Ancient Near East
Images & Art
Maps & Geography
Mythology & Beliefs
People in History
Timelines & Charts
Map of the Roman Empire - Sarmatia
M-1 on the Map
Ancient Sarmatia Ancient territory of southern Russia and part of northern Europe and Asia. The territory of ancient Sarmatia ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south.
Sarmatia (Σαρματία). The eastern part of Poland and southern part of Russia in Europe. A name first used by Mela for the part of northern Europe and Asia extending from the Vistula (Wisla) and the Sarmatĭci Montes on the west, which divided it from Germany, to the Rha (Volga) on the east, which divided it from Scythia; bounded on the southwest and south by the rivers Ister (Danube), Tibiscus (Theiss), and Tyras (Dniester), which divided it from Pannonia and Dacia, and, farther, by the Euxine, and beyond it by Mount Caucasus, which divided it from Colchis, Iberia, and Albania; and extending on the north as far as the Baltic and the unknown regions of northern Europe. The people from whom the name of Sarmatia was derived inhabited only a small portion of the country. The greater part of it was peopled by Scythian tribes; but some of the inhabitants of its western part seem to have been of German origin, as the Venedi on the Baltic, and Iazyges, Rhoxolani, and Hamaxobii in southern Russia; the chief of the other tribes west of the Tanaïs were the Alauni or Alani Scythae, a Scythian people who came out of Asia and settled in the central part of Russia. The whole country was divided by the river Tanaïs (Don) into two parts, called respectively Sarmatia Europaea and Sarmatia Asiatica; but it should be observed that, according to the modern division of the continent, the whole of Sarmatia belongs to Europe. It should also be noticed that the Chersonesus Taurica (Crimea), though falling within the specified limits, was not considered as a part of Sarmatia, but as a separate country. In a general way the name Sarmatia is often used very indefinitely of the whole of northeastern Europe. The historical sources of our knowledge of Sarmatia in ancient times are collected and discussed by Kalina, De Fontibus, etc. (1872). - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.
The Sarmatians (Latin Sarmatæ or Sauromatæ, Greek Σαρμάται, Σαυρομάται) were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD. Their territory was known as Sarmatia to Greco-Roman ethnographers, corresponding to the western part of greater Scythia (modern Southern Russia, Ukraine, and the eastern Balkans). At their greatest reported extent, around 100 BC, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south. The Sarmatians declined in the 4th century with the incursions connected to the Migration period (Huns, Goths, Turks). The descendants of the Sarmatians became known as the Alans during the Early Middle Ages, and ultimately gave rise to the modern Ossetic ethnic group. - Wikipedia
Sarmatia Asiatica, a country of Asia, extending from Tanais fl. w. and
the Euxine to Rha fl. E., bounded n. by Terra Incognita, s. by Armenia, Iberia,
and Colchis at Caucasus m.
Sarmatia Europea, a country of Europe, extending from Tyras fl. w. to Tanais fl. E., bounded N. by Terra Incognita, and s. by Palus Mseotis. - Classical Gazetteer
Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.
SARMA´TIA (Σαρμάτια: Eth. Σαρμάται), the name of a country in Europe and Asia. For the earlier and Greek forms of the word see SAUROMATAE
That S-rm is the same root as S-rb, so that Sarmatae and Serbi, Servi, Sorabi, Srb, &c., may be, not only the name for the same populations, but also the same name, has been surmised, and that upon not unreasonable grounds. The name seems to have first reached the Greeks through the Scythians of the lower Dnieper and Don, who applied it to a non-Scythic population. Whether this non-Scythic population used it themselves, and whether it was limited to them by the Scythians, is uncertain. It was a name, too, which the Getae used; also one used by some of the Pannonian populations. It was, probably, the one which the Sarmatians themselves used partially, their neighbours generally, just like Galli, Graeci, and many others.
More important than the origin of the name are the questions concerning (1) the area, (2) the population to which it applied. Our chief authority on this point is Ptolemy; Strabo's notices are incidental and fragmentary.
