Scythians - new exhibition + press review - Printable Version

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Scythians - new exhibition + press review - John W Davison - 09-18-2017

The Observer posted a review of the new exhibition "Scythians - Warriors of Ancient Siberia" with a few pictures.  Runs at the British Museum until 14 January 2018 if anyone is planning a trip to London.

Review is here:

Exhibiytion website is here with various images and info:

I haven't been yet - saving it for a wet autumn Saturday - usually plentiful in London!


RE: Scythians - new exhibition + press review - Alanus - 09-18-2017

Hello, John

Thanks for posting these two links. The review in the Guardian concentrated on the Pazyryk culture, which should be properly termed "Scytho-Siberians." The pics featured a griffin devouring a horse, a flying crane, and a pair of felt boots-- all from the Pazyryk culture... pics that were followed by a Greek-made plaque of a bearded Western Scythian who can only be remotely connected to the Pazyryks.

I dislike the generic label of "Scythian," and it's unfortunate that the British Museum is using it as a catch-all phrase. Yet the display looks impressive, thanks to examples loaned by the Hermitage. I'd go see it but I live on the wrong side of the pond. Wink

RE: Scythians - new exhibition + press review - John W Davison - 09-18-2017

Thanks, Alan, for the information.  I suppose that the terms Scythian gets used to bring together a similar diversity of peoples as the terms "Celts" and "Germans".  Maybe the exhibition itself will give a bit more clarity but in any case it's good that these guys are finally getting their own show rather than just appearing as extras on Greek vases!

Given the modern political tensions between Russia and the West (which is surely as bad a catch-all term as all those ancient ones for encompassing diverse peoples! - let's say the US & EU), it's good news that this material is allowed to come on tour.  Given that in the last year or so I have also seen an exhibiition on the history of space exploration by Russia/the USSR and a visit from the Moscow State Circus in London, maybe relations are not as strained as we think!

Hopefully one day these artefacts can make it to the US.


RE: Scythians - new exhibition + press review - Alanus - 09-19-2017

Back to you, John

Almost two decades ago, the Scythians had their day at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The 2000-2001 exhibition included early Sarmatian artwork from Flilippovka and selected objects from the Pazyryk kurgans of the Arimaspi. A large hardback book was written for the occasion. The exhibition also inspired an international symposium, followed by a second volume published seven years later. Both titles can be referenced as The Golden Deer of Eurasia, the second one with the addentia: Perspectives on the Steppe Nomads of the Ancient World. Both good looking and good reading.

RE: Scythians - new exhibition + press review - Alanus - 12-13-2017

I might add that St John Simpson, the Curator of this exhibition, has added a Blog. His several articles equate, I believe correctly, the Scythian cultures with earlier ones at Arzhan and Bai-dag in Tuva. In particular, the Scytho-Siberian culture known as Pazyryk has its genesis in Bronze Age Mongolia and Tuva in the maturation of khirigsuurs, 3 deer-stone styles, and the use of burial "log cabins." Good stuff. Wink