On the Question of the Stylistic Influences reflected in the Architecture and Art of Chersonesos: 'Snake-legged Goddess' or Rankenfrau

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
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Abstract

This article is devoted to the publication of two Sofa-capitals from Chersonesos, to their stylistic analysis and date. The study of the decorative motifs and compositional structure of these architectural details has made it possible to propose various ideas as to how they might have made their way into the architecture of Chersonesos – via mainland Greece and Asia Minor. Of particular interest is the Sofa-capital bearing a depiction of a Rankenfrau in relief. This decorative motif was interpreted over a long period as the "snake-legged goddess", who embodied the mythical progenitrix of the Scythians in examples of Graeco-Scythian metalwork and consequently provided the basis for conclusions regarding the anthropomorphization of Scythian art. New analysis of well-known depictions of the Rankenfrau in examples of North-Pontic metalwork – gold plaques originating from Chersonesos, the Bosporan Kingdom and the Dnieper region – enables us to agree with those authors who had called attention to the absence of "snake-like" features in these artefacts. At the present time various artefacts from the material culture of the North Pontic region have been coming to light which, while containing the decorative motif of the Rankenfrau brought in from Asia Minor in the second half of the 4th Century BC, are not linked in any way with the mythical Great Goddess of the Scythians.

Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

An International Journal of Comparative Studies in History and Archaeology

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