Modern interpretation of historical, archaeological and anthropological evidence about the origins of Scythian Civilization has proposed two broad hypotheses. The first, formerly more espoused by Soviet and then Russian researchers, roughly followed Herodotus’ (third) account, holding that the Scythians were an Eastern Iranian group who arrived from Inner Asia, i.e. from the area of Turkestan and western Siberia.
The second hypothesis, according to Ghirshman and others, proposes that the Scythian cultural complex emerged from local groups of the “Timber Grave” (or Srubna) culture at the Black Sea coast, although this is also associated with the Cimmerians. According to Dolukhanov this proposal is supported by anthropological evidence which has found that Scythian skulls are similar to preceding findings from the Timber Grave culture, and distinct from those of the Central Asian Sacae. Yet, according to Mallory the archaeological evidence is poor, and the Andronovo culture and “at least the eastern outliers of the Timber-grave culture” may be identified as Indo-Iranian. (more…)