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"Gold of the Nomads: Scythian Treasures from Ancient Ukraine"
1999-11-07 until 2000-01-30
San Antonio Museum of Art
San Antonio, TX, USA United States of America

Gold of the Nomads showcases a broad range of objects that have been excavated in the last two decades and have never been seen in the United States. These virtually unknown masterpieces include a gold helmet bearing scenes in relief of Scythian combat, the style of which is clearly influenced by Attic Greek red-figure vase painting of the 5th century B.C.; a nearly foot-high object that is thought to have served as a finial, covered with intricately intertwined animal combat scenes; and a sensational series of recently discovered gold cut-out plaques from a gorytos (bow and arrow case), with winged dragons depicted in a blend of the animal and Near Eastern styles and a leafy-footed, scaly, bearded man who looks to be part Scythian, part Assyrian.

The story of the Scythians, and Scythian art is also a story of interaction with the Greek world, which eagerly purchased grain, furs and amber from the Scythians. Profits from this trade brought Scythians the wealth to indulge their taste for elaborate objects ranging from torques to horse decorations. Magnificent gilded bronze Greek vessels discovered in a bog 300 miles up the Dnieper River testify to the extensive commercial and cultural ties between the peoples.

When the Scythians at last abandoned their nomadic lifestyle for the prosperous, settled life which trade had brought them, the door was opened for the invasion of a hardier nomadic tribe, the Sarmatians. The exhibition will close with several superb Sarmatian gold objects, including a torque, a dolphin brooch and a pendant, as a reminder of how intriguing and how still little known are the cultures, objects, and artistic styles of this part of the world.


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