Structural elements of ancient armies of Northern Black Sea Region: ethnic, social and functional peculiarities

  • K. M. Kolesnykov Academy of customs service of Ukraine
Keywords: strategy, ancient armies, Northing Black Sea region, military organization, civil militia (home guard), mercenaries, allies, Hellenes, barbarians, Romans


This article deal with the description, analysis and generalization of features organization of command structure of the army ancient states of the Northern Black Sea region: Olbia, Chersonese, Bosporus. Author sure that the foundation of the armed forces of these states was a civil militia – free, economically independent landowners, endowed with the broadest volume of political and social rights men – full citizens. Accordingly, the assemblies of citizens were electing strategists, who led militia forces. In case of need the people also claimed commanders’ mercenary troops. Bosporus kings have attracted a significant number of hired troops that held by the royal treasury income and special direct tax. Some structural elements of ancient armies had different ethnic origin and could specialize in different types of weapons. For example, the Scythians mainly famous as archers (bowmen, “toxots”), Sarmatians – heavy horsemen (“cataphractarii”), the Celts – shield-holders and swordsman (“thyureoforoi”) etc. Representatives of the Bosporus aristocratic families, who served in the army, came from Hellenic and barbarian ethnic groups. For example, in the Roman period on the Bosporus fixed formation units of cathafractarian cavalry. The weapons and tactics of the Sarmatian nomadic nobility (Aspurhianian, Sirak, Aorsy and more) were served as a model for Bosporus cataphractarian horsemen. Among the military allies of the ancient states of the Northern Black Sea region were leaders of local tribes, the barbarian lords of neighboring countries and the powerful monarchs of Pontus and Rome.


Blavatskiy, V. D. Ocherki voennogo dela v antichnych gosudarstvach Severnogo Prichernomora (Essays on military affairs in the antique states of the Northern Black Sea region). Moscow, 1954. 232 p.

Vinogradov, Yu. A. “Tam zakololsya Mitridat…”: Voennaya istoria Bospora Kimmerijskogo v dorimskuyu epochu (VI–I vv. do n. e.) (“There Mithridates stabbed himself ...”: Military history of Cimmerian Bosporus in the Pre-Roman era (VI–I centuries BC)). Moscow; St. Petersburg, 2004. 208 p.

Vinogradov, Yu. A. Schastlivyj gorod v vojne: Voennaya istoria Olvii Pontijskoj (VI v. do n. e. – IV v. n. e.) (Happy Town in the war. Military History Pontic Olbia (VI centuries BC – IV centuries AD)). St. Petersburg, 2006. 254 p.

Vinogradov Yu. A., Goroncharovskij V. A. Voennaya istoria i voennoe delo Bospora Kimmerijskogo (VI v. do n. e. – seredina III v. n. e.) (Military history and Military Skills of Cimmerian Bosporus (VI centuries BC – the middle of the III centuries AD)). St. Petersburg, 2009. 350 p.

Vinogradov Yu. G. Fanagorijskie najomniki (Mercenaries from Phanagoria) // Vestnik drevnej istorii, 1991, no 4, 14–37 p.

Verry D. Vojny antichnosti ot greko-persidskich do padenija Rima: Illustrirovannaja istoria (War of antiquity of the Greco-Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome: An Illustrated History). Moscow, 2004. 224 p.

Gorelik M. V. Oruzhie drevnego Vostoka (4000–400 BC) (The weapons of Ancient East). Moscow, 1993. 349 p.

Goroncharovskij, V. A. Mezhdu Imperiej i varvarami: voennaya delo Bospora Kimmerijskogo rimskogo vremeni (Between Imperia and the Barbarians: Military Skills of the Bosporus to the Roman period). Moscow; St. Petersburg, 2003. 224 p.

Konnoly P. Gretsia I Rim. Entsiklopedija voennoj istorii (Greece and Rome. Encyclopedia of military history). Moscow, 2000. 320 p.

Kuchma V. V. Vvedenie (Introduction) // Маurikij. Strategicon. St. Petersburg, 2004. pp. 5–59.

Peters, B. G. Morskoe delo v antichnych gosudarstvach Severnogo Prichernomorja (Marine in the antique states of the Northern Black Sea). Moscow, 1982, 209 p.

Rostovtsev M. Gosudarstvo I kultura Bosporskogo tsarstva (State and culture of the Bosporus kingdom) // Vestnik drevnej istorii, 1989, no 2, p. 182–197, no 3, p. 184–203.

Simonenko A. V. Sarmatskie vsadniki Severnogo Prichernomorja (Sarmatian horsemen of the Northern Black Sea coast). St. Petersburg, 2010. 328 p.

Khzanov A. M. Voennoe delo sarmatov (Military Skills of Sarmatians). Moscow, 1971. 169 p.

Khaniotis A. Vojna v ellinisticheskom mire: Sotsial’naja I kulturnaja istorija (War in the Hellenistic world: social and cultural history). St. Petersburg, 2013. 432 p.

Chernenko E. V. Vlijanie voennogo dela skifov na voennoe delo antichnych kolonij Severnogo Prichernomorja (Influence of military affairs in the Military Skills of the Scythians of ancient colonies of Northern Black Sea Coast) // Problemy grecheskoj kolonizatsii Severnogo I Vostochnogo Prichernomorja. Tbilisi, 1979. pp. 181–197.

Mielczarek M. The Army of the Bosporan Kingdom. Lodz, 1999.

Sarnowski T. Wojsko rzymskie w Mezji Dolnej i na Polnocnym wybrzezu morza Czarnego. Warszava, 1988. 234 р.

How to Cite
Kolesnykov, K. M. (2015). Structural elements of ancient armies of Northern Black Sea Region: ethnic, social and functional peculiarities. Grani, 18(10), 6-13.