Ancient Countries > Central Asia > The Steppe > Steppe Tribes
The people who lived in Steppes were overwhelmingly horsemen. Many were at least semi-nomadic with herds of livestock. Nomadism explains why there were waves of occupants. These Steppe people, Central Eurasians, traveled to and mated with people in the peripheral civilizations. Herodotus is one of our main literary sources for the Steppe tribes, but he isn't terribly reliable. The people of the ancient Near East recorded dramatic encounters with the people of the Steppe. Archaeologists and anthropologists have supplied more information about the Steppes people, based on tombs and artifacts.
The Cimmerians (Kimmerians) were Bronze Age communities of horsemen north of the Black Sea from the second millennium B.C. The Scythians drove them out in the 8th century. Cimmerians fought their way into Anatolia and the Near East. They controlled the central Zagros in the early to mid 7th century. In 695, they sacked Gordion, in Phrygia. With the Scythians, the Cimmerians attacked Assyria, repeatedly.
"Cimmerians" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology. Timothy Darvill. Oxford University Press, 2008.
Marc Van de Mieroop's A History of the Ancient Near East
The Huns are best known for their fear-inspiring leader Attila, the Scourge of God.
Christopher I. Beckwith Empires of the Silk Road. 2009.
The Scythians (Sakans to the Persians) lived in the Steppes, from the 7th to the 3rd century B.C., displacing the Cimmerians in the area of the Ukraine. Scythians and Medes may have attacked Urartu in the 7th century. Herodotus says the language and culture of the Scythians was like that of nomadic Iranian tribes. He also says Amazons mated with Scythians to produce the Sarmatians. At the end of the fourth century, the Scythians crossed the Tanais or Don River, settling down between it and the Volga. Herodotus called the Goths Scythians.
Amazons in the Scythia: New Finds at the Middle Don, Southern Russia, by Valeri I. Guliaev World Archaeology © 2003 Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
The Sarmatians (Sauromatians) were a nomadic Iranian tribe related to the Scythians. They lived on the plains between the Black and Caspian Sea, separated from the Scythians by the Don River. Tombs show they moved west into Scythian territory by the mid-third century. They demanded tribute from Greek towns on the Black Sea, but sometimes allied with the Greeks in fighting the Scythians.