The oldest archaeological finds in the burial mounds
The main part of the collections of ancient gold Special storeroom of the Hermitage is composed mainly thanks to scientific archaeological investigations conducted in the territory of the Northern black sea. A separate study there started here in the XVIII century. Already in 1763 in Ukraine near the modern Kirovograd was one of the first excavated Scythian kurgans — Cast, well-known in science under the name of Melgunovka treasure . containing a variety of gold and silver jewelry and weapons.
However, a systematic study of the antiquities of the South of Russia began only in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The impetus for this was a wonderful discovery of the Kul-Oba in 1830 near Kerch. Luxury graves in this burial mound, found in it works of art, scientific world acquainted with the masterpieces of Greek toreutics, caused a sensation among his contemporaries. Most of the stuff was taken to the Hermitage, where they formed the nucleus of world famous collections of antiquities of Cimmerian Bosporus (Greek name of the Kerch Strait).
Since the opening of the Kul-Oba area of Kerch and the Taman Peninsula and the southern steppes became a place of permanent archaeological searches. During the XIX — early XX century here worked a whole galaxy of Russian archaeologists and archaeology fans, the result of which has been gained huge semesterisation on culture and art of the local tribes and Greek colonies of the Northern black sea.
In 1859 in St. Petersburg of the Imperial Archaeological Commission . in whose jurisdiction was all basic research in Russia. Since then the new discoveries and, primarily, articles of precious metals, found in mounds and burials, invariably got into the Hermitage. Since that time, Russian archaeology was developing in a scientific direction.
The oldest specimens of toreutics, open in the CIS are the middle of the third Millennium B. C. These samples are from the barrow, which was discovered in 1897 on the streets of the city of Maikop in the North Caucasus.
The Maikop Kurgan is a monument of world importance. Among the burials of the bronze age in Europe for the richness of its finds are rivaled only by the famous Mycenaean tombs in Greece.
In the tomb of the powerful leader of one of the tribes of the Kuban was a lot of different things, including precious jewelry and utensils, in large part originating from Western Asia.
The head of the deceased was crowned with two gold diadems with rosettes around the neck were several necklaces of gold, cornelian and turquoise beads. Built over the dead man’s funeral canopy-the canopy was originally supported by four silver tubes impaled on them perfectly executed sculptures of bulls. Two of them are cast of silver, two of gold, the details of the images engraved.
At the end of the ceremony of the burial of chiefs, the cloth of the canopy is removed and covered the body of the deceased, and the silver tube, the bars were thrown into the grave. The fabric of the canopy was adorned with the sewn on her small gold plaques in the form of rings, as well as figures of walking lions and bulls. Their images printing on gold plates on a wooden form and then cut out. These figures on household items in the countries of the Ancient East, it was concluded that silver and gold Maikop bulls (which differ only ornament on the forehead and the shape of the horns) could be objects of Commerce, and came to the North Caucasus from Western Asia.
Near stood buried sixteen gold and silver vessels. The most remarkable hammered silver cups with engraved designs. On one played following each other animals, on the other — the mountainous landscape and animals . The manufacture of these things, created about four and a half thousand years ago, worked apparently by the best masters of his time, a perfect mastery of basic skills in processing precious metals: casting, forging, stamping, engraving, embossing.