Page:EB1911 - Volume 24.djvu/558

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they were heaped up, before the beams supporting the central chamber had rotted, thieves made a practice of driving a mine into the mound straight to where the valuables were deposited, and it is only by the collapse of this mine and the crushing of the robber after he had thrown everything into confusion that the treasures of the Chertomlyk barrow, on the whole the most typical, were preserved to us. This was 60 ft. high and 1100 ft. round; about it was a stone plinth, and it was approached by a kind of stone alley. A central shaft descended 35 ft. 6 in. below the surface of the earth, and from each corner of it at the bottom opened out side chambers. The north-west chamber communicated with a large irregular chamber into which the plunderer's mine opened. In the central pit all was in confusion, but here the king seems to have lain on a bier. His belongings, found piled up near the mine, seem to have included a combined bow-case and quiver and a sword sheath, each covered with plates of gold of Greek work, three swords with gold hafts, a hone with gold mounting, a whip, many other gold plates and a heap of arrow-heads. In the north-west chamber was a woman's skeleton, and she had her jewels, mostly of Greek work. She was attended by a man, and three other men were buried in the other chambers. They were supplied with simpler weapons and adornments, but even so their clothes had hundreds of stamped gold plates and strips of various shapes sewn on to them. By every skeleton were drinking vessels. Store of wine was contained in six amphorae, and in two bronze cauldrons were mutton-bones. The most wonderful object of all was a great two-handled vase standing 3 ft. high and made to hold kumiss. The greater part of its body is covered by a pattern of acanthus leaves, but on the shoulder is a frieze showing nomads breaking in wild mares, our chief authority for Scythian costume. To the west of the main shaft were three square pits with horses and their harness, and by them two pits with men's skeletons. In the heap itself was found an immense quantity of pieces of harness and what may be remains of a funeral car. The Greek work would seem to date the burial as of the 3rd century B.C.

At Alexandropol in the same district was an even more elaborate tomb, but its contents were in even greater confusion. Another tomb in this region, Melgunov's barrow, found as long ago as 1760, contained a dagger-sheath and pommel of Assyrian work and Greek things of the 6th century. In the Kul Oba tomb mentioned above the chamber was of stone and the contents, with one or two exceptions, of purely Greek workmanship, but the ideas underlying are the same—the king has his wife, his servant and his horse, his amphorae with wine, his cauldron with mutton-bones, his drinking vessels and his weapons, the latter being almost the only objects of barbarian style. One of the cups has a frieze with reliefs of natives supplementing that on the Chertomlyk vase.

East of the Maeotis on the Kuban we have many barrows; the most interesting are the groups called the Seven Brothers, and those of Karagodeuashkh, Kostromskaya, Ul and Kelermes, the latter remarkable for objects of Assyrian style, the others for the enormous slaughter of horses; on the Ul were four hundred in one grave.

Art.—Certain of the objects which occur in these Scythic graves are of special forms typical for the Scythic area. Most interesting of these is the dagger or sword, always very short, save in the latest graves, and distinguished by a heart-shaped guard marking the juncture of hilt and blade; its sheath is also characteristic, having a triangular projection on one side and usually a separate chape: these peculiar forms were necessitated by a special way of hanging the dagger from two straps that it might not interfere with a rider's movements. Just the same form of short sword was used in Persia and is shown on the sculptures at Persepolis. Another special type is the bow-case, made to take a short curved bow and to accommodate arrows as well. Further, there is the peculiar cauldron on one conical foot, round which the fire was built, the cylindrical hone pierced for suspension, and the cup with a rounded bottom. Assyrian and afterwards Greek craftsmen working for Scythic employers were compelled to decorate these outlandish forms, which they did according to their own fashion: but there was also a native style with conventionalized beast decoration, which was almost always employed for the adornment of bits and horses' gear, and very often for weapons. This style and the types of dagger, cauldron, bit and two looped socketed axehead run right across from Hungary to the upper Yenisei, where a special Bronze Age culture seems to have developed them. But even here it seems impossible to deny some influence coming from the Aegean area, and Scythic beasts are very like certain products of Mycenaean and early Ionic art. Again, the Scythic style is interesting as being one element in the art of the barbarians who conquered the Roman Empire and the zoomorphic decoration of the early middle ages.

