The Scythian archers were a hypothesized police force of 5th- and early 4th-century BC Athens that is recorded in some Greek artworks and literature. The force is said to have consisted of 300 armed Scythians (a nomadic people living in the Eurasian Steppe) who were public slaves in Athens. They acted for a group of eleven elected Athenian magistrates "who were responsible for arrests and executions and for some aspects of public order" in the city.
|Formed||5th century BC|
|Dissolved||4th century BC|
|Legal personality||Government agency|
|National agency||Classical Athens|
|Operations jurisdiction||Classical Athens|
|Headquarters||Tents or wooden barracks in the Agora and later on the Areopagus|
|Elected officer responsible|
The Scythian archers were called toxotai (τοξόται, literally "[the] archers"), Skythai (Σκύθαι, literally "[the] Scythians"), and Speusinioi (Σπευσίνιοι), which was named after their alleged founder Speusinos.
The theory regarding the "police force" role of the Scythian archers in 5th- and early 4th-century BC Athens is mainly based on some possible evidence from Attic vase paintings and the works of the playwright Aristophanes. The force is said to have consisted of 300 public slaves (demosioi) who wore Scythian dress and were equipped with bows and arrows in gorytos (the Scythian people were skilled archers). They were said to have been used to maintain order in the Assembly and the Council, though they had little authority themselves. They acted for The Eleven, a group of eleven elected magistrates in Athens, "who were responsible for arrests and executions and for some aspects of public order".
Many aspects of the theory are still open for discussion, such as whether they were actually Scythian, and if so why Greeks were not used, and why a police force active in urban Athens should consist of archers. Balbina Bäbler has discussed some overlooked archaeological evidence and its possible link to the Scythian police force, including the stele of Getes, buried Scythian arrowheads, and other Greek-style grave stelae of the 4th century BC in Athens dedicated to unknown Scythians. It should also be noted that the Scythian archers that appear to be attending to the hoplites on the Attic vase paintings of the 6th century BC are not necessarily related to the Scythian "police force" of the 5th century BC. The police force, the number of which is said to have swelled to 1,200 at some point, may have been involved in wartime conflicts as well.
In the comedy works of Aristophanes, the dialects of various Greek people are imitated. In his Thesmophoriazusae, the Scythian archer speaks broken Greek, consistently omitting the final -s (-ς) and -n (ν), using the lenis in place of the aspirate, and once using x (ξ) in place of s (σ). These have been noted by John William Donaldson to discuss the largely unknown Scythian languages.
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The word acropolis is from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, "highest point, extremity") and πόλις (polis, "city"). Although the term acropolis is generic and there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as "The Acropolis" without qualification. During ancient times it was known also more properly as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the supposed first Athenian king.
While there is evidence that the hill was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC, it was Pericles (c. 495–429 BC) in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site's most important present remains including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon and the other buildings were damaged seriously during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded.Ancient Greek dialects
Ancient Greek in classical antiquity, before the development of the common Koine Greek of the Hellenistic period, was divided into several varieties.
Most of these varieties are known only from inscriptions, but a few of them, principally Aeolic, Doric, and Ionic, are also represented in the literary canon alongside the dominant Attic form of literary Greek.
Likewise, Modern Greek is divided into several dialects, most derived from Koine Greek.Ancient Greek sculpture
Ancient Greek sculpture is the sculpture of ancient Greece. Modern scholarship identifies three major stages in monumental sculpture. At all periods there were great numbers of Greek terracotta figurines and small sculptures in metal and other materials.
