Cultures > Scythia



Scythia was a region of Europe and Asia that was home to the group of people the Greeks called the Scythians (Σκυθική) and who called themselves Scoloti. They lived around the northern shore of the Black Sea and were believed to have come to the region around 1100 BCE following the Bronze Age Collapse where there were massive civilization collapses and population migrations. They inhabited the region until around 200 CE.

Scythia was more of a loose collection of tribes rather than a cohesive homogeneous civilization such as the others that existed throughout the entire world. The original kingdom was first established around 800 BCE and little is known about the first rulers and what they did. The civilization is best documented by the Greek historian Herodotus and are known to have been relatively wealthy based on their proximity to both the civilizations of Greece and the Roman Empire as well as the Achaemenid Empire and the empire of Alexander III the Great.

War with Macedon

In 339 BCE the Scythians went to war with the Kingdom of Macedonian under the command of Philip II who was the father of Alexander the Great. During this engagement the king Ateas who was in his 90s was killed and the territory was more or less conquered by the Macedonians. The state would exist with a level of semi-autonomy until Alexander's viceroy in Thrace named Zopyrion took it upon himself to conquer Scythia. He was unsuccessful and was killed in the engagement, with the Scythian state limping along until around 250 BCE.

Following the defeat of Ateas the Scythian state was in a period of political chaos. This left it ripe for invasions from later Celts and Thracians from the west along with Sarmatians from the east. During this time it was recorded that the state of Scythia was devastated including the Sarmatians who apparently turned part of the civilization into a desert.

The other tribes that the Scythians had subjugated such as the Dnieper and Buh who had managed to remained ethnically unique were able to survive this period and lived simple lives in the region. The area was in complete disarray and there is a lot of diversity between fortified cities and non-fortified cities along with and the royal kurgans stopped being built. Basically the nomads all returned back to their normal practices.

Third Kingdom

During the Third Kingdom the Scythians that lived near Crimea and Lower Dnieper really became sedentary and adopted an agricultural way of life that was vastly contrast to their original nomadic lifestyle. During this time the relations between the Greeks and the Scythians grew increasingly strained and viewed the Greek kingdoms on Anatolia as mere middlemen between the wheat trade with mainland Greece.

This culminated in the Scythians dominating the neighboring Greek states of Olvia and Chersonesos around the 2nd century BCE. This is a well known event because coins were minted to commemorate the conquering under the Scythian king Skilurus. It is not known if Skilurus has any relation to the original Scythian dynasty and it is believed either him or his successor Palakus are buried in the Scythian Neapol mausoleum used between 100 BCE and 100 CE.

Parthian Empire

See Parthian Empire

By the end of the 2nd century BCE the civilization of Scythia began to slowly be conquered by the Parthian Empire under king Mithridates I who liberated Olvia and defeated the king Palacus. It would also be sacked by the Getae and later by the Dacians and by 200 CE the entire area was conquered by the Roman Empire. The Scythian king Skilurus (125–110 BCE) died during a war against Mithridates VI.

Roman Empire

Scythia was the first state conquered by the Goths during the Roman Empire Collapse.


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