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Ancient Cimmerians

Around 710 BC the Cimmerians were pushed out of the Ukraine by an Indo-Iranian tribe called the Scythians. A few of them moved into the Crimea where they lingered on long enough to give that Black Sea peninsula its name (The name Crimea is derived from Cimmeria). Most of them however moved south where the destruction of the first Armenian Kingdom by the Assyrians left an opening for them to enter the Middle East. The Cimmerians were probably still using chariots when first attacked by the Scythians but their success after this argues that soon they were also fighting Scythian style on horseback.

Assyria was too strong for the Cimmerians so the nomads entered Anatolia (Turkey). They destroyed the Phrygian Kingdom in 687 BC and wasted Lydia in 652 BC. Finally in the middle of the century Assyria's King Ashurbanipal inflicted a crushing defeat upon them; the survivors fled and joined up with the Scythian bands.

The Cimmerians are credited with being the people who first domesticated the horse, which they raised in great numbers and prized as symbols of wealth and status. However they used it as a draft animal for about 500 years before they learned to ride it, going into battle on war chariots drawn by one or two horses. With the development of improved bridles and stirrups Indo-European warriors began to ride horses instead ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium