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The Scirii (also Sciri, Scirians, Skirii, Skiri or Skirians) were an East Germanic tribe of Eastern Europe, attested in historical works between the 2nd century BC and 5th century AD. The etymology of their name is unclear. It may be of Southern Scandinavian origin, as it is likely attributable to 'Scandzas' or 'Scania' that was used for the southern tip of Scandinavia by Tacitus and the much later Jordanes, for whom 'Sciri' would probably have been what the original 'Scanians' called themselves at the time of the Gothic Wars AD 238 - 512 .
Note that the early Goths, AD 30, in the Vistula Bay called themselves 'Gothiskandzas' which means to say that they were from 'Gothia' and 'Scandzas/Scania'. In early times Scandzas/Scania was a much larger area than modern day Scania/Skåne and included modern Halland, Skåne, Bornholm, Blekinge, Öland and Tjust (and potentially Herulian Zealand as well) - while Gothia included Bohuslän, Västergötland, Östergötland and Gotland (and potentially Southern Norway as well). Based on these assumptions, Sciri would denote the Scandzas tribe which were one of the two core Gothic tribes in the very beginning of the Gothic era. The word 'Scandzas' is probably derived from the old etymology of 'Skandz' meaning 'Gord/Burgwall', which is also evident in modern day Scandinavian as 'Skans'. Attempts that are based on Germanic yielded clean- or pure-bloods as opposed to the neighbouring tribe of Bastarnae mixed-bloods (cf. bastard).[clarification needed] Also note that in modern Scandinavian 'Skir' means 'fair/light'
The Scirii are believed to have first lived within the territory of modern Poland. They migrated southwards apparently around 200 BC (some secondary works give a more precise date of 230 BC), along with the Bastarnae. The Protogenes Inscription (3rd century BC) mention the Sciri, when they tried unsuccessfully to capture the Greek city Olbia, northwest of the Black Sea. After a peace treaty with the Roman Empire they are recorded as living east of the Bastarnae, near the Black Sea.
For the next six centuries historical references to the Scirii are sporadic, but sufficient to suggest continuity.
In the 4th century AD, some of the Scirii lived in the Carpathians, where they were defeated by the Huns. During the height of the Hunnic empire under the Huns' leader Attila, the Scirians allied themselves with Attila and provided potent infantry for him. After the Hunnic empire disintegrated, part of the Scirii joined with the Western Goths and the Eastern Goths, while others became foederati in the Roman empire. Odoacer, the first King of Italy, was half-Scirian.
- Nationalencyklopedin article on Scirians.
- The Celts: A History
- Armin E. Hepp, Völker und Stämme in Deutschland, Manfred Pawlak Verlag, 1986, p.268.
- Studies in the History and Language of the Sarmatians - J. Harmatta
- M. M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 220