In the most interesting stories Nomads of the Eurasian steppes Scythian history - one of the most striking pages. Not by chance since the release of the Scythians in 7 c. BC er to the arena of world history, they act as a powerful military alliance, taking the most active part in the most important historical processes of that time, taking place on vast spaces from the Northern Black Sea region to the depths of the east.
The memory of these campaigns, of the horror that declared the inhabitants of the East from the Transcaucasus to Palestine, has been preserved for centuries. It is enough to read the lines of contemporaries of the campaigns - the biblical prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, in order to imagine the real situation prevailing there during the times of the Cimmerian-Scythian campaigns to the East.
And he will raise the banner to far nations (modern researchers see Cimmerians and Scythians in them. - E. Ch.), And give a sign to those living on the edge of the earth - and now he will come soon and easily. He will have neither tired nor exhausted; not one will slumber and fall asleep, and the belt shall not be removed from his loins, and the belt of his shoes will not be torn. His arrows are pointed, and all his bows are taut; the hooves of his horses are like stone. His roar, like the roar of a lioness ... And so darkness, grief and light faded in the clouds (Isaiah, 5, 2630).
And yet ... Here, I will bring to you, the house of Israel, a nation from afar .... a strong people, an ancient people, a people whose language you don’t know, and you won’t understand what it says. His quiver is like an open grave; they are all men of courage. And they shall eat your harvest and your bread; they will eat your sons and your daughters; they will eat your grapes and figs; they will destroy with the sword the fortified cities of yours that you hope for.
Interesting data on the presence of the Scythians in the east are reported by the father of history, the ancient Greek traveler, geographer and writer Herodot of Halicarnassus: Scythians have ruled Asia for twenty-eight years and have devastated everyone with their riot and excesses. For, besides the fact that they levied the tribute imposed by each people, they raided and plundered. Most of them Kiaksar (the king of the Medes. - E. Ch.) And the Medes, having invited to the feast and drunk drunk, killed ... (Herodotus, 1, 106).
The successful military activities of the Scythians were largely ensured by the presence of perfect weapons, standing at the level of the best achievements of military technology of that era.
During the great marches to the East during the heroic period of its history, the Scythians began to form a characteristic complex of Scythian weapons. Acquaintance with the weapons of the advanced powers of the Ancient East (Assyria, Urartu, Mussels, Babylon, etc.), with which or against which the Scythians had to fight, gave a powerful impetus to the development of military affairs of the Scythians as a whole and, above all, their weapons. Most of all this concerns the new, previously unknown to the Scythians (however, ns only for them, but for all other peoples of Eurasia of that time) weapons - means of personal protection of a warrior and means of protection of a warhorse.
In the East, the Scythians became acquainted with the original system for the manufacture of shells. Their leather base was covered with a set of metal (usually iron) relatively small plates, forming a coating similar in type to fish scales. The plates were fixed on the base and between each other with the help of leather laces or strands. A well-designed set system made it possible to place the set plates in the 2-3 layer at any point of the armor.
But if only the shells of the soldiers of the East had such shells, Scythian gunsmiths widely used this set in the production of the whole complex of protective weapons: helmets, armors, combat belts, various armor that protected the warrior's legs, shields, and possibly means of warhorse protection.
Warrior from the barrow at Novorozanovka
The main means of personal protection of the warrior was shell. The shells of the Scythians are very diverse. Many of them are individual. Usually, only the part of the armor that adjoined the throat, chest or the whole front part was protected with a metal set. Known specimens and with a solid metallic coating. The shells differed a variety of cut. Usually they looked like a shirt with short and long sleeves. As the melee began to be used more and more, in which the horsemen were cut with long swords, the need arose for an additional strengthening of the shoulders of the warriors, which were attacked by a powerful chopping blow. Therefore, they began to produce shells, in which the set plates on the shoulders were not in the 2-3 layer, but larger. These were shells with mantles. To decorate the armor set used bronze cast plates, made in the characteristic Scythian animal style.
Typically Scythian were combat belts, the leather base of which was covered with a metal set, similar to the armored fastening method. These belts were used only for carrying swords and daggers, griefs and battle axes, other military equipment. Combat belts successfully complemented the shells. In the place of the shell where the belt was located on top of it, the skin of the set often did not have and the width of the gap in the system of the shell set coincided with the width of the belt. There is a series of wide combat belts of the Scythian archaic period, which, using a short shell, protected the lower part of the warrior's corps. Later, these combat belts became part of the shell, making it one.
The head of the warrior defended the helmet. In 7 c. BC er the warriors of Great Scythia used massive and fairly heavy cast helmets so-called. Kuban type. They tightly adhered to the head, protecting the upper part and ears. The back of the head and cheeks protected the individual parts, covered with a metal set, similar to the shell.
From 5 c. BC er helmets of ancient types penetrate into Scythia. At first they were helmets of the Corinthian, Chalcis and Illyrian types, and then Attic and South Greek. More 60 helmets made in Greece - light, durable and well-made, made of shiny gold-polished bronze, found in the mounds of Scythia or found under random circumstances.
Starting in 5 c. BC er an ordinary Scythian hat-hood, very well known from the images of Scythians in Greek toreutics and vase painting, gets a metal coating that is very close in armor-like character. They become a reliable and convenient head protection. They have all the elements that are required for the best helmets of antiquity - the helmets of antique developed types - cheek pads and back pads. Only the noseband was missing. It was much easier to produce them than Greek forged ones, the manufacture of which stood at the extreme limits of the technical possibilities of that time.
