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Archaeologists discover Scythian treasure in Poltava Oblast

The top of a Scythian gold comb excavated in Ukraine
The top of a Scythian gold comb excavated in Ukraine
Archaeologists discover Scythian treasure in Poltava Oblast
Edited by: A. N.

About 30 pieces of Scythian gold have been found in a kurhan (burial mound) in Bilsk, Kotelevsky District, Poltava Oblast.

Video featuring the archaeologists that made the discovery (in Ukrainian and Russian, duration – 4 min)

Scholars and archaeologists started exploring the ancient city of Gelonus 110 years ago. According to the Greek historian Herodotus (484–425 BC), Gelonus was the capital of the Scythian tribe Budini. In his account of Scythia, Herodotus writes that the Gelonii were formerly Greeks, having settled away from the coastal towns among the Budini, where they “use a tongue partly Scythian and partly Greek”:

“The Budini for their part, being a large and numerous nation, are all mightily blue-eyed and ruddy. And a city among them has been built, a wooden city, and the name of the city is Gelonus. Of its wall then in size each side is of thirty stades and high and all wooden. And their homes are wooden and their shrines. For indeed there is in the very place Greek gods’ shrines adorned in the Greek way with statues, altars and wooden shrines and for triennial Dionysus festivals in honour of Dionysus…

Above the Sauromatae (Sarmatians), possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind. The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair. The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Geloni, nor is their mode of life the same. They are the aboriginal people of the country, and are nomads. Their country is thickly planted with trees of all manner of kinds. In the very woodiest part is a broad deep lake, surrounded by marshy ground with reeds growing on it. Here otters are caught, and beavers, with another sort of animal which has a square face…”

Many expeditions have been organized in the area, but no precious objects were discovered during the digs… until today.

Burial place. Archaeologists cannot say who was buried here as the tomb was robbed in the Scythian period and after. However, they believe two people rested here, and one of them was probably a woman because flowers are depicted on the stone (characteristic of female burials).
The team also found a Greek bronze arrowhead, pottery, and a tooth that was sent for DNA testing. The findings date back to the 7th century BC, meaning that the objects have been buried for 2700 years.

Stanislav Zadnikov, senior fellow at the Museum of Archaeology of the Karazin Kharkiv National University.

“I’ve never found so much gold. Once I found a plaque measuring 1 cm by 1 cm, but here we’ve found several dozen!”

Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of the Eastern Iranian languages (in orange) in the 1st century BC.  
Approximate extent of Scythia within the area of the Eastern Iranian languages (in orange) in the 1st century BC.

Edited by: A. N.
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