[excerpted from Alfred Rambaud, Russia, Leonora B. Lang, tr., vol. 1 (New York: Collier, 1900), pp. 24-26]

The early Greeks had established factories and founded flourishing colonies on the northern shores of the Black Sea. The Milesians and Megarians built Tomi or Kustenje, near the Danube, Istros at its mouth, Tyras at that of the Dniester, Odessos at that of the Bug, Olbia at that of the Dnieper, Chersonesos or Cherson on the roadstead of Sebastopol, Palakion which afterwards became Balaclava, Theodosia which became Kaffa, Panticapea (Kertch), and Phanagoria on the two shores of the Strait of lenikale, TanaÔs at the mouth of the Don, Apatouros in the Kuban, Phasis, Dioscurias, Pityus at the foot of the Caucasus, on the coast of ancient Colchis. Panticapea, Phanagoria and Theodosia formed, in the 4th century B.C., a confederation with a hereditary chief called the Archon of the Bosphorus at its head, whose authority was also acknowledged by some of the barbarous tribes.

Russian archaeologists, and quite recently, M. Ouvarof, have brought to light many monuments of Greek civilization, funeral pillars, inscriptions, basreliefs, statues of gods and heroes. We know that the colonists carefully preserved the Greek civilization, cultivated the arts of their mother cities, repeated the poems of Homer as they marched to battle, loved eloquent speeches as late as the time of Dion Chrysostom, and offered a special cult to the memory of Achilles. Beyond the line of Greek colonies dwelt a whole world of tribes, whom the Greeks designated by the common name of Scythians, with whom they entered into wars and alliances, and who served them as middlemen in their trade with the countries of the north. Herodotus has handed on to us nearly all that was known of these barbarians in the 5th century B.C.

The Scythians worshipped a sword fixed in the earth as an image of the god of war, and bedewed it with sacrifices of human gore. They drank the blood of the first enemy killed in battle, scalped their prisoners, and used their skulls as drinkingcups, They gave their kings terrible burialrites, and celebrated the anniversaries of their death by strangling their horses and slaves, and leaving the impaled corpses to surround the royal kourgan with a circle of horsemen. They honored the memory of the wise Anacharsis, who travelled among the Greeks. Their nomad hordes defied the power of Darius Hystaspes.

Among the Scythians properly so called, Herodotus distinguished the agricultural Scythians established on the Dnieper, probably in the tchernoziom of the Ukraine; the nomad Scythians, who extended fourteen days' journey to the east; the royal Scythians encamped round the Sea of Azof, who regarded the other Scythians as their slaves.

The barbarism of the inland tribes became rapidly modified under the influence of the powerful cities of Olbia and Chersonesos, and the GrecoScythian state of the Bosphorus. In the tombs of the Scythian kings of what is now the government of Ekaterinoslaf, as well as in those of the GrecoScythian princes of the Bosphorus, works of art have been found which show the genius of the Greeks accommodating itself to the taste of the barbarians, precious vases chiselled for them by Athenian artists, and all the jewels which at present enrich the museums of Kertch, Odessa, and St. Petersburg.

The Hermitage Museum at St. Petersburg, in particular, possesses two vases of an incomparable artistic and archaeologic value. They are the silver vase of Nicopol (government of Ekaterinoslaf) and the golden vase of Kertch, and date from the 4th century B.C., or about the period when Herodotus wrote his history, of which they are the lively commentary. The Scythians of the silver vase, with their long hair, their long beards, large features, tunics and trousers, reproduce very fairly the physiognomy, stature and costume of the present inhabitants of the same countries; we see them breakingin and bridling their horses in exactly the same way as they do it today in those plains. The Scythians of the golden vase, notwithstanding their pointed caps, their garments embroidered and ornamented after the Asiatic taste, and their strangelyshaped bows, are of a very marked Aryan type. The former might very well have been the agricultural Scythians of Herodotus, perhaps the ancestors of the agricultural Slavs of the Dnieper; the latter, the royal Scythians who led a nomad and warlike life. The philological studies of M. Bergmann and M. Mullendorf tend to identify the Scythian idiom with the IndoEuropean family of languages." They were then," says M. Georges Perrot, "in spite of many apparent differences of language, customs and civilization, nearly related to the Greeks, and this kinship perhaps contributed, without the knowledge of either Greeks or barbarians, to facilitate the relations between Hellenes and Scythians."

Herodotus takes care to make an emphatic distinction be. tween the Scythians properly so called, and certain other peoples about whom he has strange stories to tell. These peoples are the Melanchlainai, who wear black raiment; the Neuri, who, once a year, become werewolves; the Agathyrsi, who array themselves in golden ornaments, and have their women in common; the Sauromati, sprung from the loves of the Scythians with the Amazons; the Budini and Geloni, slightly tinged with Greek culture; the Thysagetae, the Massagetai the Iyrx, who lived on the produce of the chase the Argippei, who were bald and snubnosed from their birth the Issedones, who used to devour their dead parents with great pomp and ceremony; the oneeyed Arimaspians; the Gryphons, guardians of fabled gold; the Hyperboreans, who dwell in a land where, summer and winter, the snowflakes fall, like a shower of white feathers.

It seems probable that among all these peoples there may be some who have since emigrated westwards, and who may be. long to the German and Gothic races. Others, again, may have continued to maintain themselves, under different names, in Eastern Europe, such as the Slavs, the Finns, and even a certain number of Turkish tribes. M. Rittich believes he can identify the Melanchlainai of Herodotus with the Esthonians, who still prefer dark raiment; the Androphagi with the Samoyedes, whose name is derived from the Finnish word suomeadnoe; the Issedones with the Vogouls, who may very well have dwelt on the Isseta, a subtributary of the Obi; the Arimaspians with Votiaks, whom the Turks now call Ari; the Argippei, Aorses, and Zyrians of Strabo with the Erzes or Zyrians; the Massagetes with the Bachkirs. M. Vivien de SaintMartin recognizes the Agathyrsi in the Agatzirs of Priscus (A.D. 449), and Acatzirs of Jordanes, who are the Khazars. The Finns, then, have formed the most widelyspread race of Scythia.