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    Default Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Greetings Europa Barbarorum II Fans!


    Today we are proud to present the EB2 iteration of a faction from way back when; the Saka Rauka!


    Short Historical Backround:

    One of the greatest challenges when dealing with the history of the steppes, and the peoples that lived there, is that the concept of a "state" is much more dynamic and fleeting that in the case of more settled peoples. Many of the nomadic tribes, although powerful and influential, are very hard to define, as they had no set area of land that was clearly bounded, and more importantly, as tribal belonging was very much tied to a system of vassalage and suzeranity, which meant that a man could, witin is lifetime, be a member of a number of different tribes, while still retaining his culture, religion and family ties without any change. This problematic situation thus leads us to the question: Who were the Saka Rauka, and where did they come from?

    Although mentined by Strabo, the most well known source for the name Saka Rauka, or Sacaraucae, as the name generally appears in Greaco-Roman sources, comes from Justin's Epitome of the Phillipine Histories, a short version of a now lost work of world history by Pompeius Trogus, a historian of Gallic descent writing in the first century BC. This source, when describing the nomad horde that destroyed the Graeco-Baktrian kingdom in present day Afghanistan, lists among the tribes therein a group called the Saka Rauka. The real meaning of this name is uncertain, but Rauka is supposed to be a word derived from the same Indo-European root as Rex or Rigo, originally meaning bright or luminous, but in transferred meaning also high or royal. This would imply that a possible translation of the name would be "Royal Saka". The origin of the word Saka is however, a bit more unclear. As en ethnonym, it seems to generally ahve been used by outside observers, primarily the Persians used to describe certain nomadic groups on their northern border. One possible explanation is that Saka is the Persian version of the ethnonym rendered as Scythian by the Hellenes. This has often been reconstructed as Skuda, based on an Indo-European root meaning to shoot, a name which suggests the close connection of the steppe nomads with the bow and arrow.

    Be that as it may, there were several groups known as Sakas already during Achaemenian times who dwelled on the empire's northeastern borders. Whether the Saka Rauka were one of them remains unknown, and although Herodotos mentions a tribe known as the Royal Scythians, it seems unlikely that this is a reference to tyhe same group. Hence, although the Saka Rauka do not appear in our records before their invasion of the Greaco-Baktrian kingdom, it is possible to make a relatively good case for where they may have been located before this.

    We know from ancient sources of both eastern and western provenence, such as the Graeco-Roman Phillipine histories, and the Chinese Shiji, that great changes were taking place on the eastern steppes at the turn of the 2nd century BC. The orgin of these changes was a people known as the Xiongnu, originally residing in the Mongolian steppe on China's northern borders. Under the command of their great ruler, or Shan-Yü, Modun, the Xiongnu grew, pushing the peoples on their western border, such as the Tocharian Yuezhi, into Central Asia. These in turn displaced other tribes, among them the Saka Rauka, implying that their original location would have been in the steppe areas west of the Tien Shan mountains.

    The exact movements and actions of the Saka Rauka during this period is relatively uncertain, but based on Trogus, we can deduce that they acted as a separate political entity in central asia for more than a century, actively taqking part in the internal politics of the Parthian Empire. At first, the migrating Saka came into conflict with the Parthians, invading their northwestern borders and even slaying the Parthian King Phraates in battle, before eventually being forced south further into the eastern Iranian plateau. The involvement of the Parthians is however especially evident during the period following the death of the Mithridates II (the Great), often known as the Parthian dark ages. During this period, the Parthian Empire partially disintegrated, and the royal chronology, based to a large degree on numismatics becomes muddled, possibly due to there being several claimants to the throne at the same time.

    Over time, the center of Saka power in Central Asia slowly shifts south towards Arachosia, an area which would henceforth be known as Seistan, Or Sakastan, i.e. the Land of the Sakas. This may to a large degree have been due to preassure from the Tocharian Yuezhi, who were making their way into Central Asia during this period, pushing the nomadic inhabitants of the region before them, and, slaying the Partian King Artabanos in the process, eventually came to settle down in Baktria. Whether the group settling Sakastan was actually the Saka Rauka, or a different group, we cannot know, especially since Trogus mentions the destruction of the Saka Rauka some century down the line from their apperance in Baktria, but we most certainly do find coins minted by kings with decidedly Saka names in Seistan.

