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Earthdate 2004-01-05

“Horsey” Vikings II — Cimmerians

The Cimmerians were the first known nomad horse warriors in history, residing by about 1200 BC on the grassy steppe north of the Caucasus, Black Sea, and in central Europe.  Indo-European speakers and with an Iranian ruling class, the Cimmerians assaulted several kingdoms in the Caucasus and Asia Minor towards the end of the 8th and during the 7th centuries BC, seemingly as a consequence of being ousted from their homes by the invading Scythians, who subsequently replaced them as masters of the steppe.

Historian William H. McNeill describes the situation, writing in Encyclopædia Britannica: 2

The first sign that steppe nomads had learned to fight well from horseback was a great raid into Asia Minor launched from the Ukraine about 690 BC by a people whom the Greeks called Cimmerians.  Some, though perhaps not all, of the raiders were mounted.  Not long thereafter, tribes speaking an Iranian language, whom the Greeks called Scythians, conquered the Cimmerians and in turn became lords of the Ukraine.

After invading Lydia and subsequently being expelled from that country, the Cimmerian refugees apparently settled in Cappadocia (whose name in Armenian is “Gamir”), and also survived on the Hungarian plain until about 500 BC.



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