The Cimmerians, Scythians, and Israel

Based on excerpts from Lost Israelite Identity by Yair Davidiy, 1996

This essay is written in response to questions on the subject.

Our research indicates that a good portion of the exiled Lost Israelite
Tribes joined with or became identified with the Cimmerians, Scythians, and
related people. The impression is that Israelites federated with an already
existing group, remained more or less separate while amongst them, and
later separated themselves. Previous researchers on this subject (e.g.
Gawler, Fasken) appear to have been under the impression that the
Israelites became these peoples and that in effect all of them are to be
identified as Hebrews. We on the other hand, say that only part of them
were Israelite. The sources support both approaches. The bottom line as far
as we are concerned is that Israelites at the very least were with these
peoples and moved westward with them. This essay concentrates more on a
straight academic appreciation of the sources.



 Israelites were taken to the centre of Assyria as well as to the fringes of the Empire.
Israelite and Syrian warrior corps were absorbed into the Assyrian armies and quickly
began to gain power and influence. The Assyrians took their cavalry horses to Mannae )
on the border of Assyria and Urartu) for training. Mannae was one of the major
places to which Israelites had been exiled. Mannae was also one of the
first regions from which the Cimmerians were reported, "The Cimmerians went
forth from the midst of Mannae.." says an Assyrian inscription. ( E.
Raymond Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, 1985 p.115
quotes Letter 112, "Arad-Sin to the Overseer of the Palace").

Mannae was also destined to become a Scythian centre. The Scythians were
one and the same people as the Cimmerians or at any rate Scythians and
Cimmerians were: "...two groups of people who seem inclined to operate in
the same geographical zones, and whose names seem to be interchangeable
already in the Assyrian sources.." (KRISTENSEN, Anne Katrine Gade "Who were
the Cimmerians, and where did they come from?", Copenhagen, 1988) p.102

There were three main groups of people in the Cimmerian and Scythian
forces: Cimmerians, Scyths, and Guti or Goths. Both the Cimmerians and the
Scyths of history contained representatives of all three groups though in
varying proportions.



The name "Gomer" is applied to a parent figure of the exiled Ten Tribes in the
first chapter of Hosea in the Bible. Gomer was an ethnic entity identified
in historical writings as the Cimmerians and company. The coupling
therefore may be said to represent Israel joining GOMER bringing forth from
between them three additional entities ("children of whoredoms") whose
identity was uncertain.

             Another ethnic entity named Gomer is earlier mentioned in the
Bible as Gomer son of Japhet son of Noah. Gomer had three sons:

              "And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphat, and Togarma"
(Genesis 10;3).

            These sons of Gomer son of Japhet became founders of

nations  that were to settle in Europe.  Gomer is usually identified with
the Cimmerians and Ashkenaz with the Scythians and in Later Hebrew writings
with Germany.
In view of the above, the following possibilities should be considered: :

             A people called "Khumriwere composed of Ten Tribes. "Gimiri"
in Babylonian can connote tribes and a related term "gamira" can mean
mobile exiles (see IVANTCHIK, Askold I. "Les Cimmeriens au Proche-Orient",
Switzerland, 1993 for a discussion of the possible meanings of these
names). The Assyrian name for Israel was Khumri which linguistically (based
on known parallels) could also have become Gumri, Gimiriand/or Gamira. They
(or part of them) were in the same regions as another group that was also
known by the same names! Nevertheless those who wish to claim that the name
for Israel Khumri was pronounced as Gumri  or something similar can at the
most present a plausible linguistic explanation. There are no known
examples where such a change is proven to have occurred as far as the name
Khumri is concerned.

             The Cimmerians had first been reported of by the Assyrians in
714 (Kristensen) or (according to an alternate more generally accepted
reckoning) in ca.707.


             Askold I. Ivantchik ("Les Cimmeriens au Proche-Orient",
Switzerland, 1993 p.16) notes a work by G.B. Lanfranchi ("I Cimmera.
Emergenza delle elites militari iraniche nel Vicino Oriente", Padova,
Italy, 1990) who analysed all of the Akkadian (i.e. Assyrian) texts
concerning the Cimmerians and came to the conclusion that the active
Cimmerian detachments in Mannae and Media were part of the Assyrian army.
Ivantchik is reserved concerning this conclusion.


