay that the term "Scythian" has been used in various contradicting contexts, leading to a good deal of confusion.[2] Like other experts in the field, he restricts the term Scythians for the Iranian people of the Pontic steppe.[2]

History

Origins

Literary evidence

The approximate extent of Eastern Iranian languages and people in Middle Iranian times in the 1st century BC is shown in orange

The Scythians first appeared in the historical record in the 8th century BC.[30] Herodotus reported three contradictory versions as to the origins of the Scythians, but placed greatest faith in this version:[31]

There is also another different story, now to be related, in which I am more inclined to put faith than in any other. It is that the wandering Scythians once dwelt in Asia, and there warred with the Massagetae, but with ill success; they therefore quitted their homes, crossed the Araxes, and entered the land of Cimmeria.

Herodotus presented four different versions of Scythian origins:

  1. Firstly (4.7), the Scythians' legend about themselves, which portrays the first Scythian king, Targitaus, as the child of the sky-god and of a daughter of the Dnieper. Targitaus allegedly lived a thousand years before the failed Persian invasion of Scythia, or around 1500 BC. He had three sons, before whom fell from the sky a set of four golden implements – a plough, a yoke, a cup and a battle-axe. Only the youngest son succeeded in touching the golden implements without them bursting with fire, and this son's descendants, called by Herodotus the "Royal Scythians", continued to guard them.
  2. Secondly (4.8), a legend told by the Pontic Greeks featuring Scythes, the first king of the Scythians, as a child of Hercules and Echidna.
  3. Thirdly (4.11), in the version which Herodotus said he believed most, the Scythians came from a more southern part of Central Asia, until a war with the Massagetae (a powerful tribe of steppe nomads who lived just northeast of Persia) forced them westward.
  4. Finally (4.13), a legend which Herodotus attributed to the Greek bard Aristeas, who claimed to have got himself into such a Bachanalian fury that he ran all the way northeast across Scythia and further. According to this, the Scythians originally lived south of the Rhipaean mountains, until they got into a conflict with a tribe called the Issedones, pressed in their turn by the "one-eyed Arimaspians"; and so the Scythians decided to migrate westwards.

Accounts by Herodotus of Scythian origins has been discounted recently; although his accounts of Scythian raiding activities contemporary to his writings have been deemed more reliable.[32] Moreover, the term Scythian, like Cimmerian, was used to refer to a variety of groups from the Black Sea to southern Siberia and central Asia. "They were not a specific people", but rather a variety of peoples "referred to at variety of times in history, and in several places, none of which was their original homeland."[33] The New Testament includes a single reference to Scythians in Colossians 3:11.[34]

Archaeology

Modern interpretation of historical, archaeological and anthropological evidence has proposed two broad hypotheses.[35] The first, formerly more espoused by Soviet and then Russian researchers, roughly followed Herodotus' (third) account, holding that the Scythians were an Eastern Iranian-speaking group who arrived from Inner Asia, i.e. from the area of Turkestan and western Siberia. [35][36][excessive citations]

The second hypothesis, according to Roman Ghirshman and others, proposes that the Scythian cultural complex emerged from local groups of the Srubna culture at the Black Sea coast,[35] although this is also associated with the Cimmerians. According to Dolukhanov this proposal is supported by anthropological evidence which has found that Scythian skulls are similar to preceding findings from the Srubna culture, and distinct from those of the Central Asian Sacae.[37] Yet, according to J. P. Mallory, the archaeological evidence is poor, and the Andronovo culture and "at least the eastern outliers of the Timber-grave culture" may be identified as Indo-Iranian.[35]

Others have further stressed that "Scythian" was a very broad term used by both ancient and modern scholars to describe a whole host of otherwise unrelated peoples sharing only certain similarities in lifestyle (nomadism), cultural practices and language. The 1st millennium BC ushered a period of unprecedented cultural and economic connectivity amongst disparate and wide-ranging communities. A mobile, broadly similar lifestyle would have facilitated contacts amongst disparate ethnic groupings along the expansive Eurasian steppe from the Danube to Manchuria, leading to many cultural similarities. From the viewpoint of Greek and Persian ancient observers, they were all lumped together under the etic category "Scythians".

Genetics

In 2017, a genetic study of the Scythians suggested that the Scythians were ultimately descended from the Yamna culture, and emerged on the Pontic steppe independently of peoples belonging to Scythian cultures further east.[3] Based on the analysis of mithocondrial lineages, another later 2017 study suggested that the Scythians were directly descended from the Srubnaya culture.[38] A later analysis of paternal lineages, published in 2018, found significant genetic differences between the Srubnaya and the Scythians, suggesting that the Srubnaya and the Scythians instead traced a common origin in the Yamnaya culture, with the Scythians and related peoples such as the Sarmatians perhaps tracing their origin to the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppes and the southern Urals.[39]

Early history

Herodotus provides the first detailed description of the Scythians. He classes the Cimmerians as a distinct autochthonous tribe, expelled by the Scythians from the northern Black Sea coast (Hist. 4.11–12). Herodotus also states (4.6) that the Scythians consisted of the Auchatae, Catiaroi, Traspians, and Paralatae or "Royal Scythians".

In the early 7th century BC, the Scythians and Cimmerians are recorded in Assyrian texts as having conquered Urartu. In the 670s, the Scythians under their king Bartatua raided the territories of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian king Esarhaddon managed to make peace with the Scythians by marrying of his daughter to Bartatua and by paying a large amount of tribute.[2] Bartatua was succeeded by his son Madius ca. 645 BC, after which they launched a great raid on Palestine and Egypt. Madius subsequently subjugated the Median Empire. During this time, Herodotus notes that the Scythians raided and exacted tribute from "the whole of Asia". In the 620s, Cyaxares, leader of the Medes, treacherously killed a large number of Scythian chieftains had a feast, the Scythians subsequently driven back to the steppe. In 612 BC, the Medes and Scythians participated in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire with the Battle of Nineveh. During this period of influence in the Middle East, the Scythians became heavily influence by the local civilizations.[40]

In the 6th century BC, the Greeks had began establishing settlements along the coasts and rivers of th Pontic steppe, coming in contact with the Scythians. Relations between the Greeks and the Scythians appear to have been peaceful, with the Scythians being substantially influence by the Greeks, although the city of the Panticapaeum might have been destroyed by the Scythians in the mid century BC. During this time, the Scythian philospher Anacharsis traveled to Athens, where he made a great impression on the local people with his "barbarian wisdom".[2]

War with Persia

By the late 6th century BC, the Archaemenid king Darius the Great had built Persia into becoming the most powerful empire in the world, stretching from Egypt to India. Planning an invasion of Greece, Darius first sought to secure his northern flank against Scythian introads. Thus, Darius declared war on the Scythians.[40] At first, Darius sent his Cappadocian satrap Ariamnes with a vast fleet (estimated at 600 ships by Herodotus) into Scythian territory, where several Scythian nobles were captured. He then built a bridge across the Bosporus and easily defeated the Thracians, crossing the Danube into Scythian territory with a large army (700,000 men if one is to believe Herodotus) in 512 BC.[41] At this time Scythians were separated into three major kingdoms, with the leader of the largest tribe, King Idanthyrsus, being the supreme ruler, and his subordinate kings being Scopasis and Taxacis.