    As very little written history exists besides Trogus which describes the events taking place in the eastern Iranian Plateau during these centuries, much has to be inferred from numismatic evidence. Due to the general dearth of sources, it is hardly possible to create anything but the most tenuous chronology of the events during this period, and hence, any such attempt will by necessity be built heaviliy on conjecture. However, this material does indeed seem to suggest great interferance of the Sakas in the events of the Parthian empire, and perhaps even as kingmakers thererin. One good example of this is the ruler Vonones, sometimes known as the Pseudo-Saka Vonones, as numismatic evidence seems to link him to Seistan in particular, and which is made even more interesting by the fact that he is called King of Kings on his coins.
    Generally the Pseudo-Saka Vonones is counted as an early ruler of the Indo-Saka of Seistan, prior to the true establishment as a kingdom under Maues in Taksashila. As such, it is assumed that he was one of the kings that ruled the Saka tribe, most probably to be identified as the Saka Rauka of Pompeius Trogus and Strabo, which invaded Parthian territories in the 2nd century B.C, closely followed by the Yuezhi. However, as his name clearly implies, this Vonones must have been a Parthian and not a Saka.

    One theory is that this Vonones of the Indo-Saka was in fact the ruler of an eastern Saka-Parthian kingdom, based around Seistan, which incorporated much of the eastern lands previously won by the Parthian king Mithridates I up to the Indus valley, along with the areas dominated by the Saka tribes that had invaded the Parthian lands earlier. The rise of the Indo-Parthians of the Suren clan, culminating in the reign of Gondophares in the early 1st century AD has been much discussed, but it is quite possible that Parthians remained as a powerful group in the area still after the Sakas broke the eastern portions away from the main Parthian state. Generally, it is assumed that there were a number of small kingdoms, ruled by Sakas and Parthians throughout this area, but the titles on coins seem to suggest that there existed co-kings, vassal kings etc, so even though the area was not unified in the modern sense, it is possible that certain rulers controlled vast amounts of territory.

    If this was the case, and there existed a unified Indo-Saka/Parthian kindom in eastern Iran, separate from teh western Arsacid kingdom, with a ruling class hailing from both ethnic groups, prior (or at least contemporary to) to the reign of Maues, but before Azes, this could explain the title "King of kings" being used by Vonones. It would also explain the in India common practice of naming Shakas and Pahlavas together. The case would then be that this Vonones was the ruler of another realm than Mithridates II and III, although still a Parthian (although not neccesarily related to the Arsacids), and that during the dark ages of the western Parthian realm, this eastern realm grew more powerful. The assumed organization of society in such a realm, which can also bee seen in the subsequent Indo-Saka and Indo-Parthian kingdoms, would also make the title King of kings plausible. A Parthian ruler in this predominantly Saka kingdom would also explain how it came to be that the Parthians so quickly established peaceful ties to the Sakas of Seistan.

    If the kingdom of Maues is assumed to be a continuation of this mixed realm, that could also explain how Gondophares so easily came to power after the Indo-Saka kings of Taksashila. However, it seems quite likely that last theory greatly underestimates the role of the Indo-Greeks in the rise of Maues. Maues being a Saka mercenary general in Indo-Greek service who somehow usurped the throne seems more probable than the slightly far-fetched theory that he entered Gandhara via the Karakoram route from the north. Especially since the culture of the northwest, including the symbolism on coins, remains distinctly Indo Greek even after Maues's ascension. Regarding the Indo-Saka king Azes, the story may be different however. Unlike Maues, Azes name is first mentioned in the context of the Indo-Saka kings of Seistan, so he seems to have had some connection to them. Perhaps he was a sub-king who took control of the Taksashila area, and subsequently broke free, starting his own dynasty. That could also be the reason for him instigating a new era, the famous era of Azes, beginning in 58 BC and which remains one of the most commonly used eras in Indian chronology.

    One of the Parthian rulers during this period, a certain Sinatruces, is often argued to have been placed on the Parthian throne by the Sakas, implying that for a period, the Saka had substantial controll over the Parthians, even to the point of deciding who were their rulers.
    The real identity of this king is discussed in several books and papers, with very varying conclusions. What seems certain is that he came to power late in his life, with the aid of a Saka army, and then ruled for a period. The most reliable estimate puts his death in ca 71 B.C., which would imply a reign of about 7 years, although some have argued that his reign started earlier. However where he came from, and why he came to power at that point is uncertain.