The area given by Strabo to the Galatae and Germani, extends as far as the Borysthenes, or even the Don, the Tyrigetae being the. most western of the non-German countries of the southeast, and the Bastarnae being doubtful,--though, perhaps, German (vii. p. 289). Of a few particular nations, such as the Jazyges, Hamaxobii, and Roxolani, a brief notice is given, without, however, any special statement as to their Sarmatian or non-Sarmatian affinities. In Asia, the country of the Sauromatae is called the plains of the Sarmatae, as opposed to the mountains of Caucasus. The inordinate size given to Germany by Strabo well nigh obliterates, not only Sarmatia, but Scythia in Europe as well.
Pliny's notices are as incidental as Strabo's, and nearly as brief,--the development of Germany eastwards [p. 2.915]being also inordinate. He carries it as far as the country of the Bastarnae.
The Germany of Tacitus is bounded on the east by the Sarmatae and Daci. The Sarmatae here are the population of a comparatively small area between the Danube and Theiss, and on the boundaries of Hungary, Moldavia, and Gallicia. But they are something more. They are the type of a large class widely spread both eastward and northward; a class of equal value with that of the Germani. This, obviously, subtracts something from the vast extent of the Germania of Strabo (which nearly meant Northern Europe); but not enough. The position of the Bastarnae, Peucini, Venedi, and Finni, is still an open question. [SCYTHIA]
This prepares us for something more systematic, and it is in Ptolemy that we find it. The SARMATIAE of Ptolemy fall into (1) the EUROPEAN, and (2) the ASIATIC.
I. SARMATIA EUROPAEA.
The western boundary is the Vistula; the northern the Baltic, as far as the Venedic gulf and a tract of unknown country; the southern, the country of the Jazyges Metanastae and Dacia; the eastern, the isthmus of the Crimea, and the Don. This gives us parts of Poland and Gallicia, Litlhuania, Esthonia, and Western Russia. It includes the Finni (probably a part only), and the Alauni, who are Scythians eo nomine (Ἀλαῦνοι Σκύθαι). It includes the Bastarnae, the Peucini, and more especially the Venedi. It also includes the simple Jazyges, as opposed to the Jazyges Metanastae, who form a small section by themselves. All these, with the exception of the Finni, are especially stated to be the great nations of Sarmatia (to which add the Roxolani and Hamaxobii), as opposed to the smaller ones.
Of the greater nations of Samatia Europaea, the Peucini and Bastarnae of Ptolemy are placed further north than the Peucini and Bastarnae of his predecessors. By later writers they are rarely mentioned. [VENEDI.] Neither are the Jazyges, who are the Jazyges Sarmatae of Strabo. These, along with the Roxolani, lay along the whole side (ὅλην τὴν πλευρὰν) of the Maeotis, say in Kherson, Tauris and Ekaterinoslav. [ROXOLANI] Hamaxobii is merely a descriptive term. It probably was applied to some Scythian population. Pliny writes Hamaxobii aut Aorsi, a fact of which further notice is taken below. The Alauni, notwithstanding an Ἀλαῦνον ὄρος, and other complications, can scarcely be other than the Alani of Caucasus; the ἀλκήεντες Ἄλαυνοι of the Periegesis (1. 302) are undoubted Scythians. Nestor, indeed has a population otherwise unknown, called Uliczi, the czi being non-radical, which is placed on the Dniester. It does not, however, remove the difficulty.
The Peucini were best known as the occupants of one of the islands at the mouth of the Danube. They may also, however, have extended far into Bessarabia. So manifold are the changes that a word with Sarmatian or Scythian inflexion can undergo, that it is not improbable that Peuc-ini may be the modern words Budjack and Bess, in Bess-arabia. The following are the actual forms which the name of the Patz-inacks, exactly in the country of the Peuc-ini, undergoes in the mediaeval and Byzantine writers. Πατζινακῖται, Pecenatici, Pizenaci, Pincenates, Postinagi, Peczenjezi (in Slavonic), Petinei, Pecinei (the nearest approach to Peucini.) Then, in the direction of Budziak and Bessi, Behnakije, Petschnakije, Pezina-völlr (in Norse), Bisseni and Bessi, (Zeuss, Die Deutschen, &c. s. vv. Pecinaci and Cumani). The Patzinaks were Scythians, who cannot be shown to be of recent origin in Europe. They may, then, have been the actual descendants of the Peucini; though this is not necessary, for they may have been a foreign people who, on reaching the country of the Peuc-ini, took the name; in such a case being Peuc-ini in the way that an Englishman is a Briton, i. e. not at all. The difference between the Peucini and Bastarnae was nominal. Perhaps the latter were Moldavian rather than Bessarabian. The Atmoni and Siaones of Strabo were Bastarnae.
The geography of the minor nations is more obscure, the arrangement of Ptolemy being some-what artificial. He traces them in two parallel columns, from north to south, beginning, in both cases with the country of the Venedi, and taking the eastern bank of the Vistula first. The first name on this list is that of the Gythones, south of the Venedi. It is not to be understood by this that the Venedi lay between the Gythones and the Baltic, so as to make the latter an inland people, but simply that the Venedi of the parts about Memel lay north of the Gythones of the parts about Elbing. Neither can this people be separated from the Guttones and Aestyii, i. e. the populations of the amber country, or East Prussia.
The Finni succeed (Γύθωνες εἶτα Φίννοι). It is not likely that these Finns (if Finns of Finland) can have laid due south of East Prussia; though not impossible. They were, probably, on the east.
The Bulanes (Sulones?), with the Phrugundiones to the south, and the Avareni at the head of the Vistula, bring us to the Dacian frontier. The details here are all conjectural. Zeuss has identified the Bulanes with the Borani of Zosimus, who, along with the Goths, the Carpi, and the Urugundi, attacked the empire under Gallus. In Nestor a population called Sul-iczi occupies a locality between the Dnieper and Dniester: but this is too far east. In Livonia, Henry the Lett gives prominence to the nation of the Selones, a likelier identification.
For Bulanes (supposing this to be the truer reading) the word Polyane gives us the most plausible signification. Nestor uses it frequently. It is Pole, primarily meaning occupants of plains. Wherever, then, there were plains they might be Polyane; and Nestor actually mentions two divisions of them; the Lekhs, or Poles of the Vistula, and the Polyane of the Dnieper.
The Phrugundiones of Ptolemy have always been a crux geographica. Name for name, they are so like Burgundiones as to have suggested the idea of a migration from Poland to Burgundy. Then there are the Urugundi and Burgundi of the Byzantine writers (see Zeuss, s. vv. Borani, Urugundi), with whom the Ptolemaean population is, probably, identical. The writer who is unwilling to assume migrations unnecessarily will ask whether the several Burgundys may not be explained on the principle suggested by the word Polyane, i. c. whether the word may not be the name of more than one locality of the same physical conditions. Probably, this is the case. In the German, and also in the Slavonic languages, the word Fairguni, Fergund, Vergunt, Virgunda, Virgunndia, and Viraunnia, mean hill-range, forest, elevated tract. [p. 2.916]Of these there might be any amount,--their occurrence in different and distant parts by no means implying migrations.
The Avareni may be placed in Gallicia.
South of them come the Ombrones, and the Anarto-phracti. Are these the Arnartes of Caesar? The Anartes of Caesar were on the eastern confines of the Hercynian forest (Bell. Gall. 6.24, 25), conterminous with the Daci, a fact which, taken along with the physical conditions of the country, gives us Western Gallicia, or Austrian Silesia, for the Anarto-phracti. Then come the Burgiones, then the Arsiaetae (compare with Aorsi), then the Saboki, then the Piengitae, and then the Bessi, along the Carpathian Mountains. Gallicia, with parts of Volhynia, and Podolia give us ample room for these obscure, and otherwise unnamed, populations.
