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Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Cimmerians or Kimmerians (Greek: , Kimmerioi) were an ancient Indo-European people

living north of the Caucasus as early as 1300 BC. In the 8th century BC, under pressure from the Scythians, they
migrated around the Black Sea.[1] Linguistically they are usually regarded as Iranian, or possibly Thracian with an
Iranian ruling class.
After their exodus from the Pontic steppe, the Cimmerians probably assaulted Urartu about 714 BC; but in 705,
after being repulsed by Sargon II of Assyria, they turned towards Anatolia and in 696695 conquered Phrygia.
They reached the height of their power in 652 after taking Sardis, the capital of Lydia. Soon after 619, Alyattes
of Lydia defeated them. There are no further mentions of them in historical sources, but it is likely that they settled
in Cappadocia.[2]

1 History
1.1 Origins
1.2 Historical appearance
1.3 Possible descendants
2 Appearance in myths of other peoples
3 Language
4 Archaeology
5 Timeline
6 Modern fiction
7 See also
8 References
9 Sources
10 External links

The origin of the Cimmerians is unclear. They are mostly supposed to have been related to either Iranian or
Thracian speaking groups, or at least to have been ruled by an Iranian elite.[3][4]
According to the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus, the Cimmerians inhabited the region north of the
Caucasus and the Black Sea during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, in what is now Ukraine and Russia. The
archeologist Renate Rolle and others have argued that no one has demonstrated with archeological evidence the
presence of Cimmerians in the southern parts of Russia.[5]
Although the 2006 Encyclopdia Britannica reflects Herodotus, stating, "They [the Cimmerians] probably did
live in the area north of the Black Sea, but attempts to define their original homeland more precisely by
archaeological means, or even to fix the date of their expulsion from their country by the Scythians, have not so



Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

far been completely successful",[3] in recent research academic scholars have made use of documents dating to
centuries earlier than Herodotus, such as intelligence reports to Sargon, and note that these identify the
Cimmerians as living south rather than north of the Black Sea.[6][7]
Scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries had relied on Herodotus's account, but Sir Henry Layard's discoveries in
the royal archives at Nineveh and Calah have enabled the study of new source material that is several centuries
earlier than Herodotus's history.[8] The Assyrian archeological record shows that the Cimmerians, and the land of
Gamir, were located not far from Urartu, (an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian
Highland), south of the Caucasus.[6][7] Military intelligence reports to Sargon in the 8th century BC describe the
Cimmerians as occupying territory south of the Black Sea.[9]

Historical appearance
The first historical record of the Cimmerians appears in Assyrian
annals in the year 714 BC. These describe how a people termed the
Gimirri helped the forces of Sargon II to defeat the kingdom of
Urartu. Their original homeland, called Gamir or Uish desh, seems to
have been located within the buffer state of Mannae. The later
geographer Ptolemy placed the Cimmerian city of Gomara in this
region. After their conquests of Colchis and Iberia in the First
Millennium BC, the Cimmerians also came to be known as Gimirri in
Georgian. According to Georgian historians,[10] the Cimmerians
played an influential role in the development of both the Colchian and
Iberian cultures. The modern-day Georgian word for hero, ,
gmiri, is derived from the word Gimirri. This refers to the
Cimmerians who settled in the area after the initial conquests.

Cimmerian invasions of Colchis,

Urartu and Assyria 715713 BC

Some modern authors assert that the Cimmerians included mercenaries, whom the Assyrians knew as Khumri,
who had been resettled there by Sargon. Later Greek accounts describe the Cimmerians as having previously
lived on the steppes, between the Tyras (Dniester) and Tanais (Don) rivers. Greek and Mesopotamian sources
note several Cimmerian kings including Tugdamme (Lygdamis in Greek; mid-7th century BC), and
Sandakhshatra (late-7th century).
A "mythical" people also named Cimmerians are described in Book 11, 14 of Homer's Odyssey as living beyond
the Oceanus, in a land of fog and darkness, at the edge of the world and the entrance of Hades. Most likely they
were unrelated to the Cimmerians of the Black Sea.[11]
According to the Histories of Herodotus (c. 440 BC), the Cimmerians had been expelled from the steppes by
the Scythians. To ensure burial in their ancestral homeland, the men of the Cimmerian royal family divided into
groups and fought each other to the death. The Cimmerian commoners buried the bodies along the river Tyras
and fled from the Scythian advance, across the Caucasus and into Anatolia.[12]
The Assyrians recorded the migrations of the Cimmerians, as the former people's king Sargon II was killed in
battle against them in 705 BC. The Cimmerians were subsequently recorded as having conquered Phrygia in
696695 BC, prompting the Phrygian king Midas to take poison rather than face capture. In 679 BC, during the
reign of Esarhaddon of Assyria (r. 681669 BC), they attacked Cilicia and Tabal under their new ruler Teushpa.
Esarhaddon defeated them near Hubushna (Hupisna).




Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 654 BC or 652 BC the exact date is unclear the Cimmerians attacked the kingdom of Lydia, killing the
Lydian king Gyges and causing great destruction to the Lydian capital of Sardis. They returned ten years later
during the reign of Gyges' son Ardys II; this time they captured the city, with the exception of the citadel. The fall
of Sardis was a major shock to the powers of the region; the Greek poets Callinus and Archilochus recorded the
fear that it inspired in the Greek colonies of Ionia, some of which were attacked by Cimmerian and Treres
The Cimmerian occupation of Lydia was brief, however, possibly due to an outbreak of plague. They were
beaten back by Alyattes II of Lydia.[13] This defeat marked the effective end of Cimmerian power. The term
Gimirri was used about a century later in the Behistun inscription (c. 515 BC) as a Babylonian equivalent of
Persian Saka (Scythians). Otherwise, Cimmerians disappeared from western Asian historical accounts, and their
fate was unknown. It has been speculated that they settled in Cappadocia, known in Armenian as ,
Gamir-k (the same name as the original Cimmerian homeland in Mannae).

Possible descendants
Herodotus thought that the Cimmerians and the Thracians were closely related, writing that both peoples
originally inhabited the northern shore of the Black Sea, and both were displaced about 700 BC, by invaders
from the east. Whereas the Cimmerians would have departed this ancestral homeland by heading east and south
across the Caucasus, the Thracians migrated southwest into the Balkans, where they established a successful and
long-lived culture. The Tauri, the original inhabitants of Crimea, are sometimes identified as a people related to
the Cimmerians and later the Taurisci.
Premodern historians asserted Cimmerian descent for the Celts or the Germans, arguing from the similarity of
Cimmerii to Cimbri or Cymry. It is unlikely that either Proto-Celtic or Proto-Germanic peoples entered western
Europe as late as the 7th century BC; their formation was commonly associated with the Bronze Age Urnfield
and Nordic Bronze Age cultures, respectively. The etymology of Cymro "Welshman" (plural: Cymry),
connected to the Cimmerians by 17th-century Celticists, is now accepted by Celtic linguists as being derived
from a Brythonic word *kom-brogos,[14][15][16][17] meaning "compatriots", (i.e. fellow-Brythons as opposed to
the Anglo-Saxons).
The Cambridge Ancient History classifies the Maeotians as either a people of Cimmerian ancestry or as
Caucasian aboriginals under Iranian overlordship.[18]

Appearance in myths of other peoples

In sources beginning with the Royal Frankish Annals, the Merovingian kings of the Franks traditionally traced
their lineage through a pre-Frankish tribe called the Sicambri (or Sugambri), mythologized as a group of
"Cimmerians" from the mouth of the Danube river, but who instead came from Gelderland in modern Netherlands
and are named for the Sieg river[19] or which could derive from that of the Cimbri as their chieftain names have
the same suffix -rix.
Another possible link between the Cimmerians from the Tyras and Tanais rivers and the Nordic countries and
possibly the Sicambri of the lower Rhine is the fact that the eastern amber road was a trade link between the
Baltic Sea and the Black Sea over which there was a diffusion of cultures. The main eastern amber road was fully
operational as soon as the 19th century BC and went over rivers Dnepr, Pripyat, Western Bug and Vistula.
There are also archaeological evidence in southern Scandinavia showing the arrival of an invasive culture on the
shores of the Baltic Sea around 1200 BC, which is about the same time that heralded the younger Nordic
Bronze Age. It seems that this invasive culture stretched from the Vistula estuary over Scania, Zealand, Fyn and
Himmerland in Northern Jutland and Helgoland, which largely encompasses an arch of the richest deposits of



Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

amber in Europe. It is known from the Greek cartographer Pytheas of Massalia (4th century BC) that this arch
corresponded to the location of a people Pytheas called Gotones. Pytheas also mentions that the Gotones were
neighbors of the Teutones that lived in south Jutland and Holstein.
According to Pliny the Elder, the stretch of lands between the Vistula Estuary to the Black Sea was called
'Scythia'. Thus, it is possible that there was a top-stratum of Cimmerian knights taking hold of the Baltic amber
deposits as early as BCE 1200 1000 and that they later gave rise to the Gotones, Teutones and Cimbrii and in
consequence to the Sicambri as well. Looking for other indications, it seems that 'Cim' is cognate with an IEP
'khim' from which is derived 'home' in English and 'heim' in Old Norse. The second part, 'mer', would either
mean 'sea', probably pointing to a homeland near the Black Sea, or potentially meaning 'great' (cc: Gothic
Also, the Biblical name "Gomer" has been linked in some sources to the Cimmerians.