    There are however a few things that one may note, especially by looking at his coins, from which a possible theory can be constructed.
    Based on the legend on his coins, callig him BASILEOS MEGALOU ARSAKOU THEOPATOROS NIKATOROS, it can be inferred that he was somehow related to the ruling Arsacid family, and, judging by the THEOPATOROS, it seems that his father would actually have been a king (Mithridates I is often mentioned as the prime suspect). If this is so, the best assumption is often that he was exiled for some reason, possibly due to some internal power-struggle, and took refuge among the Saka Rauka, who later assisted him in reclaiming part of his "rightful" inheritance. This kind of event, where an exiled ruler gets help from a steppe neighbor is not unheard of in the history of Iran, and similar things do take place from time to time (remember the Sassanian Mazdakean king Kavad, who took help from the Hephtalites to reclaim his throne).

    However, another plausible theory is that Sanatruces may in fact be a king of one of these hypothetical eastern Saka/Parthian realms suggested above. Several things point towards this conclusion this. Firstly, there is the fact that the coins of Sanatruces all come from mints in the eastern parts of the Parthian Empire, such as Merv. There is no mention of him in the cuneiform records from Babylon, nor does there seem to be any coins of his minted in Seleucia (at least no certain ones), where it seems that most Parthian kings of the period minted many of their coins. If this is the case, this could imply that he never actually reigned in these parts and that the western parts of the Parthian realm was under the controll of some other king, such as Darius of Media, who is minting coins in Ragahe almost simultaneously. Then, Sanatruces would only have controlled the eastern parts of the Parthian realm, which would be consistent with the eastern Parthian domain rising in power as the western part crumbles. Further, on his coins, Sanatruces is wearing a tiara with very distinctly Saka attributes, such as a row of reclining stags, on, which differs much from the types seen on other earlier Arsacid kings. This seems to emphasise his connection with the Saka, and especially the nomadic elements thereof, even more, implying a closer relationship to them thanmere thankfulness for having helped him gain controll of the throne. In fact, this could even suggest that Sanatruces, despite the name, may have been of Saka stock. Then, his claim to be an Arsacid and son of a king may be an attempt to legitimize his reign over the western portions of his realm. Given the timeline, he should then have been roughly contemporary, maybe a little earlier than the Pseudo-Saka Vonones, the other Parthian who apparantly ruled an eastern Parthian realm. However, if it was so that Vonones followed Sanatruces as ruler of this eastern Indo-Parthian realm, while Sanatruces son, Phraates, became king in the west, why are there no coins of Sanatruces with Vonones? If there was some such relationship between them, as is the case with Vonones and Spalirises, Spalirises and Azes etc, then Sanatruces should appear on Indo-Parthian cons, but he does not.

    Perhaps, then, a theory which can be a compromise between the two, is that both Vonones and Sanatruces were rulers of minor Saka-Parthian states in eastern Iran, following the Saka invasions in the previous century, and while Sanatruces, who may or may not have been an Arsacid, used his Saka forces to push westwards, until his son Phraates finaly got most of the empire together again, Vonones established a powerbase in and around Seistan, from which the later Shaka western Kshatrapas would develop.


    The Units:

    Payai Dunai - Saka Foot Archers




    Hailing from throughout the eastern steppe lands, and the semi-nomadic tribes of the mountain ranges and river valleys of Transoxania, the men of the Saka peoples fight with their favoured weapon, the composite bow. These men are not fighters by trade, but merely herdsmen, hunters or farmers, who have joined the horde of a great chieftain or king in hopes of loot or social status. Although the nomadic Saka prefer to fight on horse, these men do battle dismounted, perhaps for strategic reason, or else they hail from one of the semi-nomadic Saka tribes that haunt the borderlands of the steppe and the settled lands of Central Asia. No matter which, they are skilled archers, matched by few others. Although they may not be as organised or well equipped as their Persian or Median kin, they have been taught to use their bows since childhood, and they are the tools of their trade in peacetime as well as in war. Although calling upon these men to join your campaign is easy, keeping them content for a longer period in the field requires plenty of loot. Generally, they are gathered for a campaign or raid, and then disbands again once the campaign is over.

