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South Territory

Gold idolThe collections presenting the culture of the South Territory grasslands and the Crimea during the period after the passing of the Scythians and down to the Middle Ages are housed in the Sarmatian section (the name "Sarmatian" in this case being somewhat conventional).
Outstanding among the large body of Sarmatian material proper is the set of finds from the Khokhlach Barrow, known as the Novocherkassk Treasure and dating from the first century A.D. This barrow rose over the burial of a high-born woman, and though the tomb had been looted, what remained was enough to become one of the Museum's greatest collections of jewellery. A unique specimen is a gold diadem with pendants, adorned with colourful garnet and glass insets and, in the centre, a woman's head carved in quartz. The diadem is crested with a frieze of stag and goat figures and two trees. This item is typically "barbarian" in style, combining as it does elements of Greek and Sarmatian art; it is thought to have been fashioned by Bosporian jewellers for a Sarmatian patron. Excavations of 1952 at the great Kalinovka cemetery on the left bank of the Volga uncovered 159 Sarmatian burials. Typical of the articles found in the men's graves were weapons, such as swords, spears, and quivers with arrows; of those in the women's graves - wire temple rings, glass beads, bronze bracelets, bone haircombs, bronze mirrors, stone mortars used in the preparation of rouge powder, bone needle-holders, iron scissors, and spindle weights. Needless to say, all of the burials yielded pottery vessels, whose handles are often shaped as figures of animals which supposedly possessed some magical power. One burial contained a wooden coffin with the skeleton of a woman in a ceremonial dress adorned with gold plaques, gold earrings, a massive torque, spiral wire bracelets with terminals in the form of stylized animal figures, and silver and gold vessels. The same section contains articles from the excavated settlements of the wooded steppe tribes whose economy was based on farming and stock-breeding and who were the bearers of a culture known by the name of Gherniakhovo, a village in the Kiev region where the first find was made. Material yielded by the Lepesovka site in the Khmelnitsky region is considered to be of particular interest. The settlement had been destroyed by fire and many articles had been damaged, but they still permit a fairly complete reconstruction of the inhabitants' way of life. Locally made weavers' and blacksmiths' tools, pottery and ornaments were found here together with imported utensils. During the fourth century both the Sarmatian and Cherniakho-vo cultures fell under the attacks of the Huns at the start of the Migrations Period. The specific features of contemporary (fourth and fifth century) culture can best be seen in the collections of Bosporan antiquities obtained mostly from burials excavated in Gospitalnaya (Hospital) Street in the town of Kerch. Members of the nobility were buried in family tombs and common people in ordinary graves. Finds include a gold wreath, a gold torque with terminals in the shape of dragons, richly ornamented weapons and horse-gear. Characteristic of the jewellers' work from this period were a predilection for rich colours and a general tendency to achieve strong decorative effects. This gave rise to a lavish use of semiprecious stones, and such techniques as filigree work and grain decoration; sometimes cloisons were soldered onto the surface and filled in with almandine and red glass. These techniques were also employed in ornamenting weapons and horses' harness. The manufacture of such articles was apparently centred on the Bosporus, although they were also widely spread all over the steppeland area, the Northern Caucasus, the Urals, the Kama valley, and southeastern Europe.

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