The Sarmatians (/sɑːrˈmeɪʃiənz/; Latin: Sarmatae, Sauromatae; Greek: Σαρμάται, Σαυρομάται) were a large Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD.
Originating in the central parts of the Eurasian Steppe, the Sarmatians started migrating westward around the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, coming to dominate the closely related Scythians by 200 BC. At their greatest reported extent, around 1st century AD, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south.
Their territory, which was known as Sarmatia (/sɑːrˈmeɪʃiə/) to Greco-Roman ethnographers, corresponded to the western part of greater Scythia (it included today's Central Ukraine, South-Eastern Ukraine, Southern Russia, Russian Volga and South-Ural regions, also to a smaller extent north-eastern Balkans and around Moldova). In the 1st century AD, the Sarmatians began encroaching upon the Roman Empire in alliance with Germanic tribes. In the 3rd century AD, their dominance of the Pontic Steppe was broken by the Germanic Goths. With the Hunnic invasions of the 4th century, many Sarmatians joined the Goths and other Germanic tribes (Vandals) in the settlement of the Western Roman Empire. Since large parts of today's Russia, specifically the land between the Ural Mountains and the Don River, were controlled in the 5th century BC by the Sarmatians, the Volga–Don and Ural steppes sometimes are also called "Sarmatian Motherland".
Sarmatae probably originated as just one of several tribal names of the Sarmatians, but one that Greco-Roman ethnography came to apply as an exonym to the entire group. Strabo in the 1st century names as the main tribes of the Sarmatians the Iazyges, the Roxolani, the Aorsi and the Siraces.
The Greek name Sarmatai sometimes appears as "Sauromatai", which is almost certainly no more than a variant of the same name. Nevertheless, historians often regarded these as two separate peoples, while archaeologists habitually use the term 'Sauromatian' to identify the earliest phase of Sarmatian culture. Any idea that the name derives from the word lizard (sauros), linking to the Sarmatians' use of reptile-like scale armour and dragon standards, is almost certainly unfounded.
Both Pliny the Elder (Natural History book iv) and Jordanes recognised the Sar- and Sauro- elements as interchangeable variants, referring to the same people. Greek authors of the 4th century (Pseudo-Scylax, Eudoxus of Cnidus) mention Syrmatae as the name of a people living at the Don, perhaps reflecting the ethnonym as it was pronounced in the final phase of Sarmatian culture.
English scholar Harold Walter Bailey (1899–1996) derived the base word from Avestan sar- (to move suddenly) from tsar- in Old Iranian (tsarati, tsaru-, hunter), which also gave its name to the western Avestan region of Sairima (*salm, – *Sairmi), and also connected it to the 10–11th century AD Persian epic Shahnameh's character "Salm".
Oleg Trubachyov derived the name from the Indo-Aryan *sar-ma(n)t (feminine – rich in women, ruled by women), the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian word *sar- (woman) and the Indo-Iranian adjective suffix -ma(n)t/wa(n)t. By this derivation was noted the unusual high status of women (Matriarchy) from the Greek point of view and went to the invention of Amazons (thus the Greek name for Sarmatians as Sarmatai Gynaikokratoumenoi, ruled by women).
The Sarmatians were part of the Indo-Iranian steppe peoples, among whom were also Scythians and Saka. These are also grouped together as "East Iranians". Archaeology has established the connection 'between the Iranian-speaking Scythians, Sarmatians and Saka and the earlier Timber-grave and Andronovo cultures'. Based on building construction, these three peoples were the likely descendants of those earlier archaeological cultures. The Sarmatians and Saka used the same stone construction methods as the earlier Andronovo culture. The Timber-grave and Andronovo house building traditions were further developed by these three peoples. Andronovo pottery was continued by the Saka and Sarmatians. Archaeologists describe the Andronovo culture people as exhibiting pronounced Caucasoid features.
The first Sarmatians are mostly identified with the Prokhorovka culture, which moved from the southern Urals to the Lower Volga and then northern Pontic steppe, in the 4th–3rd centuries BC. During the migration, the Sarmatians seem to have grown and divided themselves into several groups, such as the Alans, Aorsi, Roxolani and Iazyges. By 200 BC, the Sarmatians replaced the Scythians as the dominant people of the steppes. The Sarmatians and Scythians had fought on the Pontic steppe to the north of the Black Sea. The Sarmatians, described as a large confederation, were to dominate these territories over the next five centuries. According to Brzezinski and Mielczarek, the Sarmatians were formed between the Don River and the Ural Mountains. Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) wrote that they ranged from the Vistula River (in present-day Poland) to the Danube.
The Sarmatians differed from the Scythians in their veneration of the god of fire rather than god of nature, and women's prominent role in warfare, which possibly served as the inspiration for the Amazons.
The two theories about the origin of the Sarmatian culture are:
In 1947, Soviet archaeologist Boris Grakov defined a culture flourishing from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, apparent in late kurgan graves (buried within earthwork mounds), sometimes reusing part of much older kurgans. It was a nomadic steppe culture ranging from the Black Sea eastward to beyond the Volga, and is especially evident at two of the major sites at Kardaielova and Chernaya in the trans-Uralic steppe. The four phases – distinguished by grave construction, burial customs, grave goods, and geographic spread – are:
While "Sarmatian" and "Sauromatian" are synonymous as ethnonyms, they are given different meanings purely by convention as archaeological technical terms. The term "Prokhorovka culture" derives from a complex of mounds in the Prokhorovski District, Orenburg region, excavated by S. I. Rudenko in 1916.