The populations of the second column lie to the east of those just enumerated, beginning again with the Venedi (ὑπὸ τοῦς Οὐενέδας πάλιν). Vilna, Grodno, with parts of Minsk, Volhynia, Podolia, and Kiev give us an area over which we have six names to distribute. Its southern boundary are the Peucinian mountains (Bukhovinia?).
(1.) The Galindae.--These are carried too far east, i.e. if we are right in identifying them with the Galinditae of the Galandia and Golenz of the middle ages, who are East Prussians on the Spirding Lake.
(2.) The Sudeni.--These, again, seem to be the Sudo-vitae (the termination is non-radical in several Prussian names) conterminous with the Galinditae, but to the north-east of them. Their district is called Sudovia.
(3.) The Stavani-Concerning these, we have the startling statement, that they extend as far as the Alauni (μέχρι τῶν Ἀλαύνων). Is not Ἄλαυνοι an erroneous name developed out of some form of Γαλίν-δαι̣ The extension of either the Stavani to Caucasus, or of the Alani to Prussia, is out of the question.
(4.) The Igylliones.--Zeuss has allowed himself (s. v. Jazwingi) to hold that the true form of this word is Ἰτυγγιώνες, and to identify this with a name that appears in so many forms as to make almost any conjecture excusable,--Jazwingi, Jacwingi, Jaczwingi, Jecwesin, Getuinzitae, Getwezitae, Jentuisiones, Jentuosi, Jacintiones, Jatwjazi, Jatwjezi, or Getwesia, and Gotwezia, all actual forms. The area of the population, which was one of the most powerful branches of the Lithuanian stock in the 13th century, was part of Grodno, Minsk, and Volhynia, a locality that certainly suits the Igylliones.
(5.) The Costoboci in Podolia.
(6.) The Transmontani.--This is a name from the Latin of the Dacians,--perhaps, however, a translation of the common Slavonic Za-volovskaje, i. e. over-the-watershed. It was applied, perhaps, to the population on the northern frontier of Dacia in general.
The third list, beginning also with the Venedi, follows the line of the Baltic from Vilna and Courland towards Finland, and then strikes inland, eastwards and southwards. Immediately on the Venedic gulf lie the
(1) Veltae (Οὔελται). Word for word, this is the Vylte and Wilzi of the middle ages; a form which appears as early as Alfred. It was German, i. e. applied by the Franks to certain Slavonic population. It was also native, its plural being Weletabi. Few nations stand out more prominently than these Wilts of the Carlovingian period. They lie, however, to the west of Prussia, and indeed of Pomerania, from which the Oder divided them. In short, they were in Mecklenburg, rather than in Livonia or Esthonia, like the Veltae of Tacitus. Word for word, however, the names are the same. The synonym for these western Wiltae or Welatabi was Liut-ici (Luticzi). This we know from special evidence. A probable synonym for the Veltae of Tacitus was also some form of Lit-. This we infer from their locality being part of the present Lith-uania and Lett-land. Add to this that one writer at least (Adam of Bremen) places Wilzi in the country of Ptolemy's Veltae. The exact explanation of this double appearance of a pair of names is unknown. It is safe, however, to place the Veltae in Lett-land, i. e. in the southern parts of Livonia, and probably in parts of Lithuania Proper and Courland. Constantine Porphyrogeneta mentions them as Veltini. North of the Veltae--
(2.) The Osii (Ossii), probably in the isle of Oesel. It should be added, however, the root ves-, wes-, appears frequently in the geography of Prussia. Osilii, as a name for the occupants of Oesel, appears early in mediaeval history.