The Greeks decided very early on that the human form was the most important subject for artistic endeavour. Seeing their gods as having human form, there was little distinction between the sacred and the secular in art—the human body was both secular and sacred. A male nude of Apollo or Heracles had only slight differences in treatment to one of that year's Olympic boxing champion. The statue, originally single but by the Hellenistic period often in groups was the dominant form, though reliefs, often so "high" that they were almost free-standing, were also important.Athenian military
The Athenian military was the military force of Athens, one of the major city-states (poleis) off Ancient Greece. It was largely similar to other armies of the region – see Ancient Greek warfare.Cycladic culture
Cycladic culture (also known as Cycladic civilisation or, chronologically, as Cycladic chronology) was a Bronze Age culture (c. 3200–c. 1050 BC) found throughout the islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. In chronological terms, it is a relative dating system for artefacts which broadly complements Helladic chronology (mainland Greece) and Minoan chronology (Crete) during the same period of time.Demonax
Demonax (Greek: Δημώναξ, Dēmōnax, gen.: Δημώνακτος; c. AD 70 – c. 170) was a Greek Cynic philosopher. Born in Cyprus, he moved to Athens, where his wisdom, and his skill in solving disputes, earned him the admiration of the citizens. He taught Lucian, who wrote a Life of Demonax in praise of his teacher. When he died he received a magnificent public funeral.Gratian
Gratian (; Latin: Flavius Gratianus Augustus; Greek: Γρατιανός; 18 April/23 May 359 – 25 August 383) was Roman emperor from 367 to 383.
The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied, during his youth, his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers. In 378, Gratian's generals won a decisive victory over the Lentienses, a branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria. Gratian subsequently led a campaign across the Rhine, the last emperor to do so, and attacked the Lentienses, forcing the tribe to surrender. That same year, his uncle Valens was killed in the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths. He favoured Christianity over traditional Roman religion, refusing the office of Pontifex maximus and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate.Greece in the Roman era
Greece in the Roman era describes the period of Greek history when Ancient Greece was dominated by the Roman Republic (509 – 27 BC), the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 395), and the Byzantine Empire (AD 395 – 1453). The Roman era of Greek history began with the Corinthian defeat in the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. However, before the Achaean War, the Roman Republic had been steadily gaining control of mainland Greece by defeating the Kingdom of Macedon in a series of conflicts known as the Macedonian Wars. The Fourth Macedonian War ended at the Battle of Pydna in 148 BC and defeat of the Macedonian royal pretender Andriscus.
The definitive Roman occupation of the Greek world was established after the Battle of Actium (31 BC), in which Augustus defeated Cleopatra VII, the Greek Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, and the Roman general Mark Antony, and afterwards conquered Alexandria (32 BC), the last great city of Hellenistic Greece. The Roman era of Greek history continued with Emperor Constantine the Great's adoption of Byzantium as Nova Roma, the capital city of the Roman Empire; in AD 330, the city was renamed Constantinople; afterwards, the Byzantine Empire was a generally Greek-speaking polity.Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Ages, Homeric Age (named for the fabled poet, Homer) or Geometric period (so called after the characteristic Geometric art of the time),
is the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization around 1100 BC to the first signs of the Greek poleis (city states) in the 9th century BC.
The archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned. At about the same time, the Hittite civilization suffered serious disruption and cities from Troy to Gaza were destroyed and in Egypt the New Kingdom fell into disarray that led to the Third Intermediate Period.
Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece, the Linear B writing of the Greek language used by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceased. The decoration on Greek pottery after about 1100 BC lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles (1000–700 BC).
It was previously thought that all contact was lost between mainland Hellenes and foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth, but artifacts from excavations at Lefkandi on the Lelantine Plain in Euboea show that significant cultural and trade links with the east, particularly the Levant coast, developed from c. 900 BC onwards. Additionally, evidence has emerged of the new presence of Hellenes in sub-Mycenaean Cyprus and on the Syrian coast at Al-Mina.Grotta-Pelos culture
The Grotta-Pelos culture (Greek: Γρόττα-Πηλός) refers to a "cultural" dating system used for part of the early Bronze Age in Greece. Specifically, it is the period that marks the beginning of the so-called Cycladic culture and spans the Neolithic period in the late 4th millennium BC (ca. 3300 BC), continuing in the Bronze Age to about 2700 BC.