In Hungary, a great Late Sarmatian pottery centre was reportedly unearthed between 2001 and 2006 near Budapest, in the Üllő5 archaeological site. Typical grey, granular Üllő5 ceramics form a distinct group of Sarmatian pottery found everywhere in the north-central part of the Great Hungarian Plain region, indicating a lively trading activity. A 1998 paper on the study of glass beads found in Sarmatian graves suggests wide cultural and trade links.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Scythian-Sarmatian cultures may have given rise to the Greek legends 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 phenomenon that probably inspired the Greek tales about the Amazons."
The Sarmatians spoke an Iranian language, derived from 'Old Iranian', that was heterogenous. By the 1st century BC, the Iranian tribes in what is today South Russia spoke different languages or dialects, clearly distinguishable. According to a group of Iranologists writing in 1968, the numerous Iranian personal names in Greek inscriptions from the Black Sea coast indicated that the Sarmatians spoke a North-Eastern Iranian dialect ancestral to Alanian-Ossetian. However, Harmatta (1970) argued that "the language of the Sarmatians or that of the Alans as a whole cannot be simply regarded as being Old Ossetian".
In a study conducted in 2014 by Gennady Afanasiev et al. on bone fragments from ten Alanic burials on the Don River, DNA was extracted from seven.
In 2015, the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow conducted research on various Sarmato-Alan and Saltovo-Mayaki culture Kurgan burials. In these analyses, the two Alan samples from the 4th to 6th century AD turned out to belong to yDNA haplogroups G2a-P15 and R1a-z94, while two of the three Sarmatian samples from the 2nd to 3rd century AD were found to belong to yDNA haplogroup J1-M267 while one belonged to R1a. Three Saltovo-Mayaki samples from the 8th to 9th century AD turned out to have yDNA corresponding to haplogroups G, J2a-M410 and R1a-z94.
Like the Scythians, Sarmatians were of a Caucasoid appearance. Sarmatian noblemen often reached 1.70–1.80 m (5 ft 7 in–5 ft 11 in) as measured from skeletons. They had sturdy bones, long hair and beards.
In the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD, the Greek physician Galen declared that Sarmatians, Scythians and other northern peoples had reddish hair. They are said to owe their name (Sarmatae) to it.
The Alans were a group of Sarmatian tribes, according to the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus. He wrote, "Nearly all the Alani are men of great stature and beauty, their hair is somewhat yellow, their eyes are frighteningly fierce".
Herodotus (Histories 4.21) in the 5th century BC placed the land of the Sarmatians east of the Tanais, beginning at the corner of the Maeotian Lake, stretching northwards for fifteen days' journey, adjacent to the forested land of the Budinoi.
Herodotus (4.110–117) recounts that the Sauromatians arose from marriages of a group of Amazons and young Scythian men. In the story, some Amazons were captured in battle by Greeks in Pontus (northern Turkey) near the river Thermodon, and the captives were loaded into three boats. They overcame their captors while at sea, but were not able sailors. Their ships were blown north to the Maeotian Lake (the Sea of Azov) onto the shore of Scythia near the cliff region (today's southeastern Crimea). After encountering the Scythians and learning the Scythian language, they agreed to marry Scythian men, but only on the condition that they move away and not be required to follow the customs of Scythian women. According to Herodotus, the descendants of this band settled toward the northeast beyond the Tanais (Don) river and became the Sauromatians. Herodotus' account explains the origins of their language as an "impure" form of Scythian. He credits the unusual social freedoms of Sauromatae women, including participation in warfare, as an inheritance from their Amazon ancestors. Later writers refer to the "woman-ruled Sarmatae" (γυναικοκρατούμενοι).
Herodotus (4.118–144) later relates how the Sauromatians answered the Scythian call for help against the Persian King Darius I, to repel his campaign in Scythia, along with the Gelonians and the Boudinians. The Persians invaded much of the Sauromatian territory, but were eventually forced to withdraw due the tribespeoples' tactics of delay and use of a scorched earth policy.
Their women, so long as they are virgins, ride, shoot, throw the javelin while mounted, and fight with their enemies. They do not lay aside their virginity until they have killed three of their enemies, and they do not marry before they have performed the traditional sacred rites. A woman who takes to herself a husband no longer rides, unless she is compelled to do so by a general expedition. They have no right breast; for while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm.
Strabo mentions the Sarmatians in a number of places, but never says much about them. He uses both the terms of Sarmatai and Sauromatai, but never together, and never suggesting that they are different peoples. He often pairs Sarmatians and Scythians in reference to a series of ethnic names, never stating which is which, as though Sarmatian or Scythian could apply equally to them all.
Strabo wrote that the Sarmatians extend from above the Danube eastward to the Volga, and from north of the Dnieper River into the Caucasus, where, he says, they are called Caucasii like everyone else there. This statement indicates that the Alans already had a home in the Caucasus, without waiting for the Huns to push them there.