(3.) The Carbones, north of the Osii. This is a name of many explanations. It may be the Finn word for forest == Carbo. It may be the root Cur-(or K-r), which appears in a great number of Finn words,--Coralli (Karelian), Cur-(in Cur-land), Kur-(in Kur-sk), &c. The forms Curones and Curonia (Courland) approach it, but the locality is south instead of north. It more probably==Kar-elia. It almost certainly shows that we have passed from the country of the Slavonians and Lithuanians to that of the Esthonians, Ingrians, and Finlanders. Then, to the east,--
(4.) The Kar-eotae.--Here the Kar-is the common Finn root as before. Any part of the government of Novogorod or Olonetz might have supplied the name, the present Finns of both belonging to the Karelian division of the name (the--el-being non-radical). Then--
(5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, &c.) The Sali, south of whom the Agathyrsi, then the Aorsi and Pagyritae, south of whom the Savari, and Borusci as far as the Rhipaean mountains. Then the Akibi and Naski, south of whom the Vibiones and Idrae, and south of the Vibiones, as far as the Alauni, the Sturni. Between the Alauni and Hamaxobii the Karyones and Sargatii. At the bend of the Tanais the Ophlones and Tanaitae.
There are few points in this list which are fixed. The bend of the Tanais (==Don) would place the Ophlones in Ekaterinoslav. The Borusci, if they reached the Rhipaean mountains, and if these were the Uralian rather than the Valdai range, must have extended far beyond both European and Asiatic Sarmatia. The Savari bear a name very like one in Nestor--the Sjevera, on the Desna, Sem, and Sula,--a word that may merely mean northern. It is a name that reappears in Caucasus--Sabeiri.
The Aorsi may be the Ersad (the d is infexional), a branch of the Mordvins, occupant at the present time of a tract on the Oka. The Pa-gyritae may have been the tribes on (po =on) the Gerrhus, such compounds being common in Slavonic, e. g. Po-labi (on the Elbe), Po-morania (on the sea), &c. The whole geography, however, is indefinite and un-certain. [p. 2.917]
For Agathyrsi, see HUNNI The Sargatii are mentioned in Ptolemy.
South of the Tanaitae came the Osuli (? Sol-iczi of Nestor), reaching as far as the Roxolani, i. e. occupying parts of Cherson and Ekaterinoslav.
Between the Roxolani and Hamaxobii the Rhakalani and Exobugitae. The statement of Pliny that the Hamaxobii were Aorsi, combined with similarity of name between Aorsi and Ersad, will not help us here. The Ersad are in the governments of Penza and Tamlov; the direction of the Hamaxobii is more westward. Rhakalani seems but another form of Roxolani. In Exo-bug-itae the middle syllable may give us the root Bug, the modern name of the Hypanis. It has been surmised that this is the case with Sa-bok-ae, and Costo-boc-i. The locality would suit.
Between the Peucini and Basternae (this difference between two nations otherwise identified creates a complication) lie the Carpiani, above whom the Gevini and Budini.
The Carpi must have been near or on the Carpathian Mountains. They appear as a substantive nation in the later history of Rome, in alliance with the Sarmatae, &c. of the Dacian frontier. We have a Victoria Carpica Arpi; Carpiani and Καρποδάκαι (which Zeuss renders Carpathian Dacians) are several forms of this name [CARPI]. They, along with the Costoboci, Armadoci, and Astingi, appear as the most important frontagers of Northern Dacia.
Between the Basternae and Roxolani the Chuni, and under their own mountains (ὑπὸ τὰ ἴδια ὄρη) the Amadoci and Navari, and along the lake (marsh) of Byke the Torekkadae, and along the Achillaean Course (Ἀχιλλέως δρόμον) the Tauroscythae, and south of the Bastarnae in the direction of Dacia the Tagri, and south of them the Tyrangetae.
For Tauroscythae and Tyrangetae, see s. vv. and SCYTHIA
Tagri looks like a modified form of Zagora (tramontane), a common Slavonic geographical name, applicable to many localities.
The Amadoci occupied ἰδία ὄρη, or the Mons Amadocus of Ptolemy. There was also a λίμνη Ἀμαδόκη. This juxta-position of a mountain and lake (pool, or swamp, or fen) should fix their locality more closely than it does. Their history connects them with the Costoboci. (Zeuss, s. vv. Costoboci, Amadoci.) The physical conditions, however, come out less clearly than our present topographical knowledge of Podolia, Minsk, &c. explains. For the Navari see NEURI
The name Chuni is important. [See HUNNI]
In Torek-kad-ae and Exo-bug-itae we have two elements of an apparent compound that frequently occurs in Scytho-Sarmatian geography--Tyn-get-ae, &c., Costo-bok-i, Sa-boc-i. The geography is quite compatible in the presence of these elements.