Unable to receive support from neighbooring nomadic peoples against the Persians, the Scythians evacuated their civilians and livestock to the north and adopted a scorched earth strategy, while simultaenously harassing the extensive Persian supply lines. Suffering heavy losses, the Persians reached as far as the Sea of Azov, until Darius was compelled to enter into negotiations with Idanthyrsus, which however broke down. Darius and his army eventually reatreated across the Danube back into Persia, and the Scythians thereafter earned a reputation of invincibility among neighbooring peoples.[41][2]

Golden Age

Scythian warriors, drawn after figures on an electrum cup from the Kul-Oba kurgan burial near Kerch, Crimea. The warrior on the right strings his bow, bracing it behind his knee; note the typical pointed hood, long jacket with fur or fleece trimming at the edges, decorated trousers, and short boots tied at the ankle. Scythians apparently wore their hair long and loose, and all adult men apparently bearded. The gorytos appears clearly on the left hip of the bare-headed spearman. The shield of the central figure may be made of plain leather over a wooden or wicker base. (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)

In the aftermath of the their defeat of the Persian invasion, Scythian power grew considerably, and they launched campaigns against their Thracian neighboors in the west.[42] In 496 BC, the Scythians launched an great expedition into Thrace, reaching as far as Chersonesos.[2] During this time they negotiated an alliance with the Achaemenid Empire against the Spartan king Cleomenes I. A prominent king of the Scythians in the 5th century was Scyles.[40]

The Scythian offensive against the Thracians was checked by the Odrysian kingdom. The border between the Scythians and the Odrysian kingdom was thereafter set at the Danube, and relations between the two dynasties were good, with dynastic marriages frequently occurring.[2] The Scythians also expanded towards the north-west, where they destroyed numerous fortified settlements and probably subjucated numerous settled populations. A similar fate was suffered by the Greek cities of the northwestern Black Sea coast and parts of the Crimea, over which the Scythians established political control.[2] Greek settlements along the Don River also came under the control of the Scythians.[2]

A division of responsibility developed, with the Scythians holding the political and military power, the urban population carrying out trade, and the local sedentary population carrying out manual labor.[2] Their territories grew grain, and shipped wheat, flocks, and cheese to Greece. The Scythians apparently obtained much of their wealth from their control over the slave trade from the north to Greece through the Greek Black Sea colonial ports of Olbia, Chersonesos, Cimmerian Bosporus, and Gorgippia.

When Herodotus wrote his Histories in the 5th century BC, Greeks distinguished Scythia Minor, in present-day Romania and Bulgaria, from a Greater Scythia that extended eastwards for a 20-day ride from the Danube River, across the steppes of today's East Ukraine to the lower Don basin.

Scythian offensives against the Greek colonies of the northeastern Black Sea coast were largely unsuccessful, as the Greeks united under the leadership of the city of Panticapaeum and put up a vigorous defence. These Greek cities developed into the Bosporan Kingdom. Meanwhile, several Greek colonies formerly under Scythian control began to reassert their independence. It is possible that the Scythians were suffering from internal troubles during this time.[2] By the mid 4th century BC, the Sarmatians, a related Iranian people living to the east of the Scythians, began expanding into Scythian territory.[40]

The 4th century BC was a flowering of Scythian culture. Strabo (c. 63 BC – AD 24) reports that King Ateas, in the mid 4th century BC, united under his power the Scythian tribes living between the Maeotian marshes and the Danube, while simultaneously enroaching upon the Thracians.[42] His westward expansion brought him into conflict with Philip II of Macedon (reigned 359 to 336 BC), with whom he had previously been allied,[2] who took military action against the Scythians in 339 BC. Ateas died in battle, and his empire disintegrated.[40] Philip's son, Alexander the Great, continued the conflict with the Scythians. In 331 BC, his general Zopyrion invaded Scythian territory with a force of 30,000 men, but was routed and killed by the Scythians near Olbia.[42][2]

Decline

The territory of the Scythae Basilaei ("Royal Scyths") along the north shore of the Black Sea around 125 AD.

In the aftermath of conflict between Macedon and the Scythians, the Celts seem to have displaced the Scythians from the Balkans; while in south Russia, a kindred tribe, the Sarmatians, gradually overwhelmed them. In 310-309 BC, as noted by Diodorus Siculus, the Scythians, in alliance with the Bosporan Kingdom, defeated the Siraces in a great battle at the river Thatis.[42]

By the early 3rd century BC, the Scythian culture of the Pontic steppe suddenly disappears. The reasons for this are controversial, but the expansion of the Sarmatians certainly played a role. The Scythians in turn shifted their focus towards the Greek cities of the Crimea.[2]

By ca. 200 BC, the Scythians had largely withdrawn into the Crimea. By the time of Strabo's account (the first decades AD), the Crimean Scythians had created a new kingdom extending from the lower Dniepr to the Crimea, centered at Scythian Neapolis near modern Simferopol. They had become more settled and were intermingling with the local populations, in particular the Tauri, and were also subjected to Hellenization. They maintained close relations with the Bosporan Kingdom, with whose dynasty they were linked by marriage. A separate Scythian territory, known as Scythia Minor, existed in modern-day Dobruja, but was of little significance.[2]

The kings Skilurus and Palakus waged wars with Mithridates the Great (reigned 120–63 BC) for control of the Crimean littoral, including Chersonesos Taurica and the Cimmerian Bosporus. Out of this conflict, Mithradates emerged victorious.[40][42] After this time, the Scythians practically disappeared from history.[42] Scythia Minor was also defeated by Mithradates.[2]

In the years after the death of Mithradates, the Scythians had transitioned to a settled way of life and were assimilating into neighboring populations. They made a resurgence in the 1st century AD and laid siege to Chersonesos, who were obliged to seek help from the Roman Empire. The Scythians were in turn defeated by Roman commander Tiberius Plautius Silvanus Aelianus.[2] By the 2nd century AD, archaeological evidence show that the Scythians had been largely assimilated by the Sarmatians.[2] Their capital city, Scythian Neapolis, was destroyed by the invading Goths in the mid-3rd century AD.

Archaeology

Scythian defence line 339 BC reconstruction in Polgár, Hungary

Archaeological remains of the Scythians include kurgan tombs (ranging from simple exemplars to elaborate "Royal kurgans" containing the "Scythian triad" of weapons, horse-harness, and Scythian-style wild-animal art), gold, silk, and animal sacrifices, in places also with suspected human sacrifices.[43][44] Mummification techniques and permafrost have aided in the relative preservation of some remains. Scythian archaeology also examines the remains of North Pontic Scythian cities and fortifications.[45]

One grave find on the lower Volga gave a similar date, and one of the Steblev graves from the East European end of the Scythian area was dated to the late 8th century BC.[46]

Archaeologists can distinguish three periods of ancient Scythian archaeological remains:

  • 1st period – pre-Scythian and initial Scythian epoch: from the 9th to the middle of the 7th century BC
  • 2nd period – early Scythian epoch: from the 7th to the 6th centuries BC
  • 3rd period – classical Scythian epoch: from the 5th to the 4th centuries BC

From the 8th to the 2nd centuries BC, archaeology records a split into two distinct settlement areas: the older in the Sayan-Altai area in Central Asia, and the younger in the North Pontic area in Eastern Europe.[47]

An alternative scheme, relating to the "narrow" definition at the Western end of the steppe and into Europe, has:

  • Early Scythian – from the mid-8th or the late 7th century BC to about 500 BC
  • Classical Scythian or Mid-Scythian – from about 500 BC to about 300 BC
  • Late Scythian – from about 200 BC to the early 2nd century CE, in the Crimea and the Lower Dnieper, by which time the population was settled.[2]

