View Full Version : Scythians in Poland: new discoveries

Jean M
05-08-2015, 08:14 PM
More than 130 years ago in the area of today’s Witaszkowo (Lubusz province) a local farmer discovered dozens of gold artefacts dating back to the sixth century BC, and associated with the presence of the Scythians. Until recently archaeologists were unable to determine the precise location of the discovery.

The treasure weighing close to 5 kg includes: a shield-shaped ornament, a pendant, gorytos (bow and arrow case) fitting in the shape of a fish decorated with hunting scenes, acinaces (Scythian short sword), dagger and scabbard fittings. Currently, the majority of the collection is in the Berlin collection Antikensammlung. Scientists assumed that the items belonged to one of the Scythian leaders, killed while fighting the local people of the Lusatian culture.

Polish archaeologists have been unsuccessfully searching for the place of discovery of this treasure since the end of World War II. In 2001-2004, in the area of Witaszkowo a joint study was held, conducted by the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS and the Archaeology Affairs Office of Saxony, headed by Prof. Zbigniew Kobyliński and Dr. Louis Daniel Nebelsick.

Published by the Archaeological Foundation in Zielona Góra, bilingual (English – Polish), the book presents the results of the excavations carried out – as it turned out – with success. By analysing archival documents preserved in Berlin museums and field work, archaeologists identified the original place of the treasure discovery on a farm field situated between the present villages Witaszkowo and Kozów....

Metallographic analysis of gold objects proved that they had never been used, but showed signs of fire. According to the researchers, the indications show that it used to be a place of worship of water deities. Rituals held there included libations and burning, and then placing valuables in the spring. Among them was the “Witaszkowo Treasure”, offered by the Scythians as a diplomatic gift to local chiefs – the researchers speculate. This is another important finding in the book – the Scythians not only destroyed and looted, but also tried to secure control of long trade routes by establishing good relations with the local population.


05-24-2015, 01:22 PM
This National Geographic news article just came out as well:

A kurgan in Stavropol (between Black Sea and Caspian Sea) was excavated to reveal some amazing Scythian gold, with drug residues found in vessels, and a detailed relief of what might have been a "slaughter of the bastards."

Sengileevskoe-2 kurgan (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150522-scythians-marijuana-bastard-wars-kurgan-archaeology/)

06-01-2015, 04:43 PM

A team of archeologists led by Anton Gass of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has unearthed a small trove of gold objects left behind by a people known as the Scythians, a group of fierce nomads that thrived for over a thousand years in the environs of what is now southern Russia.

The Scythians are believed to have been a warring people, occupying the steppes of central Eurasia from the ninth century BC to the fourth century AD—but they did not leave behind much evidence of their existence, much less their history—they built no cities and kept on the move. They did however, create grave mounds called kurgans (Slavic for tumulus, or a particular type of grave where a mound of dirt is heaped over a chamber). One particular kurgan stood in the path of a power line construction, which caused utility officials to contact Gass to investigate. He brought a team to the site expecting to find nothing but dirt, clay and sand—it had been combed over by looters many times already.
But, as it turns out the looters had missed something—deep inside a layer of clay was a chamber lined with stone, inside of which lay artifacts made of gold: two vessels shaped like buckets sitting upside down. Inside the buckets were three gold cups, a finger ring, a gold bracelet and two neck rings—taken together the find adds up to seven pounds of riches.
In speaking with the press, the researchers described how the vessels had intricate inscriptions on them, one depicting an elderly man slaying a younger man, and another showing griffons killing a stag and a horse. Both are so well done that the researchers were able to make out details such as hair styles, clothing types, etc. They reported also that they had found sticky dark residue on the insides of the vessels, which after analysis turned out to contain both cannabis and opium. The researchers believe the opium was used in a tea of sorts and consumed, while the cannabis was smoked. The find corresponds to the writing of Greek historian Herodotus, who described occasions where the Scythians burned a plant to produce a smoke that made them shout out loud.