Even more significantly, he points to a Celtic admixture in the region of the Basternae, who, he said, were of Germanic origin. The Celtic Boii, Scordisci and Taurisci are there. A fourth ethnic element interacting and intermarrying are the Thracians (7.3.2). Moreover, the peoples toward the north are Keltoskythai, "Celtic Scythians" (11.6.2).
Strabo portrays the peoples of the region as being nomadic, or Hamaksoikoi, "wagon-dwellers", and Galaktophagoi, "milk-eaters". This latter likely referred to the universal koumiss eaten in historical times. The wagons were used for transporting tents made of felt, a type of the yurts used universally by Asian nomads.
Pliny the Elder writes (4.12.79–81):
From this point (the mouth of the Danube) all the races in general are Scythian, though various sections have occupied the lands adjacent to the coast, in one place the Getae ... at another the Sarmatae ... Agrippa describes the whole of this area from the Danube to the sea ... as far as the river Vistula in the direction of the Sarmatian desert ... The name of the Scythians has spread in every direction, as far as the Sarmatae and the Germans, but this old designation has not continued for any except the most outlying sections ...
According to Pliny, Scythian rule once extended as far as Germany. Jordanes supports this hypothesis by telling us on the one hand that he was familiar with the Geography of Ptolemy, which includes the entire Balto-Slavic territory in Sarmatia, and on the other that this same region was Scythia. By "Sarmatia", Jordanes means only the Aryan territory. The Sarmatians were, therefore, a sub-group of the broader Scythian peoples.
All Germania is divided from Gaul, Raetia, and Pannonia by the Rhine and Danube rivers; from the Sarmatians and the Dacians by shared fear and mountains. The Ocean laps the rest, embracing wide bays and enormous stretches of islands. Just recently, we learned about certain tribes and kings, whom war brought to light.
According to Tacitus, like the Persians, the Sarmatians wore long, flowing robes (ch 17). Moreover, the Sarmatians exacted tribute from the Cotini and Osi, and iron from the Cotini (ch. 43), "to their shame" (presumably because they could have used the iron to arm themselves and resist).
By the 3rd century BC, the Sarmatian name appears to have supplanted the Scythian in the plains of what is now south Ukraine. The geographer, Ptolemy, reports them at what must be their maximum extent, divided into adjoining European and central Asian sections. Considering the overlap of tribal names between the Scythians and the Sarmatians, no new displacements probably took place. The people were the same Indo-Europeans, but were referred to under yet another name.
On seeing this a man will say that no less than Greeks are foreigners skilled in the arts: for the Sauromatae have no iron, neither mined by themselves nor yet imported. They have, in fact, no dealings at all with the foreigners around them. To meet this deficiency they have contrived inventions. In place of iron they use bone for their spear-blades and cornel wood for their bows and arrows, with bone points for the arrows. They throw a lasso round any enemy they meet, and then turning round their horses upset the enemy caught in the lasso.
Their breastplates they make in the following fashion. Each man keeps many mares, since the land is not divided into private allotments, nor does it bear any thing except wild trees, as the people are nomads. These mares they not only use for war, but also sacrifice them to the local gods and eat them for food. Their hoofs they collect, clean, split, and make from them as it were python scales. Whoever has never seen a python must at least have seen a pine-cone still green. He will not be mistaken if he liken the product from the hoof to the segments that are seen on the pine-cone. These pieces they bore and stitch together with the sinews of horses and oxen, and then use them as breastplates that are as handsome and strong as those of the Greeks. For they can withstand blows of missiles and those struck in close combat.
Pausanias' description is well borne out in a relief from Tanais. These facts are not necessarily incompatible with Tacitus, as the western Sarmatians might have kept their iron to themselves, its having been a scarce commodity on the plains.
In the late 4th century, Ammianus Marcellinus describes a severe defeat which Sarmatian raiders inflicted upon Roman forces in the province of Valeria in Pannonia in late AD 374. The Sarmatians almost destroyed two legions: one recruited from Moesia and one from Pannonia. The latter had been sent to intercept a party of Sarmatians which had been in pursuit of a senior Roman officer named Aequitius. The two legions failed to coordinate, allowing the Sarmatians to catch them unprepared.
The Sarmatians remained dominant until the Gothic ascendancy in the Black Sea area, Oium. Goths attacked Sarmatian tribes on the north of the Danube in Dacia, in what is today Romania. Roman Emperor Constantine I called his son Constantine II up from Gallia to run a campaign north of the Danube. In very cold weather, the Romans were victorious, killing 100,000 Goths and capturing Ariaricus the son of the Goth king. In their efforts to halt the Gothic expansion and replace it with their own on the north of Lower Danube (present-day Romania), the Sarmatians armed their 'servants' Limigantes. After the Roman victory, however, the local population revolted against their Sarmatian masters, pushing them beyond the Roman border. Constantine, on whom the Sarmatians had called for help, defeated Limigantes, and moved the Sarmatian population back in. In the Roman provinces, Sarmatian combatants were enlisted in the Roman army, whilst the rest of the population was distributed throughout Thrace, Macedonia and Italy. The Origo Constantini mentions 300,000 refugees resulting from this conflict. The emperor Constantine was subsequently attributed the title of Sarmaticus Maximus.