    They dress in their every day clothes, which consist of a traditional nomad jacket, or Kurta, with a v-shaped cut. The Kurtas are made of felt, cloth or leather, depending on the time of year, and the wealth of the wearer. They wear pants of cloth, felt or leather. Unlike the mounted Sakas of the high steppes, these men wear leather boots more suited to the often rough and mountainous terrain of Central Asia. There is a multitude of hat designs known among the Saka, and a selection is seen on these men. Most prominent is the felt pointed hat, worn particularly by the Saka Tigrakhauda, or Pointed-Hat Schythians, as they were known. The hat is held up by leather straps around the wearers head, keeping the soft point upright even in windy or wet conditions. For armament, they carry the infamous composite bow used by all Inner Asian nomads at this time. (The Hunnic asymmetric bow would not become popular for some hundred years yet). The bow is made of wood, sinew and bone, and glued together for extra strength. Especially in the steppes, where access to high quality wood was scarce, the use of bone in bows was extra important. Such was the strength of the recurve of the bow, that when unstrung, it would fold backwards in the shape of the letter C. On their thighs, they carry short Akinakes, or daggers, which were useful for taking the scalp of a fallen foe. Herodotos describes how Scythian warriors would make a triangular incision into a fallen enemy's head, and then take them by the hair and shake until the scalp came off. They would then clear away any residual flesh with a rib bone, and rub the scalp to soften it. It would then be carried as a trophy on the riders saddle, clothes or weapon. In melee, they use the Sagaris axe, a pointy and slightly curved axe, useful against armoured enemies. The axes were often made of bronze, and more elaborate examples were often decorated with images of deer, lions or griffins. The Sagaris was carried in a special suspension hanging from the warrior's belt.

    Historically, there were a number of different peoples known by outside observers as "Saka", with different political and cultural inclinations. Although many, such as the Saka Rauka, originated on the steppe and were part of the Eurasian nomadic cultural continuum, stretching from the Hungarian Pushta to the plains of Manchuria, other groups had moved south towards the more agricultural areas of Central Asia, and adapted to a lifestyle more similar to those peoples already inhabiting these lands. This semi-nomadic, transhumant lifestyle, with people moving between semi permanent settlements and their herds in the more remote mountainous regions had existed in the high steppes as well, but not to the same degree as were the case in southern Central Asia. Although many of these Saka still retained an affinity for horses and horse riding, they would not use horses in their daily business as would their kin on the steppe, and many would hence fight on foot. It is described by Herodotos that the Massagetae army fielded by queen Tomyris against the Persians contained large quantities of infantry, and although it may be that some of these were levies from subjugated settled populations, a large part no doubt were Saka tribesmen who fought on foot, either as archers or as melee infantry.


    Saka Tapabara - Saka Axemen



    A Saka tribesman's most prized possession, second to his horse, is his bow. However, the bow is not the only weapon used by these fierce people. These men come armed with Sagaris axes, a weapon fully capable of penetrating even an armoured warriors shield and breastplate, and in addition thereto, a number of fire-hardened javelins to be flung at the foe. Although armed with pure weapons of war, unlike the bow and arrow which can also be used for hunting or sports, these men are no professional fighters, but merely tribesmen who have joined a horde in search of wealth, or been levied into service by a powerful chief. Although fierce, these men are no professional soldiers, and cannot be expected to hold a line in battle. They are best used for flanking already engaged foes or as lightly armoured shock troops, but if tied up in a lengthy melee against more organised or professional enemy warriors, they will soon break and flee.

    They dress in their every day clothes, which consists of a traditional nomad jacket, or Kurta, with a v-shaped cut. The kurtas are made of felt, cloth or leather, depending on the time of year, and the wealth of the wearer. They wear pants of cloth, felt or leather. Unlike the mounted Sakas of the high steppes, these men wear leather boots more suited to the often rough and mountainous terrain of Central Asia. There is a multitude of hat designs known among the Saka, and a selection is seen on these men. Most prominent is the felt pointed hat, worn particularly by the Saka Tigrakhauda, or Pointed-Hat Schythians, as they were known. The hat is held up by leather straps around the wearers head, keeping the soft point upright even in windy or wet conditions. In addition to their Sagaris axes, made of bronze of iron with wooden handles, they carry fire hardened javelins, and an Akinakes dagger, useful for taking the scalp of a fallen enemy. Herodotos describes how Scythian warriors would make a triangular incision into a fallen enemy's head, and then take them by the hair and shake until the scalp came off. They would then clear away any residual flesh with a rib bone, and rub the scalp to soften it. It would then be carried as a trophy on the riders saddle, clothes or weapon. For protection, they carry square reed shields reinforced with leather, which albeit light are very resistant to missiles.

    Historically, there were a number of different peoples known by outside observers as "Saka", with different political and cultural inclinations. Although many, such as the Saka Rauka, originated on the steppe and were part of the Eurasian nomadic cultural continuum, stretching from the Hungarian Pushta to the plains of Manchuria, other groups had moved south towards the more agricultural areas of Central Asia, and adapted to a lifestyle more similar to those peoples already inhabiting these lands. This semi-nomadic, transhumant lifestyle, with people moving between semi permanent settlements and their herds in the more remote mountainous regions had existed in the high steppes as well, but not to the same degree as were the case in southern Central Asia. Although many of these Saka still retained an affinity for horses and horse riding, they would not use horses in their daily business as would their kin on the steppe, and many would hence fight on foot. It is described by Herodotos that the Massagetae army fielded by queen Tomyris contained large quantities of infantry, and although it may be that some of these were levies from subjugated settled populations, a large part no doubt were Saka tribesmen who fought on foot, either as archers or as melee infantry.


    Duna Aysa - Saka Horse Archers



    Men of the vast and endless steppes, these warriors ride their horses into battle with such skill, that one could nigh believe they were one and the same creature. Indeed, some argue that is where the myth of the centaur was born. Be that as it may, the peoples of the Saka were truly born into the saddle, and learn to ride from an early age. They are no professional warriors, but simple herdsmen and hunters, and the weapons they use for war are their tools of trade in peace. Thus, with little personal interest in the politics behind warfare, and far more loyalty to their family and clan than to any high chief or king, these men are in it for the gold, and for the gold alone. Should you offer them loot, they would quickly gather to your army, but only for as long as you can offer them loot. Hence, only the greatest among generals would be able to field vast hordes for any longer time. Instead, these warriors are generally gathered by a chief or king for a single campaign, and then disbands again once the campaign is over.

    These warriors ride steppe horses of the sturdy kind that are used both for war and transport throughout the steppes. They dress in their every day clothes, which consists of a traditional nomad jacket, or Kurta, with a V-shaped cut. The kurtas are made of felt, cloth or leather, depending on the time of year, and the wealth of the wearer. Atop their pants, most wear the distinctive Saka leather riding boots. These boots are made of soft leather, with a hardened heel, and covers the leg up to the thigh. The boots make it easy to sit on the horse, and avoids chafing the riders thighs and legs on long or rough rides. There is a multitude of hat designs known among the Saka, and a selection is seen on these men. Most prominent is the felt pointed hat, worn particularly by the Saka Tigrakhauda, or Pointed-Hat Schythians, as they were known. The hat is held up by leather straps around the wearers head, keeping the soft point upright even in windy or wet conditions. For armament, they carry the infamous composite bow used by all Inner Asian nomads at this time. (The Hunnic asymmetric bow would not become popular for some hundred years yet). The bow is made of wood, sinew and bone, and glued together for extra strength. Especially in the steppes, where access to high quality wood was scarce, the use of bone in bows was extra important. Such was the strength of the recurve of the bow, that when unstrung, it would fold backwards in the shape of the letter C. On their thighs, they carry short akinakes, or daggers, which were useful for taking the scalp of a fallen foe, but unfit as a combat weapon for cavalry. Herodotos describes how Scythian warriors would make a triangular incision into a fallen enemy's head, and then take them by the hair and shake until the scalp came off. They would then clear away any residual flesh with a rib bone, and rub the scalp to soften it. It would then be carried as a trophy on the rider’s saddle, clothes or weapon. In melee, they use the Sagaris axe, a pointy and slightly curved axe, useful against armoured enemies. The axes were often made of bronze, and more elaborate examples were often decorated with images of deer, lions or griffins. The Sagaris was carried in a special suspension hanging from the warrior's belt.

    Historically, the peoples who lived on the high steppe spent most of their waking hours in the saddle. However, professional warriors were rare among the steppe nomads, and only the wealthiest and most powerful men could devote their full time to warfare and training, and the majority of warriors in the nomad "hordes" described by ancient and medieval authors alike were simple herdsmen or hunters, who followed a charismatic leader on a campaign for gold and plunder. The social structure of the steppe nomad society was very clan based, and loyalties of individuals lay with one’s family group or tribe, rather than on the supra-tribal level. Hence, the hordes would disperse as soon as the campaign or raid was over, and the men would go back to tent to their herds. There were, of course, some exceptions, most notably during the large movements of hordes following the expansion of the Xiongnu empire under Modun and the expulsion of the Yuezhi from the Tarim basin, but these migrations were rarely organized on more than a nominal level, and in many cases, it would have primarily been the ruling classes that moved to new lands, while many of the herdsmen would just accept the overlordship of a new master. That is, as long as he could provide the gold and loot that was demanded to retain the loyalty of the otherwise very fractured tribes of the high steppes. In fact, the steppe hordes in many cases consisted of men from many different political and ethnical groups. The great hordes of history, from the Saka Rauka, via the Xiongnu and the Huns, to the latter day Mongols were plitical names, rathern than ethnonyms. The hords would progress much like an avalanche, sweeping away the political elite, but incorporating the majority of the populace. Externally, these hordes would then be seen as "Saka" or "Hun", but this would only properly describe the ruling clique, and the majority of the warriors in a hord would rarely identify with this group, and remain loyal only as long as they would gat a share of the loot or land conquered. This was one contributing factor to why the nomads, although often militarily superior to the settled populations, were seldom able to form anything but fragile and short lived empires or confederations while still on the steppe.


    Assa Barai - Saka Riders




    Although the Saka, as most nomads, prefer to fight with the bow, the nomad tactics also require some warriors to charge the enemy and break them in melee, once the archers have softened up their formations and worn down their moral. These men, often armed with lances, are generally wealthier men, who can afford better weapons, and in some cases, even some body armour. Although not as organized or well equipped as the cavalry of more settled states, these riders can still pack quite a punch in a charge, and are especially good at routing lighter troops, or chasing down other horse archers.

    Although not by any means part of the ruling classes of nomad society, these men are slightly wealthier, and can afford more affluent clothing and equipment than the regular nomad raider. Their kurtas are more often of cloth and leather than felt, and sometimes coloured with dyes imported from Persia or China. They wear the traditional pointed Saka hats, with some variation in material and model. Some also fight bear headed, sporting a combed-back hairstyle seen on many depictions of Sakas from, among other places, Pazyryk. Some even wear body armour, in this case a leather lamellar armour covering the torso and shoulders. Hardened leather was a good and cheap material for producing armour, and among many Scythian and Sarmatian tribes, it was the custom to use horse's hooves for this purpose. The hooves were cloven and hardened, and sewn together with sinew to produce a form of natural scale armour, which protected the wearer from arrows almost as good as a much more expensive metal cuirass. The kind of lamellar armour used by the Sakas was of a model popular in much of eastern Central Asia at the time, and it would spread and become the most dominant form of armour in much of Northern China and Korea as well. Although they, as all nomads, carry bows into battle, their main weapon is the lance which they use for the charge. The hold the lance with both hands when charging, and in the absence of stirrups, would lean forward and grip tightly around the horse with their knees so as to not fall off the horse by the force of the impact when striking the foe. Some of the early nomad saddles had high front and end pieces, designed for the very purpose of helping the rider stay in the saddle during a charge. Once engaged in the melee, they use their Sagaris axes, which with their sharp heads can easily penetrate even heavier armour. When not used, the Sagaris axe would hang from a special suspension attached to the warrior's belt. Like all nomad warriors, they also carry Akinakes daggers, used for taking scalps. Herodotos describes how Scythian warriors would make a triangular incision into a fallen enemy's head, and then take them by the hair and shake until the scalp came off. They would then clear away any residual flesh with a rib bone, and rub the scalp to soften it. It would then be carried as a trophy on the riders saddle, clothes or weapon.

    Historically, the nomad tactics were to a large degree a version of the classic hammer and anvil, but with a twist. The main force of the nomad horde would fire their arrows upon the enemy force to break it up and demoralize it. Once the enemy was in disarray, lancers would charge them and engage them in melee. If the enemy managed to reform to counter the attack, the lancers would withdraw, and the archers would open fire again, reiterating the process until the enemy was routed, whereupon the horde would descend upon them. Although heavily armoured Cataphract cavalry was known on the steppe, the majority of the lancer cavalry would be regular warriors, just armed with a lance and in the odd case, a suit of light leather or bronze armour. It was generally not so much the armour of the cavalry or their staying power in melee, as it was the shock effect of the charge that brought about the effectiveness of the tactics. Only later, when they came in contact with more heavily armoured and well organized armies of settled nations, would the need for fully armoured Cataphracts to fill the role of assault cavalry arise among the steppe peoples.