Only a few personal names in the Cimmerian language
have survived in Assyrian inscriptions:



Te-ush-pa-a; according to the Hungarian linguist

8th century BC
Jnos Harmatta, it goes back to Old Iranian TavisLanguage Indo-European
paya "swelling with strength".[4] Mentioned in the
annals of Esarhaddon, has been compared to the
Hurrian war deity Teshub; others interpret it as
Iranian, comparing the Achaemenid name Teispes
Language codes
(Herodotus 7.11.2).
ISO 639- None (mis)
Dug-dam-mei (Dugdamm) king of the Ummn3
Manda (nomads) appears in a prayer of
Linguist 08i
Ashurbanipal to Marduk, on a fragment at the
British Museum. According to professor Harmatta,
it goes back to Old Iranian Duda-maya "giving
Glottolog None
happiness". Other spellings include Dugdammi,
and Tugdamm. Edwin M. Yamauchi also interprets the name as Iranian, citing Ossetic Tux-domg
"Ruling with Strength."[20] The name appears corrupted to Lygdamis in Strabo 1.3.21.
Sandaksatru, son of Dugdamme. This is an Iranian reading of the name, and Manfred Mayrhofer (1981)
points out that the name may also be read as Sandakurru. Mayrhofer likewise rejects the interpretation of
"with pure regency" as a mixing of Iranian and Indo-Aryan. Ivancik suggests an association with the
Anatolian deity Sanda. According to Professor J. Harmatta, it goes back to Old Iranian Sanda-Kuru
"Splendid Son".[4] Kur/Kuru is still used as "son" in the Kurdish languages, and in modified form in
Persian as korr, for the male offspring of horses.
Some researchers have attempted to trace various place names to Cimmerian origins. It has been suggested that
Cimmerium gave rise to the Turkic toponym Qrm (which in turn gave rise to the name "Crimea").[21]
Based on ancient Greek historical sources, a Thracian[22][23] or a Celtic[24] association is sometimes assumed.
According to Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt, the language of the Cimmerians could have been a
"missing link" between Thracian and Iranian.




Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Koban culture (Northern Caucasus, 12th to 4th centuries BC)

Cernogorovka culture (9th to 8th centuries)
Novocerkassk culture (8th to 7th centuries, between Danube and Volga)

800 BC Cimmerians begin migration out of the Pontic-Caspian steppe into Anatolia following incursions
into their territories by Scythians.
721715 BC Sargon II mentions a land of Gamirr near to Urartu.
714 suicide of Rusas I of Urartu, after defeat by both the Assyrians and Cimmerians.
705 Sargon II of Assyria dies on an expedition against the Kulummu.
695 Cimmerians destroy Phrygia. Death of king Midas.
679/678 Gimirri under a ruler called Teushpa invade Assyria from Hubuschna (Cappadocia?).
Esarhaddon of Assyria defeats them in battle.
676-674 Cimmerians invade and destroy Phrygia, and reach Paphlagonia.
654 or 652 Gyges of Lydia dies in battle against the Cimmerians. Sack of Sardis; Cimmerians and
Treres plunder Ionian colonies.
644 Cimmerians occupy Sardis, but withdraw soon afterwards
637-626 Cimmerians defeated by Alyattes II.
c. 515 Last historical record of Cimmerians, in the Behistun inscription of Darius.

Modern fiction
Robert E. Howard used the name "Cimmerians" for the people from whom his most well-known character,
Conan the Barbarian, is descended. The people depicted in the Conan books have a quasi-Irish culture (for
example, "Conan" is an Old Irish name), and are depicted as being the legendary ancestors of both the Gaels of
Ireland and Scotland and the historic Cimmerians of the Black Sea. A consequent 1982 film brought this world
to the larger popular culture. The Cimmerians were portrayed as a nation of artisans, although bearers of a
sparse 'secret of steel', possibly arms producers, with some warfare tradition.
Episode 9 of the Stargate series takes place on the planet Cimmeria (P3X-974), a planet inhabited by Viking
descendants making these "Cimmerians" loosely related to the historical ones see Cimmerians (Stargate)
Use of the Cimmerian language and history is referenced and even metaphorically central to the apocryphal
nature of progress in the plot of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. It is described by Italo Calvino's characters as
ancient and unknown, but to a very select few individuals, and use of the language in writings was a matter of
conspiracy theories.

