Dionysus is the god of the grape-harvest and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth. Wine played an important role in Greek culture, the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its unrestrained consumption, his worship became established in the seventh century BC. He may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenaean Greeks. His origins are uncertain, his cults took many forms. In some cults, he arrives as an Asiatic foreigner; some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis. He is a god of epiphany, "the god that comes", his "foreignness" as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults, he is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming important over time, included in some lists of the twelve Olympians, as the last of their number, the only god born from a mortal mother.
His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. He is known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces is bakkheia, his thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios, his wine and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful; those who partake of his mysteries are empowered by the god himself. The cult of Dionysus is a "cult of the souls", he is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god. Dionysus is depicted in myth as the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, although in the Orphic tradition, he was identified as the son of Zeus and Persephone. In the Eleusinian Mysteries he was identified with the son of Demeter; the dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus. The earliest attested form of the name is Mycenaean Greek, di-wo-nu-so, written in Linear B syllabic script for /Diwonūsoio/.
This is attested on two tablets, found at Mycenaean Pylos and dated to the 12th or 13th century BC, but at the time, there could be no certainty on whether this was indeed a theonym. But the 1989–90 Greek-Swedish Excavations at Kastelli Hill, unearthed, inter alia, four artefacts bearing Linear B inscriptions. Variants include Dionūsos and Diōnūsos in Boeotia. A Dio- prefix is found in other names, such as that of the Dioscures, may derive from Dios, the genitive of the name of Zeus; the second element -nūsos is associated with Mount Nysa, the birthplace of the god in Greek mythology, where he was nursed by nymphs, but according to Pherecydes of Syros, nũsa was an archaic word for "tree". Nonnus, in his Dionysiaca, writes that the name Dionysus means "Zeus-limp" and that Hermes named the new born Dionysus this, "because Zeus while he carried his burden lifted one foot with a limp from the weight of his thigh, nysos in Syracusan language means limping". In his note to these lines, W. H. D. Rouse writes "It need hardly be said that these etymologies are wrong".
The Suda, a Byzantine encyclopedia based on classical sources, states that Dionysus was so named "from accomplishing for each of those who live the wild life. Or from providing everything for those who live the wild life."R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin of the name; the cult of Dionysus was associated with trees the fig tree, some of his bynames exhibit this, such as Endendros "he in the tree" or Dendritēs, "he of the tree". Peters suggests the original meaning as "he who runs among the trees", or that of a "runner in the woods". Janda accepts the etymology but proposes the more cosmological interpretation of "he who impels the tree"; this interpretation explains how Nysa could have been re-interpreted from a meaning of "tree" to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain. The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male and robed, he holds a fennel staff, known as a thyrsus. Images show him as a beardless, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or "man-womanish".
In its developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession is made up of bearded satyrs with erect penises; the god himself is drawn in a chariot by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and he thus symbolizes the chaotic and unexpected
In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed; the Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117. In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and to an autocratic semi-elective empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it dominated the North African coast and most of Western Europe, the Balkans and much of the Middle East.
It is grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world. Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, society, law, government, art, literature and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France, it achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments and public facilities. The Punic Wars with Carthage were decisive in establishing Rome as a world power. In this series of wars Rome gained control of the strategic islands of Corsica and Sicily. By the end of the Republic, Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa.
The Roman Empire emerged with the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. 721 years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in human history, have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires. Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak, it stretched from the entire Mediterranean Basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire broke up into independent "barbarian" kingdoms in the 5th century; this splintering is a landmark historians use to divide the ancient period of universal history from the pre-medieval "Dark Ages" of Europe.
The eastern part of the empire endured through the 5th century and remained a power throughout the "Dark Ages" and medieval times until its fall in 1453 AD. Although the citizens of the empire made no distinction, the empire is most referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" by modern historians during the Middle Ages to differentiate between the state of antiquity and the nation it grew into. According to the founding myth of Rome, the city was founded on 21 April 753 BC on the banks of the river Tiber in central Italy, by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, who descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas, who were grandsons of the Latin King Numitor of Alba Longa. King Numitor was deposed by his brother, while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth to the twins. Since Rhea Silvia had been raped and impregnated by Mars, the Roman god of war, the twins were considered half-divine; the new king, feared Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so he ordered them to be drowned. A she-wolf saved and raised them, when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor.
