The Ostrogoths lived right here where I am now, in Bakhchisaray, Crimea. The remnants of their fortress still stand at Mangup Kale.

They, like their brothers the Visigoths, were from the Scandinavian Goths. Between the 3rd and 5th centuries, their empire stretched from the Black Sea to Italy, where they set up a kingdom under Theodoric.

Their greatest king was Ermanaric who committed suicide when his people were subjugated by the Huns. He’s big in folklore of Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Norse writers.

While most of the Ostrogoths moved on after the Huns overtook them, the Crimean Ostrogoths stayed and were known well into the Middle Ages.


I’ve posted about the Tauri and the Scythians, early inhabitants of the Crimean Peninsula. Today, let’s talk about the Sarmatians. They were originally from Iran and spread all over Eastern Europe to the Ural Mountains in Russia. They were well-known horsemen. They caused problems for the Roman emperor Nero by invading modern Bulgaria when they teamed up with the other Germanic hordes. They sacrificed horses to their fire god. Sarmatian women who were unmarried fought alongside the men, perhaps giving rise to the legend of Amazons. They were also well-known for their long swords.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the Britannica article for more: Sarmatian


Scythians, from Encyclopedia Britannica, were “centred on what is now the Crimea, the Scythians founded a rich, powerful empire that survived for several centuries before succumbing to the Sarmatians during the 4th century bc to the 2nd century ad.”

They were originally nomadic people from the area now known as Iran and what we know of them comes from Herodotus. They were feared warriors and were among the first peoples to master horse riding. They conquered the Cimmerians (wasn’t Conan one of those?) over the course of 30 years and had an empire that stretched from western Persia through the modern Middle East ended at Egypt. They were driven out of that area by the Medes. This left them with lands north of Persia and into southern Russia.

They had a king and eventually married into Greek aristocracy. One ruler, Atreas lost his life while battling Phillip the Second of Macedonia in 339. The last known sovereign was Palakus. They faded from historical record in the 2nd century b.c.


So here I am living in Crimea for the next year and a half. Yesterday I visited Mangup Kale and saw some Byzantine ruins. This made me wonder about who all else was here before me. The first group I will mention is the Tauri, of whom we don’t know what happened to them…

We know they were an irritant to the Greek colony of Chersonesos and that they worshipped a virgin goddess. They were also known for their penchant to sacrifice shipwrecked sailors to her. They had a harbor at Symbolos (which is today Balaklava).

You can read a little more about them in this Britannica article: Tauri