Face Music - History: Horsemen – Nomads
      • History of the Horsemen

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016

  • Scythians – Scyths (Sakas – Sauromatians – Massagetae)
    - 8th to 3rd century before Christ
- map sketch: Scythians
This term denominates the horse-riding nomadic tribes settling in the 1st millennium BC in the steppe areas between the Yenisei River in Siberia and the Pannonia steppes in Hungary. Some of these groups settled down and cultivated their lands. Their language is part of the East- Iranian language family associated with the Indo-Europeans. Their martial arts skills with bows (riding bowmen) caused a lot of confusion in the fights and wars taking place at this time. They cultivated their own art style (animal style) and a death cult which found its expression in the monumental burial mounds (so-called kurgans). These Scythian tribes, who did not have a script, included also the Saka, the Sarmatians and the Massagetae as well as representatives of anonymous cultures, such as the Pasyryk culture (Altai – 4th/3rd century BC), Aldy-Bel culture in the Arzhan Valley (Tuva) or the Tagar and Tes culture in the Minusinks Basin (1st millennium until 3rd century BC near Salbyk, in the north of Abakan). It also included the Koban culture (12th to 4th century BC) in the northern Caucasus (today’s Ossetia).

Today the denomination Scythian only covers people who have immigrated to southern Russia from the 7th century BC on. They called themselves Skolotoi (=the Royal ones); the term Scyths (archer) was developed by the Greek (who gave this name to all barbarian tribes settling in the north of the Black Sea). The Persians called them Saka (Saka=barbarian steppe people). In the Byzantine chronicles, the Sarmatians, Goth and Alans were frequently called Scyths.

In the 8th century BC they invaded the areas in the north and east of the Black Sea and expelled the Cimmerians. From the 4th century BC on, they themselves were being displaced by the Sarmatians. The last and strongly Sarmatianized Scyths, however, were finally defeated and destroyed by the Goth in the second half of the 3rd century AD. In the meantime, Turkic tribes had also invaded their areas of settlement, especially in the East (Eurasia).

- more information: please see Sarmatians and Parthians

September 2010 – Albi – translated by Hermelinde Steiner - December 2010