The Scythians were an ancient nomadic people who lived in the south Russian steppe from 900 to 200 BC. They established a rich and varied culture, originating in southern Siberia and extending to northern China and as far as the Black Sea. Mobility and mastery of local resources were central to their culture and their achievements. Forerunners of the Sarmatians, the Huns, the Turks and the Mongols, the Scythians were feared adversaries and respected neighbours of the Assyrians, Persians and ancient Greeks. They left no written records of their own, with historians previously relying on the descriptions by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, but archaeological research now adds considerable new information about their origins and lifestyle.
Many of the objects found are exceptionally well preserved because of the permanent frost in the high Altai mountains, and they offer unique insights into the life and funerary customs of the Scythians. Some of the objects are from new excavations and others come from the famous Siberian Collection of Peter the Great. They include many rare finds of personal garments and possessions made from gold, leather, fur and felt and reveal the impact and achievements of one of the earliest great nomadic peoples. Drawing on the latest research, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the ancient world and Russian culture.
Published to accompany the exhibition showing at the British Museum from 14 September 2017 to 14 January 2018.