“Gold is Zeus’s child, nothing erodes or consumes it. It conquers the mind of man and is the most powerful of possessions.” — Pindar
From the 14th of September, the British Museum will be holding a special exhibition Scythians warriors of ancient Siberia of the Scythian empire, which features a well-established yet nomadic civilization. From their homeland in Siberia, this group of formidable warriors conquered lands as far as the Black Sea and to the border of China between 900 BC and 200 BC. Although nomadic people tend not to leave much behind, their dead were ritually buried with elaborate preparations made for the afterlife. The surviving objects featured in this exhibition include clothing, fabrics, weapons and spectacular gold jewellery.
In ancient times, Siberia had very rich gold mines, the rich deposit was even exploited by the Greek society during the Hellenistic period. The purposes of wearing gold jewellery during these time periods was to display wealth, power and status. Our knowledge of ancient jewellery is almost entirely based on unearthed discoveries, which reveal only a fraction of what would have been worn in ancient society. A Scythian chieftain was found adorned with a spectacular Greek-made gold ornament. Excavated in southern Russian, this rare discovery which included the handcrafted precious gold ornament exposed the status of the wearer and ultimately the significance of jewellery in the afterlife.
Gold was highly desirable and considered the most treasured metal in the ancient world. Its rarity, beauty and untarnished gleam were the reasons that it was commonly worn by the esteemed and celebrated people in almost every early civilisation. Scythians created detailed animal ornaments in their gold jewellery. Highly skilled craftsman would decorate animal motifs with elaborate gold work including openwork, granulation and engraving. The spherical nature of the gold decoration on earrings and amulets created by the Scythians will be a feature point on display in this exhibition. To view more ancient golden treasures from the Scythian civilization visit the Scythians warriors of ancient Siberia exhibition which will open this Thursday and run until the 14th January next year.
Fascinated and intrigued by a bygone era? At Berganza we share your enthusiasm for treasures from the ancient world. Our vast collection includes an extremely rare pair of Greco-Scythian gold earrings that have survived intact from the 2nd century AD. Visit our specialists instore today and view pieces from the past, learn their history and purchase a unique and tantalising piece of your very own.