    Ysaninu Aysna - Saka Nobles



    When the ruling class among the nomad Saka go to war, they do it as much for making a show as for winning the battle. Dressed in elaborate, gold embroidered coats, furnished with the finest Chinese silk and Persian cloth, and seated on war horses made all the more ferocious by their great antlers, the Saka Nobles stand ready to show their battle prowess against any foe who would dare face them. Hailing from the nobility and ruling classes of the nomad tribes, these men can devote much of their time to practice for riding and shooting, and can afford the best in armour available on the steppe. As such, they are elite warriors, and skilled at both engaging the enemy from afar with their bows, or in melee with their axes.

    The nobles are dressed in fine clothes adorned with silk and leather details, and often with golden plaques and pendants attached, as a testament to the wealth and social status of the wearer. To protect the fine cloth of the pants while riding, they wear leather riding boots, or chaps. These particular boots were known among many nomadic peoples of the eastern steppes, and were in essence a pair of long, soft leather boots reaching half way across the thigh. The shoe part was often hardened to give some support to the foot while riding, and also accommodate getting of the horse to walk short distances. They wear coats of scale or lamellar armour, made of bronze or iron. The lamellar construction makes the armour very resistant to arrows and missiles, but still retains enough flexibility for its wearer to easily stretch a bow or close in for a melee. Some of the armours have shoulder protectors and high neck guards, protecting the wearer from blows from behind. On their heads, they wear distinctive peaked felt caps which terminate in the shape of birds, stags or dragons, giving them a further splash of grandeur on the battlefield. In addition to the essential composite bow, which they carry in a highly decorated leather case, or Gorytos, they carry Sagaris axes for battle in melee. These axes had long and narrow heads, excellent for penetrating armour, and were often carried in a special suspension system attached to the warrior's belt. They also carry short Akinakes daggers, unsuitable for cavalry combat, but useful for taking the scalp of a fallen enemy. The horses they ride are not just the regular steppe ponies, but majestic war horses. Some, no doubt, imported from the Fergana Valley, where it is said that the best war horses of eastern Transoxania are bred. To make their appearance even more fearsome, many of the horses have decorations attached to their harnesses and bridles, such as big antlers, wings, animal figures or felt straps in bright colours.

    Historically, the tribal communities on the steppe were based to a large degree on kinship, which has sometimes been suggested as a factor driving a more egalitarian society. However, in the larger context of steppe confederacies, the members of the clan that held the political and economic power were generally far more affluent and lived very different lives from those of the common herdsmen. That a wealthy noble class existed can be clearly deduced from the many well preserved Kurgan graves that have been excavated in the area, uncovering a wealth of golden artefacts and beautiful craftsmanship. These graves of chiefs and kings display both the fascination with colourful and beautiful art and clothing, and the fascination with war that was characteristic of the steppe tribes. The noblemen would often be buried along with their weapons and armour, several horses, carriages, livestock and supplies to accompany them into the afterlife, and the complexity and scale of the tombs testify to a society with sufficient social institutions to be able to shore up ample resources in the honour of their great men. One of the most well known of these kurgan grave sites is Pazyryk in the Altai, where a number of wealthy and powerful men and women were buried. Due to the permafrost, and surprisingly to looting in ancient times, the tombs were preserved, and has given a wealth of objects that would otherwise have perished, such as clothing, foodstuffs, and even skin with tattoos. Some of the most interesting objects discovered were the elaborate and often slightly impractical hats, with high peaks and often adorned with images of birds, deer or even dragons. It is interesting to note that hats similar to these can be seen in the Gandhara art of northern India, which seems to hint that this kind of garment was widely used among the nobility of the steppes, and that the wearing of them, although perhaps primarily for ceremonial purposes, lived on even after the transition from nomadism to settled life.


    The Stratmap Characters

    Finally, as an extra treat, we are proud to present the Saka Rauka stratmap characters. Below, the General (left) and Captain (right) can be seen:



    The Spy:

    The Assassin:


    The Diplomat:


    Screenshots:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 










































    We hope you have enjoyed this preview of the Saka Rauka!
    Please note that unless stated otherwise, ALL pictures, names, and descriptions shown in our previews are works in progress. We continue to improve on all parts of EB, and we will continue to do so long after our initial release.
    Since some areas where these news items are posted cannot handle wide images, we appreciate your restraint in not quoting full-size images.
    As always, if you have questions or comments, the best place to post them is here, where the EB team is most active:

    Europa Barbarorum ORG forum:
    https://forums.totalwar.org/vb/forumd...-Barbarorum-II

    Europa Barbarorum TWC forum:
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=454


    Regards

    The Europa Barbarorum Team
    Last edited by Mithridates VI Eupator; 01-30-2014 at 10:01. Reason: Fixed pictures

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Sweet, I have my new read for the next few days :)

    Those screenshots look very intense!

    I'm only seeing the picture for the Ysaninu Aysna sadly, the rest doesn't work and give a "Invalid Attachment specified" error when I try to open them in a seperate tab.
    He does look amazing though, did they have golden horse head protection?

    Edit: Fixed now, the models looks very nice, can't wait to see it in game...
    Last edited by driesdries; 01-30-2014 at 14:20.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Quote Originally Posted by driesdries View Post
    I'm only seeing the picture for the Ysaninu Aysna sadly, the rest doesn't work and give a "Invalid Attachment specified" error when I try to open them in a seperate tab.
    He does look amazing though, did they have golden horse head protection?
    Me too. Great preview, will start reading now!! Thank you!:D


  4. #4

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    more cowards mounted on dogs running away from an honest fight and using the the very litle hit and alot of running tactics

    great job can“t see the pictures but this preview lenghtwise is far smaller then what we“re used to is it all done or is a second preview missing ?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    I think I've figured out why the pictures are not showing for some people. We're working on fixing that.

    The preview is rather short as it was intended as a "mini-preview", just to show off some of the units we've done for the Saka.


    EDIT: Pictures should be fixed now.
    Last edited by Mithridates VI Eupator; 01-30-2014 at 10:01.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Great read....not seeing pictures though.....using firefox 26.0/k9/nod32/comodo

  7. #7

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Great preview I like the tattoos on the diplomat

  8. #8

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Thank you.

    It is said that the Chinese diplomats to the Xiongnu Shan-Yü had to tattoo their faces black before they were allowed to approach him. Hence, we decided to give the diplomat tattoos based on facial tattoos seen on mummies and painted masks from the Eastern steppes.


  9. #9

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Excellent preview, I will be reading this over the next few days. Keep up the great work.

    Btw the Assassin strat model looks very nice.
    Last edited by The Gypsy; 01-30-2014 at 18:59. Reason: Forgetful

    I'm going to do a little bit of shameless self promotion here: check out my Sweboz AAR for EB2 (alas discontinued)
    https://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showt...irst-among-Men

  10. #10

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    A Saka tribesman's most prized possession, second to his horse, is his bow. [...]
    ... and these men have neither :DD

    Great Stuff, nice to see a new preview, it's been a while :)
    "Who fights can lose, who doesn't fight has already lost."
    - Pyrrhus of Epirus

    "Durch diese hohle Gasse muss er kommen..."
    - Leonidas of Sparta

    "People called Romanes they go the House"
    - Alaric the Visigoth

  11. #11
    Member Member Horatius Flaccus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Great (mini-)preview! Love the stratmap characters, especially the assassin!
    Exegi monumentum aere perennius
    Regalique situ pyramidum altius
    Non omnis moriar

    - Quintus Horatius Flaccus

  12. #12
    ΤΑΞΙΑΡΧΟΣ Member kdrakak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Great work as always! Beautiful screenshots and some I think contain a treat from a different faction! I think it's a cavalry charge from Bactria or perhaps the Seleucid Empire!
    -Silentium... mandata captate; non vos turbatis; ordinem servate; bando sequute; memo demittat bandum et inimicos seque;
    Parati!
    -Adiuta...
    -...DEUS!!!

    Completed EB Campaigns on VH/M: ALL... now working for EBII!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    You're right! The screenshots show a battle between the Saka Rauka and Baktria.


  14. #14

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Never been much into steppe factions but awesome job!
    The assassin and the diplomat are outstanding in particular!



  15. #15
    The Rhetorician Member Skullheadhq's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Nice!
    "When the candles are out all women are fair."
    -Plutarch, Coniugia Praecepta 46

  16. #16

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    MAGNIFICENT!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Spetaular as usual
    From the markets of Lilibeo to the Sacred Band in the halls of Astarte, from those halls to the Senate of Safot Softin BiKarthadast as Lilibeo representative

  18. #18
    Member Member sirtim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Preview: The Saka Rauka

    Excellent work! The Saka Noble is beautiful!

    Makes an old infantryman want to head out to the steppes and terrify the civilians!

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