T Sulimirski - Scythian Antiquities in Western Asia

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The Scythian exploits in Western Asia, as described in ancient written sources, have been referred to by many authors, who dealt with them mainly in the margin of their larger works. More attention was paid to them by J. v. PraSek1 and by N. Adontz,2 and a special study devoted to the Scythians in Asia was published by L. Piotrowicz.3 According to these authors, the Scythians, who arrived from beyond the Caucasus, took possession of the country between the Kura and the Araxes, and soon extended southwards to the present Azerbaijan. Thus they settled east of the ancient Urartu, in the country which was later called the land of Skythenoi by Xenophon, Sacassani by Pliny, and Sakasene by Ptolemy. The same location has been recently proposed by R. Ghirshman.4 It should be emphasized that the Scythians did not form a single people. Under this name a variety of nomad tribes of the Eurasiatic steppes are included who were linked by a similar way of life, a more or less common culture and sometimes also a common origin. The date of the Scythian arrival has not been definitely established; W. Belck 5 puts it in the IXth c. B.C., L. Piotrowicz in the VIIIth c. B. C., R. Ghirshman and N. Adontz in the VIIth c., and B. B. Piotrovskii 6ABBREVIATIONS


C.A.H. - Cambridge Ancient History ESA - Eurasia Septentrionalis Antiqua KSIIMKKratkie SoobshcheniyaInstituta Istorii Materialnoy Kultury Liverpool AAA -Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology MA G - Mitteilungen d. anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien MAR - Materialy po arkheologii Rossii OAK- Otchet Imp. Archeologicheskoy Kommissiy RE (Pauly- Wissowa) - Real-Encyklopddie RL (Ebert) - Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte Trudy GIM- Trudy Gosud. Istoricheskogo Muzeya (Moscow) VDI- Vestik Drevney Istorii J. v. Prasek, Geschichte der Meder und Perser bis zum makedonischen Eroberung, Vol. I, Gotha, 190o6,

pp. I 9 ff., 141 ff.

N. Adontz, Histoire d'Armenie, Paris, 1946, p. 308 f. a L. Piotrowicz, L' Invasion des Scythes en Asie Anterieure en VIIe siecle av. J. C. ) EOS, Vol. XXXII, Lw6w, I939. pp. 473-508. 4 R. Ghirshman, , KSHIMK, Vol. XIII, 1948, p. 130-134. E. I. Krupnov, Arkheologicheskie Raboty v Kabarde i Groznenskoy Oblasti>, KSIIMK, Vol. XXXII, 1950, p. 96, Ioo. Sovetskaya Etno47 P. S. Rykov, ESA, Vol. I, p. 62. 0. N. Bader, >, grafiya, Vol. I, I950, p. 77 if. 286

culture which had previously extended over the same territory, west of the Volga up to the Dnieper and to the Caucasus in the south. Russian scholars emphasize that between the Catacomb culture, and Srubnaia culture which succeeded it, no genetic connections exist.48 of the Scythian conquest of Pontic lands These facts about the Srubnaia culture fit well into the llinpicture given by Herodotus [IV. In]. It is only the chronology of the Catacomb and Srubnaia cultures which seems to contradict their identification with the Cimmerians and the Scythians respectively. According to current opinions,49 the Catacomb culture came to an end by I500 or I300B. C., and from that time, down to about I oo or 1000 B. C., the Srubnaia culture developed in the steppes west of the Volga. However, these dates cannot be taken for granted. I do not intend to discuss this question in detail here, but should like to make the following remarks. The chronology of cultures which developed on the Russian and Ukrainian steppes was ultimately based on the Caucasian. In te light of recent investigations by Russian scholars, the Caucasian chronology has been radically revised and the dates have been lowered considerably, for the Catacomb culture of the Caucasian foothills, and for the Koban culture in particular.'0 Accordingly, the date of the Catacomb culture of the Don-Donetz basin and of the Srubnaia culture must be altered, so that the emergence of the Srubnaia culture west of the Volga cannot be dated earlier than cir. I000 B. C. This brings the time of its appearance down to the period of the arrival of the Early Scythians as postulated by us. There are several other circumstances which support the supposition that the Srubnaia culture represents an archaeological equivalent of the Early Scythians. The fact is that the Srubnaia-Andronova complex embraced the whole territory in both Europe and Asia which was later called "Scythia" by ancient authors. There was an uninterrupted development of the Andronova culture in Western Siberia up to the "Scythian" period,51 and the transition from "Andronova" to "Scythian" culture did not involve any change in population. There are several indications that a similar development proceeded within the Srubnaia culture. A. Spitsyn 52 mentions several graves of his "transitional" period in the territory between the Dnieper and the Don which contained contracted skeletons; he considers them a direct link between the Bronze Age graves of the Srubnaia type and the subsequent Scythian culture. Several other scholars are48

0. A. Grakova, Proiskhozhdenie i Razvitie Srubnoy Kultury >, KSIIMK, Vol. XII, 1946, p. 165. M. I. ArVDI, Vol. 2/32, 1950, p. 42 f.


A. M. Tallgren, La Pontide. A. Ayrapaa, ,,Uber die Streitaxtkulturen in Russland" ESA, Vol. VIII, 1935. A. Krivtsova-Grakova,