The twins founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over the location of the Roman Kingdom, though some sources state the quarrel was about, going to rule or give his name to the city. Romulus became the source of the city's name. In order to attract people to the city, Rome became a sanctuary for the indigent and unwanted; this caused a problem, in that Rome was bereft of women. Romulus visited neighboring towns and tribes and attempted to secure marriage rights, but as Rome was so full of undesirables he was refused. Legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins with the Sabines. Another legend, recorded by Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, says that Prince Aeneas led a group of Trojans on a sea voyage to found a new Troy, since the original was destroyed at the end of the Trojan War. After a long time in rough seas, they landed on the banks of the Tiber River. Not long after they landed, the men wanted to take to the sea again, but the women who were traveling with them did not want to leave.
One woman, named Roma, suggested that the women burn the ships out at sea to prevent their leaving
Located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 AD. Its ruins are located in the comune of Ercolano, Italy. Herculaneum is one of the few ancient cities to be preserved more or less intact, with no accretions or modifications. Like its sister city, Herculaneum is famous for having been buried in ash, along with Pompeii, Stabiae and Boscoreale, during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Unlike Pompeii, the pyroclastic material that covered Herculaneum carbonized and thereby preserved wood in objects such as roofs and doors as well as other organic-based materials such as food. Although most of the residents had evacuated the city in advance of the eruption, the first well-preserved skeletons of some 400 people who perished near the seawall were discovered in 1980. Although it was smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum was a wealthier town, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses with, for example, far more lavish use of coloured marble cladding.
Ancient tradition connected Herculaneum with the name of the Greek hero Heracles, an indication that the city was of Greek origin. In fact, it seems that some forefathers of the Samnite tribes of the Italian mainland founded the first civilization on the site of Herculaneum at the end of the 6th century BC. Soon after, the town came under Greek control and was used as a trading post because of its proximity to the Gulf of Naples; the Greeks named Heraklion. In the 4th century BC, Herculaneum again came under the domination of the Samnites; the city remained under Samnite control until it became a Roman municipium in 89 BC, having participated in the Social War, it was defeated by Titus Didius, a legate of Sulla. After the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the town of Herculaneum was buried under 20 metres of ash, it lay hidden and intact until discoveries from wells and underground tunnels became more known, notably following the Prince d'Elbeuf's explorations in the early 18th century. Excavations continued sporadically up to the present and today many streets and buildings are visible, although over 75% of the town remains buried.
Today, the Italian towns of Portici lie on the approximate site of Herculaneum. Until 1969 the town of Ercolano was called Resina, it changed its name to Ercolano, the Italian modernisation of the ancient name in honour of the old city. The inhabitants worshipped above all Hercules, believed to be the founder of both the town and Mount Vesuvius. Other important deities worshipped include Venus and Apollo, who are depicted in multiple statues in the city; the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius occurred in October or November AD 79; because Vesuvius had been dormant for 800 years, it was no longer recognized as a volcano. Based on archaeological excavations and on two letters of Pliny the Younger to the Roman historian Tacitus, the course of the eruption can be reconstructed. At around 1pm, Vesuvius began spewing volcanic material thousands of metres into the sky; when it reached the tropopause, the top of the cloud flattened, prompting Pliny to describe it to Tacitus as a stone pine tree. The prevailing winds at the time blew toward the southeast, causing the volcanic material to fall on the city of Pompeii and the surrounding area.
Since Herculaneum lay to the west of Vesuvius, it was only mildly affected by the first phase of the eruption. While roofs in Pompeii collapsed under the weight of falling debris, only a few centimetres of ash fell on Herculaneum, causing little damage but nonetheless prompting most inhabitants to flee. During the following night, the eruptive column which had risen into the stratosphere collapsed onto Vesuvius and its flanks; the first pyroclastic surge, formed by a mixture of ash and hot gases, billowed through the evacuated town of Herculaneum at 160 km/h. A succession of six flows and surges buried the city's buildings, causing little damage in some areas and preserving structures and victims intact. However, in other areas there was significant damage, knocking down walls, tearing away columns and other large objects. Recent multidisciplinary research on the lethal effects of the pyroclastic surges in the Vesuvius area showed that in the vicinity of Pompeii and Herculaneum, heat was the main cause of the death of people, thought to have died by ash suffocation.