In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Huns expanded and conquered both the Sarmatians and the Germanic Tribes living between the Black Sea and the borders of the Roman Empire. From bases in modern-day Hungary, the Huns ruled the entire former Sarmatian territory. Their various constituents flourished under Hunnish rule, fought for the Huns against a combination of Roman and Germanic troops, and went their own ways after the Battle of Chalons, the death of Attila and the appearance of the Bulgar ruling elements west of the Volga- current Russian territory.
The Sarmatians were eventually decisively assimilated (e.g. Slavicisation) and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of Eastern Europe around the Early Medieval Age. A related people to the Sarmatians known as the Alans survived in the North Caucasus into the Early Middle Ages, ultimately giving rise to the modern Ossetic ethnic group.
Maciej Miechowita (1457–1523) used "Sarmatia" for the Black Sea region and further divided it into Sarmatia Europea, which included East Central Europe, and Sarmatia Asiatica. Following him, cartographers created several maps of these regions. In the 19th century several authors tried to locate their extent.
In the Funeral Oration for the Burial of Charles XI of Sweden,  composed in Church Slavonic language and published in Latin script in 1697, the Sauromations were mentioned among other peoples who lamented the king’s decease in the following context:
“That is why under such a humble as well as such an eloquent vicar of God, having put aside their barbarian mores, once unwise and gnashing Sauromatian people, in a voice although sorrowful but rather favourable, feel pity for (as befits) this unripe demise.”
Cyrillic transliteration: Тҍмже под смиренным тако, и тако благо-речливым Бога наместником, варварския отложивше нравы, неразумный нҍкогда и скрежещущий савроматский народ, и гласом хотя плачевным, паче благоприятным недозрелаго ради (яко подобице) сего преставления жалеет. (Placzewnaja Recz, p. 4, lines 12-16)
Sarmatism (or Sarmatianism) is an ethno-cultural concept with a shade of politics designating the formation of an idea of Poland's origin from Sarmatians within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The dominant Baroque culture and ideology of the nobility (szlachta) that existed in times of the Renaissance to the 18th centuries. Together with another concept of "Golden Liberty", it formed a central aspect of the Commonwealth's culture and society. At its core was the unifying belief that the people of the Polish Commonwealth descended from the ancient Iranic Sarmatians, the legendary invaders of Slavic lands in antiquity.
(..) 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.
The Bastarnae (Latin variants: Bastarni, or Basternae; Ancient Greek: Βαστάρναι or Βαστέρναι) were an ancient people who between 200 BC and 300 AD inhabited the region between the Carpathian mountains and the river Dnieper, to the north and east of ancient Dacia. The Peucini, denoted a branch of the Bastarnae by Greco-Roman writers, occupied the region north of the Danube delta.
The ethno-linguistic affiliation of the Bastarnae was probably Celtic, which is supported by earliest historians. However, later historian sources imply a Germanic or Scytho-Sarmatian origins.
Often they are associated with the Germans, or the peoples "between the Celts and the Germans". The most likely scenario is that they were originally a Celtic tribe, originally resident in the lower Vistula river valley. In ca. 200 BC, these tribes then migrated, possibly accompanied by some Germanic elements, southeastwards into the North Pontic region. Some elements appear to have become assimilated, to some extent, by the surrounding Sarmatians by the 3rd century.
Although largely sedentary, some elements may have adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle. It has not, so far, been possible to identify archaeological sites which can be conclusively attributed to the Bastarnae. The archaeological horizons most often associated by scholars with the Bastarnae are the Zarubintsy and Poienesti-Lukashevka cultures.
The Bastarnae first came into conflict with the Romans during the 1st century BC, when, in alliance with Dacians and Sarmatians, they unsuccessfully resisted Roman expansion into Moesia and Pannonia. Later, they appear to have maintained friendly relations with the Roman empire during the first two centuries AD. This changed from c. 180, when the Bastarnae are recorded as participants in an invasion of Roman territory, once again in alliance with Sarmatian and Dacian elements. In the mid-3rd century, the Bastarnae were part of a Gothic-led grand coalition of lower Danube tribes that repeatedly invaded the Balkan provinces of the Roman empire.
Large numbers of Bastarnae were resettled within the Roman empire in the late 3rd century.Carpi (people)
The Carpi or Carpiani were an ancient people that resided in the eastern parts of modern Romania in the historical region of Moldavia from no later than c. AD 140 and until at least AD 318.
The ethnic affiliation of the Carpi remains disputed, as there is no direct evidence in the surviving ancient literary sources. A strong body of modern scholarly opinion considers that the Carpi were a tribe of the Dacian nation. Other scholars have linked the Carpi to a variety of ethnic groups, including Sarmatians, Thracians, Slavs, Germans, and Celts.
About a century after their earliest mention by Ptolemy, during which time their relations with Rome appear to have been peaceful, the Carpi emerged in c. 238 as among Rome's most persistent enemies. In the period AD 250-270, the Carpi were an important component of a loose coalition of transdanubian barbarian tribes that also included Germanic and Sarmatian elements. These were responsible for a series of large and devastating invasions of the Balkan regions of the empire which nearly caused its disintegration in the "Crisis of the Third Century".
