The earliest known records of the existence of Scythians came from archeological findings in the Euro-Asian steppes that are part of modern day Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, even as far as bordering the high slopes of what is today known as Mongolia, the Caucasian mountain range, downwards toward modern Iraq and toward the east found as far as modern day Poland and the Balkan Peninsula. Their name is given by the ancient Greeks (Σκυθική, Skythikē) and was used to describe the nomadic peoples that lived as early as the 8th century B.C in the vast expansive steppes.

First Scythian Kingdom 7th century B.C

Most historical records of these peoples were written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, which described the folk of the steppes as having an agricultural and nomadic style of existence that had demanded payment, tribute, gifts or even military payment from the Syrians, the Medians, the Assyrians, even the Egyptians. It is believed that the ruling dynasty of the Scythians had remained the same over the centuries although this theory is somewhat loose based, mostly because the Scythians had no form of writing language to record their own history and their only exploits come from second hand whispers, oral history and were as such recorded by the ancient Greek city states. The first kingdom was made by the unification of the nomadic tribes by their legendary figure – Koloksai. He had managed to establish a ruling dynasty among the Scythians, which traded with the Hellenic city states, and had expanded up until the Near East kingdoms. The dynasty as such was repelled back to the Caucasian mountain-range and the Euro-Asian steppes.

Second Scythian Kingdom 5th century B.C

The Second Scythian kingdom was created by the end of the 5th and beginning of the 4th century B.C. This kingdom had offered the most known historian records of the nomadic peoples, by the exploits of the two best known king Ateas and queen Tomyris.
The most renowned ruler of the Scythians was Queen Tomyris. Tomyris was a queen of the Messagetae, a Scythian-Iranian pastoral-nomadic coalition of peoples, who were paying a taxing tribute toward the Persian Kingdom, most notably King Cyrus the Great, who saw the weak nomadic folk as easy targets to bully and tax unfairly for their gold, silver, cattle, sheep and goats. He managed to win over the Massagetae by laying a trap. The Persians built a camp and filled it with barrels of wine. The passing Massagetae army had not seen wine as a form of intoxicant, as they relied on hashish and fermented mare milk. The army got drunk to a stupor and the Persians managed to capture most of the army; those that fought did so in vain. Spargapises was the son of Tomyris, who was captured as the general of the Massagetae, and managed to convince his jailers in Persia to relieve him of his bonds. Tomyris enraged at the mistreatment of her son, rallied her people and challenged Cyrus to a rematch. The Great one honored her and brought with him his elite army, who were outmatched easily by the horse archers of the Massagetae to the point where a rout had broken and scattered the Persian army leaving their King Cyrus to his demise. Tomyris promptly executed him by beheading him and crucifying him in 530 B.C, cementing her place in history and sending the Persian Kingdom into bloody civil-war.

Ateas had managed to stabilize his kingdom by way of trade with the Hellenic city states and with the creation of gold and silver mines. The vast area that was under their rule, most notably the mountain ranges were rich with the precious metals and rare minerals such as rubies and emeralds had given birth to the beautiful and finely detailed craftsmanship of weapons, cutlery, plates, sarcophagi and day-today needed tools. Such tools had given the Scythians an ornate and royal look even to the lowliest folk among their kind. Ateas’ downfall came when he encroached on the Macedonian Kingdom, and ignored the demands of King Phillip the II of paying tribute for passing and settling in the lands near the kingdom. This resulted in a military retaliation of King Phillip the II, which resulted with the sound defeat of the Scythians whose army consisted mostly of undisciplined horse archers and militia who were no match for the disciplined and well trained phalanx that had given the Macedonians the domination of the Balkan Peninsula. Their king Ateas was killed in 339 B.C, who according to historical records was by then well into his nineties, kurgans (hill mounds dedicated as burial grounds) were raised for their fallen, and had to pay with exorbitant amount of gold, silver and 20.000 young women as wives to the Macedonians. This devastating defeat ended the Scythian conquest of the Balkan Peninsula and drove Scythian people back to the steppes.

Later kingdoms and fate

The Scythians were gradually deprived of land by newly forming kingdoms and empires. They had lost land to Alexander the Great, his generals that inherited the kingdoms after him, later the Roman Empire had driven them back as much as only leaving them only the steppes eastward of Crimea. Constant dividing and splitting of the peoples resulted in the Scythians slowly fading into history. The emerging of the Slavs and the Goths during The Great Migration forced them into inner Asia. There they saw the encroaching dark that had left once great trade cities on the Silk Road and those of nomadic peoples massacred, scorched, and barren, left to rot. What little was left of the Scythians fled westward warning the Slavs and Goths of the coming dark, but fell on deaf ears, as they warred among each other for resources and land, and the harsh winters that came with the dark only weakened these new kingdoms even more. For 200 years the Scythians begged and pleaded to find shelter among the new folk of Europe, and again and again were denied so. Then the dark came, which ushered in the era of the western kingdoms and empires, which scared the nomadic eastern peoples. The Huns had come …