A nomadic people which was known in ancient times as occupying territory north of the Black Sea and east of the Carpathian Mountains. Herodotus relates how they swept down over Media and across to the shores of the Mediterranean, even to the threshold of Egypt. So far as can be determined this was between 628 and 610 B.C. The King of Egypt, it is said, bought them off and induced them to return. They were foragers and pillagers, and hence left no traces of any system of government inaugurated by them. It is true that there was a city in Palestine called Scythopolis (earlier Beth-shean); but it is not known that it owes its name to these barbarians. By many it is thought that Jer. iv. 3-vi. 30 refers to the ravages of the Scythian invaders; and it is possible that Ezekiel in picturing the hordes that poured down from the north (Ezek. xxxviii.) had the Scythians in mind. It has been suggested that the Ashkenaz of the Bible is equivalent to Scythia.

In Roman times Scythia is designated as a territory in northeastern Europe and Nearer Asia, occupied by barbarians of various types without any definite and fixed character. Paul in his letter to the Colossians (Col. iii. 11) speaks of the Scythian and the barbarian as those whom Christianity unifies. From the random references to them the Scythians seem to have been peoples of unknown home in central Asia, whose character and habits were ascertained only as they crowded themselves upon the civilized nations of southwestern Asia and southern Europe in the centuries from 600 B.C. down to the first century of the common era.

J. I. M. P.
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