Kurgans

An arm from the throne of a Scythian king, 7th century BC. Found at the Kerkemess kurgan, Krasnodar Krai in 1905. On exhibit at the Hermitage Museum

These large burial mounds (some over 20 metres high) provide the most valuable archaeological remains associated with the Scythians. They dot the Eurasian steppe belt, from Mongolia to Balkans, through Ukrainian and south Russian steppes, extending in great chains for many kilometers along ridges and watersheds. From them archaeologists have learned much about Scythian life and art.[48] Some Scythian tombs reveal traces of Greek, Chinese, and Indian craftsmanship, suggesting a process of Hellenisation, Sinification, and other local influences among the Scythians.[49]

The Ukrainian term for such a burial mound, kurhán (Ukrainian: Курган) as well as the Russian term kurgán, derives from a Turkic word for "castle".[50]

Some Scythian-Sarmatian cultures may have given rise to Greek stories of Amazons. Graves of armed females have been found in southern Ukraine and Russia. David Anthony notes, "About 20% of Scythian-Sarmatian 'warrior graves' on the lower Don and lower Volga contained females dressed for battle as if they were men, a style that may have inspired the Greek tales about the Amazons."[51]

Excavation at kurgan Sengileevskoe-2 found gold bowls with coatings indicating a strong opium beverage was used while cannabis was burning nearby. The gold bowls depicted scenes showing clothing and weapons.[52]

Bilsk excavations

Recent digs[citation needed] (see:Gelonus) in a village Bilsk near Poltava (Ukraine) have uncovered a "vast city", with the largest area of any city in the world at that time (Bilsk settlement). It has been tentatively identified by a team of archaeologists led by Boris Shramko as the site of Gelonus, the purported capital of Scythia. The city's commanding ramparts and vast area of 40 square kilometers exceed even the outlandish size reported by Herodotus. Its location at the northern edge of the Ukrainian steppe would have allowed strategic control of the north-south trade-route. Judging by the finds dated to the 5th and 4th centuries BC, craft workshops and Greek pottery abounded.

Pazyryk culture

A Pazyryk horseman in a felt painting from a burial around 300 BC. The Pazyryks appear to be closely related to the Scythians.[53]

Eastern Scythian burials documented by modern archaeologists include the kurgans at Pazyryk in the Ulagan (Red) district of the Altai Republic, south of Novosibirsk in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia (near Mongolia). Archaeologists have extrapolated the Pazyryk culture from these finds: five large burial mounds and several smaller ones between 1925 and 1949, one opened in 1947 by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko. The burial mounds concealed chambers of larch-logs covered over with large cairns of boulders and stones.[54]

The Pazyryk culture flourished between the 7th and 3rd century BC in the area associated with the Saka.

Ordinary Pazyryk graves contain only common utensils, but in one, among other treasures, archaeologists found the famous Pazyryk Carpet, the oldest surviving wool-pile oriental rug. Another striking find, a 3-metre-high four-wheel funerary chariot, survived well-preserved from the 5th to 4th century BC.[55]

Culture and society

Kurgan stelae of a Scythian at Khortytsia, Ukraine

Tribal divisions

Scythians lived in confederated tribes, a political form of voluntary association which regulated pastures and organised a common defence against encroaching neighbours for the pastoral tribes of mostly equestrian herdsmen. While the productivity of domesticated animal-breeding greatly exceeded that of the settled agricultural societies, the pastoral economy also needed supplemental agricultural produce, and stable nomadic confederations developed either symbiotic or forced alliances with sedentary peoples – in exchange for animal produce and military protection.

Herodotus relates that three main tribes of the Scythians descended from three brothers, Lipoxais, Arpoxais, and Colaxais:[56]

In their reign a plough, a yoke, an axe, and a bowl, all made of gold, fell from heaven upon the Scythian territory. The oldest of the brothers wished to take them away, but as he drew near the gold began to burn. The second brother approached them, but with the like result. The third and youngest then approached, upon which the fire went out, and he was enabled to carry away the golden gifts. The two eldest then made the youngest king, and henceforth the golden gifts were watched by the king with the greatest care, and annually approached with magnificent sacrifices.[57]

Herodotus also mentions a royal tribe or clan, an elite which dominated the other Scythians:

Then on the other side of the Gerros we have those parts which are called the "Royal" lands and those Scythians who are the bravest and most numerous and who esteem the other Scythians their slaves.[58]

The elder brothers then, acknowledging the significance of this thing, delivered the whole of the kingly power to the youngest. From Lixopais, they say, are descended those Scythians who are called the race of the Auchatai; from the middle brother Arpoxais those who are called Catiaroi and Traspians, and from the youngest of them the "Royal" tribe, who are called Paralatai: and the whole together are called, they say, Scolotoi, after the name of their king; but the Hellenes gave them the name of Scythians. Thus the Scythians say they were produced; and from the time of their origin, that is to say from the first king Targitaos, to the passing over of Dareios [the Persian Emperor Darius I] against them [512 BC], they say that there is a period of a thousand years and no more.[59]

The rich burials of Scythian kings in tumuli (often known by the Turkic name kurgan) is evidence for the existence of a powerful elite. While an elite clan is named in some classical sources[which?] as the "Royal Dahae", the Dahae proper are generally regarded as an extinct Indo-European people, who occupied what is now Turkmenistan, and were distinct from the Scythians.

Although scholars have traditionally treated the three tribes as geographically distinct, Georges Dumézil interpreted the divine gifts as the symbols of social occupations, illustrating his trifunctional vision of early Indo-European societies: the plough and yoke symbolised the farmers, the axe – the warriors, the bowl – the priests.[60] According to Dumézil, "the fruitless attempts of Arpoxais and Lipoxais, in contrast to the success of Colaxais, may explain why the highest strata was not that of farmers or magicians, but rather that of warriors."[61]

Warfare

Scythian archers shooting with the Scythian bow, Kerch (ancient Panticapeum), Crimea, 4th century BC. The Scythians were skilled archers, and their style of archery influenced that of the Persians and subsequently other nations, including the Greeks.[62]

The Scythians were a warlike people. When engaged at war, almost the entire adult population, including a large number of women, would participated in battle.[63] The Athenian historian Thucydides noted that no people in either Europe or Asia could resist the Scythians without outside aid.[63]

Scythians were particularly known for their equestrian skills, and their early use of composite bows shot from horseback. With great mobility, the Scythians could absorb the attacks of more cumbersome footsoldiers and cavalry, just retreating into the steppes. Such tactics wore down their enemies, making them easier to defeat. The Scythians were notoriously aggressive warriors. They "fought to live and lived to fight" and "drank the blood of their enemies and used the scalps as napkins."[53][64] Ruled by small numbers of closely allied elites, Scythians had a reputation for their archers, and many gained employment as mercenaries. Scythian elites had kurgan tombs: high barrows heaped over chamber-tombs of larch wood, a deciduous conifer that may have had special significance as a tree of life-renewal, for it stands bare in winter.

The Ziwiye hoard, a treasure of gold and silver metalwork and ivory found near the town of Sakiz south of Lake Urmia and dated to between 680 and 625 BC, includes objects with Scythian "animal style" features. One silver dish from this find bears some inscriptions, as yet undeciphered and so possibly representing a form of Scythian writing.

Scythians also had a reputation for the use of barbed and poisoned arrows of several types, for a nomadic life centred on horses – "fed from horse-blood" according to Herodotus – and for skill in guerrilla warfare.