             A.K.G. Kristensen ("Who were the Cimmerians, and where did
they come from?", Copenhagen, 1988) does however bring apparently
irrefutable proof that the Cimmerians upon their first appearance were
indeed serving in the Assyrian forces. A.K.G. Kristensen also proves that
the Cimmerians were first settled in areas that could be considered "Cities
of the Medes" and she states her belief (along with evidence) that the
Cimmerians were in effect re-settled Israelites!

          The findings of Ms.Kristensen are based primarily on an
analysis of Assyrian inscriptions and also on a careful study of academic
analysis on the subject heretofore.

1. Assyrian reports: A series of Assyrian tablets have been found from the
time of Sargon-ii (721-705) referring to the Cimmerians and their country
Gamir. They are military intelligence reports to King Sargon concerning
campaigns in Urartu. These show that the Cimmerians were settled to the
south and not to the north of Urartu.  This means that the Cimmerians were
first found in a buffer zone between Urartu and Assyria. Mannae and Musasir
were the neighbourhoods in which Cimmerians were first reported.

2. Where did the Cimmerians really come from? Kristensen advocates the
rejection of previously held academic theories concerning Cimmerian
origins: Impartial examination of the content of the Assyrian tablets leads
to a rejection of the commonly held thesis adopted by many researchers. The
previously held ideas supposed that the Cimmerians came from north of the
Caucasus and were driven to the south by the Scythians. Place names in
Scythia (i.e. southern Russia) recalled the past Cimmerian presence.
Archaeologists tended to identify "the vast southern Russian Catacomb
Culture from the Bronze Age" with the Cimmerians "whereas the
proto-Scythians were supposed to be responsible for the Timber grave
Culture" which replaced them. Kristensen quotes from researchers such as
T.Sulimirski, M.Salvini, U.Cozzoli, and others who point out that the said
identifications are groundless. There is no archaeological evidence for the
Cimmerians (or the Scyths) ever having been north of the Caucasus prior to
their first appearances in the Middle East. Nor is there anything in their
culture (which in the case of the Scythians at least, was Near or Middle
Eastern) relating them to that area. The Cimmerians have not even been
properly identified archaeologically and we must rely on Assyrian
descriptions for our knowledge concerning them. Greek accounts and place
names are SOMETIMES used to support the idea that the Cimmerians and
Scythians originated north of the Caucasus. These proofs are actually
either misinterpreted or.(says Kristensen and the authorities who support
her) are literary inventions or anachronisms, based on events occurring a
considerable time afterwards.

Herodotus, for instance, says that the Scythians crossed the Araxes to
attack the Cimmerians. The Araxes in Classical writings was the Aras River
south of the Caucasus. Some modern scholars agree that in other passages
Herodotus applied the term Araxes to the Aras but they claim that in this
case he meant the Volga! Why? Because it makes more sense according to
their preconceived notions to assume that the Volga was intended. The
alternate explanation that by the Araxes River on this point he meant the
Aras River in the same way as he means the Aras River everywhere else he
speaks of the Araxes not only fits the archaeological facts but also allows
Herodotus  to be understood in his own terms.

             On the other hand, there are factors that do indicate
(contrary to the view of Kristensen) a Possible Early Cimmerian Presence
(linked with the Assyrians) North of The Caucasus:
  a.  The Assyrians conquered the area east of the Caspian Sea and reached
right up into Baluchistan and southern Siberia. In western Russia Assyrian
remains have been found in Ossetia north of the Caucasus and there is
evidence that they reached to the Crimea.
  Immanuel Velikovsky opined:
"Repeatedly, the Assyrian kings led their troops across the Caucasus
northward....Sargon, the conqueror of Samaria wrote in his annals:
`I opened up mighty mountains, whose passes were difficult and countless,
and I spied out their trails.
Over inaccessible paths in steep and terrifying places I crossed..'
"...When the barrier of the mountains was overcome, they could proceed
northward  in a sparsely populated area barren of natural defenses...The
middle flow of the Volga would be the furthermost region of the Assyrian
realm" . (Velikovsky, article on the Khazars, published posthumously in
Kronos, Summer 1982).