In the period 270-318, the Roman "military emperors" acted to remove the Carpi threat to the empire's borders. Multiple crushing defeats were inflicted on the Carpi in 273, 297, 298-308 and in 317. After each, massive numbers of Carpi were forcibly transferred by the Roman military to the Roman province of Pannonia (modern western Hungary) as part of the emperors' policy of repopulating the devastated Danubian provinces with surrendered barbarian tribes. Since the Carpi are no longer mentioned in known documents after 318, it is possible that the Carpi were largely removed from the Carpathian region by c. 318 or, if any remained, it is possible that they mingled with other peoples resident or immigrating into Moldavia, such as the Sarmatians or Goths.Carus
Carus (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Carus Augustus; c. 222 – July or August 283) was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283, and was 60 at ascension. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success.
He died while campaigning against the Sassanid Empire, probably of unnatural causes, as he was reportedly struck by lightning. He was succeeded by his sons Carinus and Numerian, creating a dynasty which, though short-lived, provided further stability to the resurgent empire.Cataphract
A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry used in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Europe, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa.
The English word is derived from the Greek κατάφρακτος Kataphraktos (plural: κατάφρακτοι Kataphraktoi), literally meaning "armored" or "completely enclosed". Historically, the cataphract was a very heavily armored horseman, with both the rider and mount steed draped from head to toe in scale armor, while typically wielding a kontos or lance as their weapon.
Cataphracts served as either the elite cavalry or assault force for most empires and nations that fielded them, primarily used for impetuous charges to break through infantry formations. Chronicled by many historians from the earliest days of antiquity up until the High Middle Ages, they are believed to have influenced the later European knights, via contact with the Byzantine Empire.Peoples and states deploying cataphracts at some point in their history include: the Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans, Parthians, Achaemenids, Sakas, Armenians, Seleucids, Pergamenes, Kingdom of Pontus, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, the Sassanids, the Romans, the Goths and the Byzantines in Europe and the Mongols, Chinese, and Koreans in East Asia.
In Europe, the fashion for heavily armored Roman cavalry seems to have been a response to the Eastern campaigns of the Parthians and Sassanids in the region referred to as Asia Minor, as well as numerous defeats at the hands of Iranian cataphracts across the steppes of Eurasia, the most notable of which is the Battle of Carrhae. Traditionally, Roman cavalry was neither heavily armored nor decisive in effect; the Roman equites corps were composed mainly of lightly armored horsemen bearing spears and swords to pursue stragglers and routed enemies. The adoption of cataphract-like cavalry formations took hold among the late Roman army during the late 3rd and 4th centuries. The Emperor Gallienus Augustus (253–268 CE) and his general and putative usurper Aureolus, bear much of the responsibility for the institution of Roman cataphract contingents in the Late Roman army, though this had been questioned by some historians.Crossing of the Rhine
The crossing of the Rhine by a mixed group of barbarians which included Vandals, Alans and Suebi is traditionally considered to have occurred on 31 December 406. The crossing transgressed one of the Late Roman Empire's most secure limites or boundaries and so it was a climactic moment in the decline of the Empire. It initiated a wave of destruction of Roman cities and the collapse of Roman civic order in northern Gaul. That, in turn, occasioned the rise of three usurpers in succession in the province of Britannia. Therefore, the crossing of the Rhine is a marker date in the Migration Period
during which various Germanic tribes moved westward and southward from southern Scandinavia and northern Germania.
The full statement of received opinion has been that "a mixed band of Vandals, Alans and Suebi crossed the Rhine at Mainz on December 31, 406, and began to ravage Gaul". Several written accounts document the crossing, supplemented by the time line of Prosper of Aquitaine, which gives a firm date of 31 December 406.A letter by Jerome, written from Bethlehem, gives a long list of the barbarian tribes involved (Quadi, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alans, Gepids, Herules, Saxons, Burgundians, Alemanni and the armies of the Pannonians). Some of them, like Quadi and Sarmatians, are drawn from history or literary tradition. Jerome mentions Mainz first in a list of the cities devastated by the incursion, which is the sole support for the common assumption that the crossing of the unbridged Rhine was effected at Mainz. Jerome lists the cities now known as Mainz, Worms, Rheims, Amiens, Arras, Thérouanne, Tournai, Speyer and Strasbourg as having been pillaged.
The initial gathering of barbarians on the east bank of the Rhine has been interpreted as a banding of refugees from the Huns or the remnants of Radagaisus' defeated Goths, without direct evidence. A frozen Rhine, making the crossing easier, is not attested by any contemporary but was a plausible surmise made by Edward Gibbon. On the east bank, the mixed band of Vandals and Alans fought a raiding party of Franks. The Vandal king Godigisel was killed, but the Alans came to the rescue of the Vandals, and once on the Roman side, they met with no organized resistance. Stilicho had depleted the garrisons in 402 to face Alaric I in Italy.
Zosimus's New History (vi.3.1) imputes the usurpation of Marcus in Britannia to a reaction to the presence of barbarians in Gaul in 406; from a fragment of Olympiodorus, the acclamation as Emperor of Marcus, the first of the Romano-Britannic usurpers, took place the same summer.Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of the Iranian languages.The Proto-Iranians are believed to have emerged as a separate branch of the Indo-Iranians in Central Asia in the mid-2nd millennium BCE. At their peak of expansion in the mid-1st millennium BCE, the territory of the Iranian peoples stretched across the entire Eurasian Steppe from the Great Hungarian Plain in the west to the Ordos Plateau in the east, to the Iranian Plateau in the south. The Western Iranian empires of the south came to dominate much of the ancient world from the 6th century BCE, leaving an important cultural legacy; and the Eastern Iranians of the steppe played a decisive role in the development of Eurasian nomadism and the Silk Road.The ancient Iranian peoples who emerged after the 1st millennium BCE include the Alans, Bactrians, Dahae, Khwarezmians, Massagetae, Medes, Parthians, Persians, Sagartians, Sakas, Sarmatians, Scythians, Sogdians and probably Cimmerians among other Iranian-speaking peoples of Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Eastern Steppe.
