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warriors of ancient Siberia

St John Simpson

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Astonishing artefacts convey the fascinating story of a remarkable ancient culture

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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.

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'An intellectual and visual treat'
Bethany Hughes

'Sumptuous … stands alone as a must-have book about the Scythians themselves … Another T&H masterpiece'
Timeless Travels

'Absolutely sumptuous, profusely illustrated as it is with many, many dazzling photographs of ritual and domestic objects … the best book on the subject I have ever seen … absolutely glorious'
Sacred Hoop Magazine

'A record of gold, leather, fur and felt … fascinating'
Mature Times

'Clean and classy design'
History Revealed

'The book’s photographs are permanent reminders of what the Scythians left behind: leather saddles, gold jewelry, embroidery, helmets, felt clothing'

'Magnificent… excellent … first class'
Liliana Janik, University of Cambridge, for The Prehistoric Society

Fortean Times

'Stunning material and presentation, not just of the obvious, such as the eye-catching “Scythian gold” … peerless quality'
Ancient West and East (AWE)

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 28.0 x 25.0 cm

Extent: 368 pp

Illustrations: 453

Publication date: 14 September 2017

ISBN: 9780500021286

Contents List

Introduction by Dr Alekseev • 1. First discoveries in Siberia during the reign of Peter the Great, Elena Korolkova • 2. Early archaeological findings from Siberia, Konstantin Chugunov • 3. People in the landscape, Svetlana Pankova • 4. Eating, drinking and the way of life, Svetlana Pankova • 5. Riding and transport, hunting and war, Elena Stepanova • 6. Death, Elena Korolkova & Svetlana Pankova • 7. Cultural contacts and impact, Svetlana Pankova • 8. Legacy, Svetlana Pankova & Nikolaev

About the Author

Dr St John Simpson is a senior curator and archaeologist in the Department of the Middle East in the British Museum, London, and has excavated widely in the Middle East and Central Asia. His previous publications include Afghanistan: A Cultural History (2012) and Looted, Recovered, Returned: Antiquities from Afghanistan (2014).

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St John Simpson

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