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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Golden Woman: Ancient Scythian Princess of Kazakhstan

Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have recreated the impressive attire of an ancient Scythian princess from fragments discovered in a treasure-filled burial discovered two years ago in the Terekty district of Western Kazakhstan.

They have also placed on display the unique golden artifacts found in the grave of the princess, who has been dubbed ‘Golden Woman’. Dating back 2,500 years, it is the oldest golden burial to have been unearthed in the country.

The 'Golden Woman' was found buried in a mound, known as a kurgan, alongside numerous gold and silver vessels, makeup kits, golden jewelry, a headdress, a horse bridle, and other household items that were considered essential for the afterlife.

The features of her burial are characteristic of Zoroastrianism, an ancient Iranian religion and Aryan philosophy, which spread eastward towards Kazakhstan. The princess belonged to the Saka (ancient Scythians), a group of nomadic warrior tribes of Aryan/Iranian origin, who inhabited the steppes of modern-day Kazakhstan from around 1,000 BC to the first century AD.

In total, more than 500 different golden fragments were found in her burial, which earned the woman her name - the Golden Woman or the Golden Princess. Reconstruction of the garment was entrusted to the famous restorer Krym Altynbekov. Thanks to his work, one can now see what Golden Princess might have looked like 2500 years ago.
 

She was covered with a blanket embroidered with golden plaques of four types: differently shaped geometric pieces depicted ram griffins, rams, griffins and swastikas. Scientists call them solar, implying worship of the sun characteristic for the nomads of the time, which is also supported by the "Avesta", the core collection of sacred Zoroastrianism texts.
 
Swastika-shaped plaques depicting four griffin heads arranged in a circular composition.
 
One artifact that was of particular importance was a wooden comb depicting a battle scene in the war of the Saks against the Persians. The composition shows two soldiers in a chariot and their enemy, a single foot soldier, inscribed in the rectangular space in the center of the crest/comb.
 
Reconstruction of the comb by Krym Altynbekov

“The Golden Woman/Princess is one of the most astonishing archaeological findings of the recent years,” reports Tengri News. “It sheds some light on the wealth and power of the ancient Scythians.”
 
LEFT: The pommel of the headdress.                                           RIGHT: Golden bracelets.   

 

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