The term was coined by Colin Renfrew, who named it after the sites of Grotta and Pelos on the Cycladic islands of Naxos and Milos, respectively. Other archaeologists prefer a "chronological" dating system and refer to this period as the Early Cycladic I (ECI).Hellenistic Greece
In the context of ancient Greek art, architecture, and culture, Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek Achaean League heartlands by the Roman Republic. This culminated at the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC, a crushing Roman victory in the Peloponnese that led to the destruction of Corinth and ushered in the period of Roman Greece. Hellenistic Greece's definitive end was with the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, when the future emperor Augustus defeated Greek Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony, the next year taking over Alexandria, the last great center of Hellenistic Greece.The Hellenistic period began with the wars of the Diadochi, armed contests among the former generals of Alexander the Great to carve up his empire in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The wars lasted until 275 BC, witnessing the fall of both the Argead and Antipatrid dynasties of Macedonia in favor of the Antigonid dynasty. The era was also marked by successive wars between the Kingdom of Macedonia and its allies against the Aetolian League, Achaean League, and the city-state of Sparta.
During the reign of Philip V of Macedon (r. 221-179 BC), the Macedonians not only lost the Cretan War (205-200 BC) to an alliance led by Rhodes, but their erstwhile alliance with Hannibal of Carthage also entangled them in the First and Second Macedonian War with ancient Rome. The perceived weakness of Macedonia in the aftermath of these conflicts encouraged Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid Empire to invade mainland Greece, yet his defeat by the Romans at Thermopylae in 191 BC and Magnesia in 190 BC secured Rome's position as the leading military power in the region. Within roughly two decades after conquering Macedonia in 168 BC and Epirus in 167 BC, the Romans would eventually control the whole of Greece.
During the Hellenistic period the importance of Greece proper within the Greek-speaking world declined sharply. The great centers of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria and Antioch, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria respectively. Cities such as Pergamon, Ephesus, Rhodes and Seleucia were also important, and increasing urbanization of the Eastern Mediterranean was characteristic of the time.Kastelli Hill
Kastelli Hill (also Kasteli; Greek: Λόφος Καστέλλι or Καστέλι) is a landform at the city of Chania on the island of Crete in the present day country of Greece. The Minoan city of ancient Cydonia was centered on Kastelli Hill, which later was selected by the Romans as the site of an acropolis.Kastri culture
The Kastri culture (Greek: Καστρί) refers to a "cultural" dating system used for the Cycladic culture that flourished during the early Bronze Age in Greece. It spans the period ca. 2500–2200 BC and was named by Colin Renfrew, after the fortified settlement of Kastri near Chalandriani on the Cycladic island of Syros. In Renfrew's system, Kastri culture follows the Keros-Syros culture. However, some archaeologists believe that the Keros-Syros and Kastri cultures belong to the same phase. Others describe this period as the Early Cycladic III (ECIII).Kul-Oba
Kul-Oba (Ukrainian: Куль-Оба; Russian: Куль-Оба, Crimean Tatar: Kül Oba; meaning "hill of ash" in Crimean Tatar) is an ancient archaeological site, a Scythian burial tumulus (kurgan), located near Kerch in eastern Crimea, on the right side of the M25 road to Feodosiya.
Kul-Oba was the first Scythian royal barrow to be excavated in modern times. Uncovered in 1830, the stone tomb yielded a wealth of precious artifacts which drew considerable public interest to Scythian world. Of particular interest is an intricately granulated earring with two Nike figurines, now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
The tomb was built around 400 to 350 BC, likely by a team of Greek masons from Panticapaeum. Its plan is almost square, measuring 4.6 by 4.2 meters (15 by 14 ft). The stepped vault stands 5.3 meters (17 ft) high. The timber ceiling seems to have been designed to imitate a Scythian wooden tent; it is decorated by a canopy with gold plaques.