This study shows that exposure to the surges, measuring at least 250 °C at a distance of 10 kilometres from the vent, was sufficient to cause the instant death of all residents if they were sheltered within buildings. In 1709 the digging of a deep well revealed some exceptional statues at the lowest levels, found to be the site of the theatre; the Prince d'Elbeuf purchased the land and proceeded to tunnel out from the bottom of the well, collecting any statues they could find. Among the earliest statues recovered were the two superbly sculpted Herculaneum Women now in the Dresden Skulpturensammlung. Major excavation was resumed in 1738 by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre; the elaborate publication of Le Antichità di Ercolano under the patronage of the King of the Two Sicilies had an effect on incipient European Neoclassicism out of all proportion to its limited circulation.
The Etruscan civilization is the modern name given to a powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding to Tuscany, south of the Arno river, western Umbria and central Lazio, with offshoots to the north in the Po Valley, in the current Emilia-Romagna, south-eastern Lombardy and southern Veneto, to the south, in some areas of Campania. As distinguished by its unique language, this civilization endured from before the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions until its assimilation into the Roman Republic, beginning in the late 4th century BC with the Roman–Etruscan Wars. Culture, identifiably Etruscan developed in Italy after about 900 BC with the Iron Age Villanovan culture, regarded as the oldest phase of Etruscan civilization; the latter gave way in the 7th century BCE to a culture, influenced by Ancient Greek culture, during the Archaic and the Hellenistic period. At its maximum extent, during the foundational period of Rome and the Roman Kingdom, Etruscan civilization flourished in three confederacies of cities: of Etruria, of the Po Valley with the eastern Alps, of Campania.
The league in northern Italy is mentioned in Livy. The decline was gradual, but by 500 BCE the political destiny of Italy had passed out of Etruscan hands; the last Etruscan cities were formally absorbed by Rome around 100 BCE. Although the Etruscans developed a system of writing, the Etruscan language remains only understood, only a handful of texts of any length survive, making modern understanding of their society and culture dependent on much and disapproving Roman and Greek sources. Politics was based on the small city and the family unit. In their heyday, the Etruscan elite grew rich through trade with the Celtic world to the north and the Greeks to the south and filled their large family tombs with imported luxuries. Archaic Greece had a huge influence on their art and architecture, Greek mythology was evidently familiar to them; the Etruscans called themselves Rasenna, syncopated to Rasna or Raśna, while the ancient Romans referred to the Etruscans as the Tuscī or Etruscī. Their Roman name is the origin of the terms "Toscana", which refers to their heartland, "Etruria", which can refer to their wider region.
In Attic Greek, the Etruscans were known as Tyrrhenians, from which the Romans derived the names Tyrrhēnī, Tyrrhēnia, Mare Tyrrhēnum, prompting some to associate them with the Teresh. The origins of the Etruscans are lost in prehistory, although Greek historians as early as the 5th century BC associated the Tyrrhenians with Pelasgians, which could both be broad descriptive terms. Strabo and the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus make mention of the Tyrrhenians as pirates. Thucydides and Strabo all denote Lemnos as settled by Pelasgians, whom Thucydides identifies as "belonging to the Tyrrhenians". Although both Strabo and Herodotus agree that Tyrrhenus / Tyrsenos, son of Atys, king of Lydia, led the migration, Strabo specifies that it was the Pelasgians of Lemnos and Imbros who followed Tyrrhenus to the Italian Peninsula. A link between Lemnos and the Tyrrhenians was further manifested by the discovery of the Lemnos Stele, whose inscriptions were written in a language which shows strong structural resemblances to the language of the Etruscans.
This has led to the suggestion of a "Tyrrhenian language group" comprising Etruscan and the Raetic spoken in the Alps. Hellanicus of Lesbos records a Pelasgian migration from Thessaly to the Italian peninsula, noting that "the Pelasgi made themselves masters of some of the lands belonging to the Umbri". By contrast, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a Greek writer living in Rome, dismisses many of the ancient theories of the other Greek historians and postulates that the Etruscans were indigenous people who had always lived in Etruria. For this reason, therefore, I am persuaded that the Pelasgians are a different people from the Tyrrhenians, and I do not believe, that the Tyrrhenians were a colony of the Lydians. For they neither worship the same gods as the Lydians nor make use of similar laws or institutions, but in these respects they differ more from the Lydians than from the Pelasgians. Indeed, those come nearest to the truth who declare that the nation migrated from nowhere else, but was native to the country, since it is found to be a ancient nation and to agree with no other either in its language or in its manner of living.
