Scythians & Scythian Art

scythiangold-artemissionScythians were nomadic herders of the steppes north of the Black Sea. Their origin, just like their mother tongue, is unknown. They were among the first nomads riding domesticated horses, which gave them tremendous mobility and power. From the seventh century B. C. they dominated the Eastern part of Europe by conquering most other nomads and agricultural tribes.

By the early third century B.C., the Scythian empire reached its greatest extent from the Don (Tanais) at the east to the Danube (Ister) River to the west. They successfully defeated many of their enemies, and repelled multiple attempts, including that of the Persian King, Darius, of conquering them.

However, by the end of the third century, a new and equally fierce tribal confederation, the Sarmatians emerged in the east, who eventually drove the Scythians out of their homeland and forced them into their last retreat on the Crimean peninsula.

Wealthy Scythian women, it seems, were literally covered in gold from head to toe, wearing such items as a headdress covered in 243 gold plaques depicting gorgon heads, rosettes, lotuses and palmettes, a dress decorated with gold plates showing various fantastical scenes.

Considering the importance of horses in Scythian society, it is not surprising that their mounts, too, were covered in adornment. more prevalent are the stag, feline and bird of prey, which can be seen on everything from gold plaques, to bronze poletops, to a bone bow-tip.

Ancient Scythian Art items can be found on Artemission site in Central Asia Category


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