Clothing

Sheath for knives

According to Herodotus, Scythian costume consisted of padded and quilted leather trousers tucked into boots, and open tunics. They rode without stirrups or saddles, using only saddle-cloths. Herodotus reports that Scythians used cannabis, both to weave their clothing and to cleanse themselves in its smoke (Hist. 4.73–75); archaeology has confirmed the use of cannabis in funerary rituals.

Herodotus says Sakas had "high caps tapering to a point and stiffly upright." Asian Saka headgear is clearly visible on the Persepolis Apadana staircase bas-relief – high pointed hat with flaps over ears and the nape of the neck.[65] From China to the Danube delta, men seemed to have worn a variety of soft headgear – either conical like the one described by Herodotus, or rounder, more like a Phrygian cap.

Women wore a variety of different headdresses, some conical in shape others more like flattened cylinders, also adorned with metal (golden) plaques.

Scythian women wore long, loose robes, ornamented with metal plaques (gold). Women wore shawls, often richly decorated with metal (golden) plaques.

Based on numerous archeological findings in Ukraine, southern Russian and Kazakhstan men and warrior women wore long sleeve tunics that were always belted, often with richly ornamented belts.

Men and women wore long trousers, often adorned with metal plaques and often embroidered or adorned with felt appliqués; trousers could have been wider or tight fitting depending on the area. Materials used depended on the wealth, climate and necessity.

Men and women warriors wore variations of long and shorter boots, wool-leather-felt gaiter-boots and moccasin-like shoes. They were either of a laced or simple slip on type. Women wore also soft shoes with metal (gold) plaques.

Men and women wore belts. Warrior belts were made of leather, often with gold or other metal adornments and had many attached leather thongs for fastening of the owner's gorytos, sword, whet stone, whip etc. Belts were fastened with metal or horn belt-hooks, leather thongs and metal (often golden) or horn belt-plates.

Art

Offering pot from a Scythian grave from Alba Iulia, Romania, 6th century BC. In display at National Museum of the Union, Alba Iulia

Scythian contacts with craftsmen in Greek colonies along the northern shores of the Black Sea resulted in the famous Scythian gold adornments that feature among the most glamorous artifacts of world museums. Ethnographically extremely useful as well, the gold depicts Scythian men as bearded, long-haired Caucasoids. "Greco-Scythian" works depicting Scythians within a much more Hellenic style date from a later period, when Scythians had already adopted elements of Greek culture, and the most elaborate royal pieces are assumed to have been made by Greek goldsmiths for this lucrative market. Other metalwork pieces from across the whole Eurasian steppe use an animal style, showing animals, often in combat and often with their legs folded beneath them. The origins of this style remain debated, but it probably both received and gave influences in the art of the neighbouring settled peoples, and acted as a fast route for transmission of motifs across the width of Eurasia.

Surviving Scythian objects are mostly small portable pieces of metalwork: elaborate personal jewelry, weapon-ornaments and horse-trappings. But finds from sites with permafrost show rich and brightly coloured textiles, leatherwork and woodwork, not to mention tattooing. The western royal pieces executed Central-Asian animal motifs with Greek realism: winged gryphons attacking horses, battling stags, deer, and eagles, combined with everyday motifs like milking ewes.

In 2000, the touring exhibition 'Scythian Gold' introduced the North American public to the objects made for Scythian nomads by Greek craftsmen north of the Black Sea, and buried with their Scythian owners under burial mounds on the flat plains of present-day Ukraine.

Religion

Treasure of Kul-Oba, near Kerch

The religious beliefs of the Scythians was a type of Pre-Zoroastrian Iranian religion and differed from the post-Zoroastrian Iranian thoughts.[66] Foremost in the Scythian pantheon stood Tabiti, who was later replaced by Atar, the fire-pantheon of Iranian tribes, and Agni, the fire deity of Indo-Aryans.[66] The Scythian belief was a more archaic stage than the Zoroastrian and Hindu systems. The use of cannabis to induce trance and divination by soothsayers was a characteristic of the Scythian belief system.[66] A class of priests, the Enarei, worshipped the goddess Argimpasa and assumed feminine identities.

Language

The Scythian group of languages in the early period are essentially unattested, and their internal divergence is difficult to judge. They belonged to the Eastern Iranian family of languages. Whether all the peoples included in the "Scytho-Siberian" archaeological culture spoke languages from this family is uncertain.

The Scythian languages may have formed a dialect continuum: "Scytho-Sarmatian" in the west and "Scytho-Khotanese" or Saka in the east.[67] The Scythian languages were mostly marginalised and assimilated as a consequence of the late antiquity and early Middle Ages Slavic and Turkic expansion. The western (Sarmatian) group of ancient Scythian survived as the medieval language of the Alans and eventually gave rise to the modern Ossetian language.[68]

Physical appearance

An Attic vase-painting of a Scythian archer (a police force in Athens) by Epiktetos, 520–500 BC

In artworks, the Scythians are portrayed exhibiting Caucasoid traits.[69] In Histories, the 5th-century Greek historian Herodotus describes the Budini of Scythia as red-haired and grey-eyed.[69] In the 5th century BC, Greek physician Hippocrates argued that the Scythians have purron (ruddy) skin.[69][70] In the 3rd century BC, the Greek poet Callimachus described the Arismapes (Arimaspi) of Scythia as fair-haired.[69][71] The 2nd century BC Han Chinese envoy Zhang Qian described the Sai (Saka), an eastern people closely related to the Scythians, as having yellow (probably meaning hazel or green), and blue eyes.[69] In Natural History, the 1st century AD Roman author Pliny the Elder characterises the Seres, sometimes identified as Saka or Tocharians, as red-haired and blue-eyed.[69][72] In the late 2nd century AD, the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria says that the Scythians were fair-haired.[69][73] The 2nd century Greek philosopher Polemon includes the Scythians among the northern peoples characterised by red hair and blue-grey eyes.[69] In the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD, the Greek physician Galen declares that Sarmatians, Scythians and other northern peoples have reddish hair.[69][74] The fourth-century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the Alans, a people closely related to the Scythians, were tall, blond and light-eyed.[75] The 4th century bishop of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa wrote that the Scythians were fair skinned and blond haired.[76] The 5th-century physician Adamantius, who often follow Polemon, describes the Scythians are fair-haired.[69][77] It is possible that the later physical descriptions by Adamantius and Gregory of Scythians refer to East Germanic tribes, as the latter were frequently referred to as "Scythians" in Roman sources at that time.

Genetics

In 2017, a genetic study of various Scythian cultures, including the Scythians, was published in Nature Communications. The study suggested that the Scythians arose independently of culturally similar groups further east. Though all groups studies shared a common origin in the Yamnaya culture, the presence of east Eurasian mitochondrial lineages was largely absent among Scythians, but present among other groups further east. Modern populations most closely related to the Scythians were found to be populations living in proximity to the sites studied, suggesting genetic continuity.[3]

Another 2017 genetic study, published in Scientific Reports, found that the Scythians shared common mithocondrial lineages with the earlier Srubnaya culture. It also noted that the Scythians differed from materially similar groups further east by the absence of east Eurasian mitochondrial lineages. The authors of the study suggested that the Srubnaya culture was the source of the Scythian cultures of at least the Pontic steppe.[38]