b.  Kristensen quotes B. Oded to the effect that the Assyrians lacked
manpower to fortify border position and used conscripts taken from the
countries that they had conquered. She says that the Gimiri (Cimmerians)
were such conscripts taken from the northern kingdom of Israel and this
corresponds with evidence adduced by ourselves. It follows that, if it is
true that the Assyrians advanced into southern Russia, then they may well
have placed Cimmerian ( Israelite) border forces north of the Caucasus as
well as to the south.

c. Since there was a non-Israelite people mentioned in the Bible called
GOMER and according to one way of understanding the indications of the
Prophet Hosea this people did amalgamate with the exiled Israelites it may
be that Cimmerians were ALSO to be found north of the Caucasus at an early

  d. In addition to the common understanding (or misunderstanding?) of
Herodotus, other Greek sources do indicate the possible early presence of
Cimmerians in the Crimea.

  In returning  to our summary of Kristensen:
3. The First mention of Gamir (=Land of the Gimirri-Cimmerians) and its
date: Gamir is first mentioned in a letter addressed to Sargon ii king of
Assyria. They recount the defeat of a king of Urartu in Gamir. Both Rusa-i
(d.714) and his son Argishti-ii were contemporaries of Sargon. The date of
the defeat and which king is involved is therefore uncertain. One group of
researchers opts for a date between 709-707 while another claims that it
was earlier, in 714, and Kristensen adopts this last opinion.

4. The location of Gamir in Mannae: The Assyrian report said that GAMIR was
separated from Urartu by the country of Guriana.  Gamir has been located IN

             The King of Urartu requested aid from Urzana the king of
Musasir against the Cimmerians. Musasir was a semi-independent buffer state
bordering Mannae between Assyria and Urartu. Reports concerning the Gamiri
(i.e. the Cimmerians) are frequently concerned with the area of Mannae or
its immediate vicinity and Kristensen places GAMIR of the Assyrian report
at or near Mannae and in this her opinion is supported by others. In other
words the Cimmerians defeated the king of Urartu in Gamir which formed part
of Mannae and from there they proceeded to invade Urartu.

5. The role of Musasir: Around the time that Urartu invaded Gamir (i.e. the
land of the Cimmerians) the Assyrian king Sargon had been to the east of
Musasir in Mannae waging war in Zikirtu. Musasir was a vassal state of
Assyria yet Urartu had some claim over it. Sargon king of Assyria claimed
"broke off his homeward march" and with an elite army group attacked
Musasir which he took "without battle, sacked and placed under Assyrian
sovereignty". Sargon says he then invaded Urartu and Rusa king of Urartu
apparently committed suicide.

6. Parallelisms between the Assyrians and GIMIR: The reconstruction of the
above events depends upon the unraveling of several parallel Assyrian
accounts. In the War against Urartu exist the role played by "Cimmerians"
in one account is the same as that of the "Assyrians" in the parallel
version. In these cases the "CIMMERIANS" are paralleled by the "Assyrians"
and may be identified with them since the CIMMERIANS were serving as
ASSYRIAN SOLDIERS! The reasoning of Kristensen is roughly as follows:

a. The reports about the Cimmerians said that Urartu invaded Gimir ("Land
of the Cimmerians") in north Mannae and was defeated after which the
Cimmerians attacked the land of Urartu.

  b. The reports about the Assyrians parallel those concerning the
Cimmerians and say that Urartu invaded a portion of Mannae called Uishdish
and fought a battle on Mount Uaush involving the Assyrians.

c. The battle between Urartu and Gimir and that between Urartu and Assyria
must have been in the same month, in the late summer of 714 b.c.e. (or 707?).

