The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
By: Soudabeh Sadigh
LONDON, (CAIS) -- An exhibition of unique finds from Scythian burial grounds discovered in the recent years in Iran and Central Asia is to open in Germany next year, shedding light on the mysterious Iranian tribes. The exhibition entitled “Under the Sign of the Golden Griffin-The Royal Tombs of the Scythians” will open for public on July 6, 2007 in Berlin and then will be taken to Munich and Hamburg for public display.
“Considering that [Eastern Scythians also known as] Saka tribes lived in present-day Iran, the authorities of the exhibition have asked Iran’s National Museum to cooperate in holding this exhibition. This proposal is now being studied by the experts of Iran’s National Museum,” said Mohammad Reza Kargar, director of Iran’s National Museum.
According to Kargar, archeological excavation and sounding works conducted by German archeologists during the recent years in Central Asia, especially in modern states of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, have resulted in discovery of some unique evidence from these Iranian tribes and their material culturs which will be displayed during the exhibition in Germany.
In addition, archeological finds from a burial mound excavated in Arzhaan in the “Valley of the Kings” close to the border between Russia and Mongolia will be on show. Its rich content, including thousands of golden objects, is rated as one of the greatest archeological discoveries of recent years. The find may actually be compared in importance with the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt.
This first-ever exhibition, “Under the Sign of the Golden Griffin-The Royal Tombs of the Scythians” will show to the public at large a rich legacy of ancient Iranian-speaking horsemen in all their diversity, presenting their history and their culture, all the way from their early ranges along the Yenisei River up to the very doorstep of Central Europe. A spotlight is turned on the far-ranging relationship which existed between Asia and Europe long before the famous Silk Road ever came into realization. The centerpieces of the exhibition include not only the most famous of the lavishly furnished princely tombs from different regions, but also the fascinating discoveries of recent years.
“What is important about these recent achievements is that the influence of other Iranian civilization, especially Medes and Achaemenids in culture of Saka tribes can easily be seen in these discoveries. This exhibition will reveal many facts about the real identity of this historic tribe,” said Kargar adding that “Most of the historical relics unearthed during the archeological excavations have been found from the settlement areas of this tribe such as Caspian Sea shores and date back to the Achaemenid dynastic era (550 BC–330 BCE).
Both nomadic and sedentary Iranians referred to themselves as Aryans; however later the word became a self-imposed designation for the settled Iranians who began to refer to their nomadic cousins in the East as the Saka and some of those further west as Skudra.
Many Saka tribes left the northern steppes intermittently to settle permanently in Central Asia, modern Afghanistan, and mainland Iran. These tribes are the direct forebears of the imperial Western Iranians, the Medes, Persians and lastly the Parthians.
Those Saka warriors who remained in the steppes and were never completely subdued by the settled Iranians of the imperial period somehow became a very formidable enemy of their settled cousins. They not only conquered and ruled the Median Empire for 28 years in the 7th century BCE, but also defeated and killed Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire.
The Scythians were known by their Achaemenid-cousins as Saka and Skudra by the Greeks and Scythiae by Romans. The lived in a wide area stretching from the south and west of Danube River to the eastern and northeastern edges of the Taklamakan Deset in China, this vast territory includes now parts of Central Europe, the eastern half of the Balkans, the Ukraine, northern Caucasus, southern Russia, southern Siberia, Central Asia and western China.
The exhibition of Saka history and civilization is initiated by the German Archeological Institute, the Museum of Pre and Early History of the State Museums in Berlin, and the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage in collaboration with the Exhibition Hall of the Hypo Foundation for Culture in Munich and the Museum for Arts in Hamburg, Iran, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, various parts of Russia and the Ukraine will also cooperate in this program.
In addition to presenting the archeological remains of the Scythians, the exhibition also takes a close look at modern excavating techniques, and at recent findings of natural sciences and anthropology.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue of 320 pages, featuring articles by renowned scientists from all the participating countries plus high-quality photographs and illustrations which extensively cover the subject of the exhibition.
The exhibition, “Under the Sign of the Golden Griffin-The Royal Tombs of the Scythians” will be held on the following dates and places:
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