RIVERS.-From the Vistula eastwards, the Chronus, the Rhubon, the Turuntus, the Chersinos,--the order of the modern names being the Pregel, Memel, Duna, Aa, and Neva. For the drainage of the Black Sea, see SCYTHIA
MOUNTAINS.-Peuce, the Montes Amadoci, the Mons Budinus, the Mons Alaunus, the Mons Carpathus, the Venedic mountains, the Rhipaean mountains. None of these are definitely identified. It is difficult to say how Ptolemy named the most important range of so flat a tract as Russia, viz., the Valdai Mountains. On the other hand, the names of his text imply more mountains than really exist. All his mountains were, probably, spurs of the Carpathians, just as in Sarmiatia Asiatica they were of Caucasus.
TOWNS.-See SCYTHIA - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.
Greek and Roman Ethnography
Herodotus (Histories 4.21) in the fifth century BC placed the land of the
Sarmatians east of the Tanais, beginning at the corner of the Maeotian Lake,
stretching northwards for fifteen days' journey, adjacent to the forested land
of the Budinoi. Herodotus describes the Sarmatians' physical appearance as
blond, stout and tanned, in short, pretty much as the Scythians and Thracians
were seen by the other classical authors.[who?]
As seen in Roman depictions of Sarmatians they are of caucasian types
Herodotus (4.110-117) gives a story of the Sauromatians' origin from an unfortunate marriage of a band of young Scythian men and a group of Amazons. In the story, some Amazons were captured in battle by Greeks in Pontus (northern Turkey) near the river Thermodon, and the captives were loaded into three boats. They overcame their captors while at sea, but were not able sailors. Their ships were blown north to the Maeotian Lake (the Sea of Azov) onto the shore of Scythia near the cliff region (today's southeastern Crimea). After encountering the Scythians and learning the Scythian language, they agreed to marry Scythian men, but only on the condition that they move away and not be required to follow the customs of Scythian women. According to Herodotus, the descendants of this band settled toward the northeast beyond the Tanais (Don) river and became the Sauromatians. Herodotus' account explains the origins of the Sarmatians' language as an "impure" form of Scythian and credits the unusual freedoms of Sauromatae women, including participation in warfare, as an inheritance from their supposed Amazon ancestors. Later writers[who?] refer to the "woman-ruled Sarmatae" (γυναικοκρατούμενοι). However, Herodotus' belief that the Sarmatians were descendants of mythological Amazons is very likely a fictional invention designed to explain certain idiosyncrasies of Sarmatian culture.
Hippocrates (De Aere, etc., 24) explicitly classes them as Scythian and describes them as "swarthy, short and fat, of a phlegmatic and relaxed temperament".
Strabo mentions the Sarmatians in a number of places, never saying very much about them. He uses both Sarmatai and Sauromatai, but never together, and never suggesting that they are different peoples. He often pairs Sarmatians and Scythians in reference to a series of ethnic names, never stating which is which, as though Sarmatian or Scythian could apply equally to them all.
In Strabo, the Sarmatians extend from above the Danube eastward to the Volga, and from north of the Dnepr into the Caucasus, where, he says, they are called Caucasii like everyone else there. This statement indicates that the Alans already had a home in the Caucasus, without waiting for the Huns to push them there.
Even more significantly, he points to a Celtic admixture in the region of the Basternae, who, he says, are of Germanic origin. The Celtic Boii, Scordisci and Taurisci are there. A fourth ethnic element being melted in are the Thracians (7.3.2). Moreover, the peoples toward the north are Keltoskythai, "Celtic Scythians" (11.6.2).
Strabo also portrays the peoples of the region as being nomadic, or Hamaksoikoi, "wagon-dwellers" and Galaktophagoi, "milk-eaters" referring, no doubt, to the universal koumiss eaten in historical times. The wagons were used for porting tents made of felt, which must have been the yurts used universally by Asian nomads.
Pliny the Elder writes (4.12.79-81):
From this point (the mouth of the Danube) all the races in general are Scythian, though various sections have occupied the lands adjacent to the coast, in one place the Getae … at another the Sarmatae … Agrippa describes the whole of this area from the Danube to the sea … as far as the river Vistula in the direction of the Sarmatian desert … The name of the Scythians has spread in every direction, as far as the Sarmatae and the Germans, but this old designation has not continued for any except the most outlying sections ....
According to Pliny, Scythian rule once extended as far as Germany. Jordanes supports this hypothesis by telling us on the one hand that he was familiar with the Geography of Ptolemy, which includes the entire Balto-Slavic territory in Sarmatia, and on the other that this same region was Scythia. By "Sarmatia", Jordanes means only the Aryan territory. The Sarmatians therefore did come from the Scythians.
Tacitus' De Origine et situ Germanorum speaks of “mutual fear” between Germanic peoples and Sarmatians:
All Germania is divided from Gaul, Raetia, and Pannonia by the Rhine and Danube rivers; from the Sarmatians and the Dacians by shared fear and mountains. The Ocean laps the rest, embracing wide bays and enormous stretches of islands. Just recently, we learned about certain tribes and kings, whom war brought to light.
According to Tacitus, like the Persians, the Sarmatians wore long, flowing robes (ch 17). Moreover, the Sarmatians exacted tribute from the Cotini and Osi, and iron from the Cotini (ch. 43), “to their shame” (presumably because they could have used the iron to arm themselves and resist).
By the 3rd century BC, the Sarmatian name appears to have supplanted the Scythian in the plains of what is now south Ukraine. The geographer, Ptolemy, reports them at what must be their maximum extent, divided into adjoining European and central Asian sections. Considering the overlap of tribal names between the Scythians and the Sarmatians, no new displacements probably took place. The people were the same Indo-Europeans they used to be, but now under yet another name.
Later, Pausanias, viewing votive offerings near the Athenian Acropolis in the 2nd century AD, found among them a Sauromic breastplate.
On seeing this a man will say that no less than Greeks are foreigners skilled in the arts: for the Sauromatae have no iron, neither mined by themselves nor yet imported. They have, in fact, no dealings at all with the foreigners around them. To meet this deficiency they have contrived inventions. In place of iron they use bone for their spear-blades, and corneal-wood for their bows and arrows, with bone points for the arrows. They throw a lasso round any enemy they meet, and then turning round their horses upset the enemy caught in the lasso. Their breastplates they make in the following fashion. Each man keeps many mares, since the land is not divided into private allotments, nor does it bear any thing except wild trees, as the people are nomads. These mares they not only use for war, but also sacrifice them to the local gods and eat them for food. Their hoofs they collect, clean, split, and make from them as it were python scales. Whoever has never seen a python must at least have seen a pine-cone still green. He will not be mistaken if he liken the product from the hoof to the segments that are seen on the pine-cone. These pieces they bore and stitch together with the sinews of horses and oxen, and then use them as breastplates that are as handsome and strong as those of the Greeks. For they can withstand blows of missiles and those struck in close combat.
Pausanias' description is well borne out in a relief from Tanais. These facts are not necessarily incompatible with Tacitus, as the western Sarmatians might have kept their iron to themselves, it having been a scarce commodity on the plains.
In the late 4th century, Ammianus Marcellinus describes a severe defeat which Sarmatian raiders inflicted upon Roman forces in the province of Valeria in Pannonia in late 374 AD. The Sarmatians almost destroyed 2 legions: one recruited from Moesia and one legion from Pannonia. The last had been sent to intercept a party of Sarmatians which had been in pursuit of a senior Roman officer named Aequitius. The two legions failed to coordinate, allowing the Sarmatians to catch them unprepared. -Wikipedia
Map of the Roman Empire - Places