d. In both the account concerning the Cimmerian encounter with Urartu and
that about the Assyrian campaign against Urartu the army of Urartu seems to
set out from the same base. In both cases Rusa, king of Urartu, flees from
the scene of battle and leaves his army in the lurch. In both cases Rusa
flees by the same complicated seemingly unlikely route. In both cases
forces enter Urartu after having been provocatively attacked by Urartu: In
one case Assyrians and Mannaeans march against Urartu; in the other,
Cimmerians. In both cases after the battle, Urzana king of Musasir leaves
(albeit unwillingly) the Assyrian side and passes over to that of Urartu.

e. An Assyrian account directed to the king of Assyria which issued from
the region of Zikirtu concerning the king of Urartu after his defeat states,
"The Urartian, since he went [to] Gamir [now?)] is very afraid of the lord
my king".
-In other words, because of his defeat at Gamir (by the Cimmerians) the
king of Urartu had come to fear the king of Assyria! From Zirkitu Sargon
had been reported as launching his attack against the advance of Urartu in

              It follows from ALL the above that Uishdish and Gamir were
one and the same place and that the war of Sargon against Urartu was the
same as that of the Gamirra against Urartu!!

7. Parallelisms between the forces of Gamir and Assyria and the explanation
of incongruities: According to the Assyrians, Sargon and Sin-ah-usur, the
grand visier of Sargon led the cavalry from Zikirtu and defeated a
numerically vastly superior force of Urartians in the mountains of Mannae
after a breakneck march. Logistically such a feat seems highly unlikely if
not impossible! In a parallel situation, in almost the very same words,
Sargon claimed to have personally conquered the city of Ashdod even though
he had not been there and one of his subordinates had done the work. At
Ashdod it is known that Sargon did not personally participate but rather
delegated one of his turtanu (nobles) to command the forces instead of him.
The nature of the reports sent to Sargon concerning the war with Urartu
also suggest that Sargon lacked firsthand knowledge of the encounter.
Therefore it may be assumed that Sargon did not actually fight the battle
but rather others (in this case Cimmerians in Assyrian service) did on his

8. The fortresses of Mannae: Some years prior to the final defeat of Rusa
of Urartu, Rusa had taken control of 12 (or 20 according to another
version) Assyrian fortresses in Uishdish. These fortresses had been
garrisoned with Assyrian and Mannaean troops whom Kristensen claims had in
fact been Cimmerians in Assyrian service since the Assyrians used
conscripted exiles for garrison duties in border areas. It was over these
Cimmerian (i.e. Gamirra) garrisoned posts and their neighborhood that the
battle was fought. The said area was Uishdish and because of its
Cimmerian-connections (suggests Kristensen) Uishdish was also known as Gamir.

             The Cimmerians therefore when we first meet them are in
Assyrian service.

"GAMIR":            Kristensen placed the "Gamir" of early Assyrian reports
in north Mannae. This identification would appear to possibly receive
support from Ptolemy's Geography. On Ptolemy's Maps of the relevant
regions, the land of Urartu is called Armenia. The former region of Mannae
(according to Ptolemy) comprised parts of the lands of the Caspii, Cadussi,
and Sambatae (cf. Sambation place of Israelite exile). East of the Sambatae
was the Land of the Sagartii who were called Zikirtu by the Assyrians. It
was against the Zikirtu that Sargon campaigned when Urartu invaded "Gimir".
"Gimir" may well be in the land of the Sambatae in Mannae where Ptolemy
recorded the city of "GOMARA" and "Gomer" like "Gimir" is another form for
Cimmerian! Gomara stood on the later site of Sakkiz (in Mannae) which was
destined to become a Scythian centre. All of the places mentioned were
those to which Israel was recorded as having been exiled.

