Archaeologists have found plaques in the animal style in late Scythian burials

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists have found two cast bronze plaques in the Late Scythian burials of the first half of the 2nd century AD, excavated in the Crimean burial ground of Opushki.

These artefacts were made in the animal style typical of finds from the 7th-5th centuries BC. They seem to have been reused as exotic items looted from an older burial. The results of the study are published in Brief Communications of the Institute of Archeology.

The period from the 3rd century BC, when the nomadic Scythian population began to move to a settled way of life, until the 4th century AD, which was marked by the beginning of the Great Migration of Peoples, is called late Scythian in archeology.

At this time, the territories occupied by the Scythians were significantly reduced. So, the main monuments of this culture are located on the territory of modern Dobruja, Crimea and the Lower Dnieper. The Scythians built settlements and settlements, next to which funeral and memorial complexes were built. They buried their dead in pits, crypts, and also in graves with stone boxes.

Archaeologists have found plaques in the animal style in late Scythian burials 3

1 – bronze plaque from crypt-288 of the Opushki burial ground, made in the Scythian animal style; 2 – the closest analogy of this find, found in barrow-3 near the village of Pastyrskoye, Cherkasy region

In the foothills of the Crimea, about 15 kilometers from the city of Simferopol, there is the Opushki burial ground, named after the village of the same name. This monument, dated from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD, has been studied intermittently since 2003.

During this time, more than 300 burial structures (ground crypts, side-cut and ground graves) were discovered and excavated in the burial ground, characteristic of the Late Scythian, Middle and Late Sarmatian times, as well as for the Alanian and Germanic tribes. Archaeologists note that the duration of the use of this burial ground has no analogues among the Crimean barbarian monuments.

Archaeologists have found plaques in the animal style in late Scythian burials 4

Anatoliy Kantorovich of Moscow State University and Igor Khrapunov of the Crimean Federal University have studied Late Scythian burials excavated at the Opushki burial ground. Archaeologists have focused their attention on the analysis of plaques made in the Scythian animal style.

The first bronze bridle plaque, measuring 6.5 by 3 centimeters, was made in the form of the legs of an ungulate animal, depicted in a position “on tiptoe” or, as it were, in a jump.

A three-petal palmette is attached to them in front. It was discovered in the recently plundered crypt-288, which archaeologists dated from the 1st to the first half of the 2nd century AD. The cast plaque was broken off at the top. Similar finds found at other sites correspond to the earlier tradition of the animal style and date back to the 7th-5th centuries BC.

The second animal-style plaque, measuring 4.4-4 centimeters, was found in a pouch with several other small items. It was excavated in an unusual soil pit, divided by two rows of slabs into three compartments with burials from the first half of the 2nd century AD.

The badge is a cast product depicting the thigh, paw and tail of an ungulate animal. On the back side of this artifact, scientists found a piece of metal – probably the remains of a fastening, on which the image of a cat’s paw and tail was preserved. The latter appears to have transformed into a bird’s head. Similar finds date back to the second half of the 7th – beginning of the 5th century BC.

Archaeologists have found plaques in the animal style in late Scythian burials 5

1 – bronze plaque from grave-308 of the Opushka burial ground; 2-5 – its closest analogies with other Scythian sites

Archaeologists have noted that both investigated burials were only one meter apart, so they date back to approximately the same time. It is noteworthy that they did not find things in the animal style in other graves of this monument. It is possible that both plaques come from a plundered, more ancient Scythian burial.

Scientists emphasized that the late Scythians stopped making things in this style, apparently with the transition to a sedentary lifestyle. And the discovered artifacts seem to have been placed in the graves as exotic items. The tradition of putting things of unclear purpose (for example, Paleolithic stone tools) into burials was preserved in the Piedmont Crimea even at a later time.


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