Essential Histories

Essential Histories

Essential Classical Societies

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The Scythians were a large group of Iranian nomads, inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes and the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region.


Scythians lived in confederated tribes, a political form of voluntary association which regulated pastures and organized a common defence against encroaching neighbors for the pastoral tribes of mostly equestrian herdsmen.

The western Scythians based in Crimea, were ruled by a wealthy class known as the Royal Scyths.


The Scythians established and controlled a vast trade network connecting Ancient Greece and Persia. The Scythians were accomplished metalworkers and produced many fine decorative objects.

While the productivity of domesticated animals greatly exceeded that of the settled agricultural societies, the pastoral economy also needed supplemental agricultural produce. Stable nomadic confederations developed either symbiotic or forced alliances with sedentary peoples, in exchange for animal produce and military protection.


Scythian costume consisted of padded and quilted leather trousers tucked into boots, and long sleeve tunics. Men and women wore coats, mostly from fur or felt. They rode with no stirrups or saddles.


The Scythians were masters of mounted warfare. The Scythians were also notoriously aggressive warriors and skilled in guerilla warfare. Ruled by small numbers of closely allied elites, Scythians had a reputation for their archers, and many gained employment as mercenaries.


Scythian religion was polytheistic and they worshipped a pantheon of gods.

Their burial practices included horse sacrifices and chariot burials. The Scythians buried their dead in burial mounds known as kurgans.