Furthermore, Dionysius of Halicarnassus is the first ancient writer who reports the endonym of the Etruscans: Rasenna. The Romans, give them other names: from the country they once inhabited, named Etruria, they call them Etruscans, from their knowledge of the ceremonies relating to divine worship, in which they excel others, they now call them, rather inaccurately, but with the same accuracy as the Greeks, they called them Thyoscoï, their own name for themselves, however, is the same as that of one of Rasenna. Livy in his Ab Urbe Condita Libri says the Rhaetians were Etruscans driven into the mountains by the invading Gauls, asserts that the inhabitants of Raetia were of Etruscan origin; the Alpine tribes have no doubt, the same origin the Raetians.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus. His literary style was Atticistic — imitating Classical Attic Greek in its prime. Dionysius' opinion of the necessity of a promotion of paideia within education, from true knowledge of Classical sources, endured for centuries in a form integral to the identity of the Greek elite, he was a Halicarnassian. At some time he moved to Rome after the termination of the civil wars, spent twenty-two years studying Latin and literature and preparing materials for his history. During this period, he gave lessons in rhetoric, enjoyed the society of many distinguished men; the date of his death is unknown. In the 19th century, it was supposed that he was the ancestor of Aelius Dionysius of Halicarnassus, his major work, entitled Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία, embraced the history of Rome from the mythical period to the beginning of the First Punic War. It was divided into twenty books, of which the first nine remain entire, the tenth and eleventh are nearly complete, the remaining books exist in fragments in the excerpts of the Roman emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus and an epitome discovered by Angelo Mai in a Milan manuscript.
The first three books of Appian, Plutarch's Life of Camillus and Life of Coriolanus embody much of Dionysius. His chief object was to reconcile the Greeks to the rule of Rome, by dilating upon the good qualities of their conquerors and by arguing, using more ancient sources, that the Romans were genuine descendants of the older Greeks. According to him, history is philosophy teaching by examples, this idea he has carried out from the point of view of a Greek rhetorician, but he consulted the best authorities, his work and that of Livy are the only connected and detailed extant accounts of early Roman history. Dionysius was the author of several rhetorical treatises, in which he shows that he has studied the best Attic models: The Art of Rhetoric, rather a collection of essays on the theory of rhetoric and not all his work; the last two treatises are supplemented by letters to Gn. Pompeius and Ammaeus. Dionysian imitatio is the literary method of imitation as formulated by Dionysius, who conceived it as the rhetorical practice of emulating, adapting and enriching a source text by an earlier author.
Dionysius' concept marked a significant departure from the concept of mimesis formulated by Aristotle in the 4th century BC, only concerned with "imitation of nature" and not "imitation of other authors." Latin orators and rhetoricians adopted Dionysius' method of imitatio and discarded Aristotle's mimesis. Dionysius is one of the primary sources for the accounts of the Roman foundation myth and the myth of Romulus and Remus, he was relied upon for the publications of Livy and Plutarch. He writes extensively on the myth; the myth spans the first 2 volumes of his Roman Antiquities, beginning with Book I chapter 73 and concluding in Book II chapter 56. Dionysius claims, her family descends from Aeneas of Troy and the daughter of King Latinus of the Original Latin tribes. Procas, her grandfather had willed the throne to his son Numitor but he was deposed by her uncle, Amulius. For fear of the threat that Numitor's heirs might pose, the king had Ilia's brother, Aegestus killed and blamed robbers; the truth about the crime was known by some, including Numitor.
Amulius appointed Ilia to the Vestal priestesshood, where her vow of chastity would prevent her from producing any further male rivals. Despite this, she became pregnant a few years claiming to have been raped; the different accounts of the twins' conception are laid out, but Dionysius declines to choose one over the others. The sources variously relate that it was a suitor, Amulius himself, or the god Mars himself; the latter is supposed to have comforted Ilia by making her grieve, telling her that she would bear twins whose bravery and triumphs would be unmatched. Ilia hid her pregnancy with claims of illness so as to avoid her vestal duties. Amulius suspected her and employed physicians and his wife to monitor her for signs of being with child; when he did discover the truth, she was placed under armed guard. After being informed of the delivery of the twins, Amulius suspected that she had in fact given birth to triplets; the third child had been concealed from the guards present. Ilia kept secretly in a hidden dungeon for the rest of her life.
