"To the north--lived great hordes of people called by the general Greek name Scythians, or the descriptive name, barbarians. These barbarians lived in the north from about the 9th Century BCE to the 1st Century BCE. They "lived north of the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. Much of the information about these ancient, nomadic tribes of Central Asia and the North Caucasus, and the Crimean Steppes is gleaned from incidental mention of them by people who feel that they are on the inside looking out. "When the Greeks colonized the area north of the Black Sea about 700 B.C E., they found Scythians with whom they traded.
"The Scythian religion refers to the mythology, ritual practices and beliefs of the Scythians, an ancient Iranian people who dominated Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe throughout Classical Antiquity. So when Abraham declared that there was but one G-d, they were still in Persia for the next 1,000 years. They hadn't migrated to the Scythian "Russia" yet. Scythian religion is assumed to have been related to the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and to have influenced later Slavic, Hungarian and Turkic mythologies, as well as some contemporary Eastern Iranian and Ossetian traditions.
Like the other religions, the Scythian had a pantheon of gods with Tabiti as the most important. Ares was another, and he was most special. None of the gods of their pantheon were worshipped by making any images of them, or building any altars that the others did, or even built a temple for them, except one, and that was Ares. The altar called for a sacrifice.
|Scythian men had horse tattoos on shoulder and arms.|
"In each district of the several governments they have a temple of Ares set up in this way: bundles of brushwood are heaped up for about three furlongs in length and in breadth, but less in height; and on the top of this there is a level square made, and three of the sides rise sheer but by the remaining one side the pile may be ascended.
Every year they pile on a hundred and fifty wagon-loads of brushwood, for it is constantly settling down by reason of the weather. Upon this pile of which I speak each people has an ancient iron sword set up, and this is the sacred symbol of Ares. To this sword they bring yearly offerings of cattle and of horses;
They have the following sacrifice in addition, beyond what they make to the other gods, that is to say, of all the enemies whom they take captive in war they sacrifice one man in every hundred, not in the same manner as they sacrifice cattle, but in a different manner:
1. for they first pour wine over their heads, and after that
2. they cut the throats of the men, so that the blood runs into a bowl; and then
3. they carry this up to the top of the pile of brushwood and pour the blood over the sword. This, I say, they carry up; and meanwhile below by the side of the temple they are doing thus:
4. they cut off all the right arms of the slaughtered men with the hands and throw them up into the air, and then
5. when they have finished offering the other victims,
6. they go away; and the arm lies wheresoever it has chanced to fall, and the corpse apart from it."
They practiced sacrificing people but not pigs. The mode of Scythian animal sacrifice was, in the opinion of Herodotus, relatively simple. Sacrificial animals included various kinds of livestock, though the most prestigious offering was considered to be the horse. The pig, on the other hand, was never offered in sacrifice, and apparently the Scythians were loath to keep swine within their lands.
The animal stands with its fore-feet tied, and the sacrificing priest stands behind it, and by pulling the end of the cord he throws the beast down; and as the animal falls, he calls upon the god to whom he is sacrificing, and then at once throws a noose round its neck, and putting a small stick into it he turns it round and so strangles the animal, without either lighting a fire or making any first offering from the animal or pouring any libation over it: and when he has strangled it and flayed off the skin, he proceeds to boil it. Then when the flesh is boiled, the sacrificer takes a first offering of the flesh and of the vital organs and casts it in front of him.
According to Tadeusz Sulimirski, this form of worship continued among the descendants of the Scythians, the Alans, through to the 4th century CE
Like the hereditary priests of Judaism, the Cohenim, the Scythians also had this same system. The Scythians used them in a very different way. "The Enarei were a privileged caste of hereditary priests which played an important political role in Scythian society as they were believed to have received the gift of prophesy directly from the goddess Argimpasa. The method employed by the Enarei differed from that practiced by traditional Scythian diviners: whereas the latter used a bundle of willow rods, the Enarei used strips cut from the bark of the linden tree (genus tilia) to tell the future. The Enarei were also noted for dressing themselves in the clothes of women, a custom which Herodotus understands as being reflected in the title ena-rei, glossing this as ἀνδρό-γυνοι or "man-women".
They were a warlike people. "The Scythians were among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare. In the 8th century BC they possibly raided Zhou China. Soon after they expanded westwards and 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 (Ordos culture) and the south Siberia (Tagar culture) in the east, creating what has been referred to as the first Central Asian nomadic empire.
We remember the Persian King Darius who allowed the Jews to return to Judah in 538 BCE and rebuild their Temple that the Babylonians had destroyed in 586 BCE. Another Darius did the following: "In 512 BC, when King Darius the Great of Persia attacked the Scythians, he allegedly penetrated into their land after crossing the Danube. Herodotus relates that the nomadic Scythians frustrated the Persian army by letting it march through the entire country without an engagement. According to Herodotus, Darius in this manner came as far as the Volga River. There had been 3 King Darius's, probably all related.