Historical Centre


The Department's newest section, that of Central Asia

Gold pantherThe remains of the Koban and Colchian cultures testify to a high level of metallurgy and metal working in the Caucasus during the first millennium B.C. The Koban burial ground in the mountains of North Ossetia, where over six hundred burials of the twelfth to tenth centuries B.C. have been excavated, has yielded a large quantity of bronze articles, most of which are ornamented with geometric and plant designs as well as animal and, occasionally, human figures. This material includes weapons, horse trappings, belts, fibulas, bracelets, vessels, etc. Figurines of men and animals also occur among the finds. The Department's newest section, that of Central Asia, - its collections were formerly part of the Caucasian section - contains material from complexes of the ancient (fifth to third millennia B.C.) settlements in the south of Turkmenia, which belong with the Painted Pottery culture of the early farming populations, spread over the vast area from the Balkans all the way to China. Finds from Turkmenia include thin-walled pottery decorated with monochrome or polychrome ornamentations; tools; adornments; and clay statuettes of women and domestic animals. Particularly interesting are the finds from the barrows of the early (fifth and fourth centuries B.C.) nomads of the Pamirs, and the comprehensive collection of articles from the Ferghana settlements and cemeteries dating mainly from the early centuries of our era. Material relating to later periods is housed in the Oriental Department. The museum boasts the most archaic specimens of Scythian culture and art. These are sixth-century B.C. finds, yielded by the Kostromskaya, Kelermes and Ulsky Barrows in the Kuban area and by the Litoi Barrow in the Dnieper valley. Among the later rich burials of the Dnieper valley, the Solokha and Chertomlyk Barrows, discovered near Nikopol, are best known. Buried under a mound eighteen metres high at Solokha were a king, his armour-bearer, an attendant and a groom, and five horses. The grave goods found here give an idea of a king's personal battle array: a sword in a scabbard, and a bronze helmet of Greek workmanship. The gold-plate covering of the scabbard and sword-hilt is adorned with animal figures, and the silver-gilt one of the gorytus (combined bow-case and quiver) is embossed with representations of warriors in battle and scenes of animal combat. An object that gained world-wide fame is a gold haircomb with a sculptured group of Scythian warriors engaged in battle. Justly prized for its exceptionally high artistic merits, the comb is also of great historic value, since it accurately depicts the men themselves, the clothes they wore and the weapons they fought with. Another find from the Solokha Barrow is a set of gold and silver utensils, including silver vessels of Greek workmanship, a wine bowl, and a ladle with a strainer.






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