A Scythian Burial-Mound with a Sarcophagus Bearing Painted Decoration

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
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Abstract

In 1976 an expedition of the Archaeology Institute of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic investigated Scythian Burial-mound No. 9 in a group of burial-mounds near the village of Mar’evka in the Zaporozhie District of the Zaporozhie Region. The mound had been erected from blocks of turf in the manner traditional for the Scythians. Later on a Polovtsian shrine was evidently erected on top of the mound but in the post-Medieval period this would appear to have been destroyed (the base and the lower part of a statue have survived intact). The mound was erected over a grave in the form of a catacomb with two entrances and a burial of a bridled horse in a separate pit. The grave was looted in antiquity. Among the remains of grave goods typical for Scythian burials of various levels rare items were also discovered, including fragments of a sword with one cutting edge, a gold ring with a coin used for its bezel (a Pantikapaion stater). The most remarkable find of all was a board from the lid of a sarcophagus bearing painted decoration. The decoration, applied in three tiers, consisted of battle scenes depicting three pairs of fighting warriors. The attire, weaponry and poses of the warriors make it possible to assume that the decoration illustrates one of the motifs from the mythology of Ancient Greece – Amazonomachy.

The dimensions and arrangement of the burial-chamber and the diverse grave goods indicate that a number of individuals had been buried in it – an individual of high rank accompanied by his servants. Details of the funerary rite (the overall lay-out of the grave and its details, features of the horse burial) and also the range of artefacts enable us to date the burial-mound to the very end of the 4th or beginning of the 3rd century BC.

A Scythian Burial-Mound with a Sarcophagus Bearing Painted Decoration

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

Sections

References

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4

Boltrik 2000130-133.

5

Boltrik 1980.

6

Boltryk & Fialko 2005246.

7

Chernenko 1985107figs. 64-65.

8

Rudynskiï 1928pl. VII 11; Melyukova 1964 pl. 18 11; Chernenko 1985 pls. 44 and 57.

9

Melyukova 196451.

10

Fialko 1994fig. 10.

11

Ol’khovskiï 2004fig. 4.

12

Bunyatyan 198595.

13

Petrenko 1967pl. 8 6-9.

14

Shramko 1983fig. 11; 1987 fig. 51.

15

Bessonova & Skorÿï 2001fig. 39.

16

Marchenko 1972fig. 2.

17

Kulatova 2008fig. 6.

18

Marchenko 1988figs. 29 32.

19

Sparkes & Talcott 1970pl. 44.

21

Marchenko 1988101fig. 32 5.

22

Alekseev Murzin & Rolle 1991No. 92.

23

Grebennikov 2008fig. 37 4. M. Yu. Treister defines these vessels as large hemispherical bowls of a Macedonian type.

24

Ganina 1970fig. 23; Galanina 1980 pl. 8; Boltryk Treister & Fialko 2009 fig. 7.

26

Boltryk & Fialko 1999fig. 1; Babenko 2005 fig. 18.

27

Petrenko 197863.

28

Anokhin 1986Nos. 115–116.

29

Gil’ 1892Nos. 22 23.

30

Chochorowski 1999fig. 2.

32

Frolova 1988135; 2002 291. E. Turovskiï to whom we should like to express our sincere gratitude for his consultation also supports the latter date.

33

Anokhin 1986141; 1999 76; Skorÿï 1998 124.

34

Zograf 195142–43; Karÿshkovskiï 1961 119.

35

Connolly 199845.

36

Charbonneaux Martin & Villard 1969fig. 253; Kolpinskiï 1977 figs. 324–325.

40

Loseva & Sidorova 198855; Bottini & Setari 2007.

41

Fialko 2009a525-532; 2010.

43

Fialko 1987133-136fig. 5.

44

Romashko & Skorÿï 2009fig. 16 53 57.

45

Bidzilya 197146.

46

Mozolevskiï 1979110.

47

Alekseev Murzin & Rolle 199156.

48

Terenozhkin 195523–24.

50

Sokol’skiï 1969pls. 12 1; 11 1; 3 4–6.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Mar’evka, Burial-mound No. 9. General plan of the burial-mound and profile of the baulk.
  • View in gallery
    Mar’evka, Burial-mound No. 9. Funerary structure. Plan and section.
  • View in gallery
    Mar’evka, Burial-mound No. 9. Horse grave. Plan and section.
  • View in gallery
    Mar’evka, Burial-mound No. 9. Finds from the burial. 1. Amphora fragments; 2. Fragment from the rim of a red-figure vessel; 3. Bronze casing; 4. Iron bracket; 5-6. Fragments of a hand-moulded vessel; 7. Parts of a spindle; 8. Handle of a bronze vessel; 9. Glass beads; 10. Fragments of iron rods; 11. Hand-moulded censer.
  • View in gallery
    Mar’evka, Burial-mound No. 9. Finds from the burial. 1. Arrow-heads; 2. Tassel-holders; 3. Iron awl; 4. Spear head; 5. Ferrules; 6. Fragments of iron knives with bone handles; 7. Open-work handle; 8. Sword blade; 9. Tongs.
  • View in gallery
    Mar’evka, Burial-mound No. 9. Metal harness parts from the horse grave. 1. Noseband; 2. Ring; 3. Girth buckle; 4. Bit and cheek-pieces.
  • View in gallery
    1. Lid of a sarcophagus bearing painted decoration from Mar’evka, drawing by S. Zh. Pustovalov; 2-5. Depictions of Amazons in architectural friezes and on red-figure vases; 2. Temple of Hecate at Lagina. Archaeological Museum, Istanbul. Photograph by E. Fialko; 3. Halicarnassus Mausoleum, British Museum, London. Reproduced from Kolpinskiï 1977; 4. Skyphos decorated by the Caivano Painter, Campania, 350-320 BC. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, No. ?.2941; 5. “Iphigenia in Tauris” krater decorated by the Baltimore Painter, Apulia, 330-310 BC. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, No. ?. 1715. Photographs by E. Fialko.
  • View in gallery
    Articles with open-work handles from Scythian sites. 1. Sword from Khvoshchevaya Lesnaya Dacha; 2. Mirror from Burial-mound No. 5 near the village of Podolie in the Kiev Region; 3. Handle from Burial-mound No. 9 near the village of Mar’evka; 4. Mirror from a burial-mound excavated in 1987 near the village of Vladimirovka in the Crimea.
  • View in gallery
    Bosporan staters. 1. Mar’evka; 2. Rÿzhanovka Burial-mound (1995); 3. New York; 4. London; 5-6. Collection of H. H. Gil’.
  • View in gallery
    1. Remains of the sarcophagus with polychrome painted decoration from Mar’evka. Drawing by S. Zh. Pustovalov; 2-4. Fragments of painted decoration on the Amazons sarcophagus from the tomb in Tarquinii (Florence, Archaeological Museum).

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