These helmets of the work of local craftsmen to some extent continued the tradition of producing local Kuban helmets, coexisted with the head armor of Greek designs and were used by the warriors of Scythia until the death of Great Scythia at the end of 4. before and. er
Much attention in the Scythian military life was given to the means of protecting the legs of soldiers. Scythian gunsmiths made them, as well as shells, from a set of iron plates. Now there are several types of armor. These are type-setting greaves, harnesses, leather pants, covered with an iron set on the front and on the sides. The set on the back of the pants made it impossible to ride a horse.
From 5 c. BC er In the Scythian military burials there are Greek greaves (cnemides). Light and beautiful, comfortable, forged from a sheet of bronze, they reliably protected the lower leg and knee. More than 70 copies of these weapons in whole or in destroyed form are known in the mounds of Scythia.
It should be noted that the Greek defensive armament that entered the armament of the soldiers of Scythia was not used by them as in Greece. If in Hellas, helmets and leggings were the usual armament of heavy infantry — the hoplites, who fought in the dense, closed formation of the phalanx, then in Scythia they were only in heavily armed horsemen.
A reliable means of protecting the warrior was the shield. The bulk of the Scythian shields were made of wood and leather, and only therefore not preserved. An idea of this weapon is given by those specimens that had a metal coating and toreutics objects.
Shields with a continuous sheet metal coating are distinguished. Good examples of such shields are round shites from the most famous Scythian kurgans of Kuban - Kostroma and Kelermessky. They are decorated with magnificent golden plates in the form of a deer and panther, which are masterpieces of the Scythian toreutics of the archaic era.
There is a large group of shields with armor-coated, which had a metal set similar to or similar to a set of armors. In most cases, their form is not restored. Only the finds of recent years allowed us to single out a group of shields identical in shape, plate arrangement and method of using the warrior’s bean-like shield depicted on the crest from the royal tomb of Solokh in the Dnieper steppe. These shields were securely fastened to the rider's armor on the back and forearm. They left the hands of a warrior free to control the horse and possession of weapons. By turning his hand, he could cover one or another part of his body.
Shields with a metal coating (armored) were worn only by noble warriors, warriors, warriors. The bulk of the Scythian warriors were armed with light shields made of wood, leather, rods. Such shields can be seen on the ridge of Solokha.
Scythians paid great attention to decorating their defensive weapons. All its types (except for helmets and leg armor) were decorated with details (sometimes real works of art) of gold or bronze. As part of the armor set successfully used a set of alternating sections of bronze and iron plates.
A prominent place in the Scythian weapons complex was occupied by spears and darts. Their number in the studied Scythian burials exceeds a thousand. Their usual length ranges from 1,8 to 2. Only a few specimens are longer than 3. Short spears were used for close combat and for throwing horse and foot soldiers. Long spears were used only for equestrian combat, playing the role of pikes. Darts were used as throwing weapons.
On the territory of Scythia about 450 swords and daggers are known. As a rule, they are double-edged. Only at sunset Great Scythia begin to use a few single-edged swords. Throughout the existence of this weapon, the shape of the handle as a whole and its individual elements — the tops and cross-hairs — changes. The usual length of a Scythian sword fluctuated within 50-60, see. A lot of swords of greater length, and slightly exceed 1. Swords allowed to effectively fight in all types of equestrian and foot combat. They were worn in a sheath of wood, covered with leather. The skin of the scabbard is often decorated with appliqué. The scabbard of ceremonial swords of the nobility was covered with gold overlays. Gold and decorated the handle. The golden decor of the scabbard is often made in the best traditions of high Scythian art. Scythian gunsmiths paid great attention to the manufacture of swords. The best metal was used for their production, which was not much lower than the requirements for modern weapons.
Scythian armament was rightly considered one of the most advanced for its time. At this time, an advanced weapon system was created, which did not undergo any noticeable changes and additions until the invention of firearms. For the entire subsequent history of the development of weapons to the developed Middle Ages, only the sword and chain mail were included in the armaments of the warriors of Eurasia. Yes, and there are certain grounds that suggest the possibility of the appearance of chain mail on the territory of Great Scythia as early as Scythian time (end of the 4th century BC).
Most of the weapons were made by the Scythian gunsmiths themselves. The production of weapons from the Scythians has received a very large development. Most of the metal produced here was used to make weapons and horse harness. This applies not only to iron and bronze, but also to gold. For the Scythian nobility and the Scythian models, the best Greek gunsmiths who worked in the numerous workshops of the northern Black Sea colonial cities made luxurious ceremonial weapons richly decorated with gold. Ceremonial swords, axes, armors and combat belts, gorites fell into the hands of Scythian rulers. After the death of their owners were placed with them in the mounds and through the millennia, they survived to the present day, decorating the best museums in the world.
Excellent Scythian weapons had a great influence on the development of weapons of neighboring nations. The Greeks, who lived in colonies on the southern borders along the shores of the Black Sea, fully embraced the entire set of Scythian weapons, abandoning many of their species. Scythian weapons are well represented in the monuments of Central Europe. It penetrated far to the north of Scythia right up to the Arctic Circle, and became widespread among the peoples of Eurasia, thousands of kilometers away.
Knights of the Great Scythia
- Chernenko E.V.