Kristensen further observes:
             A certain Daiaukku, the Mannaean governor had previously been
responsible to the Assyrians for this region of the Cimmerian held
fortresses. Daiaukku had plotted with Urartu against Assyria and so he was
exiled to Hamath. Historians identify him with Deioces the founder of Media
in a political sense according to Herodotus. The major Median city of
Ecbatana [i.e. Hamadan, which according to the Talmud was one of "The
Cities of the Medes" to which the exiled Ten Tribes were taken] appears to
have been once controlled by Daiaukku. Kristensen claims that the
Cimmerians had been settled in cities formerly controlled by Daiaukku and
that analysis of Cimmerian-locii show a certain concentration in areas
later considered Median. The Bible (2-Kings 17) says that the exiled
Israelites were re-settled in "Halah, Habor, the river Gozan, and the
cities of the Medes". Thus, the positioning of Cimmerians and Israelite
exiles overlaps.

             After his defeat Rusa king of Urartu flees to Musasir and
there captures and crowns Urzana of Musasir as ("mock") king of Urartu.
Meanwhile, Mannaeans and Cimmerians invade Urartu and capture Urartian
cities. Mannae was a vassal state of Assyria and was acting on Assyrian
behalf and so must the Cimmerians have been! Sargon captures and destroys
Musasir. Rusa and Urzana are either killed, suicide, or otherwise disappear.

9. Esarhaddon and the Cimmerians: R. Ghirshman, the scholar of ancient
Persian history, believed the Cimmerians to have been in the service of
Assyria under Sennacherib in ca.689 if not before then. This opinion is not
generally accepted though at all events, a treaty from 679 b.c.e. in the
time of Esarhaddon reveals the presence of a unit of Cimmerians in the
Assyrian army. In 675 Cimmerians were reported in or close to Man (i.e.
Mannae) and had assured the Assyrians of their neutrality in the struggle
then taking place between rebellious Mannaeans and Assyria. Esarhaddon did
not believe them. Esarhaddon described them as,
  "zer amel hal qa ti i, who recognise neither the oath (sworn before) a
god nor treaties".
    The above emphasised Assyrian Akkadian words ("zer amel hal qa ti i")
have been subject to various translations all of more or less similar
import. This expression has been translated differently by different
researchers as: "outcasts"; "deserters"; "a race of fugitives"; "seed of
dispersion" (Y.B.Yusifov); "vagabonds"; and "ruinous breed". These negative
connotations applied to the Cimmerians in the time of Esarhaddon are all
applicable to a people exiled from its land, at one stage serving the
Assyrians, and later (in exile) attempting to re-assert its own identity.
In Assyrian eyes they would have been deserting. The same expression was
also applied to the forces of Lugdamne the Cimmerian king. In other words
it is more than an epithet and acquired (in the case of the Cimmerians) an
ethnic connotation.

             Regarding the Cimmerians near Mannae mentioned above, the
opinion exists that these too were still in Assyrian service though
Esarhaddon had come to doubt their loyalty.

10. Cimmerian History: Includes events in which the Cimmerians are
associated with both the Assyrians and the Medes.

11. The Early Cimmerian Field of Operation: The Cimmerians had made their
first historical appearance in the former fief of Daiaukku in Mannae. In
the time of Sargon and Esarhaddon they operated mainly from the Zagros and
from Media. Their area extended from Man (Mannae) in the north to Elippi
(Elam) in the south and included parts of Media proper in the east. As
explained above (in no.8 "The Fortresses of Mannae") the area of the
Cimmerians in effect had encompassed "the cities of the Medes" (2-Kings
17;6) which the Bible says were part of the areas in which the exiled
Israelites had been re-settled!

12. Completeness of the exile: Kristensen in a footnote (p.123 n.426)
quotes M.Cogan (1974) as saying that the exile of the northern Israelites
from their land  was complete, "areas outside the capital city were
available for resettlement, i.e. cleared of their former residents".

13. The identification of the Cimmerians with Israel:

             Kristensen accepts the linguistic identification of the name
"Bet Khumri" (i.e. House of Omri) or just "Khumri" applied by the Assyrians
to the northern kingdom of Israel with the name given to the Cimmerians.
[Khumri could also have been rendered Ghumri. Omri in North Israelite
dialect could have been pronounced as Gomri]. She produces a sound argument
saying that the Cimmerians when first heard of were in Mannae and in
Assyrian employ and in areas definable as "the Cities of the Medes" to
which the exiled Israelites were taken.