Scythian Horse Archer

An extract from
Armies and Enemies of Ancient Egypt and Assyria, 3200BC to 612BC
by Alan Buttery

104.    Scythian Horse Archer

These coarse people never washed but applied a kind or paste to the body. They drank the blood of slain enemies and hung scalps on the bridle rein.

Their dress consisted of leather, or some other thick material, jerkin which was trimmed with fur and patterned. This appears to have been brightly coloured, as was the case with the trousers which were of some thinner material. Soft overboots of leather were secured at the ankle.

Their hair and beard was long and unkempt, and they wore a peaked cap of leather or felt which covered the sides and back of the head, although some actually went bareheaded.

Although primarily archer, with 2' bows of horn, they often carried a spear or javelin in addition and carried arrows in a quiver, which also served as a bow case, on the left hip.

(a) shows the cap secured under the chin, probably by strings which were tied.

The Scythian infantry, apparently not very numerous, carried a round or oval shield, either of wood or leather, with what appears to be stitching on the outer edges. Shield faces were decorated with the figure of an animal.

They were probably the earliest cavalry nation in existence and were the only ancient people to practice the gelding of horses.

In later times the Scythians sometimes wore bronze breastplates.
[Perhaps based on a Scythian urn with warriors, Kul Oba kurhan, Crimea, 4th century BC]



Next: 105. Babylonian Officer, in Armies and Enemies of Ancient Egypt and Assyria by Alan Buttery








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