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How have I never seen this?


Holy shit, look at this thing! It’s a tiny part of this necklace which was found in a grave in Tolstaya Mogila, Ukraine and is thought to date from about 400 BC. (Here’s a big, color view of that detail).

It’s Scythian. I mean, I’ve heard of the Scythians, but I won’t say I knew anything about them. I had no idea they were exquisite goldsmiths. Wikipedia says they were a group of Iranians, the very first horse warriors. So, proto-Mongols. Famous warriors.

But I can’t get over the workmanship on this, particularly given the date. Banging around the web looking for more information, much has been said about how this particular piece had influence from classical Greek art. And it clearly does. But the stuff that isn’t classically inspired is still lovely and technically sophisticated. See Google Images search.

And still most of the articles are about how martial they were. Boo.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 7, 2016, 10:32 pm

‘Nother interesting article here.

They’re the dudes in the pointy hats.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: November 7, 2016, 10:48 pm

Poor horsie!!! :+(

Comment from Anonymous
Time: November 7, 2016, 10:48 pm

Link to colour pic kaput

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: November 7, 2016, 10:51 pm

I vaguely recall the actual goldsmithing was done by Greeks, but the Scythians told them what they wanted on the pretties. So the scenes are probably authentic and not Herodotusized. (Yes, that is a word. *Now* it is, anyway)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 7, 2016, 10:51 pm


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: November 7, 2016, 10:53 pm

It’s the fine detail, from an age before magnifying lenses, that amazes me.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: November 7, 2016, 11:02 pm

Amazing that something that exquisite survived without damage. Wouldn’t the gold need to be (have been) quite soft to be worked with such detail and delicacy?

A bunny trail: I am intrigued by how often winged creatures show up in northern hemisphere cultures. Griffins, dragons, even monkeys (not talking about OZ). I am not aware of winged images so much in the southern hemisphere. Please anyone, correct me as needed.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: November 8, 2016, 7:07 pm

I dont understand the motif. Horses would be of high value if you were a marauding horde, no? So, why wd you cherish a depiction of one being ripped apart?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 8, 2016, 9:00 pm

I pondered that, Ric Fan. The motif is repeated on other pieces of Scythian jewelry (one I saw where the gender of the gryphons was very obvious, which struck me for some reason).

Hell if I know. Fatalism?

Comment from ✯Ново-Зеландия✯
Time: November 8, 2016, 11:04 pm

Saxon Gold is Better!

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: November 9, 2016, 12:53 am

What always gets me about such exquisite grave goods is that the living buried them – gave them up forever. Such a piece would be of considerable value now, even if made yesterday, for the gold and the workmanship. What was its value in that time and place? How many man-years of labor did it represent?

But the people of that place felt so strong an obligation to honor the dead that they buried such treasures with them.

It’s not a frame of mind that anyone today can truly grasp, I think.

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