The Sarmatians (//; Greek: Σαρμάται, Σαυρομάται; Latin: Sarmatae [ˈsar.mat̪ae̯], Sauromatae [sau̯ˈrɔmat̪ae̯]) were a large Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD.
Originating in the central parts of the Eurasian Steppe, the Sarmatians were part of the wider Scythian cultures. They started migrating westward around the fourth and third centuries BC, coming to dominate the closely related Scythians by 200 BC. At their greatest reported extent, around 100 BC, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south.
Their territory, which was known as Sarmatia (//) to Greco-Roman ethnographers, corresponded to the western part of greater Scythia (it included today's Central Ukraine, South-Eastern Ukraine, Southern Russia, Russian Volga, and South-Ural regions, also to a smaller extent northeastern Balkans and around Moldova). In the first century AD, the Sarmatians began encroaching upon the Roman Empire in alliance with Germanic tribes. In the third century AD, their dominance of the Pontic Steppe was broken by the Germanic Goths. With the Hunnic invasions of the fourth century, many Sarmatians joined the Goths and other Germanic tribes (Vandals) in the settlement of the Western Roman Empire. Since large parts of today's Russia, specifically the land between the Ural Mountains and the Don River, were controlled in the fifth century BC by the Sarmatians, the Volga–Don and Ural steppes sometimes are called "Sarmatian Motherland".
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