This weekend I took advantage of the agency art fund pass, and saw ‘Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia’ at the British Museum. The verdict? Get yourselves down there before it closes in January.
I’ve always thought it would be exciting to be an archaeologist, dusting brush in hand, discovering hidden artefacts from the forgotten past. And although I don’t purport to be an expert in archaeology, I still find it a fascinating subject. Which is why I felt a little surprised I hadn’t heard more about Scythians as much as I had Ancient Greeks, or Egyptians.
The British Museum is also one of my favourite buildings, and they always seem to get it right – right down to the wonderful pattern on the design of their coffee cups. But they’ve topped themselves with this one, presenting attendees of this exhibition with the real face of a mummified warrior… and pieces of his tattooed skin, for that matter, all preserved under frozen ground for thousands of years.
The Scythians were nomads, who had originally lived in what is now southern Siberia. Fearsome warriors, they were incredibly adept horse riders, but they were also fantastic craftsmen, adorning themselves in ornate gold pieces and embroidered fabrics – the examples of jewellery, textiles and fur clothing in the exhibition were all particularly outstanding.
As the Greek historian Herodotus writes, ‘None who attacks them [the Scythians] can escape, and none can catch them if they desire not to be found.’
After thousands of years, the British Museum has done a good job in their attempt of the latter. The exhibition is on until 14th January 2018.
Written by Sarah Maclean, Account Executive