Cultures > Alans



The Alans were a nomadic Iranian people who played a significant role in the history of Eurasia. During the Hellenistic period, which spans from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE to the rise of the Roman Empire in the 1st century BCE, the Alans were part of the broader Scythian-Sarmatian cultural and political sphere.

Alans in the Hellenistic Period

Origins and Culture

Interactions with Hellenistic States

Influence and Legacy

The Alans were a dynamic and influential group during the Hellenistic period, bridging the gap between the nomadic cultures of the Eurasian steppes and the settled civilizations of the Hellenistic world.

The 1st century CE Jewish historian Josephus supplements this inscription. Josephus reports in the Jewish Wars how Alans (whom he calls a "Scythian" tribe) living near the Sea of Azov crossed the Iron Gates for plunder (72 CE) and defeated the armies of Pacorus, king of Media, and Tiridates, King of Armenia, two brothers of Vologeses I (for whom the above-mentioned inscription was made):

"Now there was a nation of the Alans, which we have formerly mentioned somewhere as being Scythians, and living around Tanais and Lake Maeotis. This nation about this time laid a design of falling upon Media, and the parts beyond it, in order to plunder them; with which intention they treated with the king of Hyrcania; for he was master of that passage which king Alexander shut up with iron gates. This king gave them leave to come through them; so they came in great multitudes, and fell upon the Medes unexpectedly, and plundered their country, which they found full of people, and replenished with abundance of cattle, while nobody dared make any resistance against them; for Pacorus, the king of the country, had fled away for fear into places where they could not easily come at him, and had yielded up everything he had to them, and had only saved his wife and his concubines from them, and that with difficulty also, after they had been made captives, by giving a hundred talents for their ransom. These Alans therefore plundered the country without opposition, and with great ease, and proceeded as far as Armenia, laying waste all before them. Now, Tiridates was king of that country, who met them and fought them but was lucky not to have been taken alive in the battle; for a certain man threw a noose over him and would soon have drawn him in, had he not immediately cut the cord with his sword and escaped. So the Alans, being still more provoked by this sight, laid waste the country, and drove a great multitude of the men, and a great quantity of the other booty from both kingdoms, along with them, and then retreated back to their own country." Jewish Wars (book 7, ch. 7.4)


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