Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The Scythians or Scyths were an ancient Iranian people of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who throughout Classical Antiquity dominated the Pontic-Caspian steppe, known at the time as Scythia. Before 2006, they were believed to have ranged west of the Altai Mountains, until a royal burial was found to the east in Mongolia. By Late Antiquity the closely-related Sarmatians came to dominate the Scythians in the west. Much of the surviving information about the Scythians comes from the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 440 BC) in his Histories and Ovid in his poem of exile Epistulae ex Ponto, and archaeologically from the depictions of Scythian life shown in relief on exquisite goldwork found in Scythian burial mounds in Ukraine and Southern Russia.

The name "Scythian" has also been used to refer to various peoples seen as similar to the Scythians, or who lived anywhere in a vast area covering present-day Central Asia, Russia, and Ukraine—known until medieval times as Scythia. They have been described as "a network of culturally similar tribes." For example, the name of the Scythians has been used in reference to the Goths.

Y-Chromosome DNA testing performed on ancient Scythian skeletons dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Siberian Krasnoyarsk region found that all but one of 11 subjects carried Y-DNA R1a1, with blue or green eye color and light hair common, suggesting mostly European origin of that particular population. A mummy of a Scythian warrior found in the Altai, Mongolia, 2005, which is believed to be about 2,500 years old, was found to be a 30-to-40 year-old man with blond hair of noble origin

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