The body of the king lay by the east wall on a sumptuous wooden couch. His social position was highlighted by a diadem encircling his head, surmounted by a pointed felt headgear with gold pendants. His neck was decorated by a large gold disk weighing 461 grams. Each wrist was adorned with one to three bracelets. A separate section of the couch contained other grave goods, including a phial, a whip, a knife, and a quiver - all inlaid with gold or precious stones.
To the left of the couch stood a sarcophagus made of cypress wood and ivory. A woman, probably the king's wife or concubine, lay there. Apart from the brocaded dress, her body was decorated with an electrum diadem with large gold pendants, a pair of open-work earrings, a gold disk, a gold necklace, and two gold bracelets. At her side was placed a bronze hand-held mirror with the gilded handle. An electrum cup, placed between her feet, depicts scenes from Scythian mythology (illustrated, to the right).
The remains of a slave (probably a charioteer) were discovered by the south wall. A special niche in the wall contained horse bones, a helmet, a bronze sheath, and two spearheads. Several silver bowls and bronze cauldrons containing lamb bones were placed along the walls of the tomb. Inside the amphorae were residual traces of dried wine. A number of bronze arrow-heads were scattered around the floor.
The archaeologists in charge of the dig did not suspect there was a secret room underneath the tomb. Though it was discovered and plundered by treasure hunters, some of the missing valuables were subsequently retrieved by the Russian government.Paideia
In the culture of ancient Greece, the term paideia (also spelled paedeia) (; Greek: παιδεία, paideía) referred to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis. It incorporated both practical, subject-based schooling and a focus upon the socialization of individuals within the aristocratic order of the polis. The practical aspects of this education included subjects subsumed under the modern designation of the liberal arts (rhetoric, grammar, and philosophy are examples), as well as scientific disciplines like arithmetic and medicine. An ideal and successful member of the polis would possess intellectual, moral and physical refinement, so training in gymnastics and wrestling was valued for its effect on the body alongside the moral education which the Greeks believed was imparted by the study of music, poetry, and philosophy. This approach to the rearing of a well-rounded Greek male was common to the Greek-speaking world, with the exception of Sparta where a rigid and militaristic form of education known as the agoge was practiced.Phrygian cap
The Phrygian cap or liberty cap is a soft conical cap with the apex bent over, associated in antiquity with several peoples in Eastern Europe and Anatolia, including Phrygia, Dacia, and the Balkans. In early modern Europe it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty through a confusion with the pileus, the felt cap of manumitted (emancipated) slaves of ancient Rome. In artistic representations it signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty.
It is used in the coat of arms of certain republics or of republican state institutions in the place where otherwise a crown would be used (in the heraldry of monarchies). It thus came to be identified as a symbol of the republican form of government. A number of national personifications, in particular France's Marianne, are commonly depicted wearing the Phrygian cap. However, the much older Dutch Maiden has been carrying a cap of liberty of very different form, with a wide, flat brim, since the 17th century.Phylakopi I culture
The Phylakopi I culture (Greek: Φυλακωπή) refers to a "cultural" dating system used for the Cycladic culture that flourished during the early Bronze Age in Greece. It spans the period ca. 2300-2000 BC and was named by Colin Renfrew, after the settlement of Phylakopi on the Cycladic island of Milos. Other archaeologists describe this period as the Early Cycladic III (ECIII).Recurve bow
A recurve bow is a bow with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. A recurve bow stores more energy and delivers energy more efficiently than the equivalent straight-limbed bow, giving a greater amount of energy and speed to the arrow. A recurve will permit a shorter bow than the simple straight limb bow for a given arrow energy and this form was often preferred by archers in environments where long weapons could be cumbersome, such as in brush and forest terrain, or while on horseback.
Recurved limbs also put greater stress on the materials used to make the bow, and they may make more noise with the shot. Extreme recurves make the bow unstable when being strung. An unstrung recurve bow can have a confusing shape and many Native American weapons, when separated from their original owners and cultures, were incorrectly strung backwards and destroyed when attempts were made to shoot them.