In the first centuries AD, the residents of the Crimea met with another barbarian people that called itself Sauromatians or Sarmatians. They were nomads with language and lifestyle similar to Scythian. There is a legend stating that the Sarmatians descended from the Scythians and woman warriors, the Amazons.
According to it, in very ancient times the Amazons lived in the territory of modern Turkey, near the southern coast of the Black Sea. They raided neighbouring Greek lands and made them so great trouble that they finally collected their strength, invaded the country of the Amazons, and routed them in battle. What happened after was, according to Herodotus, a total surprise. The Greeks "sailed away carrying in three ships as many Amazons as they had been able to lake alive; and out at sea the Amazons attacked the crews and killed them. But they knew nothing about ships, or how to use rudder or sail or oar; and... they were at the mercy of waves and winds..."
At last, the ships with the Amazons came to Scythian coast. "The Amazons landed there, and set out on their journey to the inhabited country, and seizing the first troop of horses they met, they mounted them and raided the Scythian lands." At first, the Scythians took the Amazons for men and started fighting with them; but when they understood whom they had got to do with, they decided to resort to a ruse. They sent their young men to the Amazons who did not combat with the women but seduced them and got them in marriages. Nevertheless, the Amazons refused to live in Scythia, so they told to their husbands: "If you want to keep us for wives.., go to your parents and let them give you the allotted share of their possessions, and after that let us go and live by ourselves." And so it happened. The Amazons and their husbands went a three days journey from Scythia northwards and made that area their home. Their descendants were the Sauromatians.
Having remembered their origin, Sauromatian women held an unusually high social status, in contrast to most nomadic societies. Nevertheless, the researches conducted by historians and archaeologists confirmed the information derived from Herodotus, even if not every detail was exactly the same as the classical historian described: "The women of the Sauromatians have followed their ancient ways; they ride out hunting, with their men or without them; they go to war, and dress the same as the men... In regard to marriage, it is the custom that no maiden weds until she has killed a man of the enemy; and some of them grow old and die unmarried, because they cannot fulfil the law."
The main wealth of the nomads was their cattle, so they roamed along the Black Sea steppes, following their herds. Similarly to other nomads, the Sarmatians did not have permanent houses or settlements. Strabo informed that " their tents, made of felts, are fastened on the wagons in which they spend their lives; and round about the tents are the herds which afford the milk, cheese, and meat on which they live; and they follow the grazing herds, from time to time moving to other places that have grass..."
Meet, cheese and milk were their main foodstuff, skins and wool of animals were raw materials to make clothes and shoes, horse tack and various goods. The Sarmatians could not produce bread, wine, some types of fine ornaments and pottery, so they exchanged them from the Greeks or took as trophies of war. The Sarmatians initially lived in the steppe north of the Black Sea coast, also in the north of the Crimea and came to the peninsula to plunder its residents, or to participate in a war between the Scythians and Greeks, or to do some trade.
A famous Sarmatian grave was discovered in the so-called Nogaychi barrow near the village of Chervonoye (former Nogaychi) in Nizhnegorskiy district. The burial of a woman of extremely high social status, probably queen or priestess, was made into the barrow mound constructed in the Bronze Age. The dead lade wore dress embroidered with gold badges, and numerous gold ornaments, diadem of twisted chains, earrings with encrustations, neckring with images of fabulous griffins, and bracelets with portraits of Eros and his beloved Psyche. Near her body, there were silver vessels and casket with cosmetic set and different fine orna- ments. The grave was covered with soil thus making the old mound about three metres bigger; then they performed an unusual rite of pouring natural oil on the barrow and burning it.
Time passed, and the Sarmatians turned to settled life. They became residents of the Late Scythian settlements and quickly mixed with their population. Soon afterwards, goods that remained did not allow the researcher to decide were their owners Scythians or Sarmatians. Sarmatian cemeteries proper appeared as well in the valleys of rivers of the Kacha and Al'ma, Bel'bek, Malyy Salgir, and Zuya in the Crimea. There probably were isolated groups of the Sarmatians residing in that area without mixing with other tribes. The cemeteries related with them have not been discovered yet.
Many Sarmatians migrated to Bosporos. They even became related to the ruling dynasty, which was the reason why several kings bore the name of Sauromates.
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