See also




Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1. Gordon, Bruce. "Regnal Chronologies". Retrieved 8 May 2013.

2. "Cimmerian (people)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
3. "The origin of the Cimmerians is obscure. Linguistically they are usually regarded as Thracian or as Iranian, or
at least to have had an Iranian ruling class." "Cimmerian" (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9082650), in
Encyclopdia Britannica, 2006, Retrieved August 30, 2006. Quote: "The origin of the Cimmerians is obscure.
Linguistically they are usually regarded as Thracian or as Iranian, or at least to have had an Iranian ruling class."
4. J.Harmatta: "Scythians" UNESCO Collection of History of Humanity: Volume III: From the Seventh Century BC
to the Seventh Century AD, Routledge/UNESCO. 1996, p. 182
5. Renate Rolle, "Urartu und die Reiternomaden", in: Saeculum 28, 1977, S. 291339
6. Cozzoli, Umberto (1968). I Cimmeri. Rome Italy: Arti Grafiche Citta di Castello (Roma).
7. Salvini, Mirjo (1984). Tra lo Zagros e l'Urmia: richerche storiche ed archeologiche nell'Azerbaigian iraniano.
Rome Italy: Ed. Dell'Ateneo (Roma).
8. K. Deller, "Ausgewhlte neuassyrische Briefe betreffend Uraru zur Zeit Sargons II.," in P.E. Pecorella and M.
Salvini (eds), Tra lo Zagros e l'Urmia. Ricerche storiche ed archeologiche nell'Azerbaigian Iraniano,
Incunabula Graeca 78 (Rome 1984) 97122.
9. Kristensen, Anne Katrine Gade (1988). Who were the Cimmerians, and where did they come from?: Sargon II,
and the Cimmerians, and Rusa I. Copenhagen Denmark: The Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters.
10. Berdzenishvili, N., Dondua V., Dumbadze, M., Melikishvili G., Meskhia, Sh., Ratiani, P., History of Georgia
(Vol. 1), Tbilisi, 1958, pp. 3436
11. "Cimmerians" () (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?
doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2357414), Henry Liddell & Robert Scott, Perseus,
Tufts University
12. Herodotus, Histories, Book 4, sections 1112.
13. Herodotus, 1.16; Polyaenus, 7.2.1, Sergei R. Tokhtasev "Cimmerians" in the Encyclopedia Iranica (1991),
several nineteenth-century summaries.
14. Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, vol. I, p. 770.
15. Jones, J. Morris. Welsh Grammar: Historical and Comparative. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
16. Russell, Paul. Introduction to the Celtic Languages. London: Longman, 1995.
17. Delamarre, Xavier. Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Paris: Errance, 2001.
18. Boardman & Edwards 1991, p. 572
19. Geary, Patrick J. Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988
20. Yamauchi, Edwin M (1982). Foes from the Northern Frontier: Invading Hordes from the Russian Steppes.
Grand Rapids MI USA: Baker Book House.
21. Asimov, Isaac (1991). Asimov's Chronology of the World. New York: HarperCollins. p. 50.
22. Meljukova, A. I. (1979). Skifija i Frakijskij Mir. Moscow.
23. Strabo ascribes the Treres to the Thracians at one place (13.1.8) and to the Cimmerians at another (14.1.40)
24. Posidonius in Strabo 7.2.2.

Boardman, John; Edwards, I. E. S. (1991). The Cambridge Ancient History. Volume 3. Part 2.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521227178. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
Ivanchik A.I. "Cimmerians and Scythians", 2001
Terenozhkin A.I., Cimmerians, Kiev, 1983
Cimmerian. (2006). In Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from Encyclopdia
Britannica Premium Service: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9082650
Collection of Slavonic and Foreign Language Manuscripts St.St Cyril and Methodius Bulgarian
National Library: http://www.nationallibrary.bg/slavezryk_en.html

External links
Wiki Classical Dictionary: Cimmerians

Wikisource has the text of

the 1920 Encyclopedia


Cimmerians - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cimmerians on Stevequayle.com

Americana article

Cimmerians on Regnal Chronologies (http://www.hostkingdom.net/siberia.html#Cimmerians)
map of the distribution of "Cimmerian" bronze finds in Europe
Cimmerians (http://www.livius.org/cg-cm/cimmerians/cimmerians.html) by Jona Lendering
Dorin Srbu, A controversial archeological phenomenon: the Cimmerian Culture (Romanian (full)
(http://apar.archaeology.ro/ds_artrja.htm) and English (abstract)
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