History of the Scythians: an Ancient Nomadic Culture


Kelly Macquire
published on 19 September 2021

The Scythians were a nomadic culture that flourished between the seventh and the third centuries BCE, as their territory expanded from Thrace in the west across the Central Asian Steppe (a steppe is basically just an open swathe of grassland), to the Altai mountains in Mongolia. Their name comes from the Greek “to shoot” as they were known for their skill in archery. Even their cousins, the Parthians—also famous mounted archers—were influenced by the Scythians.

What we understand about the Scythians has been built on the foundation of archaeological finds, especially since they left no written texts or records. Other than the archaeological trail of the Scythians, we also have texts surviving from the ancient world at the time they flourished, namely Akkadian cuneiform tablets and the writings of Herodotus. Since the Scythians were nomads, moving around regularly on horseback in tribes unlike most other ancient cultures in the first millennium BCE, they didn't leave any cities or settlements. The places where we find the most evidence of the Scythians is in their burial mounds known as kurgans, which were monumental burials for the elite of Scythian society.

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2021, September 19). History of the Scythians: an Ancient Nomadic Culture. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2655/history-of-the-scythians-an-ancient-nomadic-cultur/

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "History of the Scythians: an Ancient Nomadic Culture." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified September 19, 2021. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2655/history-of-the-scythians-an-ancient-nomadic-cultur/.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "History of the Scythians: an Ancient Nomadic Culture." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 19 Sep 2021. Web. 23 Jun 2024.