Citing Fabius, Porcius Cato, Piso, Dionysius recounts the most common t
Ancient Roman temples were among the most important buildings in Roman culture, some of the richest buildings in Roman architecture, though only a few survive in any sort of complete state. Today they remain "the most obvious symbol of Roman architecture", their construction and maintenance was a major part of ancient Roman religion, all towns of any importance had at least one main temple, as well as smaller shrines. The main room housed the cult image of the deity to whom the temple was dedicated, a small altar for incense or libations. Behind the cella was a room or rooms used by temple attendants for storage of equipment and offerings; the ordinary worshipper entered the cella, most public ceremonies were performed outside, on the portico, with a crowd gathered in the temple precinct. The most common architectural plan had a rectangular temple raised on a high podium, with a clear front with a portico at the top of steps, a triangular pediment above columns; the sides and rear of the building had much less architectural emphasis, no entrances.
There were circular plans with columns all round, outside Italy there were many compromises with traditional local styles. The Roman form of temple developed from Etruscan temples, themselves influenced by the Greeks, with subsequent heavy direct influence from Greece. Public religious ceremonies of the official Roman religion took place outdoors, not within the temple building; some ceremonies were processions that started at, visited, or ended with a temple or shrine, where a ritual object might be stored and brought out for use, or where an offering would be deposited. Sacrifices, chiefly of animals, would take place at an open-air altar within the templum. Under the Empire, exotic foreign cults gained followers in Rome, were the local religions in large parts of the expanded Empire; these had different practices, some preferring underground places of worship, while others, like Early Christians, worshipped in houses. Some remains of many Roman temples survive, above all in Rome itself, but the few near-complete examples were nearly all converted to Christian churches a considerable time after the initial triumph of Christianity under Constantine.
The decline of Roman religion was slow, the temples themselves were not appropriated by the government until a decree of the Emperor Honorius in 415. Santi Cosma e Damiano, in the Roman Forum the Temple of Romulus, was not dedicated as a church until 527; the best known is the Pantheon, however untypical, being a large circular temple with a magnificent concrete roof, behind a conventional portico front. The English word "temple" derives from the Latin templum, not the building itself, but a sacred space surveyed and plotted ritually; the Roman architect Vitruvius always uses the word templum to refer to the sacred precinct, not to the building. The more common Latin words for a temple or shrine were sacellum, aedes and fanum; the form of the Roman temple was derived from the Etruscan model, but in the late Republic there was a switch to using Greek classical and Hellenistic styles, without much change in the key features of the form. The Etruscans were a people of northern Italy, whose civilization was at its peak in the seventh century BC.
The Etruscans were influenced by early Greek architecture, so Roman temples were distinctive but with both Etruscan and Greek features. Surviving temples lack the extensive painted statuary that decorated the rooflines, the elaborate revetments and antefixes, in colourful terracotta in earlier examples, that enlivened the entablature. Etruscan and Roman temples emphasised the front of the building, which followed Greek temple models and consisted of wide steps leading to a portico with columns, a pronaos, a triangular pediment above, filled with statuary in the most grand examples. In the earlier periods, further statuary might be placed on the roof, the entablature decorated with antefixes and other elements, all of this being brightly painted. However, unlike the Greek models, which gave equal treatment to all sides of the temple, which could be viewed and approached from all directions, the side and rear walls of Roman temples might be undecorated, inaccessible by steps, back on to other buildings.