In the 1st millennium CE, their area of settlement was reduced as a result of Slavic, Germanic, Turkic, and Mongol expansions, and many were subjected to Slavicisation and Turkification. Modern Iranian-speaking peoples include the Baloch, Gilaks, Kurds, Lurs, Mazanderanis, Ossetians, Pamiris, Pashtuns, Persians, Tajiks, the Talysh, Wakhis, and Yaghnobis. Their current distribution spreads across the Iranian Plateau, stretching from the Caucasus in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south and from eastern Turkey in the west to western Xinjiang in the east—a region that is sometimes called the Iranian Cultural Continent, representing the extent of the Iranian-speakers and the significant influence of the Iranian peoples through the geopolitical reach of Greater Iran.Kontos (weapon)
The kontos (Greek: κοντός) was the Greek name for a type of long wooden cavalry lance used by Iranian, especially Achaemenid successors' cavalry, most notably cataphracts (Grivpanvar). It was also used by the Germanic warriors of the south as a pike. A shift in the terminology used to describe Sarmatian weapons indicates the kontos was developed in the early to mid 1st century AD from shorter spear-type weapons (which were described using the generic terms for "spear"—longhe or hasta—by Greek and Roman sources, respectively), though such a description may have existed before the Battle of Carrhae, in which Parthian cataphracts, in conjunction with light horse archers, annihilated a Roman army of over three times their numbers.
As shown by contemporary artwork, the kontos was about 4 metres long, though longer examples may have existed; later Parthian and Sassanian clibanarii (Middle Persian: Grivpanvar) reportedly used kontoi of longer lengths; only highly trained cavalrymen such as those fielded by the Arsaco-Sassanian dynasties could have used such weapons. It was reputedly a weapon of great power compared to other cavalry weapon of its time, described by Plutarch as being "heavy with steel" and capable of impaling two men at once. Its length was probably the origin of its name, as the word kontos could also mean "oar" or "barge-pole" in Greek. Thus, it had to be wielded with two hands while directing the horse using the knees; this made it a specialist weapon that required a lot of training and good horsemanship to use. In addition, most Parthian cavalry (even possibly including cataphracts) carried bows, so this meant daily practice with the weapons.
The Romans adopted a variation of the kontos transliterated as contus. The Roman contus was also wielded two-handed. The later Byzantine kontarion was used by Byzantine cataphracts, from c. 1100 it was used single-handed couched under the armpit, as was the contemporary knightly lance.
The name is the stem of many words for cavalry lances in languages of the region, like gönder (Hungarian), gönder ("Roman lance") or rumh (Arabic رُمْح via Turkish), and quntariya قَنْطَرِيّة (Arabic).Legio XXI Rapax
Legio vigesima prima rapax ("Predator, Twenty-First Legion") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was founded in 31 BC by the emperor Augustus (r. 30 BC - AD 14), probably from men previously enlisted in other legions. The XXI Rapax was destroyed in 92 by the Sarmatians. The symbol of the legion is thought to have been a capricorn.
Augustus probably sent his new XXIst legion to Hispania Tarraconensis to fight the campaign against the Cantabrians. XXI Rapax was one of the five legions used by Drusus to suppress the rebellion of the Raetians, in 16-15 BC. From 15 BC, the legion was stationed in Castra Regina (Regensburg), in the new province of Raetia.
After the disaster of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, the legion was sent as reinforcements to Germania Inferior, where they shared the base camp of Castra Vetera (Xanten) with V Alaudae. Both Legio V and Legio XXI were involved in a mutiny in AD 14. In 43, they were relocated in Vindonissa, in the province of Germania Superior.
The legion occupied Vindonissa from 46 to 69 with two auxiliary cohorts, first the III Hispanorum and VI Raetorum, and later the VII Raetorum equitata and the XXVI voluntariorum civium Romanorum.
Along with the rest of the German border army, the XXI Rapax supported its commander, Vitellius, in the Year of the Four Emperors (69) and marched to besiege Rome. Vitellius was, however, defeated by Vespasian before the end of the year.
In 70, the legion was part of the army sent to deal with the Batavian rebellion and relieve the four legions imprisoned by Civilis. After that they were sent to Germania Superior, where they shared the castrum (camp) of Moguntiacum (modern day Mainz) with XIV Gemina.
In 89, the legions in Moguntiacum supported their commander, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, in his revolt against emperor Domitian. After the end of this unsuccessful insurrection, the legions were separated and XXI Rapax sent to Pannonia. The legion was probably destroyed in 92, while fighting on the Lower Danube against Sarmatians, presumably a reference to the Roxolani.Limigantes
The Limigantes is a name applied to a population that lived by the Tisza river, in Banat, in the 4th century. They are attested by Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 390) in connection to Sarmatians.
Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 390) described the Limigantes as Sarmatae servi ("Sarmatian slaves/serfs"), as opposed to the Arcaragantes, Sarmatae liberi ("free Sarmatians"). It is unclear whether the Limigantes were simply an under-class of ethnic Sarmatians or a non-Sarmatian subject people.List of ancient Iranian peoples
This list of ancient Iranian peoples or ancient Iranic peoples includes names of Indo-European peoples speaking Iranian languages or otherwise considered Iranian in sources from the late 1st millennium BC to the early 2nd millennium AD.Marcomannic Wars
The Marcomannic Wars (Latin: bellum Germanicum et Sarmaticum, "German and Sarmatian War") were a series of wars lasting over a dozen years from about 166 until 180 AD. These wars pitted the Roman Empire against, principally, the Germanic Marcomanni and Quadi and the Sarmatian Iazyges; there were related conflicts with several other barbarian peoples along both sides of the whole length of the Roman Empire's northeastern European border, the river Danube. The struggle against the Germans and Sarmatians occupied the major part of the reign of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and it was during his campaigns against them that he started writing his philosophical work Meditations, whose book 1 bears the note "Among the Quadi at the Granua".Mounted archery
A horse archer is a cavalryman armed with a bow, able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. In large open areas, it was a highly successful technique for hunting, for protecting the herds, and for war. It was a defining characteristic of the Eurasian nomads during antiquity and the medieval period, as well as the Iranian peoples, (Alans, Scythians, Sarmatians, Parthians, Sassanid Persians) and Indians in antiquity, and by the Hungarians, Mongols and the Turkic peoples during the Middle Ages.
By the expansion of these peoples, the practice also spread to Eastern Europe (via the Sarmatians and the Huns), Mesopotamia, and East Asia. In East Asia, horse archery came to be particularly honored in the samurai tradition of Japan, where horse archery is called Yabusame.
The term mounted archer occurs in medieval English sources to describe a soldier who rode to battle but who dismounted to shoot. 'Horse archer' is the term used more specifically to describe a warrior who shoots from the saddle at the gallop. Another term, 'horseback archery', has crept into modern use.
Horse archery developed separately among the peoples of the South American pampas and the North American prairies; the Comanches were especially skilled.Ossetian language
Ossetian (English: , ), also known as Ossete and Ossetic (Ossetian: ирон æвзаг, translit. iron ævzag), is an Eastern Iranian language spoken in Ossetia, a region on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. It is a relative and possibly a descendant of the extinct Scythian, Sarmatian, and Alanic languages.The Ossete area in Russia is known as North Ossetia–Alania, while the area south of the border is referred to as South Ossetia, recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru as an independent state but by most of the rest of the international community as part of Georgia. Ossetian speakers number about 614,350, with 451,000 speakers in the Russian Federation recorded in the 2010 census.Sarmatism
Sarmatism (or Sarmatianism) is an ethno-cultural concept with a shade of politics designating the formation of an idea of Poland's origin from Sarmatians, an Iranic people, within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was the dominant Baroque culture and ideology of the nobility (szlachta) that existed in times of the Renaissance to the 18th centuries. Together with another concept of "Golden Liberty", it formed a central aspect of the Commonwealth's culture and society. At its core was the unifying belief that the people of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth descended from the ancient Iranian Sarmatians, the legendary invaders of Slavic lands in antiquity.The term and culture were reflected primarily in 17th-century Polish literature, as in Jan Chryzostom Pasek's memoirs, and the poems of Wacław Potocki. The Polish gentry wore a long fur trimmed coat, called kontusz, knee-high boots, and carried a saber (szabla). Mustaches were also popular, as well as varieties of plumage in men's headgear. Poland's "Sarmatians" strove to achieve martial skill on horseback, believed in equality among themselves ("Golden Freedom"), and for invincibility in the face of the enemy. Sarmatism lauded past victories of the Polish military, and required Polish noblemen to cultivate the tradition. An inseparable element of the parade costume was a small and light saber called karabela.
Sarmatia (in Polish, Sarmacja) was a semi-legendary, poetic name for Poland that was fashionable into the 18th century, and which designated qualities associated with the literate citizenry of the vast Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sarmatism greatly affected the culture, lifestyle and ideology of the Polish nobility. It was unique for its cultural mix of Eastern, Western and native traditions. Sarmatism considerably influenced the noble cultures of other contemporary states—Ukraine, Moldavia, Transylvania, Serbian Despotate, Habsburg Hungary and Croatia, Wallachia and Muscovy. Criticized during the Polish Enlightenment, Sarmatism was rehabilitated by the generations that embraced Polish Romanticism. Having survived the literary realism of Poland's "Positivist" period, Sarmatism enjoyed a triumphant comeback with The Trilogy of Henryk Sienkiewicz, Poland's first Nobel laureate in literature (1905).Scythian languages
The Scythian languages are a group of Eastern Iranian languages of the classical and late antique period (the Middle Iranian period), spoken in a vast region of Eurasia named Scythia. Except for modern Ossetian, which descends from the Alanian variety, these languages are all considered to be extinct. Modern Eastern Iranian languages such as Wakhi, however, are related to the eastern Scytho-Khotanese dialects attested from the kingdoms of Khotan and Tumshuq in the ancient Tarim Basin, in present-day southern Xinjiang, China.