In 2018, a genetic study of the earlier Srubnaya culture, and later peoples of the Scythian cultures, including the Scythians, was published in Science Advances. Members of the Srubnaya culture were found to be exlusively carriers of haplogroup R1a1a1, which showed a major expansion during the Bronze Age. Six Scythian samples from the sites of Starosillya and Glinoe were successfully analyzed, and were all found to be carriers of haplogroup R1b1a1a2. The Scythians were found to be closely related to the Afanasievo culture and the Andronovo culture. The authors of the study suggested that the Scythians were not directly descended from the Srubnaya culture, but that the Scythians and the Srubnaya shared a common origin through the earlier Yamnaya culture. Significant genetic differences were found between the Scythians and materially similar groups further east, which underpinned the notion that although materially similar, the Scythians and groups further east should be seen as separate peoples belonging to a common cultural horizon, which perhaps had its source on the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe and the southern Urals.[39]

Legacy

Late Antiquity

In Late Antiquity, the notion of a Scythian ethnicity grew more vague and outsiders might dub any people inhabiting the Pontic-Caspian steppe as "Scythians", regardless of their language. Thus, Priscus, a Byzantine emissary to Attila, repeatedly referred to the latter's followers as "Scythians". But Eunapius, Claudius Cladianus and Olympiodorus usually mean Goths when they write "Scythians".[citation needed]

The Goths had displaced the Sarmatians in the 2nd century from most areas near the Roman frontier, and by early medieval times, the Early Slavs (Proto-Slavs) marginalised Eastern Iranian dialects in Eastern Europe as they assimilated and absorbed the Iranian ethnic groups in the region.[17][18][19][20]

Although the classical Scythians may have largely disappeared by the 1st century BC, Eastern Romans continued to speak conventionally of "Scythians" to designate Germanic tribes and confederations[78] or mounted Eurasian nomadic barbarians in general: in AD 448 two mounted "Scythians" led the emissary Priscus to Attila's encampment in Pannonia. The Byzantines in this case carefully distinguished the Scythians from the Goths and Huns who also followed Attila.

The Sarmatians (including the Alans) and finally the Ossetians) counted as Scythians in the broadest sense of the word – as speakers of Eastern Iranian languages,[79] and are considered mostly of Iranian descent.[80]

Byzantine sources also refer to the Rus raiders who attacked Constantinople circa 860 in contemporary accounts as "Tauroscythians", because of their geographical origin, and despite their lack of any ethnic relation to Scythians. Patriarch Photius may have first applied the term to them during the Siege of Constantinople (860).

Early Modern usage

Scythians at the Tomb of Ovid (c. 1640), by Johann Heinrich Schönfeld

Owing to their reputation as established by Greek historians, the Scythians long served as the epitome of savagery and barbarism.

The New Testament includes a single reference to Scythians in Colossians 3:11.[81] In the New Testament, in a letter ascribed to Paul "Scythian" is used as an example of people whom some label pejoratively, but who are, in Christ, acceptable to God:

Here there is no Greek or Jew. There is no difference between those who are circumcised and those who are not. There is no rude outsider, or even a Scythian. There is no slave or free person. But Christ is everything. And he is in everything.[82]

Shakespeare, for instance, alluded to the legend that Scythians ate their children in his play King Lear:

The barbarous Scythian

Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
¨ Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and relieved,
As thou my sometime daughter.[83]

Characteristically, early modern English discourse on Ireland frequently resorted to comparisons with Scythians in order to confirm that the indigenous population of Ireland descended from these ancient "bogeymen", and showed themselves as barbaric as their alleged ancestors. Edmund Spenser wrote that

the Chiefest [nation that settled in Ireland] I Suppose to be Scithians ... which firste inhabitinge and afterwarde stretchinge themselves forthe into the lande as theire numbers increased named it all of themselues Scuttenlande which more brieflye is Called Scuttlande or Scotlande.[84]

As proofs for this origin Spenser cites the alleged Irish customs of blood-drinking, nomadic lifestyle, the wearing of mantles and certain haircuts and

Cryes allsoe vsed amongeste the Irishe which savor greatlye of the Scythyan Barbarisme.

William Camden, one of Spenser's main sources, comments on this legend of origin that

to derive descent from a Scythian stock, cannot be thought any waies dishonourable, seeing that the Scythians, as they are most ancient, so they have been the Conquerours of most Nations, themselves alwaies invincible, and never subject to the Empire of others.[85]

Romantic nationalism: Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs (Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881)

Descent claims

Eugène Delacroix's painting of the Roman poet, Ovid, in exile among the Scythians[53]

A number of groups have claimed possible descent from the Scythians, including the Ossetians, Pashtuns (in particular, the Sakzai tribe), Jat people[86] Some legends of the Poles,[87] the Picts, the Gaels, the Hungarians (in particular, the Jassics), among others, also include mention of Scythian origins. Some writers claim that Scythians figured in the formation of the empire of the Medes and likewise of Caucasian Albania.

The Scythians also feature in some national origin-legends of the Celts. In the second paragraph of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, the élite of Scotland claim Scythia as a former homeland of the Scots. According to the 11th-century Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland), the 14th-century Auraicept na n-Éces and other Irish folklore, the Irish originated in Scythia and were descendants of Fénius Farsaid, a Scythian prince who created the Ogham alphabet.

The Carolingian kings of the Franks traced Merovingian ancestry to the Germanic tribe of the Sicambri. Gregory of Tours documents in his History of the Franks that when Clovis was baptised, he was referred to as a Sicamber with the words "Mitis depone colla, Sicamber, adora quod incendisti, incendi quod adorasti." The Chronicle of Fredegar in turn reveals that the Franks believed the Sicambri to be a tribe of Scythian or Cimmerian descent, who had changed their name to Franks in honour of their chieftain Franco in 11 BC.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, foreigners regarded the Russians as descendants of Scythians. It became conventional to refer to Russians as Scythians in 18th-century poetry, and Alexander Blok drew on this tradition sarcastically in his last major poem, The Scythians (1920). In the 19th century, romantic revisionists in the West transformed the "barbarian" Scyths of literature into the wild and free, hardy and democratic ancestors of all blond Indo-Europeans.

Based on such accounts of Scythian founders of certain Germanic as well as Celtic tribes, British historiography in the British Empire period such as Sharon Turner in his History of the Anglo-Saxons, made them the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons.

The idea was taken up in the British Israelism of John Wilson, who adopted and promoted the idea that the "European Race, in particular the Anglo-Saxons, were descended from certain Scythian tribes, and these Scythian tribes (as many had previously stated from the Middle Ages onward) were in turn descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel."[88] Tudor Parfitt, author of The Lost Tribes of Israel and Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, points out that the proof cited by adherents of British Israelism is "of a feeble composition even by the low standards of the genre."[89]