As in the Maison Carrée, columns at the side might be half-columns. The platform on which the temple sat was raised higher in Etruscan and Roman examples than Greek, with up to ten, twelve or more steps rather than the three typical in Greek temples; these steps were only at the front, not the whole width of that. It might or might not be possible to walk around the temple exterior inside or outside the colonnade, or at least down the sides; the description of the Greek models used here is a generalization of classical Greek ideals, Hellenistic buildings do not reflect them. For example, the "Temple of Dionysus" on the terrace by the theatre at Pergamon, had many steps i
The Scythians known as Scyth, Sakae, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were Eurasian nomads mostly using Eastern Iranian languages, who were mentioned by the literate peoples to their south as inhabiting large areas of the western and central Eurasian Steppe from about the 9th century BC up until the 4th century AD. The "classical Scythians" known to ancient Greek historians, agreed to be Iranian in origin, were located in the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region. Other Scythian groups documented by Assyrian and Chinese sources show that they existed in Central Asia, where they were referred to as the Iskuzai/Askuzai and Sai, respectively; the relationships between the peoples living in these separated regions remains unclear, the term is used in both a broad and narrow sense. The term "Scythian" is used by modern scholars in an archaeological context for finds perceived to display attributes of the wider "Scytho-Siberian" culture without implying an ethnic or linguistic connotation; the term Scythic may be used in a similar way, "to describe a special phase that followed the widespread diffusion of mounted nomadism, characterized by the presence of special weapons, horse gear, animal art in the form of metal plaques".
Their westernmost territories during the Iron Age were known to classical Greek sources as Scythia, in the more narrow sense "Scythian" is restricted to these areas, where the Scythian languages were spoken. Different definitions of "Scythian" have been used; the Scythians were among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare. They kept herds of horses and sheep, lived in tent-covered wagons and fought with bows and arrows on horseback, they developed a rich culture characterised by opulent tombs, fine metalwork and a brilliant art style. In the 8th century BC, they raided Zhou China. Soon after, they dislodged the Cimmerians from power on the Pontic Steppe. At their peak, Scythians came to dominate the entire steppe zone, stretching from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to central China and the south Siberia in the east, creating what has been called the first Central Asian nomadic empire, although there was little that could be called an organised state. Based in what is modern-day Ukraine, Southern European Russia and Crimea, the western Scythians were ruled by a wealthy class known as the Royal Scyths.
The Scythians established and controlled the Silk Road, a vast trade network connecting Greece, Persia and China contributing to the contemporary flourishing of those civilisations. Settled metalworkers made portable decorative objects for the Scythians; these objects survive in metal, forming a distinctive Scythian art. In the 7th century BC, the Scythians crossed the Caucasus and raided the Middle East along with the Cimmerians, playing an important role in the political developments of the region. Around 650–630 BC, Scythians dominated the Medes of the western Iranian Plateau, stretching their power to the borders of Egypt. After losing control over Media, the Scythians continued intervening in Middle Eastern affairs, playing a leading role in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire in the Sack of Nineveh in 612 BC; the Scythians subsequently engaged in frequent conflicts with the Achaemenid Empire. The western Scythians suffered a major defeat against Macedonia in the 4th century BC and were subsequently conquered by the Sarmatians, a related Iranian people from Central Asia.
The Eastern Scythians of the Asian Steppe were attacked by the Yuezhi and Xiongnu in the 2nd century BC, prompting many of them to migrate into South Asia, where they became known as Indo-Scythians. At some point as late as the 3rd century AD after the demise of the Han dynasty and the Xiongnu, Eastern Scythians crossed the Pamir Mountains and settled in the western Tarim Basin, where the Scythian Khotanese and Tumshuqese languages are attested in Brahmi scripture from the 10th and 11th centuries AD; the Kingdom of Khotan, at least Saka, was conquered by the Kara-Khanid Khanate, which led to the Islamisation and Turkification of Northwest China. In Eastern Europe, by the early Medieval Ages, the Scythians and their related Sarmatians were assimilated and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of the region. In the strict sense'Scythian' refers to the nomads north of the Black Sea and is distinguished from the similar Sarmatians who lived north of the Caspian and replaced the Scythians proper.
The Persian term Saka is used for the Scythians in Central Asia. The Chinese used the term Sai, for Sakas who once inhabited the valleys of the Ili River and Chu River and moved into the Tarim Basin. Herodotus said. Iskuzai or Askuzai is an Assyrian term for raiders south of the Caucasus who were Scythian. A group of Scythians/Sakas gave their name to Sakastan. They, or a related group, became the Indo-Scythians. Near the end of this article is a list of peoples that have been called Scythians. Oswald Szemerényi studied the various words for Scythian and gave the following: Skuthes Σκύθης, Skudra and Saka; the first three descend from the Indo-European root *kewd-, meaning "propel, shoot". *skud- is the zero-grade form of the same root. Szemerényi restores the Scythians' self-name; this yields the ancient Greek Skuthēs Σκύ