The dominance from the Yenisei to the Carpathians of a distinct style of art which, whatever its original elements may have been, seems to have taken shape as far east as the Yenisei basin is an additional argument in favour of a certain movement of population from the far north-east towards the south Russian steppes. It would correspond in time with the movement of the Scyths of which Herodotus speaks, and it may be inferred that immigrants coming from those regions were rather allied to the Tatar family of nations than to the Iranian. Similar movements from the same regions appear also to have penetrated Iran itself; hence the resemblance between the dress and daggers of certain classes of warriors on the sculptures of Persepolis and those shown on the Kul Oba vase. An Iranian origin would not account for the presence of analogous types on the Yenisei.

History.—To sum up the history of Scythia, the oldest inhabitants of whom we hear in Scythia were the Cimmerii; the nature of the country makes it probable that some of them were nomads, while others no doubt tilled some land in the river valleys and in the Crimea, where they left their name to ferries, earthworks and the Cimmerian Bosporus. They were probably of Iranian race: among the Persians Herodotus describes a similar mixture of nomadic and settled tribes. In the 7th century B.C. these Cimmerians were attacked and partly driven out by a horde of newcomers from upper Asia called Scythae; these imposed their name and their yoke upon all that were left in the Euxine steppes, but probably their coming did not really change the basis of the population, which remained Iranian. The newcomers adopted the language of the conquered, but brought with them new customs and a new artistic taste probably largely borrowed from the metal-working tribes of Siberia. About the same time similar peoples harassed the northern frontier of Iran, where they were called Saka (Sacae), and in later times Saka and Scyths, whether they were originally the same or not, were regarded as synonymous. It is difficult always to judge whether given information applies to the Sacae or the Scyths.

About 512 B.C. Darius, having conquered Thrace, made an invasion of Scythia, which, according to the account of Herodotus, he crossed as far as the Oarus, a river identified with the Volga, burned the town of Gelonus and returned in sixty days. In this march he was much harassed by the nomads, with whom he could not come to close quarters, but no mention is made of his having any difficulty with the rivers (he gets his water from wells), and no reason for his proceedings is advanced except a desire to avenge legendary attacks of Scyths upon Asia. After losing many men the Great King comes back to the place where he crossed the Danube, finds the Ionians still guarding the bridge in spite of the attempts of the Scyths to make them desert, and safely re-enters his own dominions. Ctesias says that the whole campaign only took fifteen days and that Darius did not get beyond the Tyras (Dniester). This is also the view of the reasonable Strabo; but it does not account for the genesis of the other story. It seems best to believe that Darius made an incursion in order to secure the frontier of the Danube, suffered serious reverses and retired with loss, and that this offered too good a chance to be missed for a moral tale about the discomfiture of the Great King by a few poor savages. The Greeks had been trading with the Scyths ever since their coming, and at Olbia there were other tales of their history. We can make a list of Scythian kings—Spargapeithes, Lycus, Gnurus, Saulius (whose brother, the famous Anacharsis (q.v.), travelled over all the world in search of wisdom, was reckoned a sage among the Greeks and was slain among his own people because they did not like his foreign ways), and Idanthyrsus, the head king at the time of Darius, probably the father of Ariapeithes. This latter had three wives, a Greek woman from Istrus, Opoea a Scythian, and a Thracian daughter to the great chief Teres. Scyles, his son by the Greek mother, affected Greek ways, had a house in Olbia, and even took part in Bacchic rites. When this came to the knowledge of his subjects he was murdered, and Octamasadas, his son by the third wife, reigned in his stead. Herodotus adduces this to show how much the Scyths hated foreign custom; but with the things found in the graves it rather proves how strong was the attraction exercised upon the nomads by the higher culture of their neighbours. Octamasadas died shortly before the time of Herodotus. We cannot place Ariantas, who made a kind of census of the nation by exacting an arrow-head from each warrior and cast a great cauldron out of the bronze, nor Taxacis and Scopasis, the under—kings in the time of Idanthyrsus. After the retreat of Darius the Scythians made a raid as far as Abydos, and even sent envoys to King Cleomenes III. of Sparta to arrange that they should attack the Persian Empire from the Phasis while the Spartans