Friday, 8 September 2017

‘Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia’ at British Museum

The British Museum in London is displaying the history of Scythians. ‘Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia’ reveals the history of nomadic tribes who thrived in lands from southern Russia to China and the Black Sea. The Scythians were horsemen warriors and feared adversaries of the ancient Greeks, Assyrians, and Persians between 900 and 200 BC. The Scythians developed fearsome weapons: pointed battle-axes and short swords for close combat and powerful bows for long-distance archery. Painted wooden shields, armor and a helmet have survived from ancient tombs.

Horse headgear. Mound 1, Pazyryk, Altai. Late 4th–early 3rd century BC.
Horses providing milk, meat and hide and were the main mode of transport and the driving force behind the Scythians’ military might. Scythian horses were buried with warriors, dressed in masks and other components that transformed them into fantastic mythical animals. As hoofed griffins, they were believed to carry their rider into the afterlife.

Scythians believed sacrificing a hare brought victory in battle. From the late 5th century BC onwards, hares often feature on Scythian gold plaques, demonstrating the animal’s importance.

Gold plaque with hare hunt. Kul’ Oba, northern Black Sea region, first half of the 4th century BC.

A gold belt plaque of a Scythian funerary scene; 4th – 3rd century BC

Princess Ukok
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