Related ancient peoples

Herodotus and other classical historians listed quite a number of tribes who lived near the Scythians, and presumably shared the same general milieu and nomadic steppe culture, often called "Scythian culture", even though scholars may have difficulties in determining their exact relationship to the "linguistic Scythians". A partial list of these tribes includes the Agathyrsi, Geloni, Budini, and Neuri.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b
    • Dandamayev 1994, p. 37 "In modern scholarship the name 'Sakas' is reserved for the ancient tribes of northern and eastern Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan to distinguish them from the related Massagetae of the Aral region and the Scythians of the Pontic steppes. These tribes spoke Iranian languages, and their chief occupation was nomadic pastoralism."
    • Cernenko 2012, p. 3 "The Scythians lived in the Early Iron Age, and inhabited the northern areas of the Black Sea (Pontic) steppes. Though the 'Scythian period' in the history of Eastern Europe lasted little more than 400 years, from the 7th to the 3rd centuries BC, the impression these horsemen made upon the history of their times was such that a thousand years after they had ceased to exist as a sovereign people, their heartland and the territories which they dominated far beyond it continued to be known as 'greater Scythia'."
    • Melykova 1990, pp. 97-98 "From the end of the 7th century B.C. to the 4th century B.C. the Central- Eurasian steppes were inhabited by two large groups of kin Iranian-speaking tribes - the Scythians and Sarmatians... "[I]t may be confidently stated that from the end of the 7th century to the 3rd century B.C. the Scythians occupied the steppe expanses of the north Black Sea area, from the Don in the east to the Danube in the West."
    • Ivanchik 2018 "Scythians, a nomadic people of Iranian origin who flourished in the steppe lands north of the Black Sea during the 7th-4th centuries BCE (Figure 1). For related groups in Central Asia and India, see..."
    • Sulimirski 1985, pp. 149-153 "During the first half of the first millennium B.C., c. 3,000 to 2,500 years ago, the southern part of Eastern Europe was occupied mainly by peoples of Iranian stock... The main Iranian-speaking peoples of the region at that period were the Scyths and the Sarmatians... [T]he population of ancient Scythia was far from being homogeneous, nor were the Scyths themselves a homogeneous people. The country called after them was ruled by their principal tribe, the "Royal Scyths" (Her. iv. 20), who were of Iranian stock and called themselves "Skolotoi" (iv. 6); they were nomads who lived in the steppe east of the Dnieper up to the Don, and in the Crimean steppe... The eastern neighbours of the "Royal Scyths", the Sauromatians, were also Iranian ; their country extended over the steppe east of the Don and the Volga."
    • Sulimirski & Taylor 1991, p. 547 "The name 'Scythian' is met in the classical authors and has been taken to refer to an ethnic group or people, also mentioned in Near Eastern texts, who inhabited the northern Black Sea region."
    • West 2002, pp. 437-440 "Ordinary Greek (and later Latin) usage could designate as Scythian any northern barbarian from the general area of the Eurasian steppe, the virtually treeless corridor of drought-resistant perennial grassland extending from the Danube to Manchuria. Herodotus seeks greater precision, and this essay is focussed on his Scythians, who belong to the North Pontic steppe... These true Scyths seems to be those whom he calls Royal Scyths, that is, the group who claimed hegemony... apparently warrior-pastoralists. It is generally agreed, from what we know of their names, that these were people of Iranian stock..."
    • Jacobson 1995, pp. 36-37 "When we speak of Scythians, we refer to those Scytho-Siberians who inhabited the Kuban Valley, the Taman and Kerch peninsulas, Crimea, the northern and northeastern littoral of the Black Sea, and the steppe and lower forest-steppe regions now shared between Ukraine and Russia, from the seventh century down to the first century B.C... They almost certainly spoke an Iranian language..."
    • Rice, Tamara Talbot. "Central Asian arts: Nomadic cultures". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. [Saka] gold belt buckles, jewelry, and harness decorations display sheep, griffins, and other animal designs that are similar in style to those used by the Scythians, a nomadic people living in the Kuban basin of the Caucasus region and the western section of the Eurasian plain during the greater part of the 1st millennium bc.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Ivanchik 2018
  3. ^ a b c d e f Unterländer, Martina (March 3, 2017). "Ancestry and demography and descendants of Iron Age nomads of the Eurasian Steppe". Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/ncomms14615. Greek and Persian historians of the 1st millennium BCE chronicle the existence of the Massagetae and Sauromatians, and later, the Sarmatians and Sacae: cultures possessing artefacts similar to those found in classical Scythian monuments, such as weapons, horse harnesses and a distinctive ‘Animal Style' artistic tradition. Accordingly, these groups are often assigned to the Scythian culture and referred to as ‘Scythians'. For simplification we will use ‘Scythian' in the following text for all groups of Iron Age steppe nomads commonly associated with the Scythian culture.
  4. ^
    • Dandamayev 1994, p. 37 "In modern scholarship the name 'Sakas' is reserved for the ancient tribes of northern and eastern Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan to distinguish them from the related Massagetae of the Aral region and the Scythians of the Pontic steppes. These tribes spoke Iranian languages, and their chief occupation was nomadic pastoralism."
    • Melykova 1990, pp. 97-98 "From the end of the 7th century B.C. to the 4th century B.C. the Central- Eurasian steppes were inhabited by two large groups of kin Iranian-speaking tribes - the Scythians and Sarmatians... "[I]t may be confidently stated that from the end of the 7th century to the 3rd century B.C. the Scythians occupied the steppe expanses of the north Black Sea area, from the Don in the east to the Danube in the West."
    • Ivanchik 2018 "Scythians, a nomadic people of Iranian origin who flourished in the steppe lands north of the Black Sea during the 7th-4th centuries BCE (Figure 1). For related groups in Central Asia and India, see..."
    • Sulimirski 1985, pp. 149-153 "During the first half of the first millennium B.C., c. 3,000 to 2,500 years ago, the southern part of Eastern Europe was occupied mainly by peoples of Iranian stock... The main Iranian-speaking peoples of the region at that period were the Scyths and the Sarmatians... [T]he population of ancient Scythia was far from being homogeneous, nor were the Scyths themselves a homogeneous people. The country called after them was ruled by their principal tribe, the "Royal Scyths" (Her. iv. 20), who were of Iranian stock and called themselves "Skolotoi" (iv. 6); they were nomads who lived in the steppe east of the Dnieper up to the Don, and in the Crimean steppe... The eastern neighbours of the "Royal Scyths", the Sauromatians, were also Iranian ; their country extended over the steppe east of the Don and the Volga."
    • Jacobson 1995, pp. 36-37 "When we speak of Scythians, we refer to those Scytho-Siberians who inhabited the Kuban Valley, the Taman and Kerch peninsulas, Crimea, the northern and northeastern littoral of the Black Sea, and the steppe and lower forest-steppe regions now shared between Ukraine and Russia, from the seventh century down to the first century B.C... They almost certainly spoke an Iranian language..."
    • West 2002, pp. 437-440 "Ordinary Greek (and later Latin) usage could designate as Scythian any northern barbarian from the general area of the Eurasian steppe, the virtually treeless corridor of drought-resistant perennial grassland extending from the Danube to Manchuria. Herodotus seeks greater precision, and this essay is focussed on his Scythians, who belong to the North Pontic steppe... These true Scyths seems to be those whom he calls Royal Scyths, that is, the group who claimed hegemony... apparently warrior-pastoralists. It is generally agreed, from what we know of their names, that these were people of Iranian stock..."
    • Melykova (1990, pp. 117) "All contemporary historians, archeologists and linguists are agreed that since the Scythian and Sarmatian tribes were of the Iranian linguistic group..."
    • Davis-Kimball 1995, p. 91 "Near the end of the 19th century V.F. Miller (1886, 1887) theorized that the Scythians and their kindred, the Sauromatians, were Iranian-speaking peoples. This has been a popular point of view and continues to be accepted in linguistics and historical science..."
    • Rolle 1989, p. 56 "The physical characteristics of the Scythians correspond to their cultural affiliation: their origins place them within the group of Iranian peoples."
    • Minns 2011, p. 36 "The general view is that both agricultural and nomad Scythians were Iranian."
    • West 2009, pp. 713–717
  5. ^ a b c "Scythian". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "History of Central Asia". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Archived from the original on 2014-05-05. Retrieved 31 December 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 117 "The Scythians, or Northern Iranians, who were culturally and ethnolinguistically a single group at the beginning of their expansion, had earlier controlled the entire steppe zone."
  8. ^ Beckwith 2009, pp. 377–380 "... conquest of the entire steppe zone by the Northern Iranians—literally, by the "Scythians"-in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age"
  9. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 11
  10. ^ Beckwith 2009, pp. 58–70
  11. ^ "Scythian Art". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Scythians". Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. 2008.
  13. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 11
  14. ^ "Ancient Iran: The Kingdom of the Medes". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  15. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 49
  16. ^ "Sarmatian". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  17. ^ a b Brzezinski, Richard; Mielczarek, Mariusz (2002). The Sarmatians, 600 BC-AD 450. Osprey Publishing. p. 39. (..) Indeed, it is now accepted that the Sarmatians merged in with pre-Slavic populations.
  18. ^ a b Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 523. (..) In their Ukrainian and Polish homeland the Slavs were intermixed and at times overlain by Germanic speakers (the Goths) and by Iranian speakers (Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans) in a shifting array of tribal and national configurations.
  19. ^ a b Atkinson, Dorothy; et al. (1977). Women in Russia. Stanford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780804709101. Archived from the original on 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2016-09-24. (..) Ancient accounts link the Amazons with the Scythians and the Sarmatians, who successively dominated the south of Russia for a millennium extending back to the seventh century B.C. The descendants of these peoples were absorbed by the Slavs who came to be known as Russians. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  20. ^ a b Slovene Studies. 9–11. Society for Slovene Studies. 1987. p. 36. (..) For example, the ancient Scythians, Sarmatians (amongst others), and many other attested but now extinct peoples were assimilated in the course of history by Proto-Slavs.
  21. ^ Szemerényi, 1980 & see bibliography.