The location and extent of Scythia varied by time, but generally it encompassed the part of Eastern Europe east of the Vistula river and much of Central Asia up to the Tarim Basin. The dominant ethnic groups among the Scythians were nomadic pastoralists of Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Fragments of their speech known from inscriptions and words quoted in ancient authors as well as analysis of their names indicate that it was an Indo-European language, more specifically from the Iranian group of Indo-Iranian languages. Alexander Lubotsky summarizes the known linguistic landscape as follows:
Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about the Scythian of that period [Old Iranian] – we have only a couple of personal and tribal names in Greek and Persian sources at our disposal – and cannot even determine with any degree of certainty whether it was a single language.Scythians
The Scythians (; from Greek Σκύθης, Σκύθοι), also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Sai, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were Eurasian nomads, probably mostly using Eastern Iranian languages, who were mentioned by the literate peoples to their south as inhabiting large areas of the western and central Eurasian Steppe from about the 9th century BC up until the 4th century AD. The "classical Scythians" known to ancient Greek historians, agreed to be mainly Iranian in origin, were located in the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region. Other Scythian groups documented by Assyrian, Achaemenid and Chinese sources show that they also existed in Central Asia, where they were referred to as the Iskuzai/Askuzai, Saka (Old Persian: Sakā; New Persian/Pashto: ساکا; Sanskrit: शक Śaka; Greek: Σάκαι; Latin: Sacae), and Sai (Chinese: 塞; Old Chinese: *sˤək), respectively.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. The term Scythic may also be used in a similar way, "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". Their westernmost territories during the Iron Age were known to classical Greek sources as Scythia, and in the more narrow sense "Scythian" is restricted to these areas, where the Scythian languages were spoken. Different definitions of "Scythian" have been used, leading to a good deal of confusion.The Scythians were among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare. They kept herds of horses, cattle and sheep, lived in tent-covered wagons and fought with bows and arrows on horseback. They developed a rich culture characterised by opulent tombs, fine metalwork and a brilliant art style.
In the 8th century BC, they possibly raided Zhou China. Soon after, they expanded westwards and dislodged the Cimmerians from power on the Pontic Steppe. At their peak, Scythians came to dominate the entire steppe zone, 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, although there was little that could be called an organised state.Based in what is modern-day Ukraine, Southern European Russia and Crimea, the western Scythians were ruled by a wealthy class known as the Royal Scyths. The Scythians established and controlled the Silk Road, a vast trade network connecting Greece, Persia, India and China, perhaps contributing to the contemporary flourishing of those civilisations. Settled metalworkers made portable decorative objects for the Scythians. These objects survive mainly in metal, forming a distinctive Scythian art. 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. Around 650–630 BC, Scythians briefly dominated the Medes of the western Iranian Plateau, 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 western Scythians suffered a major defeat against Macedonia in the 4th century BC and were subsequently gradually conquered by the Sarmatians, a related Iranian people from Central Asia. The Eastern Scythians of the Asian Steppe (Saka) were attacked by the Yuezhi, Wusun and Xiongnu in the 2nd century BC, prompting many of them to migrate into South Asia, where they became known as Indo-Scythians. At some point, perhaps as late as the 3rd century AD after the demise of the Han dynasty and the Xiongnu, Eastern Scythians crossed the Pamir Mountains and settled in the western Tarim Basin, where the Scythian Khotanese and Tumshuqese languages are attested in Brahmi scripture from the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The Kingdom of Khotan, at least partly Saka, was then conquered by the Kara-Khanid Khanate, which led to the Islamisation and Turkification of Northwest China. In Eastern Europe, by the early Medieval Ages, the Scythians and their closely related Sarmatians were eventually assimilated and absorbed (e.g. Slavicisation) by the Proto-Slavic population of the region.Tanais
Tanais (Greek: Τάναϊς Tánaïs; Russian: Танаис) was an ancient Greek city in the Don river delta, called the Maeotian marshes in classical antiquity. It was a bishopric as Tana and remains a Latin Catholic titular see as Tanais.Third Mithridatic War
The Third Mithridatic War (73–63 BC) was the last and longest of three Mithridatic Wars and was fought between Mithridates VI of Pontus, who was joined by his allies, and the Roman Republic. The war ended in defeat for Mithridates, ending the Pontic Kingdom, and resulted in the Kingdom of Armenia becoming an allied client state of Rome.Zarubintsy culture
The Zarubintsy or Zarubinets culture was a culture that from the 3rd century BC until 1st century AD flourished in the area north of the Black Sea along the upper and middle Dnieper and Pripyat Rivers, stretching west towards the Southern Bug river. Zarubintsy sites were particularly dense between the Rivers Desna and Ros as well as along the Pripyat river. It was identified around 1899 by the Czech-Ukrainian archaeologist Vikentiy Khvoyka and is now attested by about 500 sites. The culture was named after finds cremated remains in the village of Zarubintsy, on the Dnieper.
The Zarubintsy culture is connected to the early Slavs (proto-Slavs), with possible links to the peoples of the Vistula basin. The culture was influenced by the La Tène culture and the nomads of the steppes (the Scythians and the Sarmatians). The Scythian and Sarmatian influence is evident, especially in pottery, weaponry and domestic and personal objects.