Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 3: Swift as the Wind Across the Plains: Horsemen of the steppes

Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 3: Swift as the Wind Across the Plains: Horsemen of the steppes

Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue 3: Swift as the Wind Across the Plains: Horsemen of the steppes

The main theme of this issue looks at the Scythians and the related nomadic horsemen who lived north of the Greek and Persian worlds, and were encountered as allies and enemies, and as a source of mystery, for the best part of a thousand years.

I found these articles very interesting - the Scythians and other nomadic tribes tend to appear as a vague but unstoppable force coming from beyond the edge of civilisation, so it's rather nice to have a more detailed examination of who they were, where they came from and how they fought.

The Scythians are a rather difficult culture to study, leaving no written histories of their own. As a result we have to rely on archaeology and on sources written by their southern neighbours. As a result there are debates about just about every aspect of Scythian and nomadic culture in this period, starting even with the identities of the different nomadic cultures and how they related to each other. One might expect these sources to be entirely hostile, but the relationship between the more settled civilisations and their nomadic neighbours was more complex than one might expect. The Athenians used a corps of Scythians as their city police, while the Greek kingdoms of the Crimea relied on friendly relations with their northern neighbours for their prosperity.

The articles are nicely varied - we look at a classic example of the nomadic victory, when the Scythians simply refused to fight Darius the Great, a war between nomads when the Scythians and Sarmatians fought each other, and a rare battlefield defeat for them, at the hands of Alexander the Great.

There are three articles away from the main theme - one looking at the nature of the parapompe, a fairly mysterious duty performed and recorded by some wealthy men in the Roman Empire, but not really understood, how the reliefs at Karnak record the campaigns of Seti I, and a look at the debate over the length of the very lengthy Macedonian Sarissa, with a suggested solution.

Horsemen of the steppes - Historical Introduction
Herodotus and the Scythians - Reading up on the horsemen of the steppes
The Amazons - Horse(wo)men of the steppes
Dugdammi - King of the World
A nomad strategy of persistence - Darius the Great's Scythian Expedition, 512 BC
Scythians versus Sarmatians - The Battle for the Bosporan Kingdom, 310/ 309 BC
The Battle of the Jaxartes - Alexander's pummelling of the Scythians
Pedestal for a hero - Roman emperors, the armies, and the parapompe
The conquering pharaoh - Seti I's campaigns in Egyptian reliefs
How long was the Macedonia sarissa? - An obscure debate over a very long spear

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