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Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine


An intact grave of a Scythian warrior was the main find of the 2019 season at the excavation site at Mount Mamai burial grounds in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gold-plated akinakes (Scythian dagger/short sword) with a leaf-ribbed grip, a cross-guard
and a scabbard for the blade tip [Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]
In July-August, during excavations and exploration of a small mound on Mount Mamai, archaeologists came across a trench with remains of animal bones and small fragments of amphorae. These constitute clear signs of a mourning celebration characteristic of the Scythians and other ancient cultures.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
The leaf-ribbed grip, cross-guard and scabbard of the Scythian short sword
[Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]


Further excavation revealed two graves – a larger central burial pit and a smaller one. At first, the archaeological team decided to clear the smaller one. It took almost three days.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Excavation of the warrior's grave in which the sword was found
[Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]
While dusting and cleaning the contours of the pit, the archaeologists came across a rare gray clay amphora. In the pit lay a skeleton, which, as later revealed by anthropologists, belonged to a young man aged 18-20 years.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
The gilded sword as it was found [Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]


Judging by the objects lying nearby, he was a Scythian warrior and horseman. The archaeologists also discovered an iron axe, bronze and bone arrows, and bridle buckles. The most interesting artifact is a gold-plated akinakes (Scythian dagger/short sword) with a leaf-ribbed grip, a cross-guard and a scabbard for the blade tip.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Ornaments and amphora found at the site [Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]
Not only had the young warrior been buried together with his weapons, but also with some ornaments; the archaeological team found beads made of glass paste, a red deer tooth necklace, a gold earring and a gold pendant with chalk inlay.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
In total, more than 700 burial sites have been found during excavations at Mamai Hora. 400 are Scythian.
Nearby, close to Znamenka, 1162 burial sites dating back to the Middle Ages were excavated
at Mamai-Surka burial grounds [Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]


"This grave was adjacent to another, much larger tomb, which had been looted some time ago. We found an arrow tip and bone fragments. An elderly man had been buried here. It’s quite possible that this 18-20-year-old warrior could have been escorting a prominent leader." say the archaeologists.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
The basis of the Scythian army was lightly armed infantry. But the main strike force was detachments of
heavily armed riders, protected by armour, helmets and shields. The Scythians were great arrows,
skillfully wielding a short sword, bow, and spear [Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]
Not only is the dig important because of its ancient treasures and weapons, but it also brings more specific information on the dating of Scythian findings in Mount Mamai area. Experts date this burial site further back in time – from the 6th century BC, whereas previous Scythian findings were dated from the 4th-3rd century BC.

Gilded Scythian sword found at Mount Mamai excavations in Ukraine
View of the excavation site [Credit: MamaiGora/Facebook]
For some time, the excavations work was kept secret as experts and researchers restored artifacts and conducted further studies.


The 32nd archaeological season at Mount Mamai has been called the most successful of all. The artifacts will be preserved in the Museum of Local History in Kamianets-Dniprovsky.

Author: Christine Chraibi | Source: EuromaidanPress [October 12, 2019]

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