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Scythians
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{{under construction |placedby=Krakkos}}{{Redirect|Scythian|members of the wider cultures of which the Scythians were part|Scythian cultures|other uses|Scythian (disambiguation)}}{{Redirect|Scyth|the tool|Scythe|other uses|Scythe (disambiguation)}}{{pp-semi-indef}}{{Short description|A nomadic people of the Pontic steppe}}File:Scythian comb.jpg|262px|thumb|Scythian comb from SolokhaSolokha{{Indo-European topics}}The Scythians ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|s|ɪ|θ|i|ə|n|,_|ˈ|s|ɪ|ð|-}}; from Greek ), also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were a nomadic people who dominated the Pontic steppe from about the 7th century BC up until the 3rd century BC.
  • {{harvnb|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."
  • {{harvnb|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'."
  • {{harvnb|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."
  • {{harvnb|Ivantchik|2018|p=}} "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..."
  • {{harvnb|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."
  • {{harvnb|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."
  • {{harvnb|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..."
  • {{harvnb|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..."
  • {{harvnb|Di Cosmo|1999|p=924}} "The firs historical steppe nomads, the Scythians, inhabited the steppe north of the Black Sea from about the eight century B.C."
  • WEB,weblink Central Asian arts: Nomadic cultures, Rice, Tamara Talbot, Tamara Talbot Rice, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, October 4, 2019, [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.,


They were part of the wider Scythian cultures, stretching across the Eurasian Steppe, which included many peoples that are distinguished from the Scythians. Because of this, a broad concept referring to all early Eurasian nomads as "Scythians" has sometimes been used. Within this concept, the actual Scythians are variously referred to as Classical Scythians, European Scythians, Pontic Scythians or Western Scythians. Use of the term "Scythians" for all early Eurasian nomads has however led to much confusion in literature, and the validity of such terminology is controversial. Other names for that concept are therefore preferable.
The Scythians are generally believed to have been of Iranian origin.
  • {{harvnb|Ivantchik|2018|p=}} "Scythians, a nomadic people of Iranian origin..."
  • {{harvnb|Harmatta|1996|p=181}} "[B]oth Cimmerians and Scythians were Iranian peoples."
  • {{harvnb|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... [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"..."
  • {{harvnb|West|2002|pp=437-440}} "[T]rue Scyths seems to be those whom [Herodotus] 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..."
  • {{harvnb|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."
  • {{harvnb|Rostovtzeff|1922|p=13}} "The Scythian kingdom... was succeeded in the Russian steppes by an ascendancy of various Sarmatian tribes — Iranians, like the Scythians themselves."
  • {{harvnb|Minns|2011|p=36}} "The general view is that both agricultural and nomad Scythians were Iranian."


They spoke a language of the Scythian branch of the Iranian languages,
  • {{harvnb|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."
  • {{harvnb|Davis-Kimball|Bashilov|Yablonsky|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..."
  • {{harvnb|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..."
  • {{harvtxt|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..."
  • {{harvnb|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..."
  • {{harvnb|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..."


and practiced a variant of ancient Iranian religion. Among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare,WEB,weblink Scythian, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., October 4, 2019, harv, the Scythians replaced the Cimmerians as the dominant power on the Pontic Steppe in the 8th century BC.WEB,weblink History of Central Asia: Early Western Peoples, Hambly, Gavin, :de:Gavin Hambly, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., October 4, 2019, harv, During this time they and related peoples came to dominate the entire Eurasian Steppe from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to Ordos Plateau in the east,{{harvnb|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."{{harvnb|Beckwith|2009|pp=377–380}} "The preservation of the earlier form. *Sakla. in the extreme eastern dialects supports the historicity of the conquest of the entire steppe zone by the Northern Iranians—literally, by the 'Scythians'—in the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age..." creating what has been called the first Central Asian nomadic empire.{{harvnb|Beckwith|2009|p=11}} Based in what is modern-day Ukraine and southern Russia, the Scythians called themselves Scoloti and were led by a nomadic warrior aristocracy known as the Royal Scythians.
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.{{harvnb|Beckwith|2009|p=11}} Around 650–630 BC, Scythians briefly dominated the Medes of the western Iranian Plateau,WEB,weblink Ancient Iran: The kingdom of the Medes, Young, T. Cuyler, T. Cuyler Young, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., October 4, 2019, harv, {{harvnb|Beckwith|2009|p=49}} stretching their power to the borders of Egypt. 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 and were subsequently gradually conquered by the Sarmatians, a related Iranian people living to their east.WEB,weblink Sarmatian, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., October 4, 2019, harv, In the late 2nd century BC, their capital at Scythian Neapolis in the Crimea was captured by Mithradates VI and their territories incorporated into the Bosporan Kingdom. By this time they had been largely Hellenized. By the 3rd century AD, the Sarmatians and last remnants of the Scythians were dominated by the Alans, and were being overwhelmed by the Goths. By the early Middle Ages, the Scythians and the Sarmatians had been largely assimilated and absorbed by early Slavs.{{harvnb|Brzezinski|Mielczarek|2002|p=39}} "Indeed, it is now accepted that the Sarmatians merged in with pre-Slavic populations."{{harvnb|Mallory|Adams|1997|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." The Scythians were instrumental in the ethnogenesis of the Ossetians, who are believed to be descended from the Alans.The Scythians played an important part in the Silk Road, a vast trade network connecting Greece, Persia, India and China, perhaps contributing to the contemporary flourishing of those civilisations.{{harvnb|Beckwith|2009|pp=58–70}} Settled metalworkers made portable decorative objects for the Scythians. These objects survive mainly in metal, forming a distinctive Scythian art.WEB,weblink Scythian art, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., October 4, 2019, harv, The name of the Scythians survived in the region of Scythia. Early authors continued to use the term "Scythian", applying it to many groups unrelated to the original Scythians, such as Huns, Goths, Türks, Avars, Khazars, and other unnamed nomads.

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