  22. ^ Lendering, Jona (25 January 2017). "Scythians / Sacae". Livius. Archived from the original on 2018-02-01. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  23. ^ HAUMAVARGĀ – Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  24. ^ Davis-Kimball (1995, pp. 27–28)
  25. ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 68 "Modern scholars have mostly used the name Saka to refer to Iranians of the Eastern Steppe and Tarim Basin"
  26. ^ Dandamayev 1994, p. 37 "In modern scholarship the name 'Sakas' is reserved for the ancient tribes of northern and eastern Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan to distinguish them from the related Massagetae of the Aral region and the Scythians of the Pontic steppes. These tribes spoke Iranian languages, and their chief occupation was nomadic pastoralism."
  27. ^ Di Cosimo, Nicola, "The Northern Frontier in Pre-Imperial China (1,500 – 221 BC)", in: M. Loeuwe, E.L. Shaughnessy, eds, The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221BC, 1999, Cambridge University Press 1999, ISBN 9780521470308
    "They are used to describe a special phase that followed the widespread diffusion of mounted nomadism, characterized by the presence of special weapons, horse gear, and animal art in the form of metal plaques. Archaeologists have used the term "Scythic continuum" in a broad cultural sense to indicate the early nomadic cultures of the Eurasian steppe. The term "Scythic" draws attention to the fact that there are elements – shapes of weapons, vessels, and ornaments, as well as lifestyle – common to both the eastern and the western ends of the Eurasian steppe region."
  28. ^ Watson, William, "The Chinese Contribution to Eastern Nomad Culture in the Pre-Han and Early Han Periods", World Archaeology, Vol. 4, No. 2, Nomads (Oct., 1972), pp. 139–149, Taylor & Francis, Ltd., JSTOR Archived 2017-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ West 2002, pp. 437-440
  30. ^ Szemerényi, Oswald (1980) "Four old Iranian ethnic names: Scythian; Skudra; Sogdian; Saka" in: Sitzungsberichte der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften; 371 = Scripta minora, vol. 4, pp. 2051–93 Azagoshnasp.net
  31. ^ Herodotus 4.11 trans. G. Rawlinson.
  32. ^ Drews (2004, p. 92)
  33. ^ K Kristiansen. Europe Before History. Cambridge University Press. 1998, p 193
  34. ^ "Colossians 3:11 NIV – Here there is no Gentile or Jew". Bible Gateway. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2012-06-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  35. ^ a b c d Mallory, J.P. (1989), In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language Archaeology and Myth. Thames and Hudson. Read Chapter 2 and see 51–53 for a quick reference.
  36. ^ See further:
    • Szemerényi, Oswald (1980) "Four old Iranian ethnic names: Scythian; Skudra; Sogdian; Saka" in: Sitzungsberichte der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften; 371 = Scripta minora, vol. 4, pp. 2051–93 Azagoshnasp.net
    • Sulimirski, T. "The Scyths" in: The Cambridge History of Iran; vol. 2: 149–99 Azargoshnasp.net
    • Grousset, René (1989) "The empire of the Steppes". Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press; p. 19
    • Jacobson, Esther. "The Art of Scythians", Brill Academic Publishers, 1995, pg 63 ISBN 90-04-09856-9
    • Gamkrelidze and Ivanov. Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Typological Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture (Parts I and II). Tbilisi State University., 1984
    • Newark, T. The Barbarians: Warriors and wars of the Dark Ages, Blandford: New York. See pages 65, 85, 87, 119–139.,1985
    • Renfrew, C. Archeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European origins, Cambridge University Press, 1988
    • Abaev, V.I. and H. W. Bailey, "Alans", Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. 1. pp. 801–803.;
    • Great Soviet Encyclopedia, (translation of the 3rd Russian-language edition), 31 vols., New York, 1973–1983.
    • Willem Vogelsang The rise & organisation of the Achaemenid empire – the eastern evidence (Studies in the History of the Ancient Near East Vol. III). Leiden: Brill. pp. 344., 1992 ISBN 90-04-09682-5.
    • Sinor, Denis. Inner Asia: History – Civilization – Languages, Routledge, 1997 pg 82 ISBN 0-7007-0896-0 ;
    "Scythian." (2006). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved September 7, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service
    • Masica, Colin P. The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge University Press, 1993, pg 48 ISBN 0-521-29944-6
  37. ^ Pavel Dolukhanov, The Early Slavs. Eastern Europe from the initial Settlement to the Kievan Rus. Longman, 1996. Pg 125
  38. ^ a b Juras, Anna (March 7, 2017). "Diverse origin of mitochondrial lineages in Iron Age Black Sea Scythians". Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/srep43950.
  39. ^ a b Krzewińska, Maja (October 3, 2018). "Ancient genomes suggest the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe as the source of western Iron Age nomads". Nature Communications. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat4457.
  40. ^ a b c d e f Cernenko 2012, pp. 3-4
  41. ^ a b Cernenko 2012, pp. 21-29
  42. ^ a b c d e f Cernenko 2012, pp. 29-32
  43. ^ Hughes, Dennis. (1991) Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece. Routledge pp. 10, 64–65, 118.
  44. ^ Baldick, Julian. (2000) Animals and Shaman: Ancient Religions of Central Asia. I.B. Tauris. pp.35–36.
  45. ^ Tsetskhladze, Gocha R. (2001) North Pontic Archaeology: Recent Discoveries and Studies. BRIL. pp. 5–474.
  46. ^ Some problems in the study of the chronology of the Ancient Nomadic Cultures in Eurasia (9th to 3rd centuries BC). A. Yu. Alekseev, N. A. Bokovenko, Yu. Boltrik, et alia. Geochronometria Archived 2007-08-03 at the Wayback Machine Vol. 21, pp 143–150, 2002. Journal on Methods and Applications of Absolute Chronology.
  47. ^ A. Yu. Alekseev et al., "Chronology of Eurasian Scythian Antiquities ..."
  48. ^ Boardman & Edwards 1991, pp. 547–591
  49. ^ Tsetskhladze Gocha R (1998). "Who Built the Scythian and Thracian Elite Tombs?". Oxford Journal of Archaeology. 17: 55–92. doi:10.1111/1468-0092.00051.
  50. ^ "kurgan." Merriam-Webster, 2002. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged Archived 2013-02-10 at the Wayback Machine (10 October 2006).
  51. ^ Anthony, David W. (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05887-0.
  52. ^ Curry, Andrew (May 22, 2015). "Gold Artifacts Tell Tale of Drug-Fueled Rituals and 'Bastard Wars'". National Geographic News. Archived from the original on 2016-08-25. Retrieved August 31, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  53. ^ a b c Dr. Aaron Ralby (2013). "Scythians, c. 700 BCE—600 CE: Punching a Cloud". Atlas of Military History. Parragon. pp. 224–225. ISBN 978-1-4723-0963-1.
  54. ^ Сергей Иванович Руденко (Sergei I. Rudenko) (1970). Frozen Tombs of Siberia: The Pazyryk Burials of Iron Age Horsemen. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-01395-7.
  55. ^ "Chariot". Hermitage Museum. Archived from the original on July 6, 2001.
  56. ^ Traces of the Iranian root xšaya – "ruler" – may persist in all three names.
  57. ^ Herodotus. History. Book IV, verse 5. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-07-20. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  58. ^ Herodotus. History. Book IV, verses 19–20. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-07-20. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  59. ^ Herodotus. History. Book IV, verses 6–7. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-07-20. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  60. ^ The first scholar to compare the three strata of Scythian society to the Indian castes, Arthur Christensen, published Les types du premiere homme et du premier roi dans l'histoire legendaire des Iraniens, I (Stockholm, Leiden, 1917).
  61. ^ Quoted in Wouter Wiggert Belier. Decayed Gods: Origin and Development of Georges Dumezil's "Ideologie Tripartie". Brill Academic Publishers, 1991. ISBN 90-04-06195-9. Page 69.
  62. ^ Potts, D. T. (1999). The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State. Cambridge University Press. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-521-56496-0.
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  64. ^ Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. Simon & Schuster, 1935. p. 287.
  65. ^ The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago Photographic Archives. Persepolis – Apadana, E Stairway, Tribute Procession, the Saka Tigraxauda Delegation.[1] Archived 2012-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2012-6-27
  66. ^ a b c J.Harmatta: "Scythians" in UNESCO Collection of History of Humanity – Volume III: From the Seventh Century BC to the Seventh Century AD. Routledge/UNESCO. 1996. pg 182
  67. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica 15th edition – Micropaedia on "Scythian". Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.), Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Reichert, 1989.
  68. ^ Testen, David (1997-06-30). "Chapter 35: Ossetic Phonology". In Alan S. Kaye (ed.). Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. p. 707. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. Archived from the original on 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2016-09-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  69. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Day 2001, pp. 55–57
  70. ^ Deaera, aquis, locis 20.17
  71. ^ Callimachus. Hymn to Delos. 291
  72. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia. 6. 88
  73. ^ Clemen. Paedagogus 3. 3. 24
  74. ^ Galen. De temperamentis 2. 5
  75. ^ Ammianus Marcellinus. Roman History. Book XXXI. II. 21. "Proceri autem Halani paene sunt omnes et pulchri, crinibus mediocriter flavis, oculorum temperata torvitate terribiles et armorum levitate veloces."
  76. ^ Gregory of Nyssa. Against Eunomius. 2. 12
  77. ^ Adamantius. Physiognomica. 2. 37
  78. ^ see Zosimus, Historia Nova, 1.23 & 1.28, also Zonaras, Epitome historiarum, book 12. Also the title "Scythika" of the lost work of the 3rd-century Greek historian Dexippus who narrated the Germanic invasions of his age
  79. ^ The Ossetes, the only Iranian people presently resident in Europe, call their country Iriston or Iron, though North Ossetia now officially has the designation Alania. They speak an Eastern Iranian language Ossetic, whose more widely spoken dialect, Iron or Ironig (i.e. Iranian), preserves some similarities with the Gathic Avestan language, another Iranian language of the Eastern branch
  80. ^ Bernard S. Bachrach, A History of the Alans in the West, from their first appearance in the sources of classical antiquity through the early Middle Ages, University of Minnesota Press, 1973 ISBN 0-8166-0678-1
  81. ^ "Colossians 3:11 NIV – Here there is no Gentile or Jew". Bible Gateway. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2012-06-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  82. ^ Colossians 3:1–11
  83. ^ King Lear Act I, Scene i.
  84. ^ A View of the Present State of Ireland, c. 1596.
  85. ^ Britannia, 1586 etc., English translation 1610.
  86. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2010). Religion, Caste & Politics in India. Primus Books. p. 431. ISBN 9789380607047.
  87. ^ Andrzej Wasko. Sarmatism or the Enlightenment Archived 2009-06-20 at the Wayback Machine: The Dilemma of Polish Culture. Sarmatian Review XVII.2.
  88. ^ Parfitt, Tudor (2003). The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth. Phoenix. p. 54.
  89. ^ Parfitt, Tudor (2003). The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth. Phoenix. p. 61.

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Alekseev, A. Yu. et al., "Chronology of Eurasian Scythian Antiquities Born by New Archaeological and 14C Data". Radiocarbon, Vol .43, No 2B, 2001, p 1085–1107.
  • Davis-Kimball, Jeannine. 2002. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines. Warner Books, New York. 1st Trade printing, 2003. ISBN 0-446-67983-6 (pbk).
  • Gamkrelidze and Ivanov (1984). Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Typological Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture (Parts I and II). Tbilisi State University.
  • Harmatta, J., "Studies in the History and Language of the Sarmatians", Acta Universitatis de Attila József Nominatae. Acta antique et archaeologica Tomus XIII. Szeged 1970, Kroraina.com
  • Humbach, Helmut & Klaus Faiss. Herodotus’s Scythians and Ptolemy’s Central Asia: Semasiological and Onomasiological Studies. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2012.
  • (in German) Jaedtke, Wolfgang. Steppenkind, Piper Verlag, Munich 2008. ISBN 978-3-492-25146-4. This novel contains detailed descriptions of the life of nomadic Scythians around 700 BC.
  • Johnson, James William, "The Scythian: His Rise and Fall", Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Apr., 1959), pp. 250–257, University of Pennsylvania Press, JSTOR
  • (in French) Lebedynsky, Iaroslav (2001). Les Scythes: la civilisation nomade des steppes VIIe–IIIe siècle av. J.-C. Paris: Errance.
  • (in French) Lebedynsky, Iaroslav (2006). Les Saces: les « Scythes » d'Asie, VIIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IVe siècle apr. J.-C.. Paris: Errance, ISBN 2-87772-337-2
  • Mallory, J.P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language Archeology and Myth. Thames and Hudson. Chapter 2; and pages 51–53 for a quick reference.
  • Newark, T. (1985). The Barbarians: Warriors and wars of the Dark Ages. Blandford: New York. See pages 65, 85, 87, 119–139.
  • Renfrew, C. (1988). Archeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European origins. Cambridge University Press.
  • (in Russian) Rybakov, Boris. Paganism of Ancient Rus. Nauka, Moscow, 1987
  • Torday, Laszlo (1998). Mounted Archers: The Beginnings of Central Asian History. Durham Academic Press. ISBN 1-900838-03-6.

External links

  • Media related to Scythians at Wikimedia Commons


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