Ylva111's Blog

All that glitters is gold at the Scythians

December 19, 2017
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scythian_highlightobject_304Gold objects dominate the British Museum exhibition about the Scythians. Many of us had never heard of these Nomadic people who roamed the steppes of Russia and what is now Ukraine in 500 to 300 BC.  Beautifully displayed in the new exhibition centre at the BM the gold glitters and seduces.

How did they do it and where did the gold come from? It seems that most of this was river gold, found in the streams and rivers of the Ural Mountains.  And although some credited Greek craftsmen with the delicate work, it’s clear from more recent finds that the Scythians themselves didn’t just ride horses, plunder and drink – apparently copiously – but they also had time, the skill and patience to create these wonderful objects.  Many were decorations for the bridle of their horses, others for the belts worn by men.  Tiny little replica objects were also made for their graves.

So you have till the 14th January to see this amazing exhibition with its selection of gold mostly from St Petersburg’s Hermitage collected during the time of Peter the Great.

And of course your blogger knows all about him after her visit to St Petersburg last year and the story of his immense memorial. The Tsar is sculpted on his horse which is raised on a monumental rock.  It was Catherine the Great who commissioned this work, and it took hundreds of men and several years to bring the large boulder to St Petersburg, basically dragging it along the frozen ground on metal tracks.   www.bm.ac

Museum of Cadiz

Your blogger was already on a pre-historic search after visiting the Museum of Cadiz in Southern Spain, particularly the archaeological exhibition on the ground floor. From this emerges a history going back to the Phoenicians who roamed the Mediterranean not by horse, of course, but by boat.  Cadiz had an excellent harbour and became one of the first cities along the coast, linking the inland sea with the coast of Africa, and northwards the Atlantic coast.  Columbus started his second exploration from here to what he still thought was India but in fact was the Caribbean islands and America beyond.

Cadiz Museum Phoenician sarcophaguses 5th century BC

The Phoenicians pre-dated the Greeks and were active from 1200 to 800 BC. In the Museum there are two imposing sarcophaguses discovered during building work in Cadiz.  The first was discovered as early 1887 during works on the city’s shipyard, the second more recently featuring a female ruler.  The finely carved sarcophaguses have been restored and objects found are displayed nearby include a set of false eyelashes in copper for the queen. Most of the text is only in Spanish – so take a Spanish-speaking friend to this museum.

Moomins at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Visiting the Dulwich Picture Gallery is always a pleasure and the current special exhibition took your blogger back to her childhood in Sweden. Tove Jansson’s famous Moomins – a family of mainly benevolent creatures – allowed Tove Jansson to explore her talents as an illustrator as well as story teller – with the added bonus of a dry sense of humour.  The exhibition shows how she started as a painter before she concentrated on her drawing skills.  She also wrote novels based on her life, particularly in the Finnish archipMoomin.jpgelago.

This year Finland celebrates 100 years as an independent state, previously ruled by Sweden and also Russia. Tove was herself part of the Swedish-speaking minority and wrote her books, and cartoon strips in Swedish.  There is still time to see the exhibition which finishes on 28 January.  http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

And now for Christmas and New Year…..best wishes to all my followers and look out for my blog in 2018.

More from me at my website to ylvafrench.co.uk