Cultures > Cimmeria



CIMMERIANS, a tribe half-mythical, half-historical, described first in the Odyssey as dwelling beyond the ocean-stream, in thickest gloom, unvisited by Helios. Hence the term, “Cimmerian gloom.” From Herodotus we learn that they originally inhabited the country between the Borysthenes and the Tanais, but expelled by the Scythians, they traveled along the shores of the Euxine, passed through Colchis and over the Halys, and entered Asia to the west of that river.

Against this it is urged that the route by the Euxine would be impassable for a nomadic people, the Caucasus running down to the very shores of that sea. The sum of our certain knowledge respecting this people is, that they seem to have been the chief occupants of the Tauric Chersonesus (the Crimea), where they had a large city, near which were fortifications enclosing the isthmus by an earthen wall.

The term "Hellenistic Cimmeria" is not commonly used in historical discourse. However, Cimmeria historically refers to a region located in the northern part of the Black Sea, often associated with the Cimmerians, an ancient Indo-European people mentioned in Greek mythology and historical texts. Here's an overview of the region and its potential interactions with the Hellenistic world:Geographical Location:Cimmeria was situated in the northern coast of the Black Sea, encompassing territories that are part of modern-day Crimea (Ukraine) and neighboring regions.The region was characterized by rugged terrain, with mountain ranges and steppe grasslands, making it suitable for nomadic pastoralism and agriculture.Ancient Inhabitants:The Cimmerians were an ancient people mentioned in Greek mythology and historical records dating back to the 8th century BCE.According to Greek mythology, the Cimmerians were believed to inhabit a land of perpetual darkness at the edge of the known world.Historically, the Cimmerians were known as a nomadic group who migrated from the steppes of Central Asia into the northern Black Sea region, where they interacted with local tribes and settled communities.Interactions with the Hellenistic World:During the Hellenistic period, the northern Black Sea region came under the influence of Greek colonization and cultural expansion.Greek colonies were established along the coast of the Black Sea, facilitating trade and cultural exchange between Greek settlers and local populations.It's possible that the Hellenistic kingdoms, such as the Bosporan Kingdom and the Kingdom of Pontus, had some degree of influence or control over parts of Cimmeria, either through diplomacy, trade, or military campaigns.Archaeological Evidence:Archaeological excavations in the region have uncovered Greek artifacts, such as pottery, coins, and architectural remains, indicating the presence of Greek influence in Cimmeria during the Hellenistic period.The ancient Greek colony of Chersonesus (modern-day Sevastopol) on the Crimean Peninsula is one example of a Hellenistic settlement in the region.Legacy:The interactions between the Cimmerians and the Hellenistic world likely contributed to the cultural diversity of the northern Black Sea region, leaving a legacy of mixed cultural influences.While the specific extent of Hellenistic influence in Cimmeria may be debated among historians, it's clear that the region was part of the broader network of cultural exchange and trade that characterized the Hellenistic world.In summary, while "Hellenistic Cimmeria" may not be a widely recognized term, the region likely experienced interactions with the Hellenistic world through trade, colonization, and cultural exchange during the Hellenistic period, contributing to its cultural diversity and historical significance.


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Secondary Sources

The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)

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