The Iranian "Alans" (Sarmatians/Scythians) of Europe & West Asia
an Indo-Iranian tongue, often labeled as Scythians. These "Scythians" could be categorized in the actual Scythians, who lived in western steppes north of the Black Sea, the Sarmatians, who gradualy pushed westwards during the second century BC to eventually replace the Scythians, and the Saka, the eastern Scythians living north-east of the Aral Sea. Their reign of the steppe gradually came to an end with the Huns, a people of Mongol or Turk origin. Until the 4th century AD the Sarmatians were either killed, subjugated or forced to migrate west- or southwards. A faction of these Scythians were the Alans, formerly part of the Sarmatian confederation. Some of them moved westwards, either settling on the Crimean peninsular or actively participating in the downfall of the Western Roman Empire by raiding its territory and eventually founding two post-Roman kingdoms: One short-lived kingdom north of the Loire River in modern France and an other, more famous and successful one in North Africa, where they would share their rule with the Germanic Vandals. On the long run though, all Alans who migrated westwards were assimilated fairly quickly. As dramatic their appearance was, as quickly were they forgotten, now appearing as not much more than a footnote in history, interesting only to those with a passion for late Antiquity.
It was also a time when many new fortresses were constructed, serving the protection of the frontier zone with the Caliphate. Indeed, this era was one of titanic struggles, marked by the wars between the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad and later Abbasid caliphate. The Khazars mainly tried to remain neutral in these conflicts, instead focusing on its role as trading empire. Nevertheless, it was again dragged into war with the Muslim Caliphates in the 8thcentury. This time the odds were against the Khazars, and Alania became the mentioned frontier zone. However, after the 8th century the Khazar-Arab relations remained mostly peaceful.