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Origins of the Composite Bows
Scythians Assyrs Huns Avars Magyars Turks Mongols
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Around 700 B.C assorted old-Iranian speaking nomad tribes conquered the steppes from the Carpathians to Altai. The Greeks called them Scythians , the Persians named them "Saka".
Scythians thought of themselves as the people of bow-drawing. Peoples like them always measured wealth in cattle. Because their livestock were fed by the grassland, they had to move every time their animals grazed the area clean. Horses had a great role in fast and agile movement, and nomads spent almost the whole day on horseback.
In the Bible, Jeremiah 5:15-16 says of them: "It is an enduring nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say. Their quiver is like an open grave, all of them are mighty men." Scythians took active part in the attack against the Assyrian city of Nineveh, and were richly rewarded by the Egyptian Pharaoh himself. Herodotus wrote: "The Scythians do not have cities, no fortified dwellings. All of them are horsemen equipped (armed) with bows. They aren't farmers, they're herders. Their main attribute is that no enemy can defeat them if they don't engage in close combat, No enemy can run from them, because they are people who carry their homes with them, people who do not have cities or forts, and every one of them are riding bowmen. A nation like that is invincible and unapproachable.
The experienced, brave fighter who delivered the enemy's head from the battlefield, got rewarded by the tribal chief. They received a share of the spoils, according their deeds, by tribal law. Often, compacts were made, sealed with blood when family connections didn't exist. This was "blood-brotherhood". A relationship sealed with blood was taken very seriously, a man would have sacrificed his own life for his blood-brother. Some excavated tombs tell a lot about Scythian chiefs' wealth. These tombs, or "kurgans" were about 50 square meters of surface, and 4-5 meters deep underground. The deceased was mummified, filled with a mix of wild celery, anise, incense and scented herbs, and put into a wooden sarcophagus. The burial site was covered by piling large rocks over it, and then earth over the rocks, so it looked like a hill from a distance. In the Carpathian basin, especially the middle and northeast of Hungary, several of these burial hills can be found. The intact artifacts from these "kurgans" show the Scythians' interaction with the developed cultures of the time. They weren't only intermediators between west and far-east, but also taxed the goods passing through on the "silk road".
Artifacts extracted from the tombs prove that Scythians were excellent herders, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, bowmakers, saddlers, carpenters, coopers, and potters, and that their women had mastered weaving, braiding, and feltmaking. They commonly used motifs on their items that were the so-called "Siberian animals", which were a sort of mystical combination of different animals. Among the Scythians, there were some who proved to be outstanding in philosophy, medical science, and other sciences. For example Anacharsis, who was known as the greatest thinker of the era. He is said to have introduced the potters wheel and the anchor. It is said that he taught the Greeks to drink wine